Spanish Food Series Part III: Tortilla de Patatas

Today’s cooking series recipe is none other than the traditional Tortilla de Patatas, aka, Spanish Omelette.

This dish which is traditional in Spanish cuisine is humbly made with the most staple ingredients in our pantries: eggs, potatoes and onions(optional though). But before diving into the mechanics of this crowd-pleasing dish, we share 5 fun facts about the history of the beloved ‘patata’ in Europe and Spain. 

  1. Potatoes are native to South America and were discovered by conquistadors in the XVI Century but initially unappreciated by them because it was deemed food for the lower classes and because they were discovering a myriad of more exciting fruits and vegetables.
  2. Potatoes were eventually imported back to Europe and finally made popular when a pirate, Francis Drake, introduced them in England as a substitute for grains and bread in the XVIII Century.
  3. Due to food security problems caused by wars and climate problems, this hearty, resistant root vegetable was officially encouraged as a crop throughout Europe by governments and churches.
  4. Thanks to the Irish agronomist Henry Doyle (or Enrique Doyle as named by the Spanish) who in 1773, 250 years after its original discovery by conquistadors, lobbies and influences Spanish authorities to emit a recommendation to plant potatoes throughout the Iberian Peninsula to help feed the masses.
  5. It took a couple of years for all types of gastronomic experiments to circulate, especially aiming to make bread from potatoes. Such experiments eventually evolved to the tortilla we know today and the rest is gastronomic history!

Today, you can find many versions and variations of the tortilla de patata, with zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms or chorizo for example and families take pride in their particular family recipe. An important cultural consideration we would also like to share when experimenting with this dish is finding your team. Spanish and fans of this dish alike will fall into one of the following teams: onion vs. no onion and runny vs. hard.

In this specific recipe we are part of the runny-onion team but feel free to experiment and find your preferred tortilla de patatas! 


Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 6 eggs
  • 4 large potatoes or 6 small
  • 1 onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil to fry the potatoes


Peel the potatoes and pat them dry to remove some of the surface starch and slice them very thinly with a knife or a mandoline if you have one. Peel the onion and slice it. 

In a large frying pan add a good base of oil in order to fry the potatoes and onion. Fry the potatoes in batches and place them on some kitchen paper in order to remove the excess oil. Fry the onion with the last batch of potatoes and set aside. In the meantime beat the eggs in a big bowl, add salt and pepper to taste. When the potatoes are slightly cool add to the eggs and mix well for them to be perfectly combined, some people like to mash the potatoes a little bit at this step. Then heat a large bottom frying pan and add some oil throw in the egg mixture and wait until the bottom side is fully cooked to flip it. In order to flip it help yourself with a flat plate or big lid – be careful, it’s hot! Cook on the other side until your desired runniness. 

We hope you try this one out since you most likely already have these ingredients in your pantry.

Buen provecho!  And do share your experiments with us, we’d love to see some of your tortillas and know what team you are on!


Historia de la Cocina y Gastronomía, "Historia de la tortilla de patatas o española, un análisis sociológico sobre la alimentación a finales del Siglo XVIII", May 25, 2015. Available at:

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By |2020-12-09T17:28:14+00:00April 16th, 2020|The Relocations to Spain Journal|

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