Spanish Tortilla de Patatas

The recipe of the month is Spanish Tortilla de Patata otherwise known as a "Spanish Omelet." It can be served as a tapas (snack), a light meal or even between to halves of a baguette and enjoyed as a sandwich. It is found throughout Spain. The basic ingredients in the quintessential tortilla are simple; olive oil, potatoes, onion and egg. The choices you make with these basic ingredients will make a significant difference in the results. You can, of course, add whatever else that suits your fancy; cooked Spanish chorizo, green or red peppers, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, peas or diced ham. This recipe is the most basic form of the recipe but should yield amazing results if the ingredients are well chosen. Start with Spanish Olive oil, not all olive tastes the same, why not try something authentic like de Profundis. Light olive oil is better for cooking at higher temperatures, but this dish begs for extra virgin. Use white potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes, they won't get mushy and fall apart. Use yellow onions, which turn slightly sweet when cooked. Use good eggs; free-range and organic, for no other reason than they usually taste better. It is very popular to eat Spanish tortilla with some nice crusty bread. A bit of Spanish wine might help too.

Only one part of the preparation needs a bit of fine motor skills and there is a way to get around this in an acceptable manner. A Spanish Tortilla is much thicker than a French omelet and some are thicker than others. Halfway through cooking the Tortilla has to be flipped over. If you are extremely skilled you can do this with a wide spatula. If you are a little less skilled you can hold a plate over the pan, flip the pan over and then slide the tortilla back into the pan to finish cooking it. There is actually a plate made specially for this task called a


* Feel free to experiment with the egg/potato proportions, if you want your tortilla to be more eggy or more potatoey.


  1. Pour the oil into a skillet non-stick is helpful. Unless the pan has rather straight sides, you may have to use the broiler method.
  2. Cook the onions and potato slices on medium. Turn and move pieces about. Do not brown either the potatoes or onion. A bit of patience is required, it might take up to 25 minutes to cook the potatoes fully.
  3. When the potatoes are tender (not too soft!), remove them placing them in a colander or a big strainer.
  4. In a big bowl gently mix the potatoes, onions, eggs and salt being careful not to break the potato slices up.
  5. Return the mixture to a lightly oiled frying pan set on medium low heat. Some recipes call for starting out with a high heat. I respectfully disagree and believe that eggs combined with high heat are almost always a dreadful mistake. Next time you cook scrambled eggs try doing so on low heat, I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised by the results. It takes a bit more time, but it's worth it.
  6. Cook the tortilla until it is lightly browned on the bottom. Placing a lid on the pan will help if the tortilla is thicker. The thicker your tortilla is, the lower the heat should be and the more patience you will require. After several minutes you can lift up a side of the tortilla with a spatula to check doneness.
  7. Now you have arrived that the 3 pronged fork in the road and a decision has to be made; to flip the tortilla with a big flat spatula, flip it and then slide it back into the pan with a plate (it's really not that hard), or simply brown the top under a broiler. I will leave this weighty decision to you!

Spanish Tortilla de Patata is traditionally eaten after it has cooled to room temperature. Even with so few ingredients, done right it's a culinary marvel.

Recipe by T. Johnston-O'Neill

Bookmark and Share

Keep informed about San Diego Events!
Sign-up for our weekly Eblast by clicking here: Sign Me Up!
Hits: 790