Spanish Tortilla: Recipe for Success

🕔 3 mins (total)
Authentic Spanish tortilla tapas dish
Authentic Spanish tortilla tapas dish

One of the most common dishes you’ll find all over Spain is the tortilla. Outside Spain, it is often referred to as a “Spanish tortilla” or “Spanish omelette” in order to avoid confusion with the Mexican tortilla, a type of thin flatbread made with wheat or maize that is about as common in Central America as the Spanish tortilla is in this country.

Tortilla is the diminutive form of torta, which means “small pancake”, but the Spanish tortilla should neither be confused with omelettes in other countries that are typically shallow and folded (like a pancake), sometimes containing additional ingredients such as cheese, ham and mushrooms. A Spanish tortilla is a deep, or thick, omelette containing sliced potatoes sauteed in olive oil, and may or may not also include onion. It is very rare to find a Spanish omelette with any additional ingredients, and even the inclusion of onion often provokes debate! 

This is not a difficult dish to prepare once you get the hang of it, although it may take two or three attempts to get it just right, depending on how you like it. The list of ingredients is very short indeed so it’s best to go for the best quality available.


  • Potatoes (starchy or “waxy” ones work best)
  • Eggs (room temperature, not from the fridge)
  • Olive oil (you’ll need quite a bit, but you can reuse it for your next recipe)
  • Salt
  • Onions, sliced (or no onions at all!)


  • Heat the olive oil in a deep pan
  • Peel the potatoes and slice fairly thinly
  • Add the potato slices to the pan, making sure the oil completely covers them
  • Cook the potatoes over a medium heat
  • (Sauté the onion slices in a separate pan until they are starting to caramelise)
  • When the potatoes are cooked (almost breaking apart) drain them using a colander, saving the olive oil for later use
  • Allow the cooked potatoes and onions to cool somewhat
  • While they are cooling, beat your eggs in a bowl (and then add the onions, or not)
  • Ensure the potatoes have cooled sufficiently to avoid the egg mix scrambling
  • Add the potatoes to the egg (and onion) mix in the bowl and stir everything together
  • Add salt to taste and stir the mixture again and leave to sit for at least 15 minutes
  • Add your mixture to the pan already set to medium-low heat
  • Cook the tortilla for about 6-8 minutes on one side, running a spatula around the sides to make sure it doesn’t stick

Now comes the fun part!

  • Place a large plate – that is bigger than the pan – on top of the pan and, holding the plate in place, flip the pan as quickly as you can. If it’s your first time trying this it might be an idea not to use too big a pan to make this step a little easier, until you gain the confidence to attempt it with a larger one.
  • Slide the tortilla back into the pan, including any runny bits stuck to the plate, to cook the other side
  • Cook for another 6-8 minutes
  • When your tortilla is cooked to your satisfaction, slide onto a clean plate
  • Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving

So there you have it, a classic Spanish omelette, or tortilla. Depending on the size of your tortilla and on whether you prefer the centre to be moist or completely cooked through, you may want to add a couple of minutes to your cooking time for each side. In some parts of Spain tortillas are typically served “runny” and in others they are served “drier” – but for most Spaniards it’s just a question of individual preference. 

Tortillas can be served hot or cold and are very commonly served in bars as tapas.

Buen provecho!

Check out our other Mediterranean recipes for dishes to try at home.

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