Who says you can’t have pie for breakfast? This quiche lorraine recipe has a delicious creamy custard filled with cheese, and salty bits of bacon served in a homemade flaky pie crust.
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Quiche lorraine is a great breakfast or brunch to share with family and friends. The name may sound fancy, but it’s just simply savory eggs and bacon, all in one slice. The best part is you can make it in advance to reheat and enjoy the next day.
I use the same pie crust from my apple pie recipe as the base. It’s sturdy enough to hold the heavy filling and yields crisp and tender pieces. I use a combination of eggs, cream, and whole milk for the smooth and luxurious custard. Bake time is essential. Slightly underbaking the center allows the filling to set without the risk of overcooking.
Make the pie crust
There are just four ingredients in the pie crust; flour, butter, salt, and water. My recipe is slightly higher in butter for a super crisp and tender texture. I recommend making the dough the day before because it needs at least 4 hours to rest. This duration prevents the dough from tasting tough due to gluten bonding during mixing.
Pull the dough out of the fridge when you’re ready to roll. I find that a ⅛-inch thickness creates a delicate shell but sturdy enough to support the filling. Once you shape the crust in a 9-inch pie plate, chill it in the freezer for at least 20 minutes to help to butter firm up, so it stays flaky when baked. You can also make the shell in advance, covering and refrigerating up to 2 days before baking.
Partially bake the shell
Par bake, also called blind-bake, the pie shell before adding in the filling. Because the custard is very wet, partially cooking the dough prevents the bottom from becoming soggy. I use this technique when making other custard desserts like pumpkin pie.
Line the crust with parchment paper and place about 2 cups (20 ounces) of ceramic pie weights into the center to cover the bottom and sides. Bake until the crust just sets and begins to get more golden in color, about 20 minutes. You’ll notice the middle puffs up a little. Just keep the weights on for a few minutes after baking to help it deflate. I bake the crust for 3 more minutes without the weights to slightly dry out the top of the bottom.
Saute the raw ingredients
I use thick-cut bacon in the recipe. Cured pork belly adds a deep savory flavor and hint of smokiness. Cut it into ½-inch thick pieces, add it to a cold skillet, then heat the pan so that the fat gently renders and crisps the meat instead of burning it. Make sure to drain the excess fat before adding the bacon to the pie shell.
The wonderful flavor of the pork drippings is perfect for sauteing the shallots. These alliums pack the punch of garlic and onions notes, all in one. They add earthy and sweet notes to the quiche for more depth in flavor.
Make the custard filling
The custard base should be smooth and creamy when cooked but hold a gel-like texture. To achieve this, you need fat and protein, which are both found in dairy and eggs. Whole milk contains about 3.5% fat, whereas heavy cream contains about 36% fat.
Using equal parts provides a higher percentage, about 19 to 20% milkfat. I also limit the amount of egg whites so that the texture does not become rubbery. Salt, pepper, and nutmeg add a savory seasoning with just a hint of sweet baked notes.
Layer the ingredients in the crust
To ensure even distribution of the ingredients in the quiche, layer the ingredients. Add half of the shredded gruyere first in an even layer. It’s the traditional cheese to use. It has a melty consistency and a nutty flavor.
Swiss is a good alternative, but Gruyere has a more complex flavor. Sprinkle the sauteed shallots on top, followed by the bacon pieces and the rest of the cheese. Slowly pour in the custard, so that gravity can help fill in the spaces before baking.
The quiche bakes in a moderate 375-degree oven. This temperature gently heats the delicate egg proteins. Over time, the crust and top of the custard will brown when the surface temperature reaches 300°F (149°C) through the Maillard reaction.
I find that to set the eggs for the best texture, bake until the custard’s perimeter sets, but the center is still slightly jiggly. An instant-read thermometer is handy for checking. When the center reaches between 185 to 190ºF (85 to 88ºC), it’s ready.
Cool before serving
During cooling, the carryover cooking will finish firming up the custard without risking a rubbery texture if overcooked. Using a wire rack gives the best air circulation for cooling and further preventing sogginess. The longer the quiche cools, the easier it will be to slice. You can refrigerate the quiche once completely cooled, then reheat and serve the next day.
Serve this with
The impact of fat on custard consistency
The more milkfat added to the custard, the more velvety the consistency. The fat droplets interfere with how tightly the proteins in the albumin egg whites bind together. That’s why I use both whole milk and heavy cream. It keeps the fat levels balanced without making it overly rich or rubbery without enough fat. You can use half-and-half as a substitute, but it may contain slightly less fat, around 18%.
