May 31, 2024
Tortilla de Patatas Recipe by MadridMan

Tortilla de Patatas Recipe by MadridMan™The following is a tortilla de patatas recipe by MadridMan™ himself. I’m not saying it’s the BEST recipe, but my Spanish eaters seem to like it, bringing me ever-closer to winning the Best Non-Spaniard Spanish Cook award in this house. (that’ll be easy since I’m the only non-Spaniard here)

Question: What is a “tortilla de patatas”? Answer: It’s a “Spanish potato omelette“, also known as “tortilla española” in Spanish. It’s made with eggs, potatoes, and salt to start. Additional ingredients depend on the preference of the cook. Spain loves its “tortilla de patatas” as much as its Paella and I’ve seen a dozen different kinds. Here’s mine in only (?!?!) 34-steps:


  • 3 fat potatoes – or 4 regular sized ones
  • 4 large eggs (or 3 if you’re cutting back)
  • half onion
  • 1 or 2 large roasted red peppers
  • Salt-N-Pepa (anyone remember that hip-hop group?)
  • oregano
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (preferably from SPAIN!)


  • 1 large plate-sized non-stick frying pan with lid/cover
  • 1 mid-sized non-stick frying pan (2/3 the size of the large one)
  • 1 hand strainer into/onto which you will drain the cooked potatoes
  • 1 very large bowl, large enough to accommodate your combined mixture
  • 1 plate which will fit over top of the mid-sized frying pan
  • 1 large wooden spoon or wooden spatula
  • a sink
  • 2-hand coordination


