Italian fried eggs are a staple in most Italians’ households. They make a quick and filling meal for one or the entire family. They can be enjoyed alone, in a sandwich, or for brunch with a selection of other food, like we are making them today. Of course, you can eat them whenever you want – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What to expect: You’ll bite into a delicate fried egg with a firm but soft white and a runny yolk. The delicious egg flavour will be enhanced by the saltiness of the cotto ham and the cheesy layer on top.
Do Italians eat a lot of eggs?
With all the delicious bakes, Easter egg breads, pies, fresh egg pasta, and zabaione you probably think that Italy consumes a lot of eggs. If so, read on.
You’ll be surprised to know that Italians are among the countries that consume a lower average kg of eggs per capita per year. The average is under 12 kg per capita while the highest consumption in Europe was found in the Netherlands with over 20 kg. These figures come from the Helgi Library.
It seems that the consumption kept falling, especially during and after the pandemic, since the last Statista report which recorded about 13.73 kg consumed per head in 2014.
In a nutshell, Italians don’t eat many eggs but the ones they eat they eat deliciously, as you’ll see from this recipe.
How many eggs do Italian eat?
Based on the research findings above, we can calculate that the maximum number of eggs eaten on average by an Italian in a year is 240 eggs. This is correct for eggs that weigh about 50 gr. If the eggs eaten weigh 60 gr, then the total consumption would be under 200 eggs per head. So let’s summarise by saying that an Italian eats on average between 200 and 240 eggs each year. This means that daily consumption of eggs in Italy should lie around just over half an egg.
How do Italian eat their eggs?
Now that you know how many eggs we eat in Italy, you may wonder how we eat those eggs.
Well, a large majority of eggs is consumed indirectly when eating food that contains eggs, both packaged food and fresh food that has been purchased ready made. Cakes, briosce, crostate, fresh pasta, some dry pasta, frozen pies, egg sandwiches are an examples of such food.
And then there are the eggs we consume when cooking at home from scratch, which we do a lot of.
One way which Italians eat most of their eggs is probably hard boiled eggs, which we call uova soda. Many on a diet like to eat these for breakfast, with lunch or dinner for extra protein with a low calorie count. However, most Italians eat them occasionally in a salad, in a sandwich or in a pie.
Popular Italian recipes with eggs
- Parmigiana di melanzane
- Lasagna all’uovo
- Uova in purgatorio
- Frittelle di verdure
- Polpette di carne o pollo aka the famous Italian meatballs
- Uova in camicia
- Carbonara, of course
- Stuffed courgette flowers with ricotta fried in an egg flour batter
- Insalata di riso or rice salad
- Crema pasticcera – which is found in many desserts, including this mille foglie
- Tortellini al brodo
- Ravioli con ricotta e spinaci
This is just a small list, but you can imagine how many Italian dishes contain eggs. Just think about all the fresh pasta shapes that can be eaten with a variety of sauces, which we eat a lot of in Italy. Then think about all the homemade biscuits and cakes we like to prepare at home. There are also hundreds of ways we like to cook our eggs, not just hard boiled and fried.
10 Ways Italians cook their eggs
Uova sode – hard boiled eggs
Uova alla coque – this is a popular nutritious way to eat eggs for breakfast, and one mums love to make for their kids. It’s simply soft boiled eggs, eaten on their own or paired with bread or crackers and butter.
Uova bazzotte – similar to soft boiled eggs but with a slightly harder egg yolk because we leave them cooking for 6 minutes instead of 3. Once you crack them, we like to eat them in a sandwich or just with bread.
Uova in camicia – are poached eggs which are delicious enjoyed with a slice of rustic Italian bread. Discover the best Italian bread types here.
Uova in cocotte – they are eggs in cocotte which you put in a ramekin, top with cheese and herbs and bake for 5 minutes.
Uova al forno – or baked eggs can be a substitute to fried eggs, cracked in a pan and then cooked in the oven using a water bath.
Uova ripiene – stuffed hard boiled eggs with different fillings; the most popular is tuna, capers and mayonnaise.
