Originally published January 2014. Updated September 2018 by Analida.
Tortilla Espanola is a simple, delicious dish to enjoy as a main or appetizer. In Spain, it’s a tapas staple (appetizer). At home, we enjoy it with salad greens.
Tortilla Espanola consists of 4 basic ingredients: potatoes, onions, eggs and olive oil. Salt and pepper are added to taste. As far as the origins are concerned, my research yielded nothing concrete. In my opinion it was someone’s need to create something interesting from humble ingredients.
The secret to a good Tortilla Espanola lies in cooking the potatoes to the correct tenderness.
You cannot let the potatoes get crispy, this will ruin the texture. You have to slowly simmer the potatoes in the olive oil along with the onions until they are tender.
Another little secret I want to share with you is about the olive oil. I save my olive oil in a container in the refrigerator after each use. This oil becomes extremely fragrant and imparts a delicious taste on your next tortilla. It does not spoil, trust me!
I use a tandem pan that I purchased at Sur La Table, as a Christmas gift for my husband years ago. It works amazingly well and you don’t have to worry about the possibility of your tortilla falling when you do the flip.
Now, everyone’s taste buds are different, but in my opinion a Tortilla Espanola tastes just as good cold. I recommend that you try this at least once, it might just become one of your favorites!
Amazon carries a tandem pan that is perfect for flipping a large tortilla.
Let’s get started…
Step 1: Gather your ingredients and if you’re an olive oil saver like me, pop your solid oil in the microwave for a minute to get it out of its solid state.
Step 2: Wash, peel, and cut your potatoes to 1/8 inch. I like to use an OXO Mandolin Slicer.
Step 3: Slice the onions the same thickness as the potatoes.
Step 4: Put the oil in the Dutch oven on medium, don’t cover it, then layer in the potatoes and onions. DON’T let it boil, just simmer. It’s best to keep an eye on them.
Step 5: Make sure the onions and potatoes are submerged in the oil.
Step 6: Slowly simmer and they will soften while the oil bubbles.
Step 7: Turn the over potatoes and onions from the bottom of the pan so they do not brown. Wait a 3-4 minutes and turn again.
Step 8: When the potatoes and onions are almost soft- al dente, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon.
Step 9: Place a large colander in a big bowl to catch the drips and drain the oil from the potatoes and onions. (You can save all your oil if it’s your first time making it!). Here is a key step: You must allow the potatoes and onions to cool otherwise the eggs will start cooking on contact. You want the potato and onion mixture just warm to the touch before adding the eggs. I usually let mine sit for 10 to 12 minutes.
Step 10: Take a large bowl and place the cooled potato onion mixture in the bowl, add the eggs and salt.
Step 11: Pour the beaten eggs into the onions and potatoes and let it soak for 10 minutes. The potato and onions will absorb some of the eggs and this makes them luscious!
Step 12: Get your pan hot, add 2 Tbsp of the left over olive oil and pour in the potato, onion and egg mixture.
Step 13: I like to cover my pan with the top of the tandem pan so it cooks a little faster. You can use a lid on this step if you like. It helps keep the heat and solidify the middle.
Step 14: I check the color on the bottom before I flip. (If you do not have a tandem pan you can cook your tortilla a little longer and get it a bit more solid. Place a large plate upside down over tortilla and flip it over quickly onto the plate. Then slide it back into the pan to cook the other side.)
Step 15: Flip the tortilla and continue to cook until the bottom has a nice brown color and the middle is just tender.
Step 16: Slide the your tortilla Española on to a platter and serve.
- I use two vessels to make this dish. I simmer the potatoes and onions in a Dutch oven and cook the actual tortilla in the tandem pan.
- Preheat the top side of the pan on another burner for 2m on high heat before flipping.
- If you are using a plate to flip, make sure the tortilla isn’t runny or it might fall apart. I would use some grilling gloves (to avoid getting burned) and place the plate on top of the pan, hold it on tightly, flip it over onto the plate and then slide it back into the pan.
If you want to bring the flavors of Spain to your home I have several great recipes to share with you.
Prueba de cerdo is a classic tapas dish of thinly sliced marinated pork that is grilled fast and is so easy to make.
Croquetas de jamón y pollo take a little effort but you will be rewarded with a delicious appetizer that is crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
If you visit bars in Spain one popular tapas dish is mushrooms in sherry sauce served on a nice crusty bread.
Empanadas are savory turnovers filled with meat or cheese. Most are fried but I like to cheat and bake mine using pre-made pie crust.
Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Potato Pie)
This simple yet classic potato and onion 'omelette' is popular throughout Spain, and is one of my very favorite things to eat. Perfect with a side salad. Tortilla Espanola or tortilla de patatas is a dish with simple delicate flavors you will love.
- 2 lbs baking potatoes peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 onion medium, sliced thinly
- 6 eggs beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups olive oil
In a large skillet or Dutch oven heat oil on medium heat uncovered. (Make sure the oil does not get overly hot because olive oil is a low temperature oil. Too much heat destroys the phenols in the oil.)
- Add the potatoes and the onions in alternating layers.
Allow to cook until both potatoes and onions are tender. This should take about 10-12 minutes. You want the potatoes to be soft, but not fall apart. Every 3 minutes or some take a spatula and move the mixture from the bottom over the to to keep it from browning on the bottom.
Once the potato and onions are cooked, place a bowl with a colander on top. Using a slotted spoon move the potatoes and onions to the colander allow them to drain. (The bowl below will catch the oil).
- Allow to cool for several minutes (10-12). It is important that the potatoes are cool so they don't immediately cook the egg when combined.
In a large bowl, combine the beaten eggs and add the potato and onion mixture. Add the salt.
Let the eggs soak into to potato onion mixture for 10 minutes.
Heat your skillet, add 2 Tbsp of the oil drippings to the pan and pour the mixture in. Cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Check the color of the bottom with a spatula for a nice brown color.
Remove the cover and place an upside down plate over the tortilla and flip onto a large flat plate. Use grill gloves or oven mitts to avoid getting burned. Slide the tortilla back into pan and cook the other side for an additional 8 minutes.
Slide onto large plate and serve.