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Spanish Cod Fritters | Easy Tapas Recipe from Andalusia

(Tortillitas de Bacalao Andaluzas)

Written By: Byron | April 15, 2024
A tapas serving of Spanish cod fritters sits beside some homemade aioli.

Spanish cod fritters, known as Tortillitas de Bacalao Andaluzas in Spain, are a popular tapas recipe combining codfish, onion, garlic, and some herbs and spices with a tasty beer batter. This recipe is very easy to make as the batter is very forgiving. The sweet paprika brings out the sweetness of the cod and the parsley helps give every bite a pop. 

This easy tapas recipe is perfect for entertaining and the cod fritters are best accompanied by some aioli for dipping. The fritters can be made in advance and kept warm and crispy in the oven at a low temperature.

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Serving:

Tapas for 4

Ready in:

40 minutes

Skill level:

Easy

Serve with:

Homemade aioli

Watch step-by-step recipe video

If you’re looking for this recipe’s video and many other great recipe ideas, why not check out our Spanish Radish YouTube Channel? We’ve got everything from quick and easy tapas recipes to delicious main meals, to incredible Spanish dessert options too.

Origin of Spanish Cod Fritters

As the name suggests, Tortillitas de Bacalao Andaluzas is a recipe hailing from the fantastic southern region of Spain, Andalusia. They are often served as a tasty tapas alongside some homemade aioli. In Andalusia, they are typically served pancake-shaped and not to be confused with the ball-shaped cod morsels called Buñuelos de Bacalao, another similar cod tapas from the same region and also found in Portugal.

Nowadays, the popularity of Spanish cod fritters means you’ll find them all over Spain, and they are usually enjoyed during the warmer months of the year.

How to Make Spanish Cod Fritters (Tortillitas de Bacalao Andaluzas)

Ingredients

  • 1 cod fillet 16 oz / 450 grams
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup beer 120 ml
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley 8 grams
  • 1 leveled teaspoon Spanish Sweet paprika
  • Generous pinch of salt (to taste)
  • Olive oil for frying

Equipment needed

A large fillet of cod fish sits beside some onion, flour, egg, spices, herbs, and beer.

Method

Step 1 – Poach Cod Fillet

  • First, poach the cod fillet in some boiling water. Once the water is boiling, submerge into the water and simmer on medium heat for 7 minutes. 
  • The cod fillet becomes opaque and firm once it is done. Once done, remove it from the water and allow it to cool while moving onto step 2. 

Step 2 – Prepare the Batter

  • Sieve the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. In a small bowl, whisk two eggs and add to the flour. Pour in the beer, season with a pinch of salt, and whisk until you have a thin batter with no lumps (it will be quite runny at this stage). 
  • Next, add the finely diced onion, garlic, chopped parsley, and paprika. Mix well with a fork. 

Step 3 – Add Cod to batter

  • The cod fillet should have cooled enough to be handled. Flake the fillet apart by hand or by cutting it into small pieces. 
  • Add the flaked cod to the batter and mix well. Season to taste and leave the batter to meld at room temp for 5-10 minutes.

Note: This type of batter is very forgiving and should be runny but not too thin. It should slowly drip off a fork or spoon when placed upside down. 

If the batter still looks too thin, add more flour and whisk until you have no lumps and achieve the desired consistency. 

Step 4 – Fry Cod Fritters

  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet or pan on high heat. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, test a blob of batter and if it sizzles, it is ready. 
  • Add a heaped tablespoon of the batter to the pan. Gently tap the mixture until it flattens out. Cook 3-4 fritters at a time (ensure they are not touching) and fry for around 2 minutes each side. They should be golden on both sides.
  • Transfer to some paper towel to drain off oil and continue to cook fritters in batches. 

