Recipes from the Road: Tortilla Espanola or Tortilla de Patatas (The Spanish Tortilla)

FlyAwayU | Tortilla Espanola

I didn’t eat my first bite of Tortilla Espanola in Spain.

Instead, the first bite of this amazingly delicious dish happened in London, UK when Ester, the Spanish homeowner, and friend of our London house sit, made us an authentic Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Tortilla) for dinner.

Until that moment, I had no idea that the simplicity of eggs, potatoes, and onions cooked together could make such a beautiful harmony of flavors. That’s because I have horrible flashbacks of the potatoes, onions, and eggs that my father would cook up for us as kids.

Dad always left the onions crunchy and the potatoes just barely cooked before he scrambled eggs into them. Completely yucky, especially for a kid. So when Ester suggested making the Tortilla Espanola for us, I admit to feeling a little a lot of doubt that the dish would be tasty.

But now, I’m so in love. I just couldn’t imagine my life without having the Tortilla Espanola in it, which is why I had to share the recipe with you. 

FlyAwayU | Authentic Spanish Tortilla Ingredients

History of the Tortilla Espanola

Also known as tortilla de patatas or Spanish tortilla, the Tortilla Espanola combines the pure goodness of eggs, potatoes, and onions. Although the onions are up for debate depending on the cook you talk to in Spain. For a dish that wasn’t introduced into Spanish society until the 1800’s, it really is amazing how you can find a version of it on just about any menu across Spain.

Actually, there are two debates surrounding the Tortilla Espanola:

  1. Whether the authentic dish should have onions or not.
  2. And who created it.

Neither of these debates will ever be solved.

As far as the onions, it comes down to personal preference. I make mine with onions because that’s how Ester taught me. And I love the sweet goodness of the onions, potatoes, and eggs together.

 

FlyAwayU | Tortilla Espanola

Who Created the Tortilla Espanola?

On who created the dish: the history of the creation of the Spanish tortilla is quite murky. One version says the dish was created by Tomas de Zumalazarregui to feed his armies. Another mentions a Navarran housewife made it for Tomas de Zumalazarregui. While still another claims Teodor Bardaji Mas, an Aragonese cook, was the creator.

The only thing we know for sure is the Tortilla Espanola wasn’t created until the Spaniards met the Incas in South America. Because that is where the potato comes from!

Personally, I think the Tortilla Espanola came from South American. History records show a similar potato and egg dish being served in South American a couple of hundred years before the Spanish “discovered” the potato.

But who knows! It’s a mystery that will probably never be solved. And who really cares? I would rather just shut up and eat!

FlyAwayU | Tortilla Espanola

Regardless of stories you choose to believe, the Tortilla Espanola is now an essential part of Spanish cuisine.  It’s also easy to find since almost every tapa menu includes one. We highly recommend trying one or several when in Spain. Each one will be different as each cook has his or her own recipe including some with meat, vegetables, and cheese.

And for the times, when you’re not in Spain, here’s Ester’s recipe for Tortilla Espanola. It’s so easy to make, delicious, and healthy. Plus it’s the perfect dish for carrying to work, on a picnic, or anywhere on the go. And it’s an awesome make-ahead dish, tasting just as good fresh as it does a day or two later. So, save time by making one for now and one for later.

Print Recipe
Authentic Spanish Tortilla
The sweetness of potatoes, onions and eggs come together in a harmony of simplicity in the Spanish Tortilla.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20-25 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20-25 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet and heat over medium-low heat.
  2. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes before adding potatoes and more olive oil. Stir together and continue cooking until potatoes are soft.
  3. Whisk eggs together in a medium-sized bowl. Add the potatoes and onions to the eggs and mix together. Season with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil to the pan and pour the mixture in. Cover with a lid and cook until eggs are browning on the edge.
  4. Using a plate, flip the tortilla and slide back into the pan to finish cooking. Cook your desired doneness of the eggs.
  5. Flip the tortilla out onto a plate and set aside to cool for a couple of minutes before slicing into wedges.
  6. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

18 thoughts on “Recipes from the Road: Tortilla Espanola or Tortilla de Patatas (The Spanish Tortilla)

  • 11/01/2018 at 17:38
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    I love tortilla Espanola, but mine never comes out looking that good! I think I need a better pan! It’s interesting to read something about the history of the dish, I usually just eat it and don’t think! I like mine with onions; it makes it even tastier.

