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Authentic Spanish Tortilla de Patatas Recipe

Updated on April 29, 2017
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Lena is a foodie and home cook from the SF Bay Area with a passion for Spanish flavors and traditional cooking with a modern touch!

What is a Spanish tortilla?

In the United States, when most people hear the word "tortilla" they think of the Mexican corn or flour variety. But in actuality, the word is just the diminutive of "torta," which simply means "cake." In Spain, it refers to an egg dish named because of its distinctive shape: thick, circular and flat, with rounded edges. When someone talks about tortilla española, it is to draw a distinction between the unleavened bread popular in Central- and South American cuisine and what is essentially a Spanish omelette.

A tortilla de patata I made at home
A tortilla de patata I made at home | Source

The most traditional of these is the tortilla de patatas, which is typically served at room temperature, either in a wedge (pincho de tortilla) or cut into bite-sized pieces, alongside other small plates, as tapas. In Spain, whether or not to include onions is a matter of debate, but the version on the official Spanish government website includes them, so I feel validated in putting them in my own recipe.

You may also hear this dish called "tortilla de papas," depending on where the speaker is from.

A lighter-colored tortilla espanola
A lighter-colored tortilla espanola | Source
4.5 stars from 2 ratings of Tortilla de Patatas

Tortilla de Patatas Recipe

Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 45 min
Yields: Makes 1 tortilla, 3 entree portions or 6 appetizer

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs potatoes
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • salt & black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Peel the onion and potatoes. Cut them into thin, even slices. (Using a mandoline makes this a lot easier, if you have one.)
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet (8 to 10 inches in diameter) over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Test a single slice of potato in the oil; if it bubbles, you are ready to fry.
  3. Fry the ingredients in batches. (Be careful not to splash yourself!) Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Turn the potatoes periodically with a wooden spoon, just until tender but not falling apart. Lower the heat if they begin to brown!
  4. Put a strainer over a heat-proof bowl and carefully transfer the onion and potato into it to drain, collecting the excess oil. Set the skillet aside to cool, as you will be using it again!
  5. Beat the eggs until frothy, with a little bit of salt and pepper. Then wipe out the skillet with a paper towel to remove any burned bits, before returning to the stove. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved oil that has drained from your fried ingredients, and warm over medium heat.
  6. Gently fold potato and onions slices into your beaten eggs and pour into the heated skillet. Swirl and shake the pan to get the ingredients to evenly distribute, but do not stir. Once the edges begin to get firm, reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook for an additional 5 minutes, using a heatproof spatula to gently round the top edges to produce the distinctive Spanish tortilla shape.
  7. Now for the trickiest step: flipping. It's best to do this over the sink or a garbage can, because there may be drips. Place a large plate over the top of the skillet and invert them in one swift motion, turning the tortilla out onto the plate. Add a little more of your reserved olive oil to the pan and then carefully slide it back into it with the uncooked side down.
  8. Cook 5 more minutes, then slide your finished tortilla espanola onto a clean plate. Let it stand for at least 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving; it should be warm or room-temperature, not hot.

How to Flip a Spanish Tortilla

How to Serve Your Tortilla de Papas

If you are serving this at a sit-down meal, cut the circle into six even wedges. One wedge makes a good starter before the main dish, or serve a couple of pieces per person as an entree.

For tapas or as a fancy appetizer at your cocktail party, on the other hand, you'll want to cut it into smaller, bite-sized pieces, like the photo below from Bay Area catering company Ñora Spanish Cuisine. They've taken it to the next level by putting aioli on top of each bite, but I never have time for all that. I just serve a sauce on the side for dipping, like the spicy tomato aioli from my patatas bravas recipe. Nobody's complained yet!

Fancy tortilla de patatas appetizer
Fancy tortilla de patatas appetizer | Source

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    • Margie Lynn profile image

      Margie Lynn 5 months ago from Beautiful Texas Hill Country

      This sounds delicious, I will be trying this soon, thanks for the recipe!

    • Spanish Food profile image
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      Lena Durante 5 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Thanks, C.E.! It's easier than it looks. The flipping is the most stressful part, but if you approach it with confidence and commit, it's not as difficult as it might seem.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 months ago from North Texas

      This looks delicious! Wish I had some here right now!

    • Spanish Food profile image
      Author

      Lena Durante 6 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Thank you, Dora! I hope you'll try it. It really is wonderful comfort food, no matter how it looks in the end.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 6 months ago from The Caribbean

      Tortilla-de-Papas, the way you present is far above my former notion of tortilla. Thanks for the cooking class.

    • Spanish Food profile image
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      Lena Durante 6 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      That's a great tip, Glenis! The flip is really intimidating for a lot of cooks, and I completely understand. I think I needed some liquid courage (in the form of sangria) before I tried it the first time. I recommend trying it at least once in your life, though. I find if you stay relaxed, it usually works out just fine.

    • Glenis Rix profile image

      GlenR 6 months ago from UK

      If you don't feel brave enough to flip the tortilla the pace the pan under a hot grill for a few minutes.

    • Spanish Food profile image
      Author

      Lena Durante 6 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Thanks, Jean. I think the key with the flip is to do it in one swift motion and be totally relaxed if you lose a couple of potatoes. I actually just made this for dinner last night (posting the recipe gave me a craving), and I had to tuck a few potato slices back under the tortilla after flipping. You couldn't tell at all in the final product!

    • Happy Vegan profile image

      Beverly Jean 6 months ago from Denton

      Interesting article. I like learning about traditional foods with which I am not familiar. I like the flip video, too. I'm going to have to try that flip. Thanks.