Spanish Tortilla

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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 71 Comments

  • Carina Lujambio

    I was raised in Uruguay SA until I was 11. One of my favorite dishes we ate regularly was tortilla. It was a great family favorite. It was prepared in a frying pan with eggs, potatos, salame and bell peppers.
    My question is about the pronouncation of the word. I was told it was torti-ja. Although it was spelled tortilla. My boyfriend is from spain and he says its tortilla. (like the mexican flat bread) I told him the correct way to say it is with the j sound. I know there is no J sound in spanish but that is how we have learned to call it.
    any advise?

    Carina

    Hi Carina, I don’t know about Uruguay, but in Arjentina, they pronounce “yo” as “jo”, so perhaps it’s just the dialect where you are from. ~Elise

  • Edwardcj

    I studied in Valencia and lived with 3 buddies in an apartment with a landlady and cook/maid named Emerenciana. Tortilla to us was much like paella – there was a standard recipe, but optional ingredients sometimes. Emerin used whatever she had on hand, although the basic resipe was “sacred”. Once, when we were headed for the beach, she made a tortilla with potatoes, onion, chorizo and red bell peppers. She sliced open a large round loaf of crusty bread, hollowed it out, brushed the inside with olive oil (lots!! She put olive oil on everything), place the tortilla inside, wrapped it in a towel, placed it in a box with a weight on top. She added some jamon serrano (ham) to the box, and a chunk of cheese. The loaf compressed a bit, like a panini, but was that lunch speccial! We sliced into wedges and ate it with the ham and cheese and a local wine. It’s been years, and I have since married and lived in Italy (fritatta), but the family still loves this Spanish tortilla and frequently make into the loaf and serve in wedges. We’re doing it tomorrow for Superbowl Sunday!

  • Mol1 (Ammede Mol)

    This recipe brings back memories. My mom used to make these with red onions, green peppers and sliced potatoes. Best Sunday breakfast ever!!! Thanks for posting.

  • Anna Sánchez

    hi!
    I’m from Spain, and as every spanish says “my mother does the best tortilla de patatas of the world”
    In my house we use to cook the tortilla with diced zucchini (calabacín)and onion. We only use one big onion, regardless of the number of guests.
    The onion is slug, so it’s more tender. the variety is called Figueres onion.

    fistable we fry the potatos (not too much oil),
    we take them off the pan
    we chop the onions and the zucchini and we poach it in the same oil.
    then we put all toghether (vegs and potatoes).
    the last thing is beat the eggs (one or one and a half per person)with a bit of salt, put them in the hot pan and stir a bit. Leave to set, flip with a plate and wait a few minutes (2-5 minutes).

    To tell you the truth I can’t give you an exacly formula, the only thing that you must consider is that the vegetables must be covered by the egg.
    As someone has comment you can use the vegetables or ingredients you prefer, but you must keep the egg and the potatoes!!

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