Spanish Tortilla

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

  • 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.

Yum

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

  • kaitana

    Hi!
    I live in Spain, and Tortilla is probably our favourite dish… it’s, in fact, our national treasure! I think you exposed the recipe very well, I only have one comment: here in Spain we usually use diced potatoes, instead of sliced. However, that depends on the cook. My mother usually makes them with diced potatoes, onion and green pepper. Also, she takes it away from fire just a minute before it is completely cooked, so it doesn’t get so dry.
    Oh! Another trick is to beat the eggs with a little milk before mixing them to the potatoes, that makes it spongy.
    Try cutting some slices of tortilla and putting them between two loaves of bread (chapatta, for example). That is our traditional Bocata de Tortilla

    Thank you for your suggestions Kaitana! ~Elise

  • Sasa

    I was fortunate to have a close friend of mine make this for my brother and I to take on the bus as a snack when we left her house and she used the sliced onions instead of green but this one looks like a good version, look forward to trying it.

    Instead of using the broiler though, she flipped the whole thing onto a plate and tipped it back in the other way to finish – she said this is where the traditional shape comes from (it’s sort of evenly wedge shaped like two plates inverted upon one another rather than flat on bottom and pan shaped if that makes sense).

  • Rachel

    I’m an American, but I’ve lived in Spain 2 times, adding up to about a year and a half in total. And being a vegetarian in a country where the concept is pretty strange, I’ve eaten tons of tortillas. I agree with Kaitana. Tortilla is typically made with diced not sliced potatoes. I also would recommend more potatoes. With a 2-6 (or more!) ratio of potatoes to eggs, you’re getting more of an omelette with potatoes than a Spanish tortilla. You’ll see it both ways, but all of the homemade ones I’ve had have been more potato based – and much tastier! The recipe I was given by my housemom says 500 g of potatoes (1 lb) and 8 eggs. A couple other pointers – I wouldn’t layer the onions and potatoes like that. Mix them up! And finally, I’ve heard from some peole that after beating the eggs, you should mix the potatoes and onions in the eggs in a separate bowl before returning it to the frying pan. My housemom didn’t say that, but I’ve tried it both ways and find mixing it outside the pan works better for me.

    And do try the Bocata de Tortilla. It really is great! Rub some tomato on the top slice of bread for a Catalán version, or add roasted red peppers (I think you can buy those in the States) for another common variant on the sandwich.

  • nicole

    Just in time :-)
    I had eggs and potatoes that needed to be used, so we’re having tortilla for lunch.
    I don’t own an oven proof skillet/pan so I flip my tortillas. I slide them out of the pan onto a dish, then put a second dish on top, flip and slide back into the pan.
    Make sure your pan is smaller than your dishes though ;-)

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