Tortilla Espanola
  • 1 pound small to medium potatoes
  • About 1 1⁄2 cups olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • Scant teaspoon kosher salt, mixed with freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 eggs
Time Estimates

Prep time: 15 min  

Cook time: 25 min  

Total time: 40 min  


  1. Peel the potatoes if the skins are thick; otherwise just scrub them.
  2. Slice crosswise about 1⁄8 inch thick (see the Technique Note). If using russet potatoes, soak the slices briefly in a bowl of cool water; drain and pat dry.
  3. Fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet with oil to a depth of at least 1⁄2 inch and heat over medium-high heat until a potato slice sizzles on contact.
  4. Add the potato slices one at a time; it’s okay if they overlap.
  5. Add the onions on top of the potatoes.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, turning the potatoes frequently with a slotted spoon and reversing the layers, until they are tender but not browned.
  7. Transfer the slices as they are done to a colander set over a heatproof bowl, and sprinkle them with a little of the salt and pepper. When the last of the potatoes are done, pour all the oil through the colander into the bowl and turn off the heat.
  8. Let the potatoes cool slightly. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining salt and pepper just until combined.
  9. Add the potatoes and stir to combine. If any potato has stuck to the skillet, wash or scrape it off.
  10. Coat the pan generously with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the reserved oil and reheat over medium-high heat until the oil is almost smoking.
  11. Add the egg mixture to the pan, spreading the potatoes evenly. As the egg sets, lift the edges with a spatula and tilt the pan to let some of the liquid egg run off into the pan to cook. When the egg is mostly set, loosen the whole omelet with a spatula, then remove the pan from the heat and invert a plate over the pan. Holding the plate securely, quickly flip the whole thing over; the omelet should fall out onto the plate. If any bits stick to the pan, simply scrape them free and add them to the omelet.
  12. Add a little more oil to the pan, return to the heat, and slide the omelet off the plate into the pan. Cook another minute or two, and turn the omelet out onto the plate again and back into the pan. Decide which side of the omelet looks better, and either slide or turn the omelet back onto the plate for serving.
  13. Serve immediately, or let it cool to tepid or room temperature.
  14. Cut into wedges or squares to serve.


6-8 as an appetizer


Ham, chorizo, peppers and other recurring ingredients in Spanish cuisine are frequently added to a tortilla española. Try any combination of the following, stirred into the egg before adding the potatoes:

  • 1 ounce sliced prosciutto or similar dry-cured ham, cut into short strips
  • 1 or 2 roasted and peeled red bell peppers, diced
Technique Note

1. Don’t skimp on the oil in the first step of cooking the potatoes; the idea is to gently fry the potatoes, turning and separating them as you go so they cook evenly. Most of the oil will be left behind, and the flavor it picks up from the potatoes and onions makes it perfect for other sautéed dishes.

2. Uniform slices of potato and onion are not as crucial here as they are in a gratin, because you can pull the thinner slices out of the oil ahead of the thicker. But for both ease and consistency, try slicing both with a mandoline or the 4-millimeter slicing disc of a food processor.

Which beer should I drink with this?

When my wife and I go out for beer and tapas, I order pale ale or IPA, she orders hefeweizen, and we’re both happy. In other words, offer an assortment of beers if you’re serving tapas to a crowd.

Go back to The Microbrew Lover's Cookbook index page.

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From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.

Photo: Billie Hara/Flickr

Tortilla Espanola
Is this Spanish standard a flat omelet with as many potatoes as it can hold, or a potato cake bound with egg? It really doesn’t matter; it’s delicious eithe