Spanish Tortilla

Classic Spanish tortilla, or a Spanish potato omelette, with the emphasis on potato. Thinly sliced potatoes, fried in olive oil, layered in a pan, covered with beaten eggs, and cooked.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

To a native Californian like myself, a “tortilla” is round and flat, and comes in only two styles, flour and corn. So the concept that a tortilla could also be a thick potato omelette, took some getting used to. But that is the difference between a Spanish tortilla and a Mexican tortilla.

The Spanish version is made by frying thinly sliced potatoes in olive oil, then layering those slices in a pan (preferably a cast iron frying pan), covering with beaten eggs, and cooking until set.

It’s perfect for a weeknight meal, and only requires a few ingredients which you likely have in your pantry. It’s good warm, room temperature, or cold, and makes for great leftovers.

Now I’ve never been to Spain, but if you have, and you recall a favorite version of the Spanish tortilla, please let us know about it in the comments. For those of you for whom this concept is entirely new, I do encourage you to try this recipe, I think you’ll like it!

Spanish Tortilla Recipe

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  • Yield: Serves 2-4

Waxy potatoes such as Yukon Golds or red-skinned new potatoes work well in this dish. Avoid using russets. This recipe is meant for a 9 inch diameter pan. If your pan is larger, add a couple eggs. If your pan is a full 12 inches, add 4 eggs, another potato and another green onion.

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2-3 green onions (or 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion), chopped up to the light green parts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt

Method

1 Slice the potatoes (peeled or unpeeled) into disks between 1/4 and 1/8 inch wide. (Helps to use a mandoline for this purpose.)

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2 Pour the olive oil into a cast-iron or hard anodized aluminum pan (a pan that will be able to take the heat of a broiler in the oven) and heat it over medium-high heat. When it is hot enough to sizzle the potatoes as soon as they hit the oil – test with an end piece – start frying them in one layer. Working in batches, fry until they are lightly browned, not crispy. When they are done, let the potatoes dry on a paper towel and salt them well. Keep frying until they are all cooked.

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3 When the potatoes are all done, pour off most of the oil and sauté the onions. When they are just starting to crisp, turn off the heat. Arrange the onions so they are evenly covering the bottom of the pan. Arrange the potatoes on the pan in a scalloped pattern.

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4 Turn the heat back on to medium, and pour in the eggs. Add a generous pinch of salt. Shake the pan to get the eggs to coat everything in the pan. Let this cook until you see the edges of the tortilla begin to set, then put the pan under the broiler.

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5 Cook it under the broiler for 5 minutes, or until the top browns. (If you prefer to finish the tortilla on the stovetop instead of the broiler, slide the tortilla out of the pan onto a plate. Then invert the pan over the plate, and flip the whole thing, pan and plate so that the tortilla falls back into the pan, less-cooked side down.) Remove the pan and set it to cool for at least 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve. It’s also good at room temperature, and will keep a couple days in the fridge.

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Links:

Wikipedia on Spanish tortilla

Potato, Parsnip, and Watercress Tortilla from Cannelle et Vanille

Oven-baked tortilla espanola from Lydia of The Perfect Pantry

Ferrán Adrià´s bag-of-chips tortilla from Ximena of Lobstersquad

Spring-time Tortilla Espanola from Hank at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

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Showing 4 of 36 Comments

  • Camille

    My French mother in law makes this same dish and it is superb! All this time I thought this was a Gaelic treat, now, I know the truth!

  • Dee

    My mother was raised in Zamora, Spain. We ate tortillas a couple times a week as children. She always sliced the potatoes in thick, french-fry like pieces. This may have been done to save time to get dinner on the table for three children. There were far more potatoes than eggs. Eggs were more of a binder than anything. And she used lots of sliced spanish onions and garlic. And always served with a fresh green salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing. That is how I make mine now, too. Delicious!

  • Noemi

    First time making a comment here, although I’ve been reading your blog since ages.

    I’m spanish, and, as a lot of people said above, usually we use diced potatoes instead of sliced ones, and much more potatoes than eggs. Also, if you let potatoes and eggs rest a while (a couple of minutes) in a bowl together, you’ll find that your tortilla is much more tastier.

    You people would like to try adding some chopped chorizo or cheese to the potaoes/eggs mix, I promise it’s delicious with cheese inside.

    Other variant, that is usually served at restaurants or bars, is slicing the tortilla in 2 horizontal halves, and put some boiled ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato with a bit of mayonaise between both halves. Try it and then tell me ^^

    Thanks for the suggestions Noemi! ~Elise

  • Candice

    I made two individual size Spanish Tortillas last night for dinner along with some roasted asparagus and kielbasa, it was SO good!!! I was afraid the eggs were going to stick and create a big mess in my cast iron skillets, but they came out perfectly. Thanks for the recipe(s)!

  • Ophelia

    This looks great! Does anyone know if leftovers of this dish would be good? I don’t think my husband and I could eat the whole thing in one sitting, but I’m always a little cautious about refrigerating egg dishes, as sometimes they can be kind of gross.

    Also, how can I add some veggies to this dish? With the egg? Or with the potatoes??

    Hi Ophelia, the Spanish tortilla is great for leftovers. You might want to look at some of the other comments to see which vegetables others like to add to the dish. I would just layer them in with the potatoes, but I’m guessing you can add them any which way you like. ~Elise

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