Spanish Tortilla (Tortilla Española)

Here’s how to make a traditional Spanish tortilla! Tortilla española is a potato and egg omelette that is a classic dinner or tapas recipe.

Spanish tortilla

Here’s a traditional Spanish recipe that’s everywhere in country: Spanish tortilla! Tortilla española is a Spanish omelet made with eggs and sliced potatoes. You can find tortilla in almost every bar and restaurant. It’s a classic Spanish tapas recipe, sliced into wedges and often serve with a toothpick and a dab of aioli. It’s also often turned into a sandwich filling as a bocadillo de tortilla. When I lived in Spain years ago, I loved sampling each restaurant’s house version of tortilla. So we’re thrilled to bring you this recipe from the beautiful new cookbook Diala’s Kitchen by our pal Diala Canelo.

Love Spanish recipes? Try our red sangria, classic paella, and patatas bravas.

What is Spanish tortilla made of?

The Spanish tortilla is an iconic dish known as Spanish omelete, tortilla española, or tortilla de papatas. It’s made by frying potatoes in olive oil, then cooking them into an egg omelette. Spaniards eat it for any meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and it’s one of the most popular Spanish tapas. In fact, it might be more prevalent than the national rice dish, paella! Make it correctly and you’ll have a perfectly salted, thick pieces of omelette layered with buttery fried potatoes.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make a Spanish tortilla:

  • Yukon gold potatoes: Use only Yukon Gold potatoes or another waxy potato like red potatoes. Do not use starchy potatoes like russet potatoes, as the texture is more mealy than buttery.
  • Olive oil and salt: This recipe calls for quite a bit of extra virgin olive oil and salt, but most are discarded as part of the frying process.
  • Eggs: The egg ties it all together! Use cage free organic eggs where possible.
  • Mayonnaise, for serving: If you’re not Spanish, this might seem odd. But a slather of mayo or more traditionally aioli, is the perfect sauce for the final flavor.
How to make Spanish tortilla

How to make Spanish tortilla, aka tortilla española

This is the traditional way to make Spanish tortilla, so it’s going to take a little time. Set aside 1 hour for this task! It’s not a quick and easy dinner recipe: view it as a fun project to experience Spanish culture. The nice thing is that you can easily make it ahead, and let it rest until mealtime or refrigerate leftovers for later (see below). Here are a few tips to know about how to make tortilla española:

  • Use a cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan. We used a 10-inch skillet to get a nice thick tortilla with potato layers (you’ll likely need the broiling trick below). You can also use a 12-inch skillet; it makes a thinner tortilla.
  • Thinly slice potatoes and fry them, then add onion. Fry the potatoes for about 10 minutes, until tender and golden. Add the chopped onion in the last 5 minutes.
  • Add beaten eggs and cook until browned on the bottom but slightly runny on top. Watch the heat level! You don’t want it too high or the bottom will burn. Check occasionally with a spatula. Be careful if you have a large burner: keep it on medium low heat.
  • If it’s browned on bottom but still very runny on top, broil! Here’s a troubleshooting tip. You’ll likely need to use this for a smaller pan (the 10-inch size). If the bottom is brown but the top is very runny, remove the pan from the stove and broil for a few minutes until it’s mostly set. This will make it easier to flip. You may not need this trick with a 12-inch pan.
  • Flip and cook the other side. Place the cutting board on top and then flip the tortilla right onto it. Cook the other side until set (about 5 minutes). Then invert it onto a cutting board again, so the top side is up.
Tortilla española

Eat it cold, room temperature, or warm

Can you eat Spanish tortilla cold? One of the great things about tortilla española is that you can eat it cold, room temperature or warm. That makes it incredibly versatile. Eat it warm for dinner or brunch as a main dish. Serve it room temperature or cold sliced into wedges or squares as a Spanish tapas recipe. Really anything goes!

You can leave Spanish tortilla out on the counter at room temperature for up to 2 hours before serving, making it easy to make up in advance. In Spain, people leave it out even longer: they’re much more liberal with leaving things on the counter than we are here in America (and I never had any adverse effects!).

Spanish tortilla

How long will a Spanish tortilla keep?

How long does Spanish tortilla last? 3 days. You can serve tortilla española at a variety of temperatures, so it’s easy to serve as leftovers or make in advance. Here are some notes:

  • Keep it 2 to 3 hours at room temperature before serving. You can leave it for longer if desired (see notes above).
  • Refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can serve it cold, or let it stand and come to room temperature.
  • Reheat Spanish tortilla in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes if you’d like to serve it warm.

