The Difference Between An Omelet, Frittata, Quiche, and Strata

How do you like your eggs? Here are four popular ways to cook 'em

Pan of Greek salad fritatta
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Eggs are inexpensive, easy-to-make, and arguably one of the most versatile sources of animal protein. Because they don’t have a strong taste, they are a great vehicle for many combinations of foods and flavors. In addition, their unique protein composition, which starts out fluid and with heat rapidly develops a structure that supports other ingredients, is very useful in creating many different kinds of dishes.

The most common egg dishes—among them quiche, omelet, frittata, and strata—all have differences that you can use to your advantage, depending on what your needs are for any given meal.

Omelets

Omelets are perhaps the best-known egg dish in North America. Beaten eggs are mixed with a little liquid (no more than 1 tablespoon per egg, and often less), and cooked until set, then folded around a filling, traditionally vegetables, meats, and cheeses—all of which are fair game on a low-carb diet. They are usually eaten immediately after cooking. To make an omelet successfully, add your toppings when the sides are set but the inside is still a little wet. Fold one side of the omelet over using your spatula.

Tip: Make sure the filling is warm before putting it into the omelet.

Frittatas 

Lesser known in the United States, this is an Italian version of an omelet. A frittata consists of beaten eggs and filling ingredients such as veggies, cheese, and meat, all of which are started off in a skillet on the stovetop until the outer edges are set and finished in the oven.

Because of the way it's prepared, I think it is more versatile, as it can be easily eaten later and even frozen. Several portions are usually cooked at once, in only marginally more time than it takes to cook an omelet. There are several techniques, but I favor ​a quick one that starts on the stove and finishes in a few minutes under the broiler.

Note that while “saucy” fillings can work well in omelets, you would usually want to avoid putting a lot of sauce in a frittata. Try my pizza frittata to see how it's done. 

Tip: Small cubes of cheese in a frittata will melt during cooking and create yummy little cheese pockets.

Quiches

A quiche is essentially a savory baked custard in a pie crust—although you can certainly make one without the crust, which would be called a "crustless quiche." It traditionally includes milk or cream and eggs as the base, and added to that, cheese and vegetables as spinach, mushrooms, onions, or any others you like as well as meats such as bacon bits, ham, or whatever you like (try my smoked salmon, leek, and mushroom quiche).

Since it is a custard, it is more delicate in consistency than a frittata. This is because it is made with more liquid than eggs, specifically, 2 to 3 eggs per cup of liquid (traditionally cream, but this is less usual these days), although there are recipes with more eggs than liquid, too. If you are dairy-free or really want to keep carbs low (there are 12g of carbs in one cup of milk), you can use coconut, almond, hemp, or cashew milk, or any other non-dairy milk you prefer. 

Tip: The trick with quiche is how to preserve the delicate texture.

This is achieved by removing it from the oven while it is still a bit uncooked in the center; it will continue to cook when removed from the heat. Overcooked quiche has a “tough,” cracked texture around the outside.

Stratas

Stratas are egg, cheese, and bread casseroles that puff up when baking. When I was younger, I heard these casseroles called all kinds of different things, but in recent years I tend to hear the Italian name for them, which is strata. They are usually not a low-carb dish, although you can make them with low-carb bread. I have found that substituting one and a half cups of almond meal for the bread can sometimes work.

A strata has the same ratio of liquid to eggs as a quiche, although traditionally milk is used, not cream. You can put anything into it that you would put into a quiche or frittata.

Egg Casseroles 

Casseroles are also some combination of egg and cheese, but either with flour added to the milk or with a more solid dairy product such as sour cream or yogurt. They are heartier than a quiche, probably leaning more towards a strata in texture. 

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