Standing Firmly Against “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” Omelets

When people order an omelet with 6 or 7 ingredients at a restaurant, or relate to me the one they made at home and how many different things they put in it, I’m always left to wonder when they’re going to learn to cook a real omelet.

Eggs are the primary ingredient, by definition. And while a plain omelet cooked on low in lots of butter is a wonderful thing — you should try it to get your bearings on the base ethic of the thing — there is certainly room for an ingredient or two — just enough to stand out, but not enough to make you forget what the hell you’re doing.

As plainly and directly as I can make it: raiding your fridge to make an omelet is just plain lazy. Worse, it’s an admission of a total lack of imagination in cooking.

I’m typically a single ingredient guy. Just like when I do have a pizza, I prefer a simple one to an “I don’t know what I want, so make it a combination.” I like pepperoni. Some onions are a nice touch, or, black olives — but not both.

So Beatrice was off this weekend for the umpteenth “girls’ weekend,” and having been unable to locate either the party hats or kazoos since Friday evening, I decided to do an omelet Sunday morning while football was just getting started. My choice was mushrooms, since I had a half of a tub left, I hadn’t eaten since sometime in the afternoon yesterday, and it was time to use them. Mushrooms keep very well if, 1) you don’t enclose them in plastic like a moron, and 2) if you dispense with the Frigidaire craze of…I dunno…the 30s? Stop putting shit in the refrigerator unnecessarily! I swear to God: next time I see tomatoes in the fucking fridge, I’m going postal. Tomatoes should never experience cold. Ever.

So let’s cook a simple omelet. I began with pastured Kerygold butter & onions. You can click on the images for the hi-res versions.

IMG 0615
Sautee thin sliced onions

Then it was on to the entirety of the mushrooms once the onions were well on their way, because in the end, I want the onions totally caramelized & toasty — which really brings out the flavor.

IMG 0618
Just about ready to add the egg

As you might have noticed, I never use non-stick pans. In the case of an omelet, it will stick, but if you’re patient, keep the heat low-medium, and shake the pan side to side, the moisture from the egg should eventually unseat the stickiness. Just keep jostling the pan. Also, when you move the cooked egg about to make room for the raw egg, use a fork so you don’t scrape your fat off the cooking surface like a spatula does.

I had on hand some New Zealand Grassfed Cheddar. Unlike cafes and some people at home, a little is plenty for even a 4-jumbo-egg omelet.

IMG 0617
Sliced thin

Because this was so enormous and it looked so cool with the ‘shrooms on top, I decided to finish it under the broiler, along with the cheese.

IMG 0620
The cheese is but a light enhancement, nothing more

And there was nothing left but to eat it, which I did outside amongst the falling autumn leaves.

IMG 0622
Buttery and mushroomy

So there. And by my standards, using three ingredients is pretty steep for me. Sometimes I do plain, but let the butter brown first. Other times, I’ll do just onion, but a lot of it, and the onion is well toasted.

Give it a try. See what you can do with one, and only one ingredient.

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Richard Nikoley

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. 20 years later, turns out I've written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from diet, health, philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income by geoarbitrage, and food pics. I intended to travel the world "homeless," but the Covidiocy Panicdemic squashed that. I became an American expat living in Thailand. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. ... I leave the toilet seat up. Read More


  1. Paul Halliday on October 24, 2011 at 14:57

    Amen, brother! Keep it simple … let those good, well selected ingredients speak for themselves.

    • Joe on October 24, 2011 at 15:15

      Most people would call that a frittata, but whatever you call it, it looks delicious!

      • Richard Nikoley on October 24, 2011 at 15:27

        You’re right about that, Joe, since I finished it off under the broiler. Two reasons: it was four Jumbo eggs and while my success rate at flipping an omelet without destroying it is 95%, I hate to risk it. The other reason it that it was esthetically very nice looking with those shrooms on top and flipping it would have ruined that look.

      • Joe on October 24, 2011 at 15:44

        That’s precisely why I always make frittatas rather than omelettes. I can’t flip an omelet. Period. My successful “flip” or “fold” rate is ZERO.

        Finishing it in the oven is the only way to go, in my opinion. So easy, so fool-proof.

        I looooooove fritattas! And they’re not just for breakfast.

      • Kevin Hughes on October 25, 2011 at 08:37

        You’ve referred to the “the flip” in previous posts. Those references led me to go out and get an extra wide, flexible flipper and it works great. You can easily flip a four egger in an omlette pan with it.

        And good call on the purist approach. Mushrooms and onions almost always seem good together. Sometime try folding in some ground beef in pasta sauce.

      • Richard Nikoley on October 25, 2011 at 08:40

        Speaking of pasta sauce, another nice touch is to do a plain omelet and then lightly spread some marinara sauce on it. Even right from the fridge.

