Sardine tortilla recipe

Canned sardines are delicious mixed into a traditional Spanish tortilla
Canned sardines are delicious mixed into a traditional Spanish tortilla - Matt Austin

Tinned sardines, or pilchards as they were generally known in the UK, have been a cupboard staple for decades. They are actually the same species, though ‘pilchards’ is the name typically given to the larger ones. In 1997, the abundant Cornish pilchards got a rebrand to help boost sales and what a difference it made. People typically eat sardines while on holiday, so they took to these ‘new’ Cornish sardines with gusto.

Mitch Tonks has successfully canned Cornish Mount’s Bay sardines. They come escabèche style, in a light, tomato-infused olive oil instead of the traditional heavy tomato sauce. They can be served on toast or in pasta; here I’ve mixed them into a traditional Spanish tortilla. Depending on the size of your pans, I suggest making a couple of smaller tortillas, as it will be easier to manage and turn them so you can keep the insides soft and just cooked.


Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes




  • 2 x 120g tins of sardines in oil, drained and the oil reserved

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced

  • 2 medium potatoes (about 300g), peeled, quartered and thinly sliced

  • 6 medium eggs, beaten

  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable or rapeseed oil


  1. Heat the oil from the sardines in a pan along with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the onions and potatoes and cook gently with a lid on for 8-10 minutes until soft, stirring every so often. Add a little water if they are starting to colour. Remove the pan from the heat.

  2. Break the sardines into small pieces and add them to the onion and potato mixture along with the eggs and parsley. Season with salt and stir well.

  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan about 24cm in diameter over a high heat and add the vegetable oil. Add the egg mixture and stir until the tortilla begins to set. Leave it to colour on the bottom (about 8-10 minutes). It should still be fairly soft but not runny. Place a plate on top and invert the pan so the tortilla ends up on the plate, then slide it back into the pan. Return it to the heat for 10 seconds, then take the pan off the heat and let it sit for a minute.

  4. Turn out on to a plate and serve warm or at room temperature along with a simple salad.