How to make a Spanish tortilla the way the Spanish do

(Quick answer: Excessive amounts of salt and olive oil. Short answer: read below)

A Spanish tortilla (tortilla de patatas) has nothing to do with the Mexican flour/corn variety. Spanish tortillas are made from potatoes, onions and eggs. It is, in other words, an omelette.

To make the tortilla authentic you will need to use a lot of salt, and I mean a lot; think European-like, not American-better-watch-those-arteries-like. Plus, copious amounts of olive oil. Again, don’t dwell on waistlines, think flavour.

Watch those knives (and glasses in the sink)

Bugger, I took a break from writing this to wash the dishes and have just this minute cut my little finger on a broken glass. So for pinky typing brevity’s sake, the following recipe is copied from an email to a friend. Enjoy.

“happy to share a recipe. it’s called a spanish tortilla and it uses buckets loads of olive oil, no butter.

how many ingredients depends on the size of the pan that you’re using, make sure its non-stick. ingredients: 1 egg to 1 small/medium potato. 1 onion per tortilla and LOTS of oil.

peel and then chop the potatoes into small slices. like 5mm by 10mm or something, the spanish pros chip them off with a knife.

in oil, fry the onions till they are see through, then add the potatoes. you will be using enough oil so that the potatoes are three quarters surrounded by oil.

in a separate bowl, crack the eggs and beat heaps, add lots of salt, too. lots – think european standards, not american artery standards.

Holy deliciousness. Cook this baby up and whak it between a baguette like the Spanish do. Or eat it with salad for dinner. YUM!

once the potatoes are really soft, you can drain them of the excess oil and mix in with the potatoes. the excess oil from the pan you can chuck out, or put in a jar – the spanish use it for frying other stuff.

once the eggs/pots are all mixed up, add to a hot pan. cook for a while. you may need to reduce the heat. have a look under to see if its properly browned. flipping it isn’t easy. so its best to start your first tortilla with a small pan, to make it easier. place a wet plate over the pan and then flip the pan over so you’re holding the plate with the tortilla on top, slippery side on the plate. take the pan off. then slide the tortilla back into the hot pan. make sense?

then cook. and reward yourself with a glass of red. yum. if it turns to custard, and mine often have, call it a spanish scramble and have another drink.”

Written post first aid in pinkie gash: When on the road for long periods of time us Kiwis sometimes crave something simple, like a plain tomato sandwich, or marmite on toast, or a pie with tomato sauce. But once we’re back ‘home’ we recall the mouth watering foreign fares we enjoyed. We might even be inspired to replicate such exotic deliciousness at home.

It’s not always easy. Sure, a curry is so ubiquitous that you can find it in a jar at the supermarket; sushi is just down the road at your local, Italian seems to be in every suburb, Thai on every corner, Middle Eastern in every city centre.

But now, you know how to make a Spanish tortilla the way the Spanish do.


About Keri Algar

Keri has an insatiable appetite for travel, discovery and surf. You may find her among the happy isles, smiles and empty barrels of Melanesia, or swinging her hips at a Spanish fiesta, underwater in Mexico, on top of the Argentine alps, or at home in New Zealand with her nose in a book. She is delighted by difference - both people and places, and is inspired by those who follow their own path through life with passion and courage.


  1. [...] and all over Spain one will find tortilla Espanola, the nation’s famous potato omelette (recipe here), best served [...]

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