Tortilla Española

– Spanish Omelet with Caramelized Onion –

a tortilla espanola sits on a white plate

The Spanish tortilla is by far one of the most iconic tapas dishes served throughout Spain. When made with caramelized onions and a secret ingredient, this dish really stands out, and best of all, tortilla is very easy to make at home! 

Spanish Tapas Recipe | Tapas | Easy Tapas | Party Tapas | Authentic Spanish Recipe | Potato Recipe | Egg Recipe

Serving:

Tapas for 8-10 people

 

Ready In:

Prepare 10 minutes / cook 30-40 minutes

 

Skill Level

Easy/Medium

 

Serve with:

A slice of fresh bread

 

About This Recipe

We first discovered the traditional Spanish tortilla whilst embarking on a months-long camping trip throughout Spain, where tortilla was often served as a tapa in the many bars we frequented along the way.

Tortilla Española is usually served cold, as a thick wedge sits atop of a fresh slice of bread, and was with ‘con’ or without ‘sin’ onion. Served warm, it’s the ultimate comfort food recipe, especially when accompanied by a nice glass of Spanish red.

Potatoes cooking in olive oil in a large black frying pan. Kitchen setting

Tortilla in Regions of Spain

From the gooey versions served throughout the Galician region to the thick and firm versions found around Asturias, there are plenty of ways that this dish is enjoyed. Just ask any Spaniard about their favorite tortilla, and you’ll likely end up amidst a passionate debate, often lasting hours that culminate into something of affectionate Spanish folklore for their beloved national dish.  

A highly controversial debate when it comes to the Spanish tortilla is whether to include onion, and ultimately it comes down to your own personal preference, with the onion version typically being slightly sweeter in flavor. We have tried making both and sit more aligned with the ‘con cebolla’ camp. 

The Secret to Making the Perfect Tortilla

Speak to any Spaniard and they’ll have their own family recipe for making tortilla, handed down from their abuela (grandmother) where they made them as children. However, dare to delve a little deeper and ask them how to make it, and they’re quickly purse-lipped and not ready to spill the beans. It seems the tradition of making the Spanish tortilla is shrouded in secrecy and considered as sacred as their beloved siestas! 

It was a trip to Majorca whilst visiting good friends where we were finally was shown this recipe. We had tried their tortilla several times before and loved it, but could never put our finger on what made theirs so special compared to our humble attempts, which, at first, feigned in comparison.  

One evening on their terrace whilst enjoying some tapas, the several bottles of Rioja and a fair amount of pestering took the desired effect and a cooking date was finally set the next day to learn how to make the perfect tortilla

The next day we arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for our tortilla cooking lesson and our friends uncovered their secret recipe, which includes an ingredient that we’ve not seen in the many other tortilla recipes online, and what they described as their secret weapon of mass tortilla, is nutmeg! When caramelizing the onions, the nutmeg adds to the delicious sweet flavor in the tortilla. Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Potatoes cooking in olive oil in a large black frying pan. Kitchen setting
An antique metal teaspoon lies heaped with ground nutmeg.

Ingredients

Method (step-by-step)

    • 5 Large potatoes (Waxy varieties such as Red or Yukon Gold work best)
    • 2 Med-large white onions
    • 2 Cups of extra virgin olive oil 
    • 6 Eggs
    • 3 Tablespoons of milk
    • 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar 
    • 2 Teaspoons of salt
    • 1 Teaspoon of nutmeg
Nutritional fact sheet

Method (step-by-step)

 Step 1 – Caramelize the Onions

  • First Thinly slice the onions, keeping them stringy as possible (this will help them to caramelize during the cooking process) 
  • Using a 30cm non-stick frying pan, heat on medium, add a few tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan. 
  • When the oil is hot (not burning) add the onions and allow to golden slightly. 
  • Sprinkle the tablespoon of brown sugar over the golden onions, then add 3-4 tablespoons of water and give a good stir. 
  • Once evenly mixed, use a spatula to pat down the onions into an even layer and turn the heat down to medium. 
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes or until onions caramelize. They should look a golden-brown color and be slightly sticky. While waiting for them to caramelize, prepare the potatoes in Step 2. 
  • Set the onions aside once caramelized.

 Step 2 Prepare the potatoes

  • Peel and finally slice potatoes – 2-3 mm slices, or use a mandolin if you have one handy.
  • Heat the remainder of the oil in the frying pan used to caramelize the onions. Once the oil is hot, add the potatoes. There should be just enough oil to cover all of the potatoes.
  • Cook the potatoes on a medium-high heat for around 15 minutes, flipping the potatoes occasionally so the top and bottom cook evenly. Be careful not to break up the potatoes too much (a spatula lift and fold technique works well here). While waiting for the potatoes to cook, prepare the egg mixture in Step 3.
  • At the 15 minute mark, add back in the caramelized onions, mix well with the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Step 3 – Prepare the Egg mixture

  • Use a large bowl and add 6 eggs, a heaped teaspoon of salt, a good grind of fresh cracked black pepper, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 3 tablespoons of milk. 
  • Whisk all the ingredients and set the mixture aside for use later.

Step 4 – Prepare the Omelet. 