  1. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - Extra Virgin Olive Oiladd and heat roughly one half-inch or 1.25 centimeters of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a large plate-sized frying pan (and don’t take your eye off of it, either!)
  2. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - chop potatoes and onionpeel and finely chop half an onion and add it to the heated olive oil
  3. while the onion is frying, peel and chop/slice 3 fat potatoes into flattened, big-toe sized slices (see photo)
  4. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - fry oniononce the onion slivers begin to curl and have the slightest tinge of brown around the edges, add your potatoes to the frying pan and cover with lid
  5. lower the heat – you don’t want the potatoes to brown, just cook slowly
  6. mix the potatoes carefully with the wooden spoon or wooden spatula, separate the slices from one another and see that the olive oil touches (almost) all potato surfaces
  7. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - fry potatoesadd more olive oil as necessary so you can see pools of it between the potato slices. NO NEED to totally cover the potatoes with oil in the pan
  8. carefully turn potatoes every few (2-4) minutes, making sure the potatoes are not browning. If so, lower the heat more
  9. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - chop roasted red pepperschop one or two large roasted red peppers to the size of your thumbnail. (the photo shows just 1 chopped red pepper) These roasted red peppers are oftentimes bought in a jar or can with water/oil
  10. crack and beat 4 (or 3) large eggs in a LARGE bowl (large enough to fit all your fried potatoes later)
  11. add chopped roasted red peppers to the egg mixture in the large bowl
  12. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - beat eggs, add red pepper and oreganoadd two dashes of pepper to the egg mixture
  13. add a tablespoon or two of oregano to the egg mixture
  14. add and mix-in a couple pinches of salt to the egg mixture. IMPORTANT NOTE: Salt is a crucial – and dangerous – ingredient in any “tortilla de patatas“. Go too far and you can’t eat it. Come up short and it’s bland. This step can be trial-and-error depending on your salt preferences, but better to add too little than too much until you get the hang of it
  15. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - strain fried potatoesonce the frying potatoes break easily when mixing, turn off the heat
  16. with a hand strainer (the typical Spanish ones are like a handled, flat spoon with holes in it – see photo), fish-out the fried potatoes, allowing as much olive oil as possible to drain off into the frying pan, and add them to your LARGE bowl containing the egg mixture
  17. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - mix potatoes and eggsmix the potato, egg, etcetera thoroughly
  18. add a couple spoons of the previously used, still-hot olive oil to your smaller frying pan
  19. turn heat on low under the smaller frying pan
  20. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - add olive oil to smaller panpour potato and egg mixture into the smaller, heated frying pan, not allowing the mixture to reach the top edge of the frying pan – but almost (if you have mixture leftover, you can later make a nice mini-potato-omelette)
  21. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - push down edges of tortillaonce the mixture is in the frying pan, unstick and push-down the edges with a wooden spoon or wooden spatula to give it nice, round sides. Next, comes the most difficult part…
  22. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - cover fying pan with a pan to turnwhen the top of the mixture becomes ever-so-slightly firm, after 8-10 minutes, lift the frying pan from the heat and completely and firmly cover the top with a plate. Ready? The following is the most difficult, dangerous part coming up…
  23. carry the frying pan covered with the plate to the sink – or safe area – and give yourself space for the following mini-circus act
  24. with one hand firmly placed on the top of the plate and the other hand firmly holding the frying pan handle, smoothly turn the frying pan and tortilla over onto the plate, releasing its contents. IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTES: when performing this not-for-the-faint-hearted procedure of “turning”, in the instant before the tortilla falls onto the plate, tilt the plate-pan combination slightly away and to the left-or-right of your body, toward the sink because hot oil may spill out if you’ve added too much. This is to say you’ll be conducting a 170º turnover – not a 180º turnover. If you burn your fingers/hands, you can drop the whole thing into the sink instead of on the floor. (be sure to push the kitchen sink’s spigot out of the way if you can) I recommend practicing a couple times with an empty pan topped with a plate so when you reach GO TIME you won’t be flustered with which way to turn it
  25. you now have the still-somewhat-soupy tortilla de patatas on the plate. Quickly return the frying pan to the heat and gently slide the tortilla off the plate and back into the frying pan
  26. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe - push down edges with wood spoon or spatulause your wooden spoon or wooden spatula to push down the edges and give the frying pan a shake forward and back from time to time so the tortilla stays unstuck
  27. if you see your first-cooked side, the side now facing up, is anything but yellow, turn down the heat a bit more. This is a slow-cooking process
  28. after a good 5-10 minutes on low heat, take your wooden spoon or wooden spatula and ever-so-gently lift up the edge of the tortilla to see when the underside is nearly firm, being careful not to split or crack the top of the tortilla de patatas. With practice and timing, you can forego this step
  29. conduct a 2nd 170º turn onto a plate while over the sink. You shouldn’t have any more oil left to spill
  30. slide the tortilla back into the frying pan from the plate, give it a shake to keep it unstuck, and push down the edges with your wooden spoon or wooden spatula
  31. check the color of the up-facing side. It should still be yellow or ever-so-slightly beige-yellow. If it’s brown, turn down the heat some more
  32. Tortilla de Patatas Recipe by MadridMan™after another 5-10 minutes, conduct the 3rd – and last – 170º plate flip return to the frying pan
  33. stick a butter knife through the middle and it should pull-out nice and clean, with no liquidy egg yolk
  34. for better presentation, flip-out the tortilla de patatas onto a clean plate, now that you’re an expert, and let cool slightly


  • some, like me, put “tomate frito” (fried tomato sauce) or even ketchup on their tortilla de patatas
  • some people cook their tortillas without onion, some cook theirs with chorizo, others add eggplant to make it more moist
  • Spaniards NEVER put their tortillas de patatas in the refrigerator, usually not even overnight, until it’s eaten – which can take 2-48 hours. I realize this is very contrary to American customs of refrigerating everything. I’ve been converted and have never gotten sick
  • you’ll often get served tortilla de patatas in Spanish bars as a free tapa or a for-purchase “ración” – and it’s almost always served room temperature, likely made that morning. You can ask them to heat it up via microwave if you like yours warm


I started making the famed “tortilla de patatas” a few years ago and it definitely is a practice-makes-perfect journey. The first effort was a disaster, the potatoes were overcooked and brown, too salty, and I burned my plate-hand with the hot oil when I turned it. Plus, it took more than an hour to make. The second was less, but still brown and bland for lack of salt. Happily, the third and (nearly) all subsequent tortilla de patatas were edible and quite attractive and took roughly 45 minutes from start to finish.

¡Que Aproveche!

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16 thoughts on “Tortilla de Patatas Recipe by MadridMan

  1. Looks great! I´ve never eaten tortilla with red pepper but next time I´ll make it. By the way I have laughed to myself with “4 large eggs or 3 if you´re cutting back” very good.

