Tortilla De Patatas (Spanish Tortilla)

Alice in Grains
by Alice in Grains
1 8" Round
35 min

This recipe holds a special place in my heart. Not only was it passed down from a family friend (a woman who was born & raised in Madrid, Spain), but something that's so iconic to the Spanish eating/tapas experience. We've been lucky enough to visit Spain on a number of occasions (my husband & I also studied there for a period in high school) & I worked at a bomb Spanish tapas restaurant during college (shoutout to Toro Boston). After eating my share of the good, bad & ugly when it comes to tortilla I've noticed a few things: the iconic tortilla is browned on the outside & slightly oozy in the middle, it's perfectly sweet and savory, has a beautiful golden color, and the potato to egg ratio is well balanced.

Tortilla normally sits like a beautiful disk on the counter of any Spanish tapas bar (room temperature) - since European egg processors do not wash the eggs prior to sale - leaving the outer layer of the shell (the cuticle) intact, eggs can safely remain at room temperature. In the US, eggs must be washed prior to sale (removing the cuticle), requiring them to remain refrigerated throughout their storage process. Therefore, when American restaurants serve tortilla, it must remain refrigerated through serving. I find this often causes the tortilla to dry out, and doesn't catch the essence of the oozy/caramelized texture. To counteract the American egg processing, I opt for pasture raised or free range eggs when making this dish, and add in additional yolks for that extra "custardy" texture. The Contented Hen Free Range Eggs I found at my local Trader Joe's are a great option. Try them out or let me know about your other favorite egg brands in the comments. If you're lucky enough to get your hands on some fresh eggs, go that route!

I've noticed that golden potatoes yield the best texture and flavor for a tortilla. If you're able to get your hands on some German Butterballs, those would be amazing too! As I said above, pasture raised or free range eggs are preferable for this recipe.

Slice your potatoes and onions thinly before frying.

Fry your potatoes and onion until everything is tender. Traditionally this is done in olive oil at a medium/low heat. If you have 4 cups of olive oil on hand you're willing to use, then go for it! It'll give your tortilla the most traditional taste. If not, then use your favorite frying/neutral oil.

After thoroughly whisking your eggs & salt together, add your fried onion and potatoes. Switch to a silicone spatula and mix everything gently to combine before cooking.

Pulling the sides inward toward the center of the tortilla while cooking allows you to check the browning status of the bottom of the tortilla (soon to be the top!), and also slightly curls in the outer rim so it's easier to flip.

When your bottom is browned and set, it's time to flip! Grab your flattest lid or plate (I prefer a lid for better leverage), and shake/slide the tortilla quickly onto the surface.

Once completely slid off, flip your frying pan over the top.

Flip it back & now your beautifully browned bottom will be on the top! If you're feeling hesitant about the flipping process, head over to YouTube and search "flipping a Spanish tortilla" for some other methods and general guidance.

When your beautiful tortilla is complete, top with some aioli & cilantro for serving!

Tortilla De Patatas (Spanish Tortilla)
Recipe details
  • 1  8" Round
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 20 Minutes Total time: 35 min
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Tortilla de Patatas
  • 4 Cups Neutral Oil - like grapeseed or your preferred frying oil. If you have enough olive oil on hand or want to splurge, go that route!
  • 6 Eggs (4 Whole, 2 Egg Yolks)
  • 1 Large Golden or Yellow Onion (approx. 1/2 lb or 230g)
  • 2 Large Golden Potatoes (approx. 1 lb or 450g)
  • 1.5 Teaspoons Salt
Prepping your potatoes and onion
Grab a saucepan and add all 4 cups of oil. Bring to a medium/high heat while you prep the potatoes and onion. If you're using the traditional olive oil, then heat to a medium/low (total cook time will be longer).
Peel your potatoes and slice thinly. If you have a mandolin, then whip that out for the most even slices. If you're already a tortilla pro, then cutting your potatoes into more of a fry/wedge shape will allow you to capture more of the eggs, creating a looser (but better) tortilla. Set aside.
Thinly slice your onion, then add to your hot oil along with the sliced potatoes. Give them a stir, then prep your egg mixture.
Egg Mixture
Crack your 4 whole eggs and 2 eggs yolks into a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly until the mixture is foamy - you want to make sure the eggs are well blended.
Add the salt, and whisk again to combine.
Combining & Cooking
Check your potatoes and onion mixture frying on the stove, the potatoes should barely resist when poked with a fork, and the onions should be translucent. This usually takes me about 10 minutes.
Grab an 8" nonstick skillet (10" will also work but the tortilla won't be as tall). Grab a spoonful of oil from the frying mixture (approx. 1-2 tablespoons), and place in the frying pan. Turn your stove to high heat while you transfer your potatoes/onion to your egg mixture.
Remove the saucepan with your potato/onion mixture from the heat. With a slotted spoon transfer your potatoes/onions to the large bowl with the eggs (yes it will slightly scramble but you'll be okay!).
Once all of the potato/onion mixture has been transferred out of the oil, give everything a good mix with a silicone spatula. Check your frying pan and make sure it's hot, you want it to be shimmering! If it's ready, pour your mixture in.
Since your pan is extremely hot, it's not going to take long to build that golden bottom layer. Grab your silicone spatula and shaking your pan slightly (ensuring everything is moving around/no sticking is happening), slowly fold in the tortilla edges. This not only ensures that the eggs are evenly distributed across the tortilla, but also that the edges are slightly "curled" which will help with the flipping process.
Once the tortilla is browned on the underside, get ready to flip! Grab the flattest lid that you own, quickly shake/slide the tortilla off the frying pan onto the lid, flip the pan over onto the lid, flip back & voilà!
Tuck any outlying mixture back under the tortilla & cook about one-two more minutes on the stove. This will set the new "bottom" and allow you to slide the tortilla out onto a serving platter or cutting board.
Let the tortilla cool about five minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve alongside some crusty bread, aioli & top with some cilantro if desired. Enjoy!
  • This is our ultimate base recipe for tortilla. We've definitely made some tweaks here and there - recently instead of frying the onion, we've been caramelizing it separately & adding a teaspoon of soy sauce before combining the mixture all together. We adapted this after eating my favorite (to date) tortilla from Juana La Loca in Madrid.
  • If you're thinking the tortilla flipping method is a little risky, you're right. Tortilla Española pans are commonplace, and if you're super excited about living the Spanish tortilla life, then definitely invest in one! 'La Tienda' makes a great one!
  • PB PB on Jan 06, 2021

    Isn't this really what we call an omelette?

    • Alice in Grains Alice in Grains on Jan 06, 2021

      Hi! Essentially yes - but the technique for cooking as well as serving vary as I’ve detailed above. Tortillas are also best served room temperature and as a tapa, not cooked to order. Hope you enjoy if you decide to make one!

  • Crumly Crumly on Dec 31, 2021

    Looks and sounds delicious! I can’t wait to try. Thanks.