What's The Difference Between A French Omelette And An American Omelet?

We're going to give the French omelette a whirl over le weekend.

Weekends are for omelets. Spinach omelets. Mushroom-and-cheese omelets. Whatever-herbs-are-in-the-garden omelets. But perhaps you've heard of the French omelette (or French-style omelette) and wondered what that's all about.

If you're anything like I am, perhaps you picture a classy omelette oozing with brie, leeks, and Herbes de Provence. Not quite. As I learned in culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute, three years and approximately 9,136 eggs ago, a French omelette actually refers to the style you make and present it. The French technique differs from the classic omelet we're used to, known, fittingly, as the American omelet. You may have tried a French-style omelette at a fancy restaurant, but chances are you're making American-style omelets at home.

French Style Omelet
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How To Make A French Omelette

There are two main differences between these styles of omelets. Technique-wise, let's start with the French omelette. For this recipe, you'll want to shake the pan (using an 8 or 10-inch nonstick skillet) vigorously a few seconds after you add your eggs to the pan and they start to coagulate under high heat. As you're doing this, stir your eggs with the bottom side of your fork (be careful not to scrape the pan) in a clockwise motion around the pan. Once your eggs are still moist but almost set, stop stirring—this is key—unless you want to have a chef look with you in total pity and exclaim "scrambled eggs!" (true story).

Once you've done this, take your pan off the heat and tilt it so the omelette falls to the opposite side of the pan. At this point, you can add whatever fillings you'd like, being careful to spoon them in so they are in the center of the omelette. A French omelette does not require a filling and can be served plain.

For presentation, a French omelette (pictured above) is rolled up into a cylindrical shape before serving, whereas an American omelet is folded in half.

How The Texture Is Different

When you make a French omelette, your eggs will lack that signature golden brown crust American omelets have. Because of the constant stirring, the center will have a lighter, fluffier texture. Meanwhile, American omelets cook longer than their French counterparts (hence, the crust).

How To Make An American Omelet

Let your eggs cook over medium-low for a few minutes until the bottom gets a nice golden brown color. For the American method, there's no pan-shaking or swirling. Use a silicone spatula to gently pry the edges and loosen the omelet from the pan. When your eggs are practically done, spoon in your fillings and fold in half. Give your omelet a little longer in the pan to melt any cheese, then serve. Voilà, as the French say.

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