Cooking Tips · Techniques

Frittatas — No Recipe Needed

A question I get frequently is how to cook without always using a recipe. Although I am testing recipes quite frequently, I do like to be able to throw something on the dinner table without needing to look for and consult a recipe. This spring, I will be teaching a two-part series on doing just this – Cooking without a Recipe. If you would like to book a similar class for yourself, just email me. One of the dishes that you can do this with is a Frittata. How to do this is the subject of this Cooking Tip.


There is only one absolute in making a frittata – eggs. However, most recipes will also add dairy. For the best flavor, the dairy should be full fat.

The most quoted ratio is 6 large eggs to ¼ cup diary and 1-2 cups of add-ins. If you are using cheese, aim for ½ to 1 cup for the same 6-egg frittata. Some sources alter this ratio by recommending only 1½ Tablespoons of dairy for 6 eggs.

Making it your own involves picking the other ingredients you might want to include. It often means whatever you have in your refrigerator or pantry as a frittata is a great way to use up these items. Here are some suggestions but it is not all-inclusive.

  • Meat – bacon, ham, sausage, smoked salmon, chorizo
  • Produce – onions (sautéed or caramelized), shallots, zucchini, yellow squash, spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, bell pepper, garlic, corn
  • Herbs – parsley, tarragon, chives
  • Seasoning – salt, pepper, basil, parsley, thyme, paprika, ground mustard, hot sauce, pesto
  • Dairy – milk, half/half, cream, sour cream, unflavored yogurt
  • Cheese – cheddar, gruyère, fontina, mozzarella, gouda, goat’s cheese, feta


  • Frittatas can be done totally on the stovetop or started on the stovetop and finished in the oven. If using the oven, make sure your skillet is oven-safe. A well-seasoned cast iron is great for frittatas. If you have an oven-safe non-stick pan, that is another good choice. You do not want your frittata sticking to the pan. For a 12-egg frittata, grab a 10-inch pan. For 6 eggs, try an 8-inch pan.
  • You should pre-cook your add-ins before adding your eggs. An exception is if you are using fresh herbs or tender greens. Be sure to season them unless they are already salty as with bacon. Whereas most veggies can be cooked in the pan, potatoes are helped by par-boiling before adding them to the pan.
  • Combine your dairy, eggs and seasonings. Stir in cheese, if using. Pour over the veggies and gently stir a few times.
  • Cook stovetop for a few minutes, just until the sides are barely set, before placing in a preheated (350°F) oven. Another method is to cook on the stovetop until the bottom is almost done and then finish for a few minutes under the broiler.
  • A no-oven method recommends cooking stove-top until the edges are beginning to set. Then, working over a sink, place a flat plate or lid on top of the skillet. Placing one hand on the plate, invert the skillet onto the plate. Slide frittata back into the skillet and continue cooking until the second side firms up.
  • If cooking in the oven, remove when just set. This could be anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on the size. You do not want to overcook it. Instead, you want the texture to be custardy and just set. The crust should not be browned as that means your interior is most likely over-cooked. If you really want a brown top, sprinkle some cheese on during the last few minutes of cooking.

Frittatas are great for any meal and can be served either warm or at room temperature. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and reheated for a quick lunch.

Do you have a favorite frittata? Have you ever tried to make one without resorting to a recipe? If you follow the above guidelines, I am sure you will put smiles on the people around the table.