Why The Humble Frittata Is Your Weeknight Cooking Hero

Plus, 8 easy frittata recipes to help you use up those leftovers.
Why The Humble Frittata Is Your Weeknight Cooking Hero

Photo, Erik Putz.

Frittatas were one of the first things I tried to make when I started cooking for myself, in part because the name sounded fancier than other teen staples like Kraft Dinner or grilled cheese. And because for so little effort, they seemed fancier, too: just throw some leftovers or cut vegetables into a pan, pour a few beaten eggs overtop, let it cook, and you have something that more closely resembles a meal than a snack that comes out of a box.

Valuing a dish, or the idea of one, for aesthetics alone pretty much guaranteed that the first ones I made were awful. I never thought to cook the vegetables beforehand—or better yet, use cooked leftovers from the night before—or to pop the pan in the oven. I never made sure the eggs were room temperature, or mixed them with cheese, milk, or sour cream. Those first few frittatas turned out as spongy egg pancakes with wet, crunchy lumps of undercooked vegetables settled at the bottom. I hated them so much I swore off frittatas for years.

It turns out, so many of the things I got wrong about frittatas back then were so simple to fix—and if you’re cooking under a time or budget crunch, the dish can be a godsend. Frittatas make great use of leftovers, cook up in 15 minutes and are mealtime-agnostic: they don’t feel out of place at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any snack time in between. Plus, if you have leftovers, frittatas reheat quite well, making them a double leftover combo. Here’s what you need to know about making a great one.

Ratios matter

While you can make a frittata in anything that’s oven-safe—cast-iron skillet, frying pan, even a casserole dish with a lid—its size and depth will determine how many eggs you need, or the other way around. Using fewer eggs for a wider pan means a shallower frittata, which means a lower cooking time or a dried-out pancake. Too many, and you’ll end up with a dense brick. A standard 12-inch skillet takes about 12 eggs; an eight-inch, about six.

This also applies to the eggs-and-dairy ratio. Most recipes call for half a cup of dairy for every dozen eggs. Feel free to use cream, yogurt, whole milk, 2 percent, even evaporated milk—but the higher fat content, the better.

Leftovers? Fresh veggies? Make sure they’re fully cooked

With the exception of maybe fresh herbs, cheese, and some pre-cooked meats, most frittata fillings should be cooked through so that they have a nice texture when the dish is done—and more importantly, so that they don’t release extra water into the egg mixture while cooking.

That said, there are so many types of pre-cooked leftovers are perfect for frittatas beyond potatoes and grilled vegetables. Too-soft bell pepper? Leftover pasta? Throw the noodles in there. Cooked rice? Ditto. Cooked lentils, grains, beans (we know you’ve been cooking with them), leftover stew, the dregs of frozen vegetables that didn’t quite make it out of the bag: use them all.

Oven or stovetop frittata?

Some cooking methods have you cooking entirely on stovetop, flipping the frittata once the eggs are mostly cooked to crisp up both sides; others are an entirely oven-baked scenario. Both work fine, but my favourite is the traditional combination of the two, cooking the frittata partway on the stove until the edges have thickened, then popping it in the oven to finish. In all honesty, the best method here is what works best for you, whether the idea of preheating an oven feels like a step too far on a difficult evening or flipping an egg dish in a massive pan sounds like a nightmare.

Better to err on the side of undercooking

Whether you’re cooking the frittata by stovetop or oven, take it off the heat as soon as it seems set. If the pan you’re using holds heat well the eggs will continue to cook—and you can always put it back on the stove if you’ve really undershot it. The same can’t be said for an overcooked one.

Here are 9 frittata recipes to try for an easy and delicious weeknight dinner:

Ham And Cheese Frittata

This delicious frittata combines cheese, ham and diced veggies for a hot dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Get this ham and cheese frittata recipe.

A ham and cheese frittata in a glass pie plate on a white tablecloth beside two plates with slices of frittata and salad and a glass of water with a slice of lemon Photography by Christie Vuong. Food styling by Eshun Mott. Prop styling by Christine Hanlon.

Western Tortilla

Some call it a Denver, others call it a Western, but whatever the name, salty ham, charred onions and crisp-tender peppers are hard to beat when it comes to an omelette. Here’s one by Tara O'Brady made like a tortilla Española in that it’s large format and cut like a pie. Get this tortilla recipe.

A Western tortilla on a plate, perched on a speckled countertop Photo, Christie Vuong.

Spring Frittata

This herb-and-pepper loaded frittata is fit to feed a big household—and makes great leftovers. Get this spring frittata recipe.

Do all the prep the night before, including sautéing onion and whisking eggs, then refrigerate. The next day, just pour into pie plates and bake.

Skillet Broccoli and Potato Frittata

Eggs for dinner? Why not! This potato and broccoli frittata is packed with veggies and makes for a filling (and easy to make) weeknight meal. Get this skillet potato and broccoli frittata recipe.

Skillet broccoli and potato frittata Photo, Erik Putz.

Spanish Tortilla with Asparagus

This flavourful, quick tortilla can be served at any temperature and tastes even better the next day. Get this asparagus tortilla recipe.

Spanish tortilla with asparagus on blue plate with serving utensil. Photo, Erik Putz.

Veggie Quinoa Frittata

Quick and delicious, try this cheesy quinoa frittata recipe, and liven things up at the table with a crisp, dry white wine from Spain. Get this veggie quinoa frittata recipe.

Slice of veggie quinoa frittata on a plate with tomatoes. Photo, Roberto Caruso

Sheet Pan Frittata With Kimchi

The mighty egg pulls double duty, serving as a great start to your morning or a hearty and healthy evening meal. Get this sheet pan frittata recipe.
Sheet pan frittata with kimchi Photo, Erik Putz.

Spanish Potato and Chorizo Tortilla

Typical all over Spain as a tapa, this is also just right for breakfast, thanks to eggs and cured sausage. We like Yukon Gold potatoes for this recipe. Get this chorizo tortilla recipe.

Why The Humble Frittata Is Your Weeknight Cooking Hero Photo, Roberto Caruso.


Subscribe to our newsletters for our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.