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- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, chilled
- ½ cup ice-cold water chilled
- 8 ounces thick-cut bacon, about 8 slices cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup shallots, ¼-inch dice
- 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese, packed
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Keep the diced butter and ice water in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Using a stand mixer bowl, add the flour and salt. Mix using the paddle attachment at the lowest speed (Stir) for about 10-seconds. Add chilled diced butter to the bowl. At the lowest speed, turn the mixer on and off quickly for a few seconds to coat the butter with the flour. This helps to prevent the flour from spilling over. Continue to mix on low speed (setting 2) until the flour and butter resemble wet sand with coarse crumbles and some pea-sized pieces remain, about 75-seconds. Use fingers to break up any large pieces. Do not overmix. The dough should not bind together before adding the water. Alternatively, use a dough/pastry blender or your fingers to break the butter into the dough.
- Gradually add 1 tablespoon of ice-cold water to the bowl. After each addition, turn the mixer on for 1 to 2-seconds. Only add enough water until the dough looks lumpy and hydrated but not wet or sticky. Where it just begins to clump together with small crumbles on the bottom of the bowl. All the water may not be needed, about 5 to 6 tablespoons is typical. When the dough is pinched together, it should compress and hold, not be dry or crumbly. Do not over-mix. The dough will be pressed together before resting.
- Press the dough into a 1” thick round disc and wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in a resealable bag. Store in the refrigerator to rest for at least 4-hours, overnight, or up to 2 days.
- Once removed from the refrigerator, allow the crust to sit at room temperature for about 5 to 10-minutes. This will make it easier to roll. If it’s still too hard, let it sit at room temperature until more pliable.
- Dust the counter and top of the dough with flour. When rolling out, make sure to rotate and dust with flour underneath and on the top. This will prevent the dough from sticking and make it easier to transfer to the pie dish. Roll the dough into about a 14-inch circle, slightly thicker than ⅛-inch thick.
- Place the rolled-out dough into a 9-inch pie dish and gently press against the sides and bottom. With a paring knife, trim the excess dough with a ½-inch overhang over the pie dish's edge. Tuck the extra dough underneath the bottom crust edges. Crimp by pinching the dough using the pointer and thumb fingers. Place the pie dish in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat to 375°F (190°C).
- To par-bake, place the chilled pie dish on a sheet pan. Place parchment paper on top of the crust and add the pie weights to cover just the bottom and sides, do not overfill. Bake until the edges are lightly golden and just begin to set, about for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow the weights to sit in the crust for about 4 to 5 minutes to press down any puffed areas. Remove the paper and weights, it will not be used again. Bake for another 5 minutes to dry the crust's bottom before filling. The crust may be a bit puffy, but it will deflate as it sits. Set on a wire rack while making the filling.
- In a large skillet, add the chopped bacon. Turn the heat to medium. Once the bacon starts to sizzle, stir it occasionally until golden and crispy, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper-lined plate to drain the fat.
- Leave about 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan. Add the shallot and saute until fragrant and translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Evenly sprinkle half of the cheese, shallots, and bacon into the par-baked pie crust. Top with the remaining cheese.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, whole milk, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pie crust. Allow it to settle around the ingredients.
- Bake the quiche on top of a sheet pan in the middle of the oven until the surface and crust are golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. The center will be slightly jiggly. The temperature should be about 185 to 190ºF (85 to 88ºC) in the center. When a knife is inserted about 1-inch from the edge, it should come out clean and not wet.
- Cool the quiche on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Slice or cool completely, cover, and refrigerate to serve the next day.
- Using store-bought crust: For an unbaked refrigerated crust, follow the same instructions for shaping and par-baking in the recipe. If using a frozen crust, allow it to defrost before using.
- Storing: Cool completely, cover, and refrigerate for up to 7 days.
- Freezing: A whole quiche or slices can be wrapped and stored in a plastic bag for up to 1 month.
- Reheating: Reheat refrigerated individual slices in the microwave in 15 seconds intervals on high power until warmed through. Alternatively, bake slices in the oven at 375ºF (191ºC) on a foil or parchment paper-lined sheet pan, about 10 to 15 minutes. If frozen, bake sliced for 20 to 25 minutes. Defrost a whole quiche, then bake until warmed through.
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