Tortilla Española is a humble mixture of olive oil, eggs, onion, and potato. It’s basically an omelette made of potatoes, but wow is it good! Best of all, it’s fancy enough for dinner while also being budget-friendly.
I got my first taste of Tortilla Española as a college student in Seville, Spain. For the six months that I was there, I stayed with a host family who cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The best part was the fresh squeezed orange juice that my host mother, Paquita, made each morning. This tortilla española is a close second.
Paquita made tortilla española occasionally for supper, which is the lighter meal of the day (a larger meal is eaten at lunchtime in Spain). Supper was at 9:30pm on the dot every night, and I knew to be home for it! She’d often serve soup and wedges of tortilla española and we’d nibble on fresh fruit for dessert.
I’d occasionally have a weekend trip, and Paquita would pack me a sandwich for the bus. Often it was jamon iberico—a beyond delicious salty ham that’s popular in Spain. But every once in awhile, she’d pack leftover tortilla española on a roll for lunch.
All of that to say, tortilla española is versatile! I like it for dinner, served with a salad and pan con tomate. It can be served hot out of the skillet, at room temperature, or cold, so that also makes it great for a brown bag lunch. I’ve even cut it into little squares and served it at room temperature as an appetizer for a Spanish dinner party. It was a hit!
The recipe starts with olive oil and a russet potato. I slice the potato into ⅛ inch slices, and sauté it in ¼ cup of olive oil (this much olive oil is key to the recipe!). The potato will soften, at which point I add some chopped onion.
Then it’s time for the eggs! They puff and will fill the pan. We want a nice, tall omelette here—it will all fit in a 6-inch skillet but barely! 🙂
The key to a perfectly cooked tortilla española is the flip. When the first side is done, I turn off the heat and place a dinner plate on top. I invert the skillet onto the plate and the tortilla plops out. Then I wiggle the tortilla back into the skillet, uncooked side down, to finish cooking.
The result? A tall, fluffy Spanish potato omelette! I finish mine with flaky sea salt, but regular salt works, too.
I serve it with a green salad and pan con tomate (translation: bread with tomato). It’s basically Spanish garlic bread and a wonderful way to use up less-than-stellar or out of season tomatoes.
Tortilla Española (Spanish Potato Omelette)
- ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin is fine
- 1 medium russet potato peeled
- ½ medium Spanish onion finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 large eggs
- To finish: flaky sea salt see notes
- Heat the olive oil in a 6-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, cut the potato into quarters. Cut each quarter into ⅛ inch thick slices.
- Place the potatoes in the hot oil and cook, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork (about 10–12 minutes). Stir often enough that the potatoes do not brown—they should just be soft. Add the chopped onion and cook for one minute more.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and salt. Pour the mixture over the cooked potatoes. Let the mixture sit for 30 seconds, then drag a spatula through the mixture to allow the uncooked egg to settle into the bottom of the pan. Repeat this process once more. Continue cooking for 2–3 more minutes, or until the underside of the omelette is golden brown.
- Remove from the heat. Place a dinner plate on top of the skillet. Carefully flip the omelette onto the plate. Then slide the omelette back into the pan, uncooked side down. Continue cooking for 2–3 minutes, or until the underside is golden brown.
- Transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges. Garnish with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt (a sprinkle of regular salt works, too) and serve immediately, or let cool and serve at room temperature.