What to eat with Spanish tortilla

There are many ways to eat Spanish tortilla, depending on what meal of the day it is. Spainards traditionally eat tortilla española any time of the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner or tapas. Here are some ideas:

  • Brunch or dinner: Serve warm with an arugula salad and fresh bread.
  • Sandwich: Make a bocadillo de tortilla: serve it room temperature between two pieces of baguette slathered with mayonnaise.
  • Tapas: Cut it into wedges or squares and eat with toothpicks. Serve it in a spread with marinaded olives, marcona almonds, Manchego cheese, and jamón serrano (the Spanish version of prosciutto).
Diala's Kitchen

About the book: Diala’s Kitchen

This recipe comes to you straight from the new cookbook Diala’s Kitchen, written by the lovely Diala Canelo. Diala is an incredible recipe developer and food photographer (you must follow her on Instagram). She is Dominican and now lives in Toronto, and loves to travel. One of the things we love about her book is that her food style is so similar to ours: fresh, plant-forward meals with occasional beautiful seafood, too. We literally want to make every recipe in the book: Falafel Salad, Salmon Burgers, Green Goddess Soup, Baked Feta, Truffle Pasta, Shrimp Stew with Coconut-Tomato Sauce, Caramelized Banana and Cinnamon Loaf, Pumpkin Scones…the list goes on!

One special thing about this Spanish tortilla recipe is that Diala and I connected over a deep love for Barcelona. I studied abroad in Madrid and while I adore that city, my heart was stolen by beautiful Barca. Alex and I visited Barcelona in 2018 with our son Larson and I got to share all my favorite food memories with them. Diala recently visited Barcelona this year, and growing up Dominican, her culture was heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine. So we are absolutely thrilled to share her recipe for traditional tortilla española. Congratulations Diala, on an incredible book! We can’t wait to cook through it more.

Tapas recipe

This Spanish tortilla recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Spanish tortilla

Spanish Tortilla (Tortilla Española)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (8 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here’s how to make a traditional Spanish tortilla! Tortilla española is a potato and egg omelette that is a classic dinner or tapas recipe.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Spanish tortilla

  • 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 pounds)*
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided**
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 10 eggs

To serve

  • Italian parsley
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sweet paprika

Instructions

  1. Peel and slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch slices (a mandoline is handy if you have it, but not required).
  2. Place the potatoes in a large colander set over a large bowl or in the sink. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the salt and toss to coat. Let sit for 15 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels. While the potatoes sit, dice the onion.
  3. In a 10-inch non-stick or cast iron skillet***, heat 1 1/2 cups of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Place the potatoes in the hot oil and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and tender, 10 to 14 minutes.
  4. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes and onion to a large bowl. In another large bowl, beat the eggs. Then transfer the potatoes and onion into the eggs. Drain the oil from the pan and wipe it clean.
  6. In the same pan, brush it with olive oil if it is a cast-iron skillet. Then heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium low heat. Pour the potato and onion mixture into the pan and using a spatula, spread it out evenly and smooth the top. Cook on medium low heat until the tortilla is golden on the bottom and almost set, about 10 to 12 minutes (make sure not to have the heat too high). It can still be slightly runny on top. For a 10-inch pan: If it’s getting browned on the bottom and the top is still very runny after 10 to 12 minutes, transfer it to a broiler and broil for a few minutes until the top is mostly set. (We used this trick with the 10-inch pan, but it’s likely not necessary with a large pan.)
  7. Invert the tortilla onto a large plate. Slide the tortilla back into the frying pan, browned side up. Cook until golden on the bottom, about 4 minutes.
  8. Invert the tortilla again onto a cutting board. It’s best after sitting for 15 minutes to allow it to set, or you can let it sit up to 2 hours at room temperature before serving. Serve topped with chopped parsley and cut into wedges. For best flavor, top the wedges with dab of mayonnaise and a sprinkle of paprika.
  9. Make ahead and storage: Leftovers save very well and can be served cold, room temperature or warm. Refrigerate up to 3 days. If desired, reheat in a 300 degree oven until warm, but it’s great at room temp. You can also make it into a tortilla sandwich (bocadillo de tortilla): eat it room temperature between two slices of baguette slathered with mayo.

Notes

Recipe reprinted with permission from Diala’s Kitchen: Plant Forward and Pescatarian Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Diala Canelo.

*Use Yukon Gold or another waxy potato like red skinned. Do not use russet potatoes.

** Only 1/4 cup of olive oil is used in the recipe; the rest is discarded as part of frying. Most of the salt is also absorbed by the frying oil and discarded.

***You can also use a larger pan like a 12-inch skillet: the tortilla will be thinner and the cook time will vary a little.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Spanish

Keywords: Spanish tortilla, Tortilla Española, Spanish tapas recipes, tapas recipes

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Mer
    September 17, 2020 at 3:17 am

    I am a Spaniard and I approve this recipe. :)
    I particularly cut the potatoes into irregular squares, about 1.5 cm.

    Have a good day.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      September 17, 2020 at 9:47 am

      :) We’ll have to try it with the cut potatoes next time!

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