Mains, Weekday Dinners

Tortilla de Bilbao

There are Spanish omelettes, and there are Spanish omelettes.

If you haven’t had one cooked by a certified Spaniard, then you haven’t had the real deal I’m afraid. But hopefully this recipe will get you one step closer.

My foxy Bilbaíno auntie made this for the family about two years ago. I came downstairs and she was there flipping that tortilla like only a true Spaniard could.

This is her recipe. Straight outta Bilbao.


Serves 4


  • 200ml vegetable oil
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1/4 white onion
  • Pinch of sea salt (table salt is fine)
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • A good few grinds of black pepper


  1. Pour the olive oil and vegetable oil into a medium frying pan and place on a medium heat.
  2. While the oil is heating up, peel the potatoes and slice them so they are quite thin (about 0.25cm is you want to get technical). Then finely dice the onion and place both ingredients into a bowl, give it a good sprinkling of salt and mix well.
  3. Test if the oil is hot enough by placing one slice of potato in the oil. If it’s the right temperature the potato will sink to the bottom of the pan, but then bubble and rise to the top in 20 seconds or so. Cook the slices of potato in batches of around 7 along with the onion, until they are just starting to brown on the edges. Once cooked, remove them with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on a sheet of kitchen roll. Take the pan off the heat.
  4. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the milk, salt and pepper and beat with a fork until well incorporated. Add the cooked potato slices and onion, and coat in the egg mixture.
  5. Decant the oil out into a separate container, leaving about a tablespoon in the pan, and save the rest for future shallow frying. Place the pan back on a medium heat and pour in the egg and potato mixture. Ensure all the potato slices are laying flat, then lower the heat. Cook the tortilla for around 5 minutes, being sure to run a spatula (a flexible silicone one works best) around the edge so it doesn’t stick.
  6. When the tortilla has cooked around 3/4 of the way through and is still a bit runny on top, it’s time to flip it. To do this, place a dinner plate that is larger than the pan face down on top of the pan. Use your right hand to pick the pan up by the handle and place your left hand on top of the plate to make sure it doesn’t move away from the pan. Flip the pan and plate over anti-clockwise so the pan is now upside down and the tortilla is on the plate. Then carefully slide the tortilla back into the pan – the cooked side should now be on top.
  7. Cook for 2-3 minutes more until it has a slight wobble, but isn’t firm. Then turn the tortilla out onto a plate and serve hot or cold.

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