Tortilla de Patatas: Explained!

Tortilla de Patatas: Explained!


Tortilla de patatas, also known as Spanish omelette, is a quintessential dish in Spanish cuisine. It is simple and versatile, whilst delicious and easy to eat and enjoy in big groups, this classic dish has won the hearts of many around the world. In this blog, we'll delve into the origins, ingredients, variations, and the cultural significance of tortilla de patatas, providing a comprehensive guide to understanding and making this beloved Spanish delicacy.

The Origins of Tortilla de Patatas

The exact origins of tortilla de patatas are somewhat shrouded in mystery, but it is widely believed to have originated in the 19th century. One popular legend attributes its creation to General Tomás de Zumalacárregui during the Carlist Wars. In need of a simple, nourishing meal to feed his troops, he is said to have come up with the idea of combining eggs and potatoes. Another story suggests that it was invented by an anonymous housewife in Navarra, who combined the two readily available ingredients to make a meal for her hungry family.

Regardless of its precise origins, tortilla de patatas has become a staple in Spanish households and is a common offering in tapas bars across the country.

The Cultural Significance of Tortilla de Patatas

Tortilla de patatas is more than just a dish; it is a cultural icon in Spain. It is often enjoyed in various settings, from family dinners to casual gatherings with friends. Its presence in tapas bars across Spain makes it a social food, perfect for sharing and savoring alongside other small plates and drinks.

In many Spanish households, the recipe for tortilla de patatas is passed down through generations, with each family adding their own unique touch. It is a versatile dish that can be served at any time of day – for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack. The dish’s ability to be enjoyed hot or cold makes it a popular choice for picnics and potlucks.

You might think that Paella is the staple in households around Spain, but let me break a myth for you. Ask any Spaniard, they will tell you that Tortilla de Patatas is for any occasion, Paella is for weekends and special occasions.

The Basic Ingredients

The beauty of tortilla de patatas lies in its simplicity. The traditional recipe requires only a few basic ingredients:

Potatoes, Eggs, Onion, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Salt

My Recipe for Tortilla de Patatas

Our Tortillas are always a good seller in the Markets.

Pst! You can buy my amazing tortillas here! or come and enjoy them in one of our Local Markets

    Variations of Tortilla de Patatas

    While the classic tortilla de patatas is made with just potatoes and eggs (and onions), there are numerous variations across Spain, each adding unique flavors and ingredients. Some popular variations include:

    1. Tortilla de Patatas con Chorizo:

    • UK loves chorizo, so… try it! We used to make it for our markets (we used Sobrasada instead of chorizo because it is less faty and less punchy), but honestly, we don’t like it ourselves, so… we stopped doing it, as we only want to sell things we honestly enjoy ourselves. (You still can order it online, but we only make it for online orders)

    2. Tortilla de Patatas con Espinacas:

    • Incorporating fresh spinach adds a healthy twist and vibrant color to the traditional recipe.

    3. Tortilla de Patatas con Pimientos:

    • Bell peppers, either roasted or sautéed, provide a sweet and slightly tangy contrast to the potatoes.

    4. Tortilla de Patatas con Queso:

    • For a cheesy variation, adding grated Manchego or another Spanish cheese creates a rich and gooey texture.

    5. Tortilla de Patatas con Setas:

    • Including wild mushrooms or button mushrooms adds an earthy depth to the dish.

    Tips for the Perfect Tortilla de Patatas

    Let’s be honest. You might see the ingredients and think that making your own Tortilla de Patatas shouldn’t be difficult. And you might be right, but achieving the perfect tortilla de patatas requires some practice and a few helpful tips:

    1. Quality Ingredients:

    • Use the best quality potatoes, eggs, and olive oil you can find. The simplicity of the dish means that each ingredient's quality will shine through.

    2. Patience with Potatoes:

    • Cook the potatoes gently over low heat to soften them without browning. This ensures a tender texture and prevents a bitter taste.

    3. Right Pan Size:

    • A good tortilla de patatas is not thin. It should be 2-3 cm deep. So use a nice thick pan. For the ingredients listed above, a 26cm pan should do the trick.

    4. Master the Flip:

    • The most challenging part of making a tortilla is flipping it. Use a large, flat plate that covers the entire pan, and do this over the sink to catch any spills.
    • Best tip is: Don’t be afraid. You will not make it the first time, or the second, but practice is key. And remember, you will be handling a liquid egg mixture, it will be hot! Be careful.

    5. Rest Before Serving:

    • Yeah, I know. It will smell amazing, and you will be hungry, but allow the tortilla to rest for a few minutes before slicing. This helps it to set and makes it easier to cut clean slices.


    Tortilla de patatas is a timeless Spanish classic that embodies the essence of Spanish home cooking – simple, flavorful, and made with love. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or experiment with variations, making tortilla de patatas is a rewarding experience that connects you to Spain's rich culinary heritage. Serve it as part of a tapas spread, bring it to a picnic, or enjoy it as a comforting meal at home. With its humble ingredients and deliciously satisfying taste, tortilla de patatas is sure to become a favorite in your culinary repertoire.

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