Quiche

A Frittata Is Not a Quiche, Do You Hear Me?

Say it louder for the people in the back.

January 28, 2022
Photo by Rocky Luten

Whether you’re out for a boozy breakfast with friends or cooking brunch for your family at home on a snowy Saturday morning, quiche is always the answer. Or wait, is it a frittata? Which one should you cook? Or order? What’s the difference between these two egg dishes anyway?

In the most basic framework, a quiche has a pie crust and a frittata does not. A quiche is an egg custard pie and a frittata is, well, a crustless quiche. Right? Yes and no. It’s not really that simple. In order to understand what a frittata is, you need to know what it’s not. A frittata is not a pie. It does not have a crust. It does not take an hour to cook. It’s not French. Any other questions?

Let’s take a look at this recipe for Cheesy Spinach & Artichoke Frittata With Arugula: it calls for eight large eggs, ½ cup of full fat dairy (think sour cream), two types of cheese totaling 1½ cups, a little bit of butter, and a bunch of different veggies. So now, let’s look at a recipe for a Spinach Quiche: this particular recipe calls for a filling made with four large eggs and one egg yolk, 1⅔ cups of half-and-half, a little less cheese (just one cup of grated Gruyére), three tablespoons of flours, and veggies.

After comparing these two recipes, it’s clear that a quiche, which is baked in a pie pan, has a filling that more closely resembles a creamy custard (savory crème brûlée, anyone?!) and a frittata is more like an egg scramble, baked in a skillet and eventually cut into slices.

A quiche is also certainly more time-consuming to make and bake. It’s French so of course that’s the case. You need to make the pie dough, form the pie crust, and let it chill in the refrigerator—those steps alone take at least an hour. Once the dough is thoroughly chilled, it’s par-baked for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, the veggies are sautéed, the custard is whipped, and the two are combined. The mixture is poured into the blind-baked crust and the filled quiche goes back in the oven to bake for another 50 to 60 minutes. By this point, it’s noon and you’ve had three mimosas and two mugs of coffee and you’re probably not hungry anymore.

A frittata, on the other hand, comes together in no time at all, which is why it’s also a great way to repurpose leftovers for a speedy supper. To cook a frittata, start by sautéeing veggies (for this recipe, you’ll need onions, artichoke hearts, and spinach) in a cast-iron skillet with butter. Once the onions are translucent and the spinach has wilted, add whisked eggs and sour cream. Stir the mixture in the skillet until the eggs appear to have cooked just a bit and then put the skillet in the oven to finish cooking for 10 more minutes. That’s it!

All of this is not to say that you should pretend quiches don’t exist and only cook frittatas. I love quiche—in fact, I prefer them. Pie for breakfast? No one in their right mind would say no to that! This just illustrates that quiches and frittatas are very different types of egg dishes, and each have a time and a place (though that place is usually in my belly).


Quiche Recipes

Spinach Quiche

To start, this vegetarian quiche has a rich, buttery crust made with equal parts all-purpose flour and white whole-wheat flour (“It has a nutty-grainy flavor that gets along great with mineraly greens,” says recipe developer Emma Laperruque). The silky filling is made with eggs and half-and-half, grated Gruyére, finely chopped yellow onion, and baby spinach.

Quiche Lorraine With a Buckwheat Crust

This is probably the type of quiche you’re most familiar with—the filling features a dreamy duo of bacon and Swiss cheese, which are two ingredients that most meat lovers can agree make any morning better.

Quiche, Any Way You Want It

We love a versatile, customizable recipe that puts you in the driver’s seat. Food52’s Food Editor Emma Laperruque shares two perfect recipes for a basic quiche crust and egg filling but any additional mix-ins are up to you: try roasted or sautéed vegetables, pan-fried breakfast meats, or even raw greens; all should be chopped into bite-size pieces (or smaller!).

BLT Quiche

We’re all for the rule-breaking breakfast for dinner, but lunch for breakfast…why not? Cherry tomatoes, arugula, thick-cut bacon, and two kinds of cheese are folded into this egg custard for a morning quiche that has us dreaming of our lunch break.


Frittata Recipes

Cheesy Spinach & Artichoke Frittata With Arugula

When you have a lot of mouths to feed and not a lot of time, whip up a frittata. This 100 percent vegetarian frittata makes use of pantry staples and fridge staples and cooks in just 10 minutes. Let it cool a little bit before serving; doing so will allow the eggs to set up so you can cut perfect slices (while also avoiding sending any of your guests to an urgent care center over a burnt tongue).

Toast Frittata

Feeding a crowd for $10 or less seems literally impossible, right? Leave it to Assigning Editor Rebecca Firkser who champions the “Nickel & Dine” column to find a way. Here’s what it takes: salty-creamy feta ($1.25), plump green peas ($0.60), a dozen eggs (about $4), whole milk ($0.60), thinly sliced red onion ($0.40), fresh herbs ($0.30), and grated garlic with plenty of salt and pepper.

Chickpea, Spinach, and Chorizo Frittata

Our editors love that this frittata is light enough to serve slices for an appetizer, or hearty enough to eat for dinner. And when you can’t decide between cooking a frittata or a quiche, this 10-minute egg dish is the answer.

Spinach and Tomato Frittata

Lots of frittata recipes (and quiches!) call for full-fat dairy and cheese. Ricotta introduces itself here, as if to say “I’ve got this guys.” It lends creaminess to the eggs and an extra-fluffy texture. Obviously, we couldn’t only deliver one type of cheese so there’s also a little bit of shredded asiago, too.


The Rule-Breaker

Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche

Any mid-2000s band on Warped Tour will make it loud and clear that rules were meant to be broken, and this crustless quiche is proof of that. Somewhere in between a frittata and a quiche is this egg dish that was voted by our readers as their all-time favorite recipe with greens. Here’s the deal: it’s baked in a pie dish, so it’s technically a quiche…I think? The base of this egg dish starts with cooked quinoa, caramelized onions, sautéed kale, cream cheese, and cheddar, which are all mixed together. Once combined, whisked eggs are poured over the veggie and cheese mixture and the whole thing is transferred to a pie dish and baked in the oven for 45 minutes.

Do you prefer a frittata or a quiche? Let us know in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • BadMedisin
    BadMedisin
  • Smaug
    Smaug
  • AntoniaJames
    AntoniaJames
Staff Writer, Food & SEO

3 Comments

BadMedisin January 29, 2022
Quiche? Surely everyone knows a frittata is a type of omelette? Anyway it’s got way less carbs than a quiche so you don’t feel so bad about the mimosas ;)
 
Smaug January 29, 2022
Did people think it was? Of more concern would be the author's alcohol consumption- boozy breakfasts? Three mimosas before noon?
 
AntoniaJames January 28, 2022
When I was a teenager, we made something that resembled a crustless quiche but was a bit eggier - a true hybrid - called a "ham and cheese oven omelet." Easy as can be, absolutely delicious, and handy when you have a hankering for quiche, but don't have, need, or want a traditional crust. We served it with thick slices of homemade bread, toasted and buttered nicely.

I make something similar now, but use rectangular Pyrex-brand storage containers instead of a pie plate, to simplify storing leftovers (the container has a lid). Instead of going heavy on the cheddar and ham, I use a smaller amount of cheese - feta + grated pecorino - and throw in some quinoa if I have it, herbs or pesto made from herbs in my garden (sage is nice!) and finely chopped kale from my freezer (blanched and frozen in small cubes within an hour or so of picking from the garden in the summer and fall). It's pretty much this, https://food52.com/recipes/31134-herb-feta-and-quinoa-filled-frittata reformatted. ;o)