Denver Omelet

4.93 from 13 votes
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Elevate breakfast by making a Denver omelet that has the perfect ratio of protein to vegetables. I share my simple technique for creating light and fluffy eggs with a golden brown surface. The ingredients briefly saute to enhance the taste and prevent a soggy center.

Denver omelet on a white plate.

When scanning the menu at most breakfast restaurants and diners, a classic Denver omelet is likely to be spotted. Also called the western omelet, it’s no surprise that this popular favorite makes the list. It’s a tasty way to start the day with crunchy onions and peppers, chopped ham, and melted cheese hidden between puffy eggs.

There are just a few essential techniques to ensure the best-tasting omelet. Sauteing the filling ingredients first draws out excess moisture while creating a more flavorful surface. Paying attention to how the whisked eggs are cooked forms tender curds on the inside, with a light brown exterior for the ultimate texture contrast. The cheese melts and locks all the flavors together.

Saute the ham and vegetables first 

It’s best to saute high-moisture ingredients until crisp-tender before adding them into the omelet. This process removes excess moisture that would otherwise seep out if not cooked first. I use ham steak in the recipe to give nice chunks of meat, but ham slices will also work.

I like to use both red and green bell pepper, and purple onions for color and flavor. The red tends to be sweeter and green, more bitter. It’s a nice contrast. Chop the filling into uniform, small bite-sized pieces, about ¼-inch dice. The light browning adds a more complex taste.

Prepare the egg mixture

To make light and fluffy curds, whisk eggs with a little bit of milk, half-and-half, cream, or water. Adding liquid to the eggs prevents the proteins from binding too tightly together. It also creates a more moist and tender texture. Using dairy adds a hint of extra fat for richer curds without it being too heavy. 

You only need a small amount, about 1 teaspoon liquid per one large egg. I keep the seasonings simple with salt and pepper. Use a quick back-and-forth motion for whisking to create well-mixed eggs, but don’t over whip as you’ll start to deflate the air inside, making a flatter omelet.

Diced vegetables and ham placed on top of eggs.

Pan selection

Use a nonstick pan. It makes it easier to stir the eggs and remove the omelet from the pan. I use a small 8-inch pan, which is about the right size for two eggs. A larger pan will make a flatter omelet. 

Omelet cooking technique

Melt the butter over medium-high heat, pour in the egg mixture, and immediately stir with a spatula to create curds. Let the raw eggs run into the open areas of the pan to help it set. The high heat makes the eggs puffy and cooks quickly. The process takes only a minute, so don’t walk away from the stove.

The omelet should be circular, with bumpy pockets of egg evenly dispersed throughout. The surface will look slightly wet, similar to soft scrambled eggs, but don’t worry; it will finish cooking after filling. Turn the heat down to low when you’re ready to add the filling. 

Spatula folding an omelet over the meat and cheese.

Add the filling

Add the sauteed vegetables to one side of the omelet. Evenly sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top, and then fold the other half of the egg over on top to cover the filling. To melt the cheese and allow the eggs to finish cooking, I cover the omelet and let it sit off the heat for a few minutes. Garnish with sliced green onions, and serve with your favorite side dishes like crispy hash browns and ketchup! 

What to serve this with

Denver omelet on a plate with green onions on top.

Butter and heat make a browned surface

American-style omelets traditionally have a golden surface. To create the color change in just a few minutes, I use medium-high heat to kickstart the process but then turn the heat down after a minute to prevent the burning or drying of the proteins. Using a small amount of butter accelerates the browning because the milk solids turn from white to hazel, leaving toasted nutty aromas in the process.