Cooking Tips:

  • Frozen cod fillets are fine for this recipe, just ensure they are thawed before use. 
  • Use good quality extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. It is healthier than vegetable oils and also has a lovely flavor. 
  • Add 1 bay leaf and half a dozen whole peppercorns to the water used to poach the cod fillet for a flavor boost. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point compared to other cooking oils. Start off heating your oil at medium and if begins to smoke, turn it down immediately. 
  • If you prefer not to deep fry with oil, these fritters work perfectly well with just a drizzle of oil in a non-stick frying pan.
A tapas serving of Spanish cod fritters sits beside some homemade aioli.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Beer Batter

This recipe uses beer to help give it a crispy and fluffy texture. Of course, if you don’t like beer, you can use soda water. Use a light-flavored lager that won’t overpower the batter flavor. Avoid strong-flavored IPAs and other beers with a stringer alcohol content as they tend to be too bitter for making batter. 

Flour

All-purpose flour works just fine for this recipe, however, you can elevate the crispiness of the batter by using Tempura flour. Tempura flour is typically lighter and has a crispier texture once fried. 

Spanish Sweet smoked paprika

For this recipe, we used La Dalia Spanish Sweet smoked paprika. It is typical to use sweet paprika with seafood and fish dishes to elevate the sweetness of the seafood. You don’t need much of the paprika, and a leveled teaspoon is plenty for this recipe, and some may prefer even less. 

Extra virgin olive oil

Se good quality extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. The fritters are traditionally fried in around 150 ml (5 fl oz.), however, if deep-fried cooking is not your style, we also used just a splash of oil in a cast iron skillet and pan-fried the fritters and they came out perfectly (You can check out the Youtube video for results).

Choosing the Best Cod Fillets for This Recipe

You can use fresh or frozen cod fillets for this recipe. If using fresh cod, ask the fishmonger to remove the skin for you so you have one large fillet. 

Can I use Frozen Cod?

Yes, no problem at all! If using frozen cod fillets, be sure to thaw them in some warm water for an hour. There’s no need to dry the fillet as we will be poaching it anyway. 

Can I use salted cod (bacalao)

Yes, bacalao (salted cod) is a popular fish used in many Spanish recipes and you will find dried bacalao filets covered in salt in many local markets or supermarkets. When using salted cod, you will need to rehydrate the filets and remove the salt. See the steps below:

How To Prepare Salted Cod

  1. Cut the cod fillets into large pieces
  2. Soak the pieces of salted cod in a bowl of fresh water and cover with plastic wrap. 
  3. Place in the fridge for 24 hours and be sure to change the water every 8 hours.
  4. After 24 hours, taste to check if it is still too salty. If the salted cod is still too salty, extend the soak for another 12 to 24 hours, again replacing the water every 8 hours. 
  5. Taste the cod again and once it is not too salty, it is ready to use. 

Can I use other types of white fish?

Yes, if you can’t source cod or frozen cod fillets, just about any white fish will work as a substitute for this recipe. Haddock, hake, pollock, and sole are just a few examples. Buy fish fillets that flake easily so they mix well into the batter. 

How to easily remove skin from cooked cod fillets

If you purchase a cod fillet with skin on, don’t worry, once it is poached, the skin will easily rub off once the fillet cools down.

A tapas serving of Spanish cod fritters sits beside some homemade aioli.

Best Cooking equipment to use for deep frying

Frying food at home can be tricky, however, with the right equipment it is very straightforward. For this recipe, all you really need is a heavy skillet (cast iron is great), a spatula, and a fork. Below are a few options for cooking equipment that is best for shallow/deep frying food at home. 

Heavy Skillet with Deep Sides

We use a 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Skillet for a lot of our cooking and it works perfectly for frying. The sides are around 2 inches (5cm) deep and as it is seasoned cast iron, it is naturally non-stick. 

Cast Iron Dutch Oven

A cast iron Dutch oven is a versatile piece of cookware that can be used for deep frying on a stovetop. Its heavy construction and material properties make it an excellent choice for maintaining a stable frying temperature.

Pros:

  • Heat Retention: Cast iron retains heat well, ensuring a steady temperature during the frying process.
  • Versatility: Besides deep frying, a Dutch oven can be used for a multitude of cooking methods, including baking, braising, and stewing.
  • Durability: With proper care, cast iron cookware can last for generations.