      • Kevin Hughes on October 25, 2011 at 11:43

        Yep, we do that frequently. Salsa too.

      • Richard Nikoley on October 25, 2011 at 13:30

        Oh my, yes. Fresh, with the stems of the cilantro intact. indeed.

  2. TonyM on October 24, 2011 at 15:14

    Chill, Julia. And besides, one who insists on the purity of The Omelet should be advised not to cook the ever-loving shit out of it.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 24, 2011 at 15:25

      That too is variable. Funny you should mention Julia, because I also regularly do her style of a plain omelet in butter, high heat but very quickly. It consists of duping the egg in and whisking it around with a fork, or you can just shake it around violently (2 eggs work best for this). then you roll it, without flipping it and the inside is like egg pudding.

      And this one is not actually overcooked at all. It’s a function of the butter browning whilst caramelizing the onion.

  3. Michelle on October 24, 2011 at 15:14

    I’ve been a huge fan of the caramelized onion (and cheese) omelette since you first posted about cooking one.

    A fresh herb (and maybe cheese) omelette is also a nice variation.

    The more you cook (I’ve been cooking seriously for a few years now), the more you realize how much of a difference ingredient quality and subtle touches in preparation really make to the final product.

    I have NOT mastered the stainless steel pan yet (haven’t even tried – very daunting), but I am becoming very fond of my cast iron finally.

    • clarevh on October 25, 2011 at 07:59

      I haven’t mastered stainless steel yet, either. But in the meantime, here is a household hint: Mr. Clean Magic Erasers work great for getting burned-on food off stainless steel and porcelain-clad cast iron.

  4. Scott Miller on October 24, 2011 at 15:15

    Boy oh boy we differ on this one. I like lots of meat, including chicken, sausage and bacon. Chunky, so that with different bites you get different flavor/texture combos. Also, I like avocado, cheese (usually goat), onions, and jalapenos.

    It’s no different that a soup/stew where the many flavors/ingredients work in concert together. And I like my pizzas with 3-5 meat toppings, too, along with jalas. 🙂

  5. Michelle on October 24, 2011 at 15:15

    And I realized I may have spelled “omelet” incorrectly… must be the French in me coming out.

  6. julien on October 24, 2011 at 15:21

    i’m trying to stuff 2600+ calories in my face today in an 8 hour eating window. i just finished 400 grams of chicken, i’m stuffed, and yet somehow, my brain has been made hungry by your pics.

    thanks. or fuck you. whichever. 🙂

  7. Bill on October 24, 2011 at 15:38

    Looks great. In place of non-stick I use cast iron. Will probably be a family heirloom one day, all black, gnarly (never tuched by soap). Ever try adding fish for a protein? Just a thought.

  8. Roland on October 24, 2011 at 15:50

    I’m a big fan of last night’s carnitas in my omelets, but the salsa on the top makes it two ingredients. …unless I spoon it on at the table.

  9. Rachel on October 24, 2011 at 16:07

    Looks delicious. I’m a huge fan of plain roasted meats–I love slices of eye round dipped in good salt. Technically two ingredients if you count the salt, I guess, but simple and so delicious. I also love slices of plain roasted kabocha squash. It has the texture of pudding.

  10. Jessica on October 24, 2011 at 16:46

    My current favorite omelet is an oyster omelet seasoned with a little fish sauce ( I discovered it at a Malaysian restaurant, where I tried it with some trepidation, and have been addicted ever since. It is truly an amazing combination of flavors! The traditional way calls for a batter of water and sweet potato flour, but it’s great without it, too.

  11. Nicole on October 24, 2011 at 16:54

    Chopped fresh herbs – usually oregano and basil – are my simple omelet favorite.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 24, 2011 at 17:17

      Fresh or even dried dill works well too. If you want to go over the top, a dollop of creme fraische on it too.

  12. Chris on October 24, 2011 at 19:38

    You should just do a video on how to cook omelets (swearing included) to: first, piss people off – cause that’s always fun; two – well some people have trouble with it even after your descriptions. Could even make people pay for the non-expletive version or sit there talking rhetoric while you’re waiting for parts to get done.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 24, 2011 at 19:43

      Chris, that’s really a good number of good ideas in one short para,, as a matter of fact, I had been working out doing an omelet making video just a bit ago.l

      I just might..

      • Richard Nikoley on October 24, 2011 at 22:37

        You can put shrooms in, but don’t cover them. But, they will dry out faster because a refrigerator is also a dehydrator, because of the fan circulation. Mushroom are best left out, as is just about all fruit except apples (keeps the snap on them).

        It really come down to freshness, not refrigerating plant matter compels you to dispense with them while they are fresh.