Denver Omelet

Elevate breakfast by making a Denver omelet that has the perfect ratio of protein-to-vegetables with a golden brown surface.
4.93 from 13 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Servings 1 serving
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons milk, whole milk or cream (optional)
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, or olive oil, vegetable oil, divided
  • ¼ cup thick-cut ham, ¼-inch dice
  • ¼ cup red onion, or yellow, ¼-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons green bell pepper, ¼-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons red bell pepper, ¼-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, ½ ounce
  • 1 tablespoon sliced green onions, (optional)

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, liquid (if using), and salt. Whisk the eggs in a side-to-side motion until uniform in appearance, do not over mix. Set aside.
  • In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon butter over medium heat until it just begins to bubble and foam, but does not brown. Add the diced ham, saute until lightly browned, 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
  • Add the diced onions, green and red bell pepper, saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer ham and vegetables to a bowl. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.
  • In the clean pan, heat 1 teaspoon butter over medium-high heat until it just begins to bubble and foam, but does not brown.
  • Add the eggs to the pan, use a spatula to immediately pull the cooked curds from the edges of the pan toward the center, allowing the raw egg to run underneath, tilting the pan to help move it to the bottom of the pan. Start from the top of the pan, and work around to create curds around the entire omelet, about 45 to 60 seconds.
  • Once the eggs are mostly cooked, similar to soft scrambled eggs with a glossy and slightly wet surface, turn the heat down to low.
  • Add the ham and vegetables to one half of the omelet, then sprinkle on the cheddar cheese. Turn off the heat and move the pan to a cool part of the stove, cover the omelet and allow it to finish cooking, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Using a spatula, fold the other half of the omelet on top. The surface will be lightly golden brown.
  • Transfer omelet to a plate and garnish with pepper and chives. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • For a less browned surface on the omelet, use medium instead of medium-high heat.
  • I use ham steak to give nice chunks of meat, but ham slices will also work.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 1 serving
Calories 440kcal (22%)Carbohydrates 7g (2%)Protein 33g (66%)Fat 31g (48%)Saturated Fat 16g (80%)Cholesterol 453mg (151%)Sodium 1378mg (57%)Potassium 428mg (12%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 4g (4%)Vitamin A 1742IU (35%)Vitamin C 61mg (74%)Calcium 284mg (28%)Iron 3mg (17%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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9 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Lindi says

    Loved loved your filling in this omelette, have since made it a number of times and have really enjoyed it , it’s also fabulous cold, I have also made it with speck, tonight’s dinner I did it stir fry pork strips cut into bite size pieces, I love doing an omelette with 2 minute noodles. I started with egg then put cooked noodles(don’t use flavour pouch). Then your filling, only able to eat half but it was really good. I normally do my noodle omelette with tuna tomato, onion and cheese, but next add tuna to your filling minus the ham thats next time … Thankyou for sharing this.

  2. Jenny says

    Jessica, can you give me a little more guidance on the ham? Is the ham steak already cooked? What part of the grocery store would I find it? I know I could use deli slices but I’m interested in something thicker. Really basic questions, I know, but we don’t eat ham generally other than a big spiral one at Easter. Thank you!!

  3. L says

    Quickly pivoted to make this for dinner after getting the post via email today. It was delicious and a big hit with family. Thanks!

    I need to work on my folding skills but tasted great!

  4. Kristin Fields says

    I always use water, not milk or cream because I like my omelet very fluffy. I also add tomatoes and mushrooms. I love a Denver omelet. Think I will fix these tonight!

    Just thought I would add, I usually use Canadian bacon instead of ham if I have it. It is a lower calorie option that tastes just as good.

  5. Stuart says

    There’s not many cafes here in Australia where you can get a Denver Omelette so I decided to have a crack at this recipe for Breakfast,and boy I’m glad I did.I didn’t have any Ham so used thickly diced Bacon and tossed that in the pan with the vegetables and a freshly ground pepper medley ( green,white and black peppercorns ) combined with salt and qrtr of a teaspoon of Paprika .I tossed that through the vegetable mix.i also added an extra egg in the omelette.with the cheese I used finely grated Romano and served the whole thing with a side of what you guys call country fried Potatoes and oven roasted Cherry Tomatoes and because I didn’t have Spring Onion ( green onion ) I topped it with finely chopped Parsley and some Toast on the side.with a steaming hot cup of coffee as well,this was easily one of the best Breakfasts ever?.