18 February 2012

Tortilla de patatas, for non-Spaniards

(Traditional cooking method first; scroll down for an updated method).

This entry is dedicated to you, my non-Spanish friend who loves tortilla but does not quite know how to make it. I'll tell you a little secret: it's not that difficult. You just need some patience to chop-chop-chop, fry-fry-fry and clean-clean-clean afterwards. And probably a little practice until you learn exactly how long you should fry the tortilla. But that's it. In any case, don't worry, because even though your first tortilla might not look perfect, I can assure you that all the trials will be delicious. So grab a knife and let's get started!

You will need (for 6 servings):
  • 1 Kg 130 g potatoes
  • 275 g onion
  • 1 large pepper (optional)
  • 4 large eggs
  • salt
  • 1 L olive oil

These quantities are approximate. I just weighted the ingredients I used in this tortilla, hoping that serves you as guidance. But you can vary the ratios and put more onion if you like, or leave the pepper out, or if you feel really vicious, you might add some pieces of chorizo. Just saying.

About the oil: If you use olive oil your tortilla will have an incredible taste, so this should be your first option. But you can also use sunflower oil instead. In any case, the oil will not retain any strong taste, so you can keep it and use it again later.

How to prepare an authentic Tortilla de Patatas:

1- Peel the potatoes, wash them and dice them into pieces approximately 1 cm thick. Do the same with the onions and pepper.

2- Heat the oil in a large pan and deep-fry the potatoes and the onions-pepper separately (the potatoes will need more time to cook).

The oil should not be too hot, because you don't want your potatoes to get crispy. You want them cooked but soft. But you also should watch out that the oil is not too cold, otherwise the potatoes will be soaked in oil and your tortilla will end up too greasy. This is one of the points where you might need some practice.

Also, don't forget to stir the potatoes a couple of times while frying them, so that they cook homogeneously and don't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Take the potatoes out of the pan trying to drain as much oil as possible. You can also let them rest on a colander while you fry the onions-pepper.

3- Bring the fried potatoes, onions and pepper to a big bowl. Add some salt. Whisk the eggs and add them to the bowl. Use a fork to mix it all together.

4- Heat a pan the desired size and add a few drops of oil. Pour in the egg mixture and distribute it evenly with the help of a fork. Let it cook a few minutes at medium heat. Be careful that the tortilla cooks inside without its surface getting burnt.

5- Now you have to flip the tortilla over. To do this, you should help yourself with a plate. Put the plate on the pan, covering it, and place your hand in the centre. Flip the pan, so that the tortilla lays on the plate now. Gently, let it slide back to the pan, the uncooked side downwards. Use a spatula to fold the edges in, so that your tortilla will look round and nice. Let it cook for a few more minutes, and serve.

Forks, ready, enjoy!

Update 10. June 2017 (just a few years later, phew!):

I realised that deep-frying poses a serious obstacle for me: I'm afraid of burning myself, I'm terrified of how long I will have to spend cleaning the kitchen later, and I don't even know where to store the oil afterwards. As a result a couple of years had gone by without a single tortilla making an appearance on my dining table. 

That's no way to live one's life, you will surely agree. 

So I have modified the cooking method, even though I swore I would rather never eat a tortilla again than use microwaved potatoes. Well, guess what. I have swallowed my words, of course. In any case, the final texture is so close to the original that my Spanish friends could not tell the difference. The trick is being generous with the oil when frying the onions. Even so you will be using way less oil than with the traditional method.

1mod - Peel, wash and chop the vegetables. For this method I find it best to chop potatoes in thin slices. They do not need to be regular, but let's say, about 2-3 mm thick, 2x2 cm wide and long is a good size.

2mod - Bring potatoes to a big bowl. Add salt and 2-3 tablespoons olive oil. Use a fork to stir everything and better distribute the salt and oil. Cover with a microwave plastic cover and cook in your microwave at highest power for 5 minutes. Take the bowl out, stir the potatoes again, and microwave for another 5 minutes. Do this a couple of times, until the potatoes are cooked. Use a fork to check they are soft.

3mod - Pour some olive oil on the pan, enough to cover the bottom. Heat to medium-sized and fry the onions (and peppers if using them) until they are cooked and tender. Don't be shy with the amount of oil, you don't need a large amount, but you want the onions to taste like fried, not boiled. This can totally make the difference in the final flavor.

4mod - Add fried onions and peppers to the bowl containing cooked potatoes. Add whisked eggs and mix everything together.

5mod - Pour mix on the same pan you used to fry the onions. You won't need to add extra oil. Using a fork carefully, distribute the mix evenly on the pan. Cook for a few minutes on medium-low, until you notice that the egg is almost cooked. Then flip the tortilla over as explained on step 5 above, let it cook for a couple more minutes, and serve.


  1. Ayyyy, qué buena pinta !!! La tortilla de patatas es un auténtico tesoro gastronómico, te quedó divina, ñammm

    Un beso

  2. ¡Gracias! La verdad es que es uno de mis platos preferidos, de todos, todos. No la preparo más a menudo porque me da pereza limpiar después, jeje ¡Beso!