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This classic Spanish Tortilla (Tortilla de Patatas or Tortilla Espanola) is made with thinly sliced potatoes, caramelized onions, eggs, and olive oil and can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Life is very simple, but we insist on making it complicated. ~Confucious
What is Spanish Tortilla?
Spanish Tortilla, or Tortilla de Patatas, is one of the most popular dishes of Spain. Although there are as many interpretations of this dish as there are people, Spanish Tortilla is prepared quite similarly everywhere in the country.
There is a slight division in the population (pro-onion and no-onion supporters), but most people will agree on one thing: the best potato tortilla is their mother’s.
There is no clear proof of the origin of Spanish Tortilla: some say it comes from the Galicia region (they pioneered the growing of potatoes), some say Extremadura, others Navarra… and others say the potato tortilla originated in Belgium!
Although potatoes arrived to Spain from the Americas (or Indias, as they were called then) in 1573, this is a relatively recent recipe, becoming popular in the 19th century. People used to prepare it with pork lard instead of olive oil and, originally, onion was not part of it (now considered a must by many). When potatoes arrived, they were seen as a flavorless, bland ingredient, and only gained traction in the 18th century, when wheat was scarce and expensive. It is said this was, in part, thanks to an Irish man, named Henry Doyle, living in Madrid, who convinced the king at the time about the benefits of this precious, undervalued vegetable.
How is Spanish Tortilla typically served?
If you come to Spain, you will find Spanish tortillas in restaurants, bars and at homes. It is eaten as breakfast, aperitivo during weekends, at lunch or for dinner. We will prepare it on any given day and also for a special occasion.
It can be eaten freshly made, at room temperature or cold, straight from the fridge.
As a tapa, served with some olives, croquetas and bread with tomato spread; or as a main, enjoyed with a nice salad and maybe roasted chicken.
Variations of Spanish Potato Tortilla
Some tortillas are thick and heavy, others are thin and light. You can make it so that it’s well-cooked and a little dry on the inside, or allow the eggs to cook only briefly, which makes it a little soft and wet.
The onions and potatoes are typically fried in a generous amount of olive oil, then poured into beaten eggs, and finally fried on a pan, flipping it halfway and cooking it on both sides.
For this recipe though, we will take the basics and make it lighter, healthier and slightly more simple.
Instead of deep-frying the vegetables, we will roast them until soft. This ensures a nice caramelization while keeping it lighter, by using less oil than usual.
Ingredients in Spanish Tortilla:
- Potatoes: a white or yellow all-purpose or waxy variety will do. Any potatoes that are versatile and good for baking, ideally with low % of starch.
- Fat: Use good quality olive oil (lighter color). Although its taste is sometimes considered strong, it is part of the tortilla flavor. Technically, you could use any type of cooking oil or even lard, like they used to in the old days.
- Salt: Add the salt to potatoes afterward, not before: this helps reduce the amount of water that the potatoes release during the roasting process. This is especially important when you fry any starchy ingredient and you’re looking for crunchiness (versus sogginess).
- Eggs: if possible, use high-quality free-range eggs and beat them only a little, no need to whisk them too much or too vigorously.
- Onions: Use white, yellow or sweet onions, thinly sliced.
How to make Spanish Tortilla
Step 1. Slice the potatoes into irregular pieces so that some parts caramelize more than others. Thinly slice the onions and toss both with olive oil, and roast in the oven until tender.
Step 2: Let cool then mix with the whisked eggs and salt.
Step 3: Heat a 8-9-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat on the stove with 1 tablespoon oil. Once hot, pour in the eggy potato mixture in the pan and cook 3-5 mintues.
Step 4: Use a flexible spatula to check if the sides are cooked. Wait until the edges are cooked before flipping. Once you’re able to slide the spatula along the side of the tortilla, place a flat plate on top of the pan.
Step 5: Flip the tortilla, then slide it back into the pan and cook the other side. Return the pan to the stove, let it cook for 1-2 mins Use a sharp knife a pierce the middle to check if the egg is cooked through. If not, lower heat, and continue cooking on low for a couple more minutes.
Step 6: Turn off the heat, place a clean plate on top of the pan and flip the tortilla on it, like you did before.
Listo! You have a Spanish tortilla! Enjoy this lovely Spanish Potato Tortilla brought to you straight from Spain by my Spanish friend and blogger, Silvia from Silvia Cooks.
Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Other Spanish recipes you may like:
- Spanish Seafood Stew with Chorizo and Chickpeas
- Vegetable Paella
- Spanish White bean, Shrimp and Sausage Skillet
- Simple Romesco Sauce Recipe
This classic Spanish Tortilla (aka Tortilla de Patatas or Torta Espanola) is a lightened-up version made with thinly sliced potatoes, caramelized onions, eggs, and olive oil that can be served for tapas, breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF (200-220ºC)
- Slice the onions and place in a medium-sized baking tray, add 1 tbsp olive oil and ½ tsp salt and mix well until onions are coated. Bake for 15 mins, or until just tender, mixing them halfway through.
- Meanwhile, peel (see notes) and slice the potatoes. If large, slice into half moons, no need to be precise here.
- Once the onions are tender, add the potatoes to the tray, along with 1 more tbsp of olive oil. Mix well and bake for another 15-20 mins, or until the potatoes are soft. Cool 10 minutes. You could do this ahead and refrigerate.
- Lightly whisk the eggs in a big bowl, add the cooked potatoes and onions and mix. Stir in ½ teaspoon more salt. Let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes, while you heat up the pan.
- Heat up a non-stick pan, about 22-25cm (8.5-10 inches) wide, over medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. When the pan is hot, set the heat to low. Pour the mixture into it, and shake the pan to level. Cook until the edges from up- this will only take a few mins. Use a flexible spatula to check if the sides are cooked. (Wait until the edges are cooked before flipping.) Once you’re able to slide the spatula along the side of the tortilla, and the underneath looks golden, place a flat plate on top of the pan.
- Press the plate against the pan – and flip the tortilla onto the plate. Return the pan to the stove, carefully slide the half-cooked tortilla back into the pan. Let it cook 2-4 mins until the underside looks deeply golden. Turn off the heat, place a clean plate on top of the pan and flip the tortilla on it, like you did before.
- Slice and serve warm, or at room temp, or chill and serve cold. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. After that, you can eat it cold straight from the fridge (very tasty too) or reheat it in the microwave until it’s room temperature.
- To make a vegan version of a Spanish tortilla, substitute the eggs for garbanzo bean flour + water batter. For each egg, mix 1 tbsp garbanzo flour + 2 tbsp water, approx. The consistency should be similar to whisked egg, slightly thicker.
- Serving Size: one fourth of the pie
- Calories: 272
- Sugar: 4.9 g
- Sodium: 243.5 mg
- Fat: 15.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 25.6 g
- Fiber: 4.1 g
- Protein: 9.1 g
- Cholesterol: 186 mg
Keywords: spanish tortilla, potato tortilla, spanish potato tortilla, Tortilla de Patatas, tortilla española, Spanish omelette