How to cook the real Spanish omelette

Various restaurants I’ve visited in my foreign travels have offered what they called a Spanish omelette, usually something with a mix of vegetables. A genuine Spanish omelette, however, is made a certain way, and for those who’ve tried it there is just no substitute.

Spanish omelette-tortilla de patatas-recipie-by jaycross

To make a real Spanish omelette, follow these easy directions (to serve four):

Spanish omelette (tortilla de patatas) recipie

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  • 5 eggs
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 Spanish onion
  • Salt
  • Olive oil



Step 1:

Wash and cut the potatoes into thin slices (2 cm x 2 cm x 3 mm) and sprinkle with salt. Try to cut them more or less the same size so they cook evenly and finish at the same time.

Chop the onion into very small pieces.

Pour a good amount of olive oil into the pan, and heat. To test, place a single slice of potato into the pan. You’ll see bubbles appearing around the potato, and the oil will sparkle.

Place all the potatoes into the pan and fry them. Once they become a bit soft, add the onion. (Onions need less time to cook than potatoes do, so they’re added a few minutes later.)

Once the potatoes are browned (but not blackened), remove the potatoes and onions from the pan and drain on a plate with paper towels.


Step 2:

Place the potatoes and onion in a bowl.

Beat the eggs with a bit of salt and add them to the potatoes and onion. Thoroughly mix without breaking up the potato slices.


Step 3:

Hit the pan again with just a drizzle of olive oil (not as much as before), so that the tortilla won’t stick.

Before you add the egg mixture, potato and onion to the pan, it’s important to check the temperature of the oil. Place a drop of egg into the pan. It should cook instantly. If not, wait a bit longer. If you put the mixture into the pan when it’s still cold, the tortilla will probably stick.

Once the pan reaches the right temperature, toss the mixture of eggs, potatoes and onion.

Once you’ve done it, lower the heat, because we want to cook the tortilla without burning it.

When you see that the base of the tortilla is cooked, place a lid or a plate over the pan (slightly larger than the diameter of the pan) and flip it. It’s easy, so just be confident. If you want, use a towel to grab the pan by the base of the handle without burning yourself. That makes it easier to control the weight of the pan.

As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” So, do it a couple of times. If you do this phase at high heat, the tortilla will be soft and a bit raw. If you do it at low temperature, the tortilla will be well cooked and therefore a bit drier.

¡Buen provecho!

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By |2014-02-19T15:00:58+00:00February 19th, 2014|Food, Spanish culture|2 Comments

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  1. Stevie March 29, 2014 at 12:49 PM - Reply

    The true Spanish omelette is a strange beast. I remember my first experience of ordering ‘una tortilla española’ being a thoroughly disappointing one. I’d always been taught that it was the method of cooking and not the contents that made it a true Spanish omelette and was very disappointed to find what I thought was a rather bland offering of potato and onions!! It really does grow on you though and quickly becomes comfort food. Thanks for the recipe and if I’m to add anything I’d give the tip of not using crisps as a potato substitute as some of my Spanish student friends sometimes do.

    • Maria March 30, 2014 at 9:44 AM - Reply

      Great tip! Lol. You’re right, Stevie, some people are not patient and use crisps (arg!) or decide to boil the potatoes. Not a good idea! Follow the steps I’ve told, otherwise, you’ll get something similar (or not), but for sure, it will not be the real Spanish omelete. Thanks for your comment!

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