What's the Difference Between a Quiche and a Frittata?
On the surface, a quiche and a frittata are pretty similar—they’re both round, egg-based brunch staples. But there are a few key factors that set these two egg dishes apart from each other. Here’s how to tell the difference between a quiche and a frittata:
What Is a Quiche?
A quiche is a silky and rich mixture of eggs, cream, and cheese—usually combined with meat and vegetables—baked in a pastry shell. Basically, quiche is what would happen if a custard and a savory pie had a baby.
While it’s considered a French dish, egg and cream pastries were enjoyed in England as early as the 14th century and in Italy as early as the 13th century.
The quiche variant you know best—the quiche Lorraine—is distinctly French. Named after the Lorraine region in France, the popular dish is traditionally served at “special occasion” events and is prepared using eggs, cream, and lardons (pork fat). Modern versions employ cheddar cheese and bacon.
What Is a Frittata?
English chef and television presenter Delia Cook called the frittata "Italy's version of an open-face omelet,” and she’s not wrong.
In the same sense that a quiche is a cross between a custard and a savory pie, you could argue that a frittata is a cross between a quiche and an omelet.
Frittatas are usually made using eggs, cream, and various meats, vegetables, and cheeses. They’re typically cooked in a skillet.
The Italian word “frittata” roughly translates to “fried.” Its roots aren’t easily traceable, and frittata variations may have even existed as far back as ancient Mesopotamia. Frittatas are easy to make and come together quickly.
Quiche vs. Frittata
Three important factors separate quiches and frittatas: the existence of a crust, the egg-to-dairy ratio, and the cooking method.
Perhaps the most obvious distinction: A quiche is baked slowly in a savory pie crust (pâte brisée). A frittata, meanwhile, is crustless and cooks more quickly. Because the crust adds a certain amount of stability, a quiche can handle more cream than a frittata. Which brings me to another important difference…
The Egg-to-Dairy Ratio
Quiches are usually prepared with more dairy (usually cream, milk, or half-and-half) than frittatas. Most quiche recipes call for about ½ cup dairy to every large egg that is used.
Frittatas are prepared with considerably less dairy, if dairy is used at all: For every six large eggs you use, add no more than about ¼ cup full fat dairy—think sour cream, heavy cream, or crème fraîche.
The Cooking Method
You cook a frittata on the stove and a quiche in the oven. Frittatas are traditionally cooked in a skillet (and then sometimes placed in the oven to complete the cooking process), while quiches are baked in a pie pan. Neither dish is particularly difficult to prepare, but a quiche is slightly more labor intensive than a frittata.