Which Spanish supermarket sells the best tortilla?

by Deborah Cater
Which Spanish supermarket came out tops for own brand tortilla? Photo by: Victor Bayon Under Creative Commons license

The supermarket tortilla is gaining ground, but what is the best home-made tortilla from the Spanish supermarket? Spanish cook and tortilla expert tests six tortillas from the supermarket.

The tortilla de patata, the Spanish potato omelette, is characteristic of Spanish gastronomy. It is also world-famous and loved outside Spain.

Spanish families pass on their unique recipe as a well-kept secret, generation after generation. The tortilla comes in many variations, with or without onion, slightly more or less solidified – although the safest thing for health is always solidified – or with added ingredients like courgette, leek, peppers.

And of course there are differences in quality; the tastiest is the traditionally prepared tortilla, either at home or in a restaurant. Those who have no time or want to eat something easy can resort to the packaged version from the supermarket. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, demand for these has skyrocketed and the tortilla is in the top three most purchased ready-made products.

Traditional preparation

Not everyone buys supermarket tortilla. In 2019, the second Spanish ‘tortilla de patata’ championship took place in Tenerife. The winner was Lola Cuerda, chef at Madrid’s Casa Dani restaurant. Her tortilla is now famous throughout Spain. It has almost become a tradition to visit this restaurant in the capital – open since 1991 – to taste Lola’s tortilla. Soft on the inside, nicely closed on the outside. It seems easy, but it is not.

Ranking six supermarket tortillas

Lola -together with sister Teresa, also an expert- judged six ready-made tortillas with onion from six different supermarkets for the Spanish newspaper El Español. These are the tortillas from Dia, Carrefour, Aldi, Alcampo, Mercadona and Lidl. These are their findings:

DIA: “edible”

The first tortilla tested is the one with onion by Dia (€1.85, 600 grams). The supermarket indicates that the product, to be creamy, must be heated in the microwave for three minutes and that, to solidify, it must be heated for four minutes. The conclusion is that after four minutes the omelette is still cold inside and the texture too hard. The tortilla looks like it was made in a student flat, but the taste is not bad, although the onion is not well fried and still very hard.

Carrefour: “bit industrial”

The tortilla with onion of Carrefour (€1.85, 600 grams) needs to be heated for four minutes but is then very well cooked according to the test team. The potatoes are cut with machines, it remains a factory product of course. The tortilla is slightly browner on the outside, the taste is initially positive: “this tortilla is sweeter and tastes more like onion”. Yet, after a few more tastes, the tasters are convinced. The final verdict: “this tortilla is a bit more industrial”.

Aldi: “looks good, but disappoints”

The assessment of the Aldi omelette (€1.75, 600 grams) starts well with a good presentation and nice packaging. The average heating time is four minutes, for a more creamy tortilla three minutes and for a firmer tortilla five minutes, says the label. This tortilla is larger, less thin and that may indicate that it is creamier. Upon cutting, the opinion is changed; again, the potatoes are too evenly placed. The taste is also disappointing; too little egg, too much potato and both ingredients do not form a nice whole. The amount of salt is not right either.

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Alcampo: “potatoes dipped in eggs”

The tortilla with onion by Alcampo, the house brand of Auchan, costs €1.67 and weighs 600 grams. After heating for four minutes, this omelette looks completely different, and a little darker. When cut, this tortilla looks creamier and it seems that more pasteurised liquid egg has been used. The taste is again surprising; “the onion seems cooked instead of fried, the ingredients are not well integrated – especially in the middle – and the omelette falls apart too much. They look like potatoes dipped in eggs”, according to the tasting panel.

Mercadona: “small minus”

To prepare the tortilla with onion of Hacendado, the house brand of Mercadona (€1,75, 600 grams) 7 minutes of heating are needed. After 4 minutes, the tortilla is still a bit juicy. The appearance surprises positively; the potato is less evenly cut and seems a bit less industrial. And in this case the taste is also a pleasant surprise. The tortilla seems fresher and is better prepared, probably with a potato of better quality. The only downside is that a touch of salt is missing.

Lidl: “squeaky onion”

The tortilla with onion from Lidl, €0.79 for 220 grams from Chef Select, the ready-made meals range of the German chain, looks promising in the packaging. This omelette needs heating for four minutes on a plate in the microwave. The eggs and potatoes seem to form a nice whole, but the potato is still hard. The taste is good, the onion undercooked and “squeaks in the mouth”.

And the winner is…

The conclusion leaves no doubt. At number 1 is Mercadona, Dia follows at number 2 and in third place is the Lidl tortilla. Carrefour and Alcampo share fourth place and the Aldi tortilla is last, because “it contains few eggs and a lot of potatoes”.

Aldi loser this year, good second last year

The result of the Aldi tortilla seems surprising. Last year, OCU, the Spanish Organisation of Consumers and Users, tested the quality of 15 packaged tortillas from the supermarket.

At the time, the Aldi house brand potato omelette with free-range eggs and caramelised onion came in second, with just one point difference from the winner. The tortilla scored better than the number one on nutritional quality and the number of saturated fats, but received fewer points for taste. According to the OCU, it was the best buy with a price per kilo of just under €4, or just under €2 each.

The nutritional value of the tortilla

If the ingredients are potatoes, eggs, onion and extra virgin olive oil and are part of a diet that is generally healthy and consists of vegetables, fresh fruit and foods without industrial processing, there is no harm in eating tortilla occasionally.

According to nutritionist Daniel Ursúa, the potato cannot be considered a vegetable. A view shared by Harvard University. Ursúa states: “Due to the low fibre intake, potatoes have a very high glycemic index (a measure of how quickly carbohydrates are digested in the gut and absorbed as glucose in the blood) and offer little satiety”. Moreover, frying in oil, even if it is of the highest quality, increases the number of calories exponentially.

Moreover, our diet already contains a fair amount of potatoes as snacks, side dishes and even as a key ingredient of stews.

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