Cookbook:Tortilla Española de Patatas

Cookbook | Ingredients | Recipes | Cuisine of Spain

My storyEdit

People visiting Spain will sooner or later come face to face with a typical Spanish delicacy called the tortilla. You can find this dish in every bar, pub or restaurant in the country. The tortilla can be ordered as a main dish or as a side dish, for example the bocadillo de tortilla (a bread roll with tortilla inside). In bars people are often served a piece of tortilla for free with their drinks. It is therefore almost impossible for visitors not to get to know this Spanish specialty.

When you order a tortilla in Spain you have to know that it is not the same as the tortilla in Mexico or in France, but a completely different dish. There are various kinds of Spanish tortillas as well. For example, the tortilla de patata is prepared with potatoes and the tortilla de pepino is prepared with cucumber. So make sure you know what you are ordering.

In Spain the tortilla plays an important role in society. Mothers often oblige their daughters to learn how to prepare tortillas, which is often referred to as the artwork of good cooking. The preparation of a preparation of a good tortilla is the litmus test for the Spanish. If you succeed, you are considered to be a good cook and consequently a good catch.

The Spaniards often use the word tortilla in everyday language, for example in expressions like a falta de pan buenas son las tortillas/tortas, which means beggars can’t be choosers, se le volteó la tortilla, which means his plans changed unpredictably, or quedó como tortilla, which means it was crushed like a tortilla. These examples show the cultural significance of the tortilla in Spain.

One last thing that needs to be mentioned before I get to the most important part, namely the recipe for this Spanish national dish: Be careful not to mix up the words tortilla and tortillera because that can lead to some undesired confusion. I can confirm this through my own experience. After my first language course in Spain I was asked what I liked best about my time there. As you can probably guess right now, I mixed up the two words and consequently was mistaken for a lesbian. As a farewell present from my Spanish friends I received a tortilla with the word tortillera written across it in sour cream lettering. The word and the dish tortilla will always bring back great memories of my stay in Spain.



  • 1 lb (1/2 kg) potatoes, washed
  • 10 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 17 fl oz (500 ml) olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/8-1/4" slices
  • cucumber (optional)


Tortilla Española de Patatas
Category side dishes
Servings 4
Time prep: 50 min

1. Cut the potatoes into thin slices and dab them dry with a dish towel. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the potatoes and onions; turn down the heat and stir-fry them for approximately 20 minutes.

2. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add salt and pepper and whisk them. As soon as the potatoes and the onions are cooked, drain them off, collecting the oil. Then add the whisked eggs to the potato-onion mix.

3. Clean the pan and heat two tablespoons of the collected oil in it. Put in the egg-potato-onion mix, reduce the heat and fry the mass for approximately 4 minutes. Make sure that the egg mass covers the potatoes and be careful not to burn the tortilla.

4. As soon as the bottom of the mass has solidified, and the top jiggles but is not runny, cover the pan with a big plate and turn it over. Then carefully slide the nearly finished tortilla back into the pan (upside down) and cook it for about 4 minutes. Then let it rest for 15 minutes and the dish is ready to serve.