Tortilla Española

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2-3

Tortilla Espanola (Spanish omelette) is a dish that can be found all over Spain and beyond. In fact, most people with an interest in food will have already tried it at some point on their travels.

The precise origins of the dish are up for subject for debate but it almost certainly started life somewhere in the northern regions of Spain. There is evidence to suggest that the tortilla was first eaten by farmers and peasants in Navarra and the Basque Country during the 19th century but it is now served in bars and restaurants in every region.

Despite the simplicity of the dish, there is still much debate in Spain about what ingredients should be used and how it should be cooked. In Granada, Murcia and some other parts of Andalucia, the dish is only ever made with eggs, potatoes and a pinch of salt, anything else is just unacceptable. However, in other parts of Spain, onions and garlic may also be added to this dish. In fact, everywhere you go, you will find subtle variations. I have eaten flat tortillas in Zaragoza, giant-size tortillas in Cadiz and tortillas packed with whole garlic cloves in Catalonia. It is s great dish to demonstrate how even the most basic recipe requires skill to execute perfectly.


  • 1 large potato
  • 4 eggs
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


Start by peeling and cutting the potato into small cubes no bigger than about 1 cm.

Now heat 3-5 tbsp of olive oil in an 8cm non-stick pan and add the  potato. The potatoes should be almost covered in oil, so add a splash more if necessary. Gently cook the potato for 8-10 minutes until they are just about cooked.

In the meantime, break the eggs into a bowl and beat. Then stir in a good pinch of salt and black pepper (optional).

Strain the potatoes, reserving the cooking oil, then allow to cool a little before adding to the eggs. Stir well and leave to stand for a few minutes. Add the reserved oil to the pan, heat and then pour in the tortilla mixture. Give the pan a quick shake and then leave to cook over a low to medium heat. After about five minutes, the tortilla should be ready to turn. The very top will still be slightly running.

With great care, put a plate over the pan and turn in one swift movement trying not to spill any of the excess liquid – your tortilla will now be on the plate. Slide the tortilla back into the pan and cook the other side for about three minutes.

Once it is cooked you can slide or turn the tortilla Espanola onto a board to serve.

For larger tortillas adjust the proportions of ingredients and pan size accordingly.


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