Tortilla is a typical Spanish omelet made from eggs, potatoes and onions only in its most traditional form. Though, today there are many variations with different ingredients such as vegetables, fish or meat. Since Tortilla is common all around Spain it serves as a national dish along with Gazpacho and Paella – although the latter has rather regional roots and is more spread due to its popularity with tourists.

Spanish breakfast tortilla with potatosThe word “tortilla” is a diminutive for “torta” and originally means small cake in general. In order to distinguish the Spanish Tortilla from egg omelets (“tortilla francesa” in Spanish), people often refer to the dish as tortilla de patatas or tortilla española. You also shouldn’t confuse it with the food of the same name from Mexico and its neighboring countries, which is a simple flatbread from corn or wheat.

Spanish people usually prepare the traditional egg and potato omelet freshly at home. For the lazier ones, there are also ready-made Tortillas available in different versions in supermarkets.

Tortilla: A Dish For The Military?

The origin of the traditional Spanish dish is not precisely clear. Francisco Martínez Montiño first documented it at the beginning of the 17th century as Tortilla de Cartuja. The Carthusian monks first prepared this variation of the dish with cream. The actual dish, however, is described for the first time in 1817 in an anonymous letter to the Spanish Parliament. Apart from mentioning the omelet, the statement reports about the poor living conditions of farmers in the province of Navarra.


Legend has it that a peasant woman in Navarra invented the tortilla de patatas in the 19th century during the Carlist Wars. The farmer’s wife had to prepare a meal for the military as they were hosting General Zumalacárregui. Since she did not have any other ingredients apart from potatoes, eggs and onions, she invented the dish in this emergency situation.



Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Food & Drinks // Spain

Servings: 2 portions

Spanish Tortilla de patatas with potatos and tomato dip


500 g potatos, predominantly waxy

150 g onions

4 eggs

250 ml olive oil



Peel the potatoes and cut them into small (0.5- 1 cm) cubes. Besprinkle with a teaspoon of salt.

Heat 250 ml olive oil in a pan and add the potato cubes. The potatoes should be just covered with oil. Reset the temperature to medium heat and cook the potatoes for about 12-15 minutes.

Sauté the onions in a second pan with a little olive oil for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Break the eggs into a bowl, add some salt and beat them with a whisk.

Separate the potatoes with a sieve from the olive oil. Add the potatoes and onions to the eggs into the bowl and let it rest for 3-5 minutes.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil at high temperature and pour the tortilla mixture into the pan. Fry it for 2 minutes until the mass begins to brown. Then flip the tortilla using a plate.

Simply put the plate on the tortilla and turn the pan so that the tortilla is on the plate. Then slide the tortilla back into the pan. Fry the tortilla from the back for about 1 minute. The tortilla should still be liquid inside.

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spanish tortilla with romesco sauce by Stacy Spensley, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Tortilla (1) by Adrian Scottow, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0