An Italian frittata works equally well as a quick dinner to use up what's in the fridge, or as a make-ahead brunch dish to please a crowd. Here's everything you need to know to make a great one with what you've got, plus a few of our favorite recipes.
What is a frittata?
So many cultures have a crowd-sized egg dish that starts with whisking up a whole bunch of eggs, often with a bit of liquid, adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and cooking it all up together to make a delicious meal.
Frittata — which derives from the Italian verb "friggere," meaning "to fry" — is the Italian version of that dish. It's started on the stovetop and then transferred to the oven to finish cooking, and it's one of the most useful meals I know.
A good Italian frittata is:
- Incredibly delicious
- Incredibly good at using up what you've got in the fridge and pantry
- Totally party-worthy, while also being much less fussy than an omelet or a quiche
Frittatas keep well and travel well, too, so you can make one into a picnic dinner, a week's worth of school lunches or not-sad desk lunches, or a quick sandwich for a midnight snack.
I first published this post here back in 2020. I've since updated the post for clarity, but the recipe remains the same.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the basic categories of ingredients you'll need to make this dish.
- Start with the best-quality eggs you can get your hands on. We have a few more-local, pricier favorites, but something like Pete & Gerry's is a fantastic option that's reasonably priced and more widely available in U.S. supermarkets.
- You'll whisk in a little bit of dairy to ensure a lovely, tender texture and add a bit of flavor, too. Heavy cream, half and half, whole milk, sour cream, or a combination will work well. If you need to make a dairy-free frittata, it's okay to leave this out, but the final product will be a bit denser.
- You'll need a couple of tablespoons of fat for the pan. Butter, olive oil, and bacon fat are great choices.
- An allium or two adds tons of flavor — think shallot, onion, leek, and/or garlic.
- Meat is optional, and a little can go a long way, especially if you use something with a lot of flavor. Bacon, ham, and sausage or salami make good options, as do virtually any diced leftovers. Whatever you choose, make sure it's fully cooked before you add eggs to the pan.
- I like to include a lot of vegetables. The possibilities are virtually limitless, from sautéed leafy greens to leftovers.
- I'll sometimes include a starchy vegetable like corn or potato (or even some beans, lentils, or quinoa) as well. I like to think of these as a separate category from other veggies.
- Shredded, grated, or crumbled cheese adds flavor and richness. You can use one type or multiple, and as long as you like the flavors, it's hard to go wrong.
- As a bonus, you can consider including small amounts of a very savory or briny ingredient like capers or chopped olives.
You don't need much equipment to make an Italian frittata, and that's kinda the point. You'll need a frying pan, a mixing bowl, and a spatula. Here are my favorites.
- My favorite 12-inch frying pans for a frittata are this one, this one, and this one.
- We love these nested mixing bowls with handles and spouts.
- Here's my favorite spatula.
How to make it
Here's an overview of what you'll do to make a fabulous Italian frittata. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- First you'll whisk together the eggs and dairy. I like to use a fork rather than an actual whisk, to combine the ingredients without adding too much air.
- Cook any alliums, meat, and vegetables in a 12-inch frying pan.
- Pour in the egg mixture and cook for a minute to set on the bottom. Sprinkle with cheese and any additional ingredients.
- Bake in the center of a 375°F oven for about 10 minutes, until set. That's it!
Favorite ingredient combinations
- Bacon + onion + extra-sharp cheddar
- Chopped frozen broccoli + onion + parmesan or pecorino
- Italian sausage + onion + bell peppers + fresh mozzarella
- Chopped frozen spinach + leeks + garlic + feta or chévre
- Onion + garlic + cherry tomatoes + fresh mozzarella + pecorino or parmesan
- Black beans + frozen corn + onion + extra-sharp cheddar
- Shallot + shiitake mushrooms + spinach + pecorino
Favorite frittata recipes
- Broccoli mushroom
- Spinach, cheddar, and corn
- Broccolini, cheddar, and bacon
- Try any one of these recipes on a sandwich
Expert tips and FAQs
Absolutely. This meal is equally delicious warm, at room temperature, or even straight out of the fridge. Once completely cool, place wedges in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.
- 8 large eggs
- ¼ cup (60 ml) dairy: heavy cream, half and half, whole milk, or sour cream
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) fat: butter, olive oil, or bacon fat
- Alliums: 1 medium yellow onion, 2 medium leeks, or 2 medium shallots
- 4 to 8 ounces (113 to 227 grams) cooked meat, depending on type
- 2 to 4 cups cooked vegetables
- 4 ounces (113 grams) shredded or grated cheese
- 2 tablespoons capers or chopped olives, optional
- Preheat oven to 375°F with a rack in the center.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together with the dairy, salt, and pepper. I like to use a fork instead of an actual whisk, since it combines the ingredients without adding excess air.
- Heat the fat in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high.
- Finely dice onion or shallot or cut leeks into thin half-moons. Add to pan and cook until softened.
- Chop meat, if using, into bite-sized pieces. The meat should be cooked by the time it goes into the frittata, so if it's raw when you're starting, cook it in the pan now. If it leaves more than about a tablespoon of fat in the pan, drain the fat before proceeding.
- Chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Just like the meat, most vegetables should be cooked by the time they go into a frittata. If they aren't yet cooked, give them a sauté in the frying pan at this point.
- With the cooked meats and vegetables in the pan and the pan set over medium heat on the stove, pour in the beaten egg mixture and sprinkle with the cheese and capers or olives, if using. Let the frittata cook undisturbed until the bottom is set, about a minute.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until eggs are just set, about 10 minutes.
- Let cool slightly, or completely if you prefer, before cuting into wedges.
This meal is equally delicious warm, at room temperature, or even straight out of the fridge. Once completely cool, place wedges in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400
Calories are approximated for two slices of an average frittata.