Tortilla de Patatas


  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 potato, peeled, cooked, and diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, small diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt (experiment to find the amount you prefer)
  • extra virgin olive oil

Quick Directions

  1. Beat eggs with onions and salt.
  2. Microwave peeled potato until just tender, then cut into small cubes. Or fry. Add to egg mixture.
  3. Heat xtra virgin olive oil in small frying pan. Oil should coat the entire pan.
  4. Add egg mixture and cook over low heat until bottom side is firm.
  5. Placing a plate on top of the pan, flip the omelet onto the plate. Add more olive oil to pan if necessary. Slide the omelet back into the pan, uncooked side down. Cook over low heat until firm.
  6. Repeat the flip as many times as necessary (usually 2) until omelet is firm in the center.
  7. Unload onto a plate with paper towel to soak up extra oil.
  8. Cut into pie slices and serve, hot, room temperature, or cold.

Can I tell you something? I will do anything to avoid grading student essays. Those things are appalling. The last one I looked at particularly so. It was that kind of rare essay which makes you lose total faith in the promise of youth. I just—it was a scandal. I had to gently set it aside and start grazing for solace on the Internets.

Which is how I ended up doing this. Today's menu, tortilla de patatas, or Spanish omelette, is the national food of Spain. Anywhere you go, there it is: tortilla de patatas. And a good thing, too. Because it is absolutely delicious. I have often failed to understand why it is so good, since it is just eggs and potatoes. But there it is. And to your great fortune, I have learned this dish by watching authentic Spanish moms cooking in the mountains. For reals.

It is a somewhat greasy affair, but should you be so moved, you can reduce the oil content by first cooking the potatoes in the microwave/boiled water. I do this. Then the dish is actually somewhat healthy. To make it taste like it does in Spain, you must use extra virgin olive oil. From Spain if you can find it (I swear it tastes different).


  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add onions and salt (do not be stingy here—the salt makes a big difference in flavor).
  • Cook the potato in a manner you deem fit. I have to confess that I often just microwave the thing. If you boil it, it might could get too watery. Spanish people fry them in a substantial amount of olive oil and hope for the best. (They truly believe that if you drank a glass of extra virgin olive oil everyday you would live a longer life.) The most important tip here is to slightly undercook the potato. Slightly! It should be almost edible, but not quite. There are two reasons. First, the potatoes will cook a bit more when you are making the omelette. But really, only a bit. And second, the potatoes should taste slightly firm in the omelette. Think about it: no one wants to eat an omelette full of mushy starch.
  • Add the potatoes to the egg mixture. There should be more egg than potato (or you risk eating a big potato with a slight egg cover). I sometimes withhold a portion of the potato if I think there is too much. It takes some experience to be able to eyeball it. Generally, I have found that 3/4 to 1 regular-sized red potato is a good bet.
  • The size of your frying pan is very important. If it is too big, the tortilla will turn out flat. You don't want this. The tortilla should be a big, thick, awesome thing that sometimes resembles a loaf of bread:

Ok, this one is really thick. Mine are probably half as thick as this.

  • I recommend using a small frying pan (2 egg style), preferably non-stick. Add a layer of olive oil. The oil should cover the entire pan. You skimp at your peril.
  • When the oil is hot, add the egg mixture. Turn the heat down to very low. Hang out. Resist your impulse to poke at it. We are doing something different here!
  • When the bottom and sides seem formed (although the top may be quite liquidy), or if your nervousness becomes too overwhelming, flip the egg. Unless you are truly amazing and can flip the tortilla in the air, here is the method: poke briefly at the sides to make sure the tortilla is not sticking to the pan. No need to go overboard: this is why you added all that olive oil. Find a plate that is roughly the same size as or a little bigger than your frying pan. Place the plate face down over the top of the frying pan as if were a cover. Hold it down with the palm of your hand. Flip the pan over, leaving the contents on the plate.
  • Breathe.
  • Check the olive oil in the pan. Is there enough?? If not, add more.
  • Jiggle the half-cooked tortilla back into the frying pan, cooked side up. Wait.
  • Wait.
  • Things should be solidifying now. Repeat the flip procedure 2-4 more times until you are well pleased. You'll know the tortilla is cooked when both sides have a pleasant brownness and the inside is no longer gooey (check with a knife).
  • Slide the finished product onto a new plate, best equipped with a paper towel to soak up excess oil. Take a little taste off the side. How's the salt? You could sprinkle a bit on the top if it is too bland.

How is tortilla de patatas eaten in Spain?

  • Hot or cold.
  • As a tapa, Spain's version of appetizers. Usually the tortilla will be cut up into wedges and served with toothpicks.
  • In a bocadilla de tortilla, a baguette sandwich with a big hunk of tortilla de patatas inside, slathered in mayonnaise. Want to hear something shocking? Bocadillas de tortilla are insanely delicious. Holy crap.

Photos courtesy of: controvento on Flickr, Wikipedia, Brisan on Flickr (click to see original)




Add a New Comment

tag your recipe!
Your recipe will appear automatically under one of the side menus by adding one or more of these tags:
appetizers breakfast breakfast-eggs desserts desserts-tips desserts-web drinks drinks-hot drinks-summer drinks-wine drinks-na meat-beef meat-pasta meat-pork meat-poultry meat-web salads-green salads-green salads-vegetable salads-bean salads-hearty salads-meat salads-dressings seafood sides-vegetable sides-starchy sides-bean sides-web soups soups-web meatless-beans meatless-pasta meatless-rice meatless-soups meatless-soy meatless-vegetable meatless-web
chinese indian italian korean mexican middle-eastern spanish tips
spring summer fall winter

To edit this wiki, make sure you are signed in and then click "edit" at the bottom of the page.

To create a link to another page, copy and paste this code into the editable window:

[[[page-title| Link Text]]]

If the final link appears in blue, you have correctly established a link.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License