Recipe: The Perfect Tortilla de Patata

Tortilla de Patata

Tortilla de patata

Last week I kicked off a six-week summer in Spain series with gazpacho. Today’s recipe,  tortilla de patata,  also known as tortilla Española,  is another traditional popular food. Spaniards eat it for lunch,  dinner,  snacks (meriendas),  and for tapas. But,  if you ask for a Spanish omelet in the United States,  chances are you’ll be served an egg omelet filled with tomato sauce,  bell peppers and onions.

You might be wondering why I’m sharing this recipe with you,  after all,  tortilla de patata isn’t exactly what you would think of as health food. It contains eggs and oil. However,  one thing I learned here in Spain is that when you have healthy eating habits,  you don’t have to think about calories,  or how much fat is in the recipe. When you have healthy eating habits you eat a variety of fruits,  vegetables,  grains,  and legumes,  while going easy on sugar and fried foods. You eat home cooked meals rather than take-out. And you eat at the same time daily,  which helps to regulate your metabolism. If you eat eggs today,  tomorrow you’ll eat something else so you don’t repeat what you’ve already consumed. Variety is key.

My mother-in-law,  Petra,  and my sister-in-law,  Gelines,  demonstrate in the pictures below how to make the perfect tortilla de patata. Without a doubt,  it’s the best I’ve ever tasted!

Yield:  4 to 5 large servings,  or 12 tapa servings

Prep time:  25 minutes

Cook time:  20 minutes




3 medium large Russet potatoes

Cut the potoates

Cut the potatoes

5 eggs

1 medium onion,  finely chopped

½ bell pepper,  red or green,  chopped into ½-inch pieces

1/2 cup olive oil

¾ teaspoon salt


1)  Peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces ¼-inch thick by ½-inch wide.

Cook the potatoes

Cook the potatoes

2)  Over a medium-high flame,  heat the olive oil in a 10-inch non-stick frying pan. When the oil is hot add the potatoes and let them cook for two minutes. Add the chopped onion and the bell pepper. Stir the potatoes and onions until the potatoes are three-quarters cooked and they appear translucent,  about 15 to 20 minutes.

3)  Get out a bowl large enough to fit the eggs together with the potato mixture. Beat the eggs and the salt in the bowl until they are well blended.

4)  When the potatoes are ready,  remove the pan from the heat and then strain the potatoes to remove the extra oil. After straining the oil from the potatoes,  add the potato mixture to the eggs.

Mix the potatoes with the eggs

Mix the potatoes with the eggs

5)  Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and add 1 tablespoon of oil back to the pan. Spread the oil around. Heat the pan over a medium-high flame. When the oil is hot,  pour the potato and egg mixture into the frying pan and then turn down the heat to medium-low. After 10 minutes or so,  you should see the egg starting to set up. If you stick a spatula under the tortilla and it holds together well,  then it’s ready to flip.

6)  Place a plate over the frying pan. If you are right-handed,  hold the frying pan by the handle with the right hand and place your left hand on top of the plate. Quickly flip the pan over 180°. Now your left hand will be holding the plate from underneath. (Reverse the process if you are left-handed. Your left hand will hold the panhandle and the right hand will be on top of the plate,  and then you will flip the pan over.)

Push down the sides

Push down the sides

7)  If the pan is dry add a little more oil and spread it around. Slide the tortilla back into the pan and allow it to cook another seven to eight minutes. Use a spatula to push down the sides so the edges become more rounded. If the top of the tortilla is uneven,  pat it with the spatula to even it out. You don’t want a lumpy tortilla.  When the tortilla is done,  flip it out onto a serving platter.

Note* – Many Spaniards flip the tortilla 2 to 3 times because the additional flips help to shape the tortilla.

Buen Provecho



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You may also enjoy my recipe for Tortilla de Quinoa

This recipe is posted at  Simple Lives Thursday

UPDATE 10/20/12:  I was recently contacted by Nydia Armendia, who after living in Spain for three years has returned to the US and has started a business called Tortilla de Patata Gifts. She asked if I wouldn’t mind providing a link here for her site, and I said it would be no problem. Good luck with your efforts Nydia!

Potato on Foodista