Spanish Omelet (Tortilla Española)

Spanish Omelet (Tortilla Española)

The Spruce

Ratings (104)
  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
910 Calories
94g Fat
13g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 910
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 94g 120%
Saturated Fat 14g 69%
Cholesterol 151mg 50%
Sodium 647mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 7g
Calcium 37mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

There's no doubt about it, the tortilla española or Spanish omelet is the most commonly served dish in Spain. In a country filled with regional food, some might call it the national dish.

In Spain, it's usually called tortilla de patata or potato omelet. Bars and cafés throughout the country serve it as a tapa or appetizer, but it also is often served as a light dinner in Spanish homes.

Because it is easy to transport, Spaniards turn it into bocadillos or sandwiches by placing a piece of the omelet between two pieces of a baguette. Others enjoy a thick slice around noon for their mid-morning snack, served alongside a steaming cup of café con leche

This tortilla espanola or tortilla de patata makes 8 to 10 servings as an appetizer or 6 servings as a main course.

Ingredients

  • 6 to 7 medium potatoes (peeled)
  • 1 yellow onion (diced into 1/4-inch pieces)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
  • 2 to 3 cups olive oil (for pan frying)
  • 5 to 6 large eggs (the better the eggs, the better the tortilla)

Steps to Make It

  1. Cut the peeled potatoes in half lengthwise. Then, with the flat side on the cutting surface, slice the potato into pieces approximately 1/8-inch thick. If you slice them thick, don’t worry—it will simply take a little longer for them to cook.

  2. Place potatoes and onions into a large bowl and mix them together. Salt the mixture.

    make a layer of potatoes
     The Spruce
  3. In a large, heavy, nonstick frying pan, heat 1 1/2 cups of the olive oil on medium-high heat. Carefully place the potato-onion mixture into the frying pan, spreading it evenly over the surface. The oil should almost cover the potatoes. You might need to turn down the heat slightly so the potatoes do not burn. You want them to slowly fry, not becoming crisp like french fries, but rather tender and creamy. It is important to use good olive oil, as the potatoes will absorb quite a bit of the oil.

    cook the onions and potatoes
     The Spruce
  4. Leave the mixture in the pan until the potatoes are cooked. If you can poke a piece of potato with a spatula and it easily breaks in two, your potatoes are done. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula that allows the oil to drain and let cool.

    allow ingredients to cool
     The Spruce
  5. Crack the eggs into a large and beat by hand with a whisk or fork. Pour in the cooled potato-onion mixture. Mix together with a large spoon. Let sit for about five minutes.

    add eggs
     The Spruce
  6. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil into a small, non-stick frying pan (approximately 9 to 10 inches in diameter) and heat on medium heat. Be careful not to get the pan too hot because the oil or the tortilla will burn. When hot, stir the potato-onion mixture once more and “pour” into the pan and spread out evenly. Allow the egg to cook around the edges. Then you can carefully lift up one side of the omelet to check if the egg has slightly browned. The inside of the mixture should not be completely cooked and the egg will still be runny.

    cook in a pan
     The Spruce
  7. When the mixture has browned on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side. Take the frying pan to a sink. Place a large dinner plate—about 12 inches in size—upside down over the frying pan. With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and let the omelet fall onto the plate.

    brown the top of the food
     The Spruce
  8. Place the frying pan back on the range and put just enough of the remaining oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Let the pan warm for 30 seconds or so.

    plate and prep quiche
    The Spruce
  9. Now slide the omelet into the frying pan. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet. Let the omelet cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2 minutes.

    cut pieces of quiche
     The Spruce
  10. Slide the omelet onto a plate to serve.

  11. If eating as a main course, cut the omelet into 6 to 8 pieces like a pie. Serve sliced French bread on the side.

  12. If you are serving as an appetizer, slice a baguette into pieces about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the tortilla into 1 1/2 inch squares and place a piece on top of each slice of bread.

Tips

  • If you've never prepared a Spanish omelet, use this illustrated step-by-step tutorial to guide you.
  • It is not necessary to slice the potatoes paper thin, and it is best not to use a food processor because most will slice the potatoes too thin, and then they stick together.
  • To determine when the oil is hot enough to fry the potatoes and onions, drop a single piece of potato or a bit of bread into the oil. It should sizzle.
  • Remember to watch the heat while frying. If the oil is too hot, the potatoes will brown rapidly on the outside but will be raw on the inside.
  • After frying the potatoes, place the potato-onion mixture in a colander for a few minutes to allow more oil to drain. If you do this, place a plate underneath to catch the olive oil and you can use it again.

Recipe Variations

  • Green Pepper: Add 1 chopped green or red bell pepper ​to the potatoes and onions and fry.
  • Chorizo Sausage: Slice a Spanish chorizo sausage and add to the potato and onion mixture after frying. Or, simply slice Spanish chorizo and combine with beaten eggs in the frying pan.
  • Ham: Use a couple 1/4-inch thick slices of finely chopped Serrano ham. Then add the pieces to the potato and onion mixture after frying. Canadian bacon or smoked ham you buy in a deli work well for this variation. Be careful to adjust the salt accordingly, since ham can be salty.

How to Serve Tortilla Espanola

It is simply delicious served with sofrito, a fried tomato sauce that is made all over Spain consisting of tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers, and olive oil sautéed in a frying pan. It's also great with roasted red peppers.