Uova strapazzate – scrambled eggs cooked with just salt and pepper in a little oil or butter and enjoyed with some fresh rustic bread. An alternative way to make these is to add chopped veggies like courgettes, ham and cheese but there are a thousand more ways to cook them.
Frittate – our version of omelettes can vary from no filling to the most unique combinations.
Uova al tegamino – we’ll discuss this next.
Fried Eggs in Italian
It’s about time we learn more about fried eggs, since it’s what we will be making today.
Uova fritte, uova al tegamino and uova all’occhio di bue are different ways Italians call them.
The term uova fritte translates to fried eggs.
Uova al tegamino translates to eggs in a pan.
Whereas, uova all’occhio di bue translates to bull’s eye eggs.
Uova fritte is the way I grew up calling them because that’s the way they are called in the South of Italy, including Puglia and Sicily. The reason being is that in the south we cook them in extra virgin olive oil, not butter.
When you move to the North of our peninsula, you’ll start hearing more the other two terms, and they will definitely be using butter and not oil.
Fried egg types depending on cooking time
Italians don’t like to overcook their eggs. Most of us like to cook them just enough so they are not raw nor burnt. We also don’t like to flip our fried eggs. So in Italy, you would normally get a sunny side up fried egg type. The closest term to refer to this type of cooking is uovo all’occhio di bue, as you are pointing out that you want the egg yolk to be on top and still runny.
However, if your eggs’ cooking time is important to you, let me tell you how to order the other types while in Italy.
If you like your pan eggs over easy, then you have to ask for uova fritte poco cotte. This is how to order them:
“Vorrei delle uova fritte, poco cotte”. or “Io prendo le uova fritte, poco cotte”. or “Per me, uova fritte poco cotte”.
The same holds if you like your egg over medium or over well. You simply have to change the last term. Say it this way:
“Vorrei delle uova fritte a cottura media”. or “Io prendo le uova fritte a cottura media”. or “Per me, uova fritte a cottura media”.
“Vorrei delle uova fritte, ben cotte”. or “Io prendo le uova fritte, ben cotte”. or “Per me, uova fritte ben cotte”.
A cottura media means over medium whereas ben cotte refers to over well.
Ingredients for fried eggs in Italy
To make a simple Italian uovo fritto which is just one, or more uova fritte which refers to the plural, here’s what you need:
- Fresh eggs
- extra virgin olive oil or butter
- salt and pepper
In terms of equipment, you simply need a medium size pan and an egg spatula.
If you want to make yours a little fancier than just the simple way, here are a few ideas.
- Fried eggs with cheese; you can use your favourite Italian cheese.
- Fried eggs with tomatoes; cherry tomatoes are my favourite because of their cute shape and their sweet taste.
- Add pancetta (bacon), speck, or different types of prosciutto (ham) if you like.
- Fry your egg inside or on top of a slice of bread and top with fresh or dry herbs, and some parmesan.
- Cook them the simple way and pair them with a delicious condiment like Cannonata.
How to fry an egg step by step the Italian way
Let’s look at how you can make your uova al tegamino, the Italian way.
- Take your medium sized pan, which should be enough for 1 to 3 eggs.
- Let it heat on your hob or stove for a minute or two.
- Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil like Belmorso, and move the pan in a circular motion so that the oil can coat all of the pan.
- Alternatively, you can use butter instead of oil and repeat the movement in step 3.
- Take an egg, beat it lightly against the edge of the pan, and use your hands to help you crack it into the pan. Make sure you do it on the side if you plan to cook 2 or more eggs; that way, you’ll have enough space for the other eggs.
- Repeat for egg 2 and any extra egg.
- Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Leave to cook over medium heat for at least 3 minutes. You can cook yours for longer, if that’s what you like.
- Use your spatula to lift the eggs and transfer to a plate.
- Take a fork and dig in.
Fried eggs how long?
How long you’ll fry your eggs depends on how you like them. For the classic Italian occhio di bue, 3 minutes should be enough.