Cooking Oil

Perhaps the most important element is the type of oil you use. There are two camps of thought here: Team Healthy will have you frying your food in extra virgin olive oil (we are on this camp!) and Team B will suggest using a budget-friendly (but far less healthy) cooking oil such as sunflower oil. 

Our opinion: Use the healthiest oil you can afford to buy. We use EVOO for all of our cooking, simply due to the incredible health benefits that extra virgin olive oil promotes. Read more about Olive Oil Nutrition Facts and how it can benefit your health. 

Thermometer

An item that is non-essential but very helpful is a thermometer. For using a thermometer, you’ll need to know the preferred cooking temperature for the oil you are using. A thermometer helps with this element of cooking and helps prevent any unwanted cooking disasters. 

  • Vegetable oil has a smoke point around 440°F (226°C)
  • Extra virgin olive has a smoke point of around 410°F (210°C)
  • Sunflower oil has a smoke point of around 450 °F (232°C)

Cooking and Oil Thermometer

As a rule of thumb; 180°C/350°F is generally the ideal temperature to deep-fry most things. Our tip is to start the heat on medium, test the batter, and if it sizzles, you are in the right zone. If it doesn’t, slowly raise the temp a little at a time until you see the test batter begin to sizzle. 

Important note: If your oil is smoking, it is too hot. Reduce the heat immediately. 

Drying Rack and Paper Towels

Once you have cooked your fritters, place them on a plate with some paper towel to drain off any excess oil. An even better method is to use a mesh baking tray with a paper towel on top to remove any excess oil from your crispy delicious cod fritters!

Serving Suggestions

Aioli

Spanish cod fritters are traditionally served with an aioli dipping sauce. Lucky for you, we have a delicious homemade aioli and aioli verde recipe for you right here! 

Seafood Tapas Selection

Other serving suggestions include a selection of tapas dishes. Here are a few other seafood tapas dishes we recommend: 

Nutrition Facts

Food that is deep-fried or fried in oil is rarely a healthy recipe and this cod fritter recipe should be consumed in moderation. In Spain, this dish is served as a tapas, and 2-3 fritters per person is plenty. 

Below are the nutrition facts for Spanish cod fritters without any dipping sauces.

Servings: 4

Amount per serving

 

Calories

190

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 3.8g

5%

Saturated Fat 1g

5%

Cholesterol 148mg

49%

Sodium 233mg

10%

Total Carbohydrate 10.8g

4%

Dietary Fiber 1g

3%

Total Sugars 1.7g

 

Protein 24.6g

 

Vitamin D 9mcg

44%

Calcium 31mg

2%

Iron 1mg

6%

Potassium 107mg

2%

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

How to Make This Recipe Healthier

Pan fry instead of deep-frying fritters

Traditionally, this recipe is made in Andalusia and the cod fritters are deep-fried in lots of olive oil. We suggest using just a splash of extra virgin oil in a non-stick skillet to cook your fritters. They still taste great, it is cheaper, and a much healthier option compared to deep-frying. 

Use good quality extra virgin olive oil 

Given the price of olive oil what it is these days, many tapas bars and restaurants may use vegetable oil or sunflower oil for frying, making this recipe no better than your average fried chicken shop recipe. 

If frying at home, we highly recommend using extra virgin olive oil. 

Use soda water instead of beer

Beer is used to give your fritter batter a light and fluffy texture. Beer works well as it is carbonated and releases lots of bubbles into the batter. If you are not interested in the beer flavor in your cod fritters, but still want the light fluffy texture, use club soda (soda water) instead. 

Limit seasoning with salt

There is no need to overseason this recipe with lots of salt. The cod has a fantastic flavor which really shines through with the batter, especially with the use of Spanish paprika. For best results, season very lightly (to taste) with some salt and cracked black pepper.

