Denver Omelet

4.93 from 13 votes
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Elevate breakfast by making a Denver omelet with the perfect protein and vegetable ratio. I share my simple technique for creating light, 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.

Recipe Science

  • Cooking the vegetables before adding them to the omelet releases their moisture, concentrates their flavors, and prevents the omelet from becoming watery.
  • Whisking the eggs incorporates air, making the omelet light and fluffy as the proteins coagulate during cooking.
  • The combination of proteins from the eggs and ham undergoes the Maillard reaction when cooked, developing a rich, savory flavor and a slight browning on the surface.

Why It Works

When scanning the menu at most breakfast restaurants and diners, you’ll likely spot a classic Denver omelet. Also called the western omelet, 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. First, saute the filling ingredients to draw 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.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients to make a denver omelet.
  • Eggs: Use two large eggs to make one omelet. It’s easy to double the serving size, just like those hearty portions at restaurants.
  • Ham: I prefer to use cooked ham steak or leftover baked ham. The thick cut adds delicious chunks of the meat for a hearty meal.
  • Vegetables: Add colorful bell peppers and onions to the filling. Chop into uniform, small bite-sized pieces, about ¼-inch dice.
  • Butter: Melted butter adds flavor to the sauteed vegetables and omelet.
  • Cheese: Shreds of cheddar cheese is the classic variety to add to the center of the omelet. As it melts, it helps to enclose the eggs around the filling.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

The Denver omelet ingredients are the traditional pairing, but it’s easy to customize! Try these tasty options:

  • Meat: Use sliced deli ham instead of ham steak. Add sausage, crispy bacon, pancetta, or prosciutto.
  • Alliums: Add different types of onions like white, yellow, or even shallots for a hint of garlic flavor. Saute fresh minced garlic with the vegetables.
  • Peppers: Add red, green, yellow, orange, or a mix of bell peppers for a unique taste. Make the egg dish spicy with minced jalapenos.
  • Cheese: Instead of cheddar, try mozzarella, Monterey jack, pepper jack, or smoked gouda.

How to Make a Denver Omelet

Bowl of eggs and milk with a whisk.

Step 1: Prepare the Egg Mixture

To make light and fluffy curds, whisk eggs with a little bit of milk, half-and-half, cream, or water. I keep the seasonings simple with salt and pepper.

Whisked eggs in a metal bowl.

Use a quick back-and-forth motion for whisking to create well-mixed eggs. Don’t overwhip as you’ll start to deflate the air inside, making a flatter omelet.

Ingredient Chemistry: 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 of liquid per one large egg.

Step 2: Cook the Ham

I use ham steak in the recipe to give nice chunks of meat, but ham slices will also work. Saute the diced ham in a nonstick skillet over medium heat in melted butter until lightly browned. The process only takes about 2 minutes.

Sauteing chopped peppers and ham chunks.

Step 3: Saute the Vegetables

For the Denver omelet recipe, it’s best to saute high-moisture ingredients until crisp-tender before adding them to the omelet. This process removes excess water that would otherwise seep out if not cooked first.

I like to use both red and green bell peppers and purple onions for color and flavor. The red tends to be sweeter, and the green is more bitter. It’s a nice contrast.

Spatula mixing egg curds in a hot pan.

Step 4: Cook the Eggs

Melt the butter over medium-high heat, pour 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 you add the filling. When you’re ready to add the filling, turn the heat down to low.

Diced vegetables and ham placed on top of eggs.

Step 5: Add the Filling

Add the sauteed veggies and ham to one side of the omelet.

Spatula folding an omelet over the meat and cheese.

Sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly on top, then fold the other half of the egg over to cover the filling.

I cover the omelet and let it sit off the heat for a few minutes to melt the cheese and allow the eggs to finish cooking.

Denver omelet on a plate with green onions on top.

Step 6: Garnish and Serve

Garnish the Denver omelet with sliced green onions to add a mild allium flavor without tasting raw. Serve with your favorite side dishes, like crispy hash browns or home fries, with ketchup!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Denver omelet made of?

Eggs filled with ham, bell peppers, onions, and melty cheese. The dish can vary between diners, cafes, and home cooks, but these are the main ingredients.

What’s the difference between Denver and Western Omelette?

The main ingredients are the same: whisked eggs cooked until tender and then filled with ham, onion, bell peppers, and cheese. Although you may see them offered with two different names at a restaurant, they are similar in flavor.

What kind of pan should I use?

Use a nonstick skillet to make stirring the eggs and removing the omelet from the pan easy. I use a small 8-inch pan, which is about the right size for two eggs. A larger pan will make a flatter omelet. 

How do 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.

Serve This With

If you tried this Denver Omelet, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

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 whole milk, optional
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
  • ¼ cup diced thick-cut ham, ¼" dice
  • ¼ cup diced red onion, ¼" dice
  • 2 tablespoons diced green bell pepper, ¼" dice
  • 2 tablespoons diced red bell pepper, ¼" dice
  • 2 tablespoons cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sliced green onions

Instructions 

  • Whisk the Eggs – In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk (if using), salt, and pepper. Whisk in a side-to-side motion until uniform in appearance; do not over-mix. Set aside.
  • Cook the Ham – In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, melt 1 teaspoon of butter over medium heat until it just begins to bubble and foam, but does not brown. Add the diced ham and saute until lightly browned, 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
  • Saute the Vegetables – Add the diced onions, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper. Saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer the ham and vegetables to a bowl. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.
  • Cook the Eggs – 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 and use a spatula to pull the cooked curds away from the edges and towards the center, allowing the raw egg to run underneath.
    Tilt the pan to help move the uncooked eggs to the bottom. Create curds around the entire omelet, this will take 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.
  • Fill the Omelet – 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.
  • To Serve – Transfer the omelet to a plate and garnish with green onions. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Creamier Eggs: Add heavy cream instead of whole milk. 
  • Butter Substitute: Use olive oil or vegetable oil to grease the pan. 
  • Ham Substitute: I use ham steak to give nice chunks of meat, but sliced ham is a good substitute. 
  • For a Less Browned Surface: Use medium instead of medium-high heat.

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. 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?.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, your Denver omelet breakfast sounds amazing, Stuart! The home fries and roasted tomatoes so like an excellent pairing.

  2. 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.

  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. 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!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Jenny- The ham steak is located near the raw meats refrigerated area. It’s usually sold in one large slice that has been shrink wrapped.

  5. 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.