  • Once the onions and potato mix are cooked, carefully drain the oil from the mix (this oil can be reused a few more times, so keep it for the next time you make a tortilla!).
  • With the pan off the heat, use a spatula to distribute the potato and onion mix. It should be evenly covering the base of the frying pan.
  • Add the egg mixture evenly throughout the potato mix and gently pat down the mix using a spatula, flattening it out slightly. 
  • On a medium/low heat, add the frying pan back onto the heat and cook for around 5-10 minutes. This should take around 10 minutes for the first side to be done (although, it will depend on how ‘gooey’ you want your tortilla to be!)  
  • When you’re ready to flip your tortilla, remove from the heat and cover the pan with a large plate, face down. With one hand firmly on the plate, use the other to flip the pan using the pan handle. Once the tortilla is on the plate, gently slide it back into the pan to cook the other side for another 5-10 minutes. 
  • Once cooked, remove pan from the heat and set aside for 20-30 minutes.

Step 5 – Allow to Cool, and Serving tips. 

  • Once your tortilla is ready, slowly remove it from the pan and place onto a plate to cool slightly for 30 minutes to an hour. 
  • Once cooled, remove from the pan and gently slide onto a chopping board.

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a tortilla espanola sits on a white plate

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A large tortilla espanola sits on a WHITE PLATE ON TOP OF A GREY MARBLE COUNTERTOP

Tortilla Española

The Spanish tortilla is by far one of the most iconic tapas dishes served throughout Spain. When made with caramelized onions and a secret ingredient, this dish really stands out, and best of all, tortilla is very easy to make at home! 
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Resting time 5 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Appetizer, Snack, tapas
Cuisine Mediterranean, spanish
Servings 10 People (tapas)
Calories 239 kcal

Equipment

  • 12 inch frying pan with deep sides
  • large spatula

Ingredients

  • 5 Large potatoes Waxy varieties such as Red or Yukon Gold work best
  • 2 Med-large white onions
  • 2 Cups of extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons of milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of nutmeg

Instructions
 

Step 1 - Caramelize the Onions

  • First Thinly slice the onions, keeking them stringy as possible (this will help them to caremelize during the cooking process)
  • Using a 30cm non-stick frying pan, heat on medium, add a few tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan.
  • When the oil is hot (not burning) add the onions and allow to golden slightly.
  • Sprinkle the tablespoon of brown sugar over the golden onions, then add 3-4 tablespoons of water and give a good stir.
  • Once evenly mixed, use a spatula to pat down the onions into an even layer and turn the heat down to medium.
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes or until onions start to caramelize. They should look a golden-brown color and be slightly sticky. While waiting for them to caramelize, you can start to prepare the potatoes.
  • Set the onions aside once caramelized.

Step 2 - Prepare the potatoes

  • Peel and finely slice potatoes - 1-2 mm slices, or use a mandolin if you have one handy.
  • Heat the remainder of the oil in the frying pan used to caramelize the onions. Once the oil is hot, add the potatoes. There should be just enough oil to cover all of the potatoes.
  • Cook the potatoes on a medium-high heat for around 15 minutes, flipping the potatoes occasionally so the top and bottom cook evenly. Be careful not to break up the potatoes too much (a spatula lift and fold technique works well here). While waiting for the potatoes to cook, prepare the egg mixture in Step 3.
  • At the 15 minute mark, add back in the caramelized onions, mix well with the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Step 3 - Prepare the Egg mixture

  • Use a large bowl and add 6 eggs, a heaped teaspoon of salt, a good grind of fresh cracked black pepper, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 3 tablespoons of milk.
  • Whisk all the ingredients and set the mixture aside for use later.

Step 4 - Preparing the omelet.

  • Once the onions and potato mix are cooked, carefully drain the oil from the mix (this oil can be reused a few more times, so keep it for the next time you make a tortilla!).
  • With the pan off the heat, use a spatula to loosely distribute the potato and onion mix. It should be evenly covering the base of the frying pan.
  • Add the egg mixture evenly throughout the potato mix and use the spatula to gently pat down the mix. Flattening it out slightly.
  • On a medium/low heat, add the frying pan back onto the heat and cook for around 5-10 minutes. This should take around 10 minutes for the first side to be done (although, it will depend on how ‘gooey’ you want your tortilla to be!)
  • When you’re ready to flip your tortilla, remove from the heat and cover the pan with a large plate, face down. With one hand firmly on the plate, use the other to flip the pan using the pan handle. Once the tortilla is on the plate, gently slide it back into the pan to cook the other side for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Once cooked remove pan from the heat and set aside for 20-30 minutes.

Step 5 - Allow to Cool, and Serving tips.

  • Once your tortilla is ready, use a spatula to slowly remove it from the pan and place onto a plate to cool slightly for 20-30 minutes.
  • Once cooled, remove from the pan and gently slide onto a chopping board.

Serve in slices either slightly warm or cold on a little fresh bread. Optionally, a blob of ajolli on the side works well. Pair with a nice old Spanish red wine, such as a Rioja.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 100gCalories: 239kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 6.8gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 516mgPotassium: 791mgFiber: 4.7gSugar: 4.1gCalcium: 41mgIron: 1mg
    Keyword espanola, omelet, potato, spanish, Spanish omelet, tapas, tortilla