Cook them for 5 minutes if you like yours over medium.
Flip them and cook them for another couple of minutes, if you like yours over well.
Best oil for frying eggs.
For us Italians, there’s really one type of oil for cooking. Whether, we are frying or adding it to a simmering sauce, our choice is extra virgin olive oil.
Frying eggs with EVOO is a great choice, not only because of its delicious taste but also because of the added nutritional properties. If you use a high quality extra virgin olive oil that is rich in antioxidants you’ll increase the nutrition of your meal.
Moreover, extra virgin olive oil has been found to have an optimum capacity to handle high temperatures, which is essential when frying.
If you still don’t have a great Italian extra virgin olive oil we suggest one of these three:
- Belmorso Extra Virgin Olive Oil, great for any type of cooking and baking and available all year round.
- Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Caroli, also available all the year.
- Novello, our finest and exclusive extra virgin olive oil, imported directly from the producer a few days after pressing. This is available from November to February, or until stock lasts. You can pre-order yours in October here.
If you want to cook your fried eggs without oil, you can follow the steps above but just make sure you are using a non stick pan.
Italian Fried Eggs Recipe
Here’s the full recipe to make these Italian fried eggs with ham and cheese.
As per usual, you can follow the instructions on your screen, or print out the recipe card.
Italian Fried Eggs with ham and cheese
- 1 medium sized pan
- 1 spatula
- 2 medium eggs
- 2 slices cotto ham
- Belmorso extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
Optional to complete your brunch
- 1 ciabatta bread
- 5 rustic Italian breakfast biscuits
- 10 cherry tomatoes
- 5 fresh basil leaves or as many as you like
- Take your pan and drizzle a generous amount of EVOO, enough to coat the entire pan once you move it around.
- Put the pan over your hob, turn on the heat, and leave to heat for two minutes.
- Add two slices of ham, one on each side, leaving the centre empty for the eggs.
- Lower the heat.
- Leave the ham to cook for 1 minute.
- Next, lightly beat an egg against the pan or a hard surface around you. Crack the egg in the middle of the pan, leaving space for the second one.
- Repeat the previous step with your second egg.
- Season the eggs with black pepper and a dash of salt. I am using pink Himalayan salt.
- Leave the eggs to cook for 2 minutes and further lower the heat.
- Leave to cook until the white is firm.
- Once the egg white is not running, you can add your sliced cheese. I am using just one not to cover the egg yolk, but you can use more if you like.
- Leave to cook for 1 more minute. All in all, I probably cooked mine for 7 minutes total. Depending on your pan, the eggs and your temperature you might need to cook them just for 5 minutes.
- Use a spatula to transfer the eggs to a plate, or enjoy directly in your pan.
- For your side brunch dishes I suggest a salad with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves simply seasoned with salt and pepper, plus extra virgin olive oil.
- A few rustic breakfast biscuits and a cappuccino complement this breakfast/brunch perfectly.
- Buon appetito.
Fried egg and cheese sandwich
Our recipe today is perfect to make a sandwich. Since it already contains ham and cheese, the eggs and the seasoning, all you need to do is slice the bread, toast it or not, and fill it with the fried eggs you made following this recipe.
If you like the combination of the two, you can also add your uova fritte to this Sicilian fried eggplant sandwich. It’s not how the Sicilians eat it, but it’s certainly delicious.
Fried Eggs How Long and answering all your questions
Are fried eggs good for you?
What is the best way to fry an egg?
Should you fry eggs in oil or butter?
Do you flip a fried egg?
Is it ok to fry eggs in olive oil?
How much oil do you need to fry an egg?
Is it ok to fry eggs in extra virgin olive oil?
Can you use virgin oil to fry eggs?
What is the best oil to fry eggs in?
How to flr an egg without flipping?
How to fry an egg for a sandwich?
What is a fried egg called in Italian?
How do you order eggs in Italian?
How to make a cheese fried egg?
How do you melt cheese on an egg?
What cheese is best to cook eggs with?
Do you cover eggs when frying?