    Reply
    • 11/01/2018 at 23:49
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      Lisa, in my experience it does come down to the pan. I’m trying to get good at making them in my cast iron but so far they come out as scrambled Tortilla Espanola. Excellent tasting but look like crap. My best ones are using a nonstick pan and not making them too thick 🙂

      Reply
  • 11/01/2018 at 18:30
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    The first time I had a Tortilla Espanola was a few years ago in the US. A few of my friends lived in Spain for a few years and wanted to make a group of us tortillas. I thought it was strange, since I had no idea what they were. I always just assumed they were super flat and had to be wrapped around other ingredients to enjoy and eat. The first time I tried a Tortilla Espanola was like nirvana. It was so delicious and I can’t wait to try out your recipe!

    Reply
    • 11/01/2018 at 23:48
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      LOL, Rachelle. I could see it being easy to mistake a Tortilla Espanola for a regular tortilla. But now you know the secret! And they are so good. I would love to hear how the recipe turns out for you 🙂

      Reply
  • 11/01/2018 at 21:45
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    I love the Spanish tortilla! Same as you I had my first one in England, cooked by a friend, and it was delicious. She kept calling it Spanish omelette and I couldn’t understand how it can have potatoes in it if it’s an omelette. But how wrong I was! It was delicious! Since then I eat it every time I go to Spain, it’s so good as a local tapas.

    Reply
    • 11/01/2018 at 23:46
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      Haha, that’s cool Joanna. I’ve never heard it called an omelette but hey, whatever it’s called, it’s good 🙂

      Reply
  • 12/01/2018 at 21:31
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    My mouth is watering… I was hungry before, now it has definitely gone beyond. Now the hunger turned into full on craving… I don’t normally cook, so guess what my sister is doing tomorrow 😂😂😂 bookmarked!!! 😍😍

    Reply
    • 13/01/2018 at 15:35
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      LMAO. You’ll have to let me know how you like it with your sister cooking it. It’s such an easy recipe I’m sure she’ll love making it 🙂

      Reply
  • 12/01/2018 at 22:11
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    I’ve actually stopped eating eggs now but I thought I’d still leave a comment because it looks delicious. I’ve eaten tortilla many times in Spain and Argentina! Keep up those the good work sharing those authentic recipes!

    Reply
    • 13/01/2018 at 15:31
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      Dan, I’m not so sure I could give up eggs. I love them too much. But more power to you for having done it, although…you are missing out on the goodness of Spanish tortillas 🙂

      Reply
  • 13/01/2018 at 08:54
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    I first made Spanish tortilla with my Spanish teacher two years ago and I love it since then! I also had a lot of Spanish Tortilla when I visited Spain too. Really in love with Spanish food and culture! Thank you for sharing the recipe and remind me to make it again soon haha!

    Reply
    • 13/01/2018 at 15:30
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      Ha, I love Spanish food as well. Spain is an amazing place and not just for Spanish tortillas 🙂

      Reply
  • 13/01/2018 at 10:47
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    Wow it looks pretty amazing ! I’ve never had the Spanish tortilla to be honest and it’s nice to know that the best one you had was actually in England 🙂 thanks for the recipe, I don’t cook or bake much myself but I do love to eat and I know my mum loves to cook things for me so I’m going to pass this on to her and I hope she’s able to create magic, like you did 😉

    Reply
    • 13/01/2018 at 15:29
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      LOL, well as long as you love to eat you’re my kinda person :). Please let me know how it turns out with your mum cooking. I’m sure she’ll find a trick or two I don’t know!

      Reply
  • 13/01/2018 at 15:12
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    Oh I just love Spanish tortilla and reading this made my mouth water. To be honest, though I don’t remember the first time that I had one but I do have had a few since I moved to London 14 years ago. I am definitely going to pin this and try and make it myself now 😉

    Reply
    • 13/01/2018 at 15:27
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      Haha, it’s funny how many of us have tried and eaten them more in London than we did in Spain 🙂 Please let me know how it turns out for you. I find it one of the easiest recipes.

      Reply
  • 17/01/2018 at 01:50
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    It’s lunch time in Sydney and I’m hungry now . Have never had the Spanish tortilla . So now I have to find it out after reading all these interesting comments . Looks like an awesome recipe . Should I try to cook one ? 🤔

    Reply
    • 17/01/2018 at 16:11
      Permalink

      I think you should try to cook one! Not only is it easy but it only needs a few ingredients. 🙂

      Reply

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