Preheat Your Omelet Pan Slowly

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2009

The way you preheat your pan is critical to achieving a perfectly creamy omelet.

While developing the recipe for our Perfect French Omelets, we found that the way we preheated the pan before adding the eggs was critical to achieving a perfectly creamy omelet with a uniformly golden exterior. Instead of preheating over medium0high for 2 or 3 minutes (the most common approach), we preheated the pan over low heat for a full 10 minutes.

On a gas stove, a high flame licks up the sides of the pan, creating hot spots at the outer edges of the pan bottom. These hot spots, in turn, can lead to brown splotches on your omelet. Preheating the low-and-slow way ensures that the heat is more evenly distributed.

Preheating over low heat has another advantage: It gives you a wider window for adding your eggs. Over high heat, it takes just 30 seconds for the pan to go from an acceptable 250 degrees to an egg-toughening 350 degrees. (Note: Preheating an omelet pan is one situation in which electric stoves show an edge over gas. Because of their wide, flat heating element, electric stoves did not produce hot spots in the pan, even over a high setting. However, we still recommend preheating over low heat to allow plenty of time for adding your eggs.)


To demonstrate the importance of preheating over the correct (low) temperature, we spread a layer of grated Parmesan cheese over the bottoms of two pans, then heated one over medium-high heat and the other over low heat. Cheese heated over medium-high heat, as shown here, browned on the edges.


Cheese heated over low heat melted to an even, uniform color.