Use a good quality salt 

We always use good quality cooking salt for all of our recipes and we suggest using either a coarse sea salt or a pink Himalayan salt. Here are some suggestions below:

A tapas serving of Spanish cod fritters sits beside some homemade aioli.
A tapas serving of Spanish cod fritters sits beside some homemade aioli.

Spanish Cod Fritters | Easy Tapas Recipe from Andalusia (Tortillitas de Bacalao Andaluzas)

Byron
Spanish cod fritters, known as Tortillitas de Bacalao Andaluzas in Spain, are a popular tapas recipe combining codfish, onion, garlic, and some herbs and spices with a tasty beer batter. This recipe is very easy to make as the batter is very forgiving. The sweet paprika brings out the sweetness of the cod and the parsley helps give every bite a pop.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting time: 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Appetizer, fish, Side Dish, starter, tapas
Cuisine andaluz, Authentic Spanish recipe, Spain
Servings 4 Tapas
Calories 190 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cod fillet 16 oz / 450 grams
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup beer 120 ml
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley 8 grams
  • 1 leveled teaspoon Spanish Sweet paprika
  • Generous pinch of salt to taste
  • Olive oil for frying

Instructions
 

Step 1 - Poach Cod Fillet

  • First, poach the cod fillet in some boiling water. Once the water is boiling, submerge into the water and simmer on medium heat for 7 minutes.
    1 cod fillet 16 oz / 450 grams
  • The cod fillet becomes opaque and firm once it is done. Once done, remove it from the water and allow it to cool while moving onto step 2.

Step 2 - Prepare the Batter

  • Sieve the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. In a small bowl, whisk two eggs and add to the flour. Pour in the beer, season with a pinch of salt, and whisk until you have a thin batter with no lumps (it will be quite runny at this stage).
    1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup beer 120 ml, Generous pinch of salt
  • Next, add the finely diced onion, garlic, chopped parsley, and paprika. Mix well with a fork.
    1 onion finely chopped, 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped, 3 tbsp chopped parsley 8 grams, 1 leveled teaspoon Spanish Sweet paprika

Step 3 - Add Cod to batter

  • The cod fillet should have cooled enough to be handled. Flake the fillet apart by hand or by cutting it into small pieces.
  • Add the flaked cod to the batter and mix well. Season to taste and leave the batter to meld at room temp for 5-10 minutes.
  • Note: This type of batter is very forgiving and should be runny but not too thin. It should slowly drip off a fork or spoon when placed upside down. If the batter still looks too thin, add more flour and whisk until you have no lumps and achieve the desired consistency.

Step 4 - Fry Cod Fritters

  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet or pan on high heat. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, test a blob of batter and if it sizzles, it is ready.
  • Add a heaped tablespoon of the batter to the pan. Gently tap the mixture until it flattens out. Cook 3-4 fritters at a time (ensure they are not touching) and fry for around 2 minutes each side. They should be golden on both sides.
  • Transfer to some paper towel to drain off oil and continue to cook fritters in batches.

Video

Notes

Cooking Tips:

  • Frozen cod fillets are fine for this recipe, just ensure they are thawed before use. 
  • Use good quality extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. It is healthier than vegetable oils and also has a lovely flavor. 
  • Add 1 bay leaf and half a dozen whole peppercorns to the water used to poach the cod fillet for a flavor boost. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point compared to other cooking oils. Start off heating your oil at medium and if begins to smoke, turn it down immediately. 
  • If you prefer not to deep fry with oil, these fritters work perfectly well with just a drizzle of oil in a non-stick frying pan.

Nutrition

Serving: 100gCalories: 190kcalCarbohydrates: 10.8gProtein: 24.6gFat: 3.8gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 148mgSodium: 233mgPotassium: 107mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1.7gCalcium: 31mgIron: 1mg
Keyword 45-minute recipe, beer, cod, codfish, Easy tapas, extra virgin olive oil, Fried, fritters, salt cod, Spanish tapas

Love this recipe?

Leave us a comment and tell us your favorite Spanish tapas recipe! 

1 Comment

  1. Ben

    5 stars
    thank you! Great recipe!

    Reply

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