Spanish omelette or Tortilla Espanola is a simple potato recipe dish that can be enjoyed hot or cold, as a starter, main dish or as tapas at a picnic.
Spanish omelette is a classic Spanish dish that you can find ready made in any decent supermarket. You can eat it warm or cold, bring it to a picnic, family gathering or a Spanish-themed party.
It is one of the dishes you have to try when in Spain alongside paella (if possible: Paella Valenciana, Homemade Churros and Gazpacho Soup).
What is in a traditional Spanish omelette?
Eggs, potatoes, salt and onion (optional).
Now just so you know the Spaniards call it either Tortilla Espanola or Tortilla de Patatas. Many of them don’t like calling this dish an omelette at all. However, in the rest of the world we know it under that name so I will be using it.
How to make Spanish omelette
First thing to do is prep the potatoes. Rinse them, peel them and slice them. To do this, cut them in half length-way and again in half (meaning you end up with quarters).
Slice these thinly. While doing this, pour oil into a frying pan. You will need about 2 cups of oil.
Once the oil is hot, add the potatoes in. Do this carefully so you don’t burn yourself.
Fry the potatoes for about 5 minutes before adding in sliced onion. The cooking time might vary depending on the thickness and type of potatoes.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl beat 4 eggs. Add a generous pinch of salt and give it a mix. When the potatoes are cooked, drain the excess oil and add them into the bowl with beaten eggs. Mix everything together and let it rest.
Then heat oil in the frying pan and pour the potato/egg mixture in. Make sure use about ¼ cup of oil so that the omelette will not stick to the bottom and also stays juicy.
Cook until set around the edges, flip over (using a large plate) and cook until it looks to your liking
What oil to use for Tortilla Espanola?
Olive oil is the best choice. However, don’t use the best and most expensive one you have on hand. An olive oil for cooking/frying will do just fine.
Tortilla Espanola – variations
Doneness – I’ve seen some Spanish chefs cooking the omelet only a few minutes just so the eggs set on the outside while runny on the inside. As much as I love runny eggs, this is not the way I like my tortilla Espanola. I prefer it done on the inside as well.
However, this depends on everyone’s taste so if you want to give it a go, reduce the cooking time slightly. If you press down the omelet with a spatula and it’s still “wobbly” that means the eggs are not set yet. If it’s hard, the omelet is set.
Combining eggs with cooked potatoes & onion – this can be done 2 ways:
- Get a bowl, add eggs, salt, drained potatoes and onions & combine everything together.
- Get a bowl, add eggs and salt. Whisk this first, then add the potatoes and onions and mix together.
The way you choose is up to you. Just make sure that everything is well combined.
Onion – some people say the authentic Spanish omelette is without onion, while others say with. I recommend using it. It adds sweetness to this Spanish dish. However, if you don’t like it or don’t have it on hand, it is OK. Just omit it so.
Can I substitute any of the ingredients?
No. This recipe uses 5 very simple ingredients and substituting is not really an option here. You will lose its authentic taste.
However, you can add more eggs if you like (1 or 2 is plenty for the amount of potatoes).
Alternative cooking method – using less oil
Now, if you are worried that there is way too much oil involved in the process of making the authentic Tortilla Espanola, you can make it slightly differently – let’s say less authentic:
Par-boil (pre-cook) diced potatoes for 5 minutes in 2 cups water + 1½ tsp salt. Drain. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Add finely chopped onion and saute until translucent.
Add potatoes and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring/tossing occasionally. Add this mixture to a large bowl with 4 beaten eggs + a pinch of salt. Chopped fresh parsley can also be added.
Add 2 tbsp oil into the pan and pour in the potato mixture. Cover with a lid and cook on low until the egg is set around the edges. Remove the lid, check if the tortilla is not stuck anywhere and cover with large plate. Hold the plate tight with one hand and the pan with another.
Flip the pan over so that the omelet ends up on the plate. Pour about a tablespoon of oil into the pan and slide the omelet back in. Cook until set.
Now you should know that the authentic Spanish omelette recipe yields a juicier tortilla. I highly recommend trying it!
Traditional Spanish Omelette
- 1.3 lb Potatoes (600g)
- 1½ tsp Salt
- 2¼ cup Olive Oil (560ml)
- 1 Onion , small or medium
- 4 Eggs , medium to large
- Rinse and peel the potatoes. Cut them into quarters length-wise then slice thinly.
- Pour 2 cups of oil into a frying pan/skillet. Turn on the heat to high. When the oil is hot, add sliced potatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Fry the potatoes for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile: Peel the onion, cut in half and slice each half thinly. Add it to the potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes (the potatoes should be cooked at this stage).
- Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl beat 4 eggs. Season with a generous pinch of salt. When the potatoes and onions are cooked, drain the excess oil and add them into the bowl with beaten eggs. Mix everything together and let it rest (5 minutes).
- Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a frying pan/skillet. Wait until the oil is hot and only then pour in the potato mixture. Push down the edges with a spatula. Let it cook until the edges are set (a few minutes).
- Cover the pan with a large plate. With one hand hold the plate tight and with the other one hold the handle of your pan/skillet. Flip over the skillet so that the plate is underneath.
- Lift the empty pan/skillet and place it back onto the heat. Add little oil (2 tablespoons). Slide the omelet back into the pan. Cook until set or until it looks to your liking.
- If large onion is all you have on hand, use half of it only.
- This recipe may feed 2 to 12 people: 2 (eaten as a main), 4 (starter/side), 8-12 (tapas/party appetizer).
- Waxy potatoes are the best option as they hold their shape better after being cooked.
- I don’t recommend substituting olive oil for sunflower/vegetable or any other type of oil.
- This omelet fits perfectly into a frying pan with base size: 7-inch/18cm.