  2. Great, detailed recipe. I have a few questions. I make this quite frequently at home, but I’m interested in trying yours. The best tortilla I ever ate was at a Spaniard’s home and I always wondered about how it was different. Looking at your recipe, I think it may be that I skimp on in oil and just cook it with a small amount in a non-stick pan rather than allowing the potatoes to move. Also, I only flip it once. Is it more authentic to flip a couple times like you do? Do you recycle your olive oil? How? (Do you have a special container for used olive oil that you add to?)

    By the way, La Tienda sells a special pan for tortillas that clasp together and make it easier to flip. Like you, MadridMan, I just use a plate. The only time I ever “goofed” was when I was helping my son make it for Spanish class. It ended up all over the floor and we had to start over. Generally, though, I’m pretty good and don’t get burned.

    1. As long as you have ‘enough’ olive oil to cook your potatoes through-and-through, that’s okay. The potatoes may brown if you don’t add enough olive oil – and that, you don’t want. I’ve always been told to flip it three times. It’s more important to flip it more often and cook less time on each side so that it gets thoroughly cooked to the middle and, also, avoid the browning of the tortilla.
      ALL Spaniards recycle their olive oil. Many people have a contained for recycled oiled used for frying eggs and potatoes and (sometimes) another for frying fish. I only recycle the oil used when frying potatoes, eggs, croquetas because it’s still perfectly usable and tastes even better the second/third time around. We used store-bought containers with a thumb-flip lid and a metal sift/filter which separates the solids from the oils. You toss out the solids, of course, and have the oil leftover in the bottom of the container for your next use.
      Sorry to hear of your tortilla-flip-floor-flop. That must have been infuriating! They can be slippery! I’d just found the LaTienda pan today:
      LaTienda Tortilla Pan

  3. Sounds so good! Our variation includes a clove of garlic added when the onion is lost done.

    The first time I tried it, I used too little olive oil. I now use 1/2 cup (118ml)

    I have developed a ‘flip’ technique that I am sure is not authentic, but works for me. After putting the plate on top of the frying pan, I take a terry cloth kitchen towel that is folded lengthwise (usually two folds). The towel spans the plate and allows me use my thumbs on the plate side and my fingers are protected on the hot pan. Then I just align the handle and with one motion turn towards me. I do it over the sink, as MM suggests, but it has not failed me yet.

    Thanks, MM for you detailed recipe!

    1. Elaine, GREAT idea about the terry cloth! You’ll protect your fingers that way from getting hot oil burns. One could also use a yellow, absorbent kitchen cloth – which would be easily cleaned, too. Only thing with using cloths on the plate is that it may make the plate-hand contact much more slippery – depending on the cloth.

      1. OK, no garlic. (I did just use 1 cloves and it was added for the last 20 seconds before the onion was done. )
        Also, With my flipping technique, I am using both hands to hold onto the pan and the plate. Fingers on the bottom, thumbs on top and hold on tight -haha

        1. Congratulations, elaine! It sounds like you’re following the standard Spanish-method, just like me. 🙂 May you enjoy MANY tortillas de patatas in the future!!

    1. I once added garlic to my tortilla and was politely criticised for doing it. “One doesn’t add garlic to a tortilla de patatas!“. But if you do add garlic, add it just before the onion is done as the garlic browns much much faster than the onion.

  4. Will absolutely try it with red peppers next time.
    I bought La Tienda’s tortillas pan when it was on sale a few years ago; well worth it. No more burned fingers; no more goop on the floor. 🙂

  5. Several years ago in Barcelona, I was out on a jet lag induced walk very early in the morning. The only bar open was in the square behind the Picasso Museum. I sat and watched the cook make a half dozen or so tortillas. Mine were never that good up until then. I realized what the difference was. 1-He was using the deep fryer turned way down to cook the potatoes and 2-He was adding the potatoes to the eggs when they were very warm . By adding the potatoes very warm you get a head start on cooking the center. Ever since, mine have been perfect. That and I use two pans to flip with!

  6. Hey, great recipe. I am glad to visit your site again. It was a great resource of info when I was living in Madrid years ago.

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