        The fridge is for meat & dairy. That’s all.

      • pixel on October 25, 2011 at 12:47

        and apples. and left overs.

      • Chris on October 25, 2011 at 18:30

        Definitely; I learned to leave a lot of it out after watching shit go bad, faster. Never made sense until I realized CO2 decides to get stuck in those awesome plastic deals.

        “Fruit bowls” for my (unpeeled) onions, mushrooms, fruits, and under the counter for my potatoes works wonders!

        I can’t wait to see what you come up with for your video.

  13. Gina on October 25, 2011 at 10:35

    I didn’t know you could make eggs in a non-non-stick pan until I discovered Julia’s old videos on Youtube – life-changing! The trick is high-enough heat and a heap of butter to cushion the egg, and also do one portion at a time. I am very picky about my eggs and if any bit is browned I can’t eat it. So I prepare any filling in advance in a separate pan or ready nearby, then add them quickly to my omelette. Carmelized onion is a favorite. Plain is excellent too.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 25, 2011 at 10:40


      Watch a master.

      I do all my plain omelets this way. I was fortunate enough to see that video on PBS years ago.

  14. Suze on October 24, 2011 at 21:55

    Wait wait wait. I’m not supposed to put tomatoes in the fridge? Or mushrooms? Why?

    Any other veggies need to steer clear of the cold? It maybe shorter to ask what does go in the fridge?!

  15. Deb on October 24, 2011 at 22:34

    All real tomatoes , avocados,fruits belong ON the counter till scarfed down. Nice work RN

  16. rob on October 25, 2011 at 05:19

    Frittata with fried diced potatoes and onions is really good

  17. Joan on October 25, 2011 at 05:35

    Artichoke hearts.
    Cooked crispy in butter.
    Ya está.

  18. wjpurifoy on October 25, 2011 at 05:38

    Dude, that’s 5 ingredients – count them: butter, onions, mushrooms, eggs, cheese.

  19. Tony McKay on October 25, 2011 at 06:12

    Nice looking bit of scran, I do mine with same ingredients (except Kerrygold and Irish Cheddar) but always flip using my le creuset cast iron job. That get’s the lift something heavy bit out the way at the same time! Who needs kettle bells?

  20. Uwe on October 25, 2011 at 07:22

    I was always taught that to be called an omelet, the non egg ingredients need to be sautéed in a seperate pan.
    Put your egg mixture in a medium hot well buttered pan. Take a spatula and scrape to one side of pan, tilt pan to fill empty space. Repeat several times. Place sautéed filling on top and and fold over. The heat from the filling will finish cooking the egg. Omelet should be half moon shape with no filling visible. Although Richard’s way is easier, it’s technically a Scramble or Frittata.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 25, 2011 at 07:43

      That is the way I generally do it, though depending on how much liquid there is from a big omelet with jumbo eggs, I’ll flip it and then add the fillings.

  21. jo on October 25, 2011 at 09:32

    Yummy! Yes, that tomatoes in the refrigerator thing drives me crazy too.

  22. pixel on October 25, 2011 at 12:52

    its ok to let the butter brown?

    • Richard Nikoley on October 25, 2011 at 13:35

      pixel, yes, indeed. You can let the butter brown, to light or dark degrees, just know that those scorched milk solids are going to impart a flavor. It’s a flavor you probably don’t want if you’re filling your omelet with shrimp & crab meat, with a dill & creme fraische garnish, but one you definitely do want if you’re filling it with bacon bits and a sprinkle of shreded cheddar cheese.


  23. Steve in Oz on October 25, 2011 at 15:38

    I like using red peppers. Stick them under the grill and char the skin. Put into an airtight container for a coupleof minutes and then take it out. The charred skin will peel away easily, leaving soft, lightly cooked flesh behind. Dice and throw into omelet. No further cooking necessary.
    I also like purple onion. Just dice and chuck it in. No prep necessary. Adds a nice bite.

  24. AnnaA on October 25, 2011 at 22:26

    I totally disagree. I love ‘everything’ omelets and the best one I had recently had a filling of cooked sliced bacon with celery, onions, tomatoes , zucchini cubes and herbs sauteed into a nice stewy mess. I poured the mixed eggs into a heated cast iron pan with melted butter, added the veg/bacon mix and then put cheese on top. The pan was hot enough to toast the bottom to a nice golden glow and it was easy to fold in half for serving. YUM!

  25. alex on October 26, 2011 at 00:17

    top three faves
    Sautéed ginger omelette
    garlic feta spinach omelette
    peppers onion mushroom omelette

    wash rinse repeat.

  26. Mike on November 2, 2011 at 10:33

    Nicely done! The way I see it, if you’re going out of your way for farm fresh eggs, don’t cover up the taste.

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