The *Kind of* Perfect Spanish Tortilla

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Go grab Beth’s Spanish Tortilla recipe here (and while you’re at it, check out Ben’s recipe too). Read on to pick up some top tips and see how it went for Beth!

I waited until my last night in Spain to order my first Spanish tortilla. A mistake I won’t be making on any future trips! Served as a simple, unassuming triangle piece – pincho de tortilla – whose first bite proved comforting and delicious. It’s a dish that now occupied a spot on my list of Spanish tapas staples!

The Spanish tortilla (tortilla de patatas), sometimes referred to as a Spanish omelet is one of the most common dishes found throughout Spain. It consists of potatoes fried in olive oil, eggs and onions and can be served hot or cold, plain or as a sandwich.  

I didn’t want to wait for a return journey to Spain to have another serving of Spanish tortillas so I decided to make them at home.

Prior to making them, James and I were talking about my trip to Spain (allllll the food!!) and how I felt Spanish tortillas seemed like the perfect recipe to try at home. He cautioned me that they weren’t as easy as they seemed. In researching recipes, I found a few other stories that matched James’ words of wisdom.

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Honestly, I hadn’t yet thought about the method and just figured eggs, onions and potatoes…how hard could it be?! 😉

A friend over at Devour Spain (they run food tours in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville) kindly shared a recipe with me for Spanish tortillas. I didn’t use quite as much olive oil as they did to fry the potatoes and I let them go about five minutes longer. 

The main concern seemed to be burning the bottom, or top, depending which way you look at it, or flip it. 😉 As I pour in my tortilla mixture into the pan, I watched it like a hawk as it cooked and could see the edges forming the distinctive omelet structure and a tightening in the middle, which after eight minutes of cooking led me to believe it was time to flip. (Key word – believe; I was a little terrified I’d totally mess it all up and just have wasted so much time peeling all those potatoes!) 

My problems came because the plate I was going to use to cover the pan to aid in the flipping was slightly smaller than the rim of the pan. Not wanting to smash the plate down on the tortilla, and juggling holding a pan and plate and not wanting to drop either, I held it near the sink, covered as best I could, flipped it and stuck it back in the pan. The result was a lot of colorful language and not the prettiest flipped tortilla ever. I smoothed it out with the spatula as best I could so it would cook evenly on the flip side (ha).

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After another eight minutes, I put the tortilla on a serving plate, and cut out my own pincho de tortilla slice for lunch. Served with a dollop of homemade aioli.

My first bite transported me right back to Barcelona and it tasted exactly like it did in Spain – rich and delightful! I love the caramelised onions mixed in with the potato and eggs and the aioli adds a bit of creaminess that adds to the flavour explosion in your mouth.

Don’t be afraid of the cooking process – if you cook on a medium-low heat, it shouldn’t burn and you can work on perfecting your flip!

Got any tips on making the perfect Spanish tortilla? PLEASE let us know!

Beth quit her job in event planning to follow her dream. She took a year-long round the world trip with her best friend, then decided to pursue her passion for baking and attend culinary school in London. Now a Pastry Chef and Food Writer, her travels are focused on exploring pastries around the world. Follow her journey on her blog, Recipe for Adventures, Twitter & Instagram.

  • Cersei I la Justa

    You should cut the potatoes about half as thick and fry them on low/medium heat until you can break them easily with a spatula (I prefer to fry them on low heat for longer because that way they crisp up a bit on the edges :P). You should use much more oil than you did, they should be entirely covered by it when frying. If you want to add onion, you should do so when the potatoes are almost cooked and fry them together for no more than 3 minutes.

    I usually take the potatoes out and place them in a plate covered with kitchen paper so I can take a bit of the oil out (you don’t want a greasy tortilla!). Meanwhile, I just beat the eggs while the potatoes cool down a bit so the eggs don’t scramble when I stir them all together. If you want a fluffier tortilla, you can beat the whites together for 3 or 4 minutes before adding the yolks. Add the potatoes to the beaten eggs and see that there’s about half an inch of egg covering the potatoes; if this doesn’t happen, beat another egg in a separate bowl and add it to the mixture (your tortilla didn’t have enough eggs and that’s one of the reasons why it broke).

    Now, add a good tablespoon or two of olive oil to your pan (depending on how big it is) and put it on medium heat. When it’s fairly hot, add the mixture to your pan and lower it to medium/low heat. You may want to check the bottom so it doesn’t burn, but if your pan works fine it should be ready to flip about 5 or 6 minutes in. Use a really big plate or pan cover to flip the tortilla (and, if you’re still in Spain, there are some kind of silicone pan covers that you may find on most houseware stores that come in really handy for this). I like to take my tortilla out when the middle is not still set, but you can leave it in for more if you like it completely set.

    With this kind of recipe, it’s just about practising and practising until you get it right! Your tortilla will be way better next time 😛

  • Pauline Keet

    Definitely looks like not enough egg….you have to have enough to bind all your potato together, and I’d be inclined to maybe cut the potato thinner. I don’t make tortilla that often, mostly I do frittata, but the cooking part is still pretty similar. When turning I use a small chopping board….put it over the pan, flip and slide it back in. Plates will work but it helps if they’re bigger than the pan. That’s not to say you can’t do it with one that just fits the pan, but that’s probably making life hard for yourself. Key thing is, do it smoothly and fast….he who hesitates is lost and WILL end up with egg on their face…or at least, all over the counters and stove ;). Oh and make sure your tortilla isn’t sticking before you try to flip it…….had more than one “half flipped, half still in pan” moments lol…and as long as your pan has a handle that can take the heat, there’s always the “bung it under the grill” school of thought(and tbh, I’ve done it with non oven safe handles before now….I wouldn’t recommend it, but sometimes needs must. I just made sure that I watched like a hawk, and that the handle was sticking out of the grill)

  • Courtney Hampton

    Every family has their own preference for their tortillas in Spain, so getting the egg to potato ratio down is up to your own preference. I prefer more potato, so I chop up enough to completely coat the bottom of the pan I am using and use just enough eggs to bind it. I cut my potatoes much smaller (cubes about the size of a thumbnail) because I prefer to give them a good fry and a touch of color on them before I add the egg. Plus, the smaller bits of potato mean that the eggs can cook all around and help keep the tortilla together, something I see was a problem in the pictures of the ill-fated tortilla. Also, it is very common for people to add onion to their tortilla, and I am pro-onion! The sweetness of the onion as it starts to caramelize adds great flavor to your tortilla. Use plenty of oil, more than you think you will need, because it will save a lot of cursing and burned potato-and-egg mixture on your stove top later. Once your potatoes are tender and your onions are just starting to caramelize, add your beaten eggs with salt and pepper into the pan to fry it. Let that hang out on medium-low heat until it starts firming up, then loosen it from the pan before turning it onto a plate and sliding it back into the pan. Remember that your frying pan smells fear, so fake it until you make it: securely situate your plate over the pan, count to three, and confidently turn it over! The Spanish phrase “dale la vuelta a la tortilla” literally means to turn the Spanish omelette, but metaphorically to change your mind or turn the tables… always easier said than done!

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