Patatas bravas is a classic Spanish tapa dish. Crispy potatoes topped with spicy tomato sauce and garlic aioli results in a simple but tasty recipe!
Love potatoes? Me too! It’s amazing how in Mediterranean cuisine we can turn potatoes into so many different dishes with different ingredients and approaches. For a simple omelette, you can make Spanish tortilla and if you’re looking for an easy side dish, you can make crispy oven roasted potatoes, Greek potatoes or baked fries with just a few ingredients. Today I’m going to show you how to make patatas bravas, an easy Spanish recipe that’s perfect for tapas!
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About this recipe
Patatas bravas are one of the most popular Spanish tapas. Many say you can know a lot about the quality of a tapas bar by trying their patatas bravas. A simple dish, these crispy potatoes are always served with brava sauce, a semi-spicy tomato sauce flavored with Spanish smoked paprika which is usually drizzled directly over the potatoes.
To make this classic Spanish recipe, the potatoes are usually deep fried in olive oil. However, I have worked out a way for this patatas bravas recipe to use less oil but still get that nice and crispy exterior that they are popular for. This technique calls for par boiling the potatoes first and then frying them. Keep reading for complete instructions and tutorials, and check out our Spanish recipes for more tapas ideas!
Potatoes: The most important ingredient here is the potato. You want to use a starchy potato that also keeps its shape and gets soft on the inside when cooked. I use russet potatoes for this recipe because of their structure and texture. If russet potatoes are not available, Yukon gold potatoes would work in this recipe as well.
Baking soda: Adding baking soda to the water when cooking the potatoes breaks their cells which results in a natural coating, giving us crispy potatoes. I learned this technique from America’s Test Kitchen and it works every time.
Olive oil: Like many other Mediterranean recipes, using extra virgin olive oil is always advised when cooking. You just need a few tablespoons of olive oil to make this recipe since the potatoes are par cooked and just need to get crispy and golden.
These potatoes are served with brava sauce, which is made with olive oil, minced garlic, paprika, oregano, salt, cayenne pepper, tomato paste and water. We'll talk more about it later in this recipe.
Par cook the potatoes
Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut them into chunks and set aside. Fill a saucepan with water and bring it to boil. Add the baking soda and potatoes. Cook for two minutes and then drain.
Season the potatoes
Return the potatoes to the saucepan and stir for a minute for them to dry and a coating forms on their surface. Add one tablespoon olive oil and one teaspoon kosher salt to the potatoes and gently stir. This will take out their moisture and help with the crispiness.
Fry and serve
Heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a non stick pan over medium heat until it’s shimmery. Add the potatoes to the pan and fry for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they get golden and crispy on all sides. When cooked, take them out of the pan using a slotted spoon and serve with brava sauce and garlic aioli.
Pro tip: Because of the coating the potatoes developed during par cooking, they won’t absorb the oil -therefore you won’t need much olive oil to fry them.
Brava sauce is a classic Spanish red sauce with a tomato paste base. To make this sauce you need olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika, oregano, cayenne, salt, tomato paste and water. Making this sauce is pretty simple:
- In a saucepan, cook the garlic for a few seconds until fragrant and then add the spices and cook for a minute.
- Add in the tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the water and bring it to a simmer. Let it cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.
That’s it. A simple brava sauce recipe for easy patatas bravas that you can make at home right now. This is probably one of my all time favorite ways to eat potatoes!
Turn it into a tapas spread!
Spaniards love to put out a spread of tapas and one of the things I love to do is to make a nice Spanish tapas spread at home for a fun evening. Don’t be intimidated: putting together a tapas spread can be as simple as crackers and Manchego cheese with some of this crispy patatas bravas with some homemade aioli.
If you feel fancy, make some pan con tomate, blistered shishito peppers, some Mediterranean style salmon croquettes, ensalada rusa and gambas al ajillo (Spanish garlic shrimp) to go with the potatoes. It’s so fun to make and eat Spanish tapas!
Frequently Asked Questions
These potatoes are best served fresh and right out of the pan, therefore I don’t recommend making them ahead of time. However, you can make the brava sauce ahead of time and drizzle it over the potatoes when they’re ready to serve.
Since we are not deep frying the potatoes, patience and occasional stirring is the key to this recipe. Be sure the potatoes get crispy on all sides while stirring them.
Increase the amount of cayenne pepper in the bravas sauce if you’d like the sauce to be spicier.
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Easy Patatas Bravas Recipe
- 2 russet potatoes washed, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
Tomato Brava sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¾ cup water
- Fill a saucepan with water and bring it to boil over high heat.
- Add the potatoes and baking soda. Stir and cook for two minutes. Drain immediately.
- Return the potatoes back into the hot saucepan and give it a stir to dry out.
- Add in one tablespoon of olive oil and salt. Stir so all potatoes are covered with olive oil.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Once it's shimmery, add the potatoes and cook for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure they get golden and crispy on all sides.
- Serve with brava sauce and homemade aioli.
Tomato brava sauce
- Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Saute minced garlic for a few seconds until it's fragrant. Add in smoked paprika, cayenne, oregano and salt. Cook for a few minutes.
- Add in the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes. Add in the water and bring it to a low simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes until it thickens.
- Since we are not deep frying the potatoes, patience and occasional stirring is the key to this recipe. Please make sure the potatoes get crispy on all sides while stirring them.
- These potatoes are best served fresh and right out of the pan, therefore I don’t recommend making them ahead of time.
- However, you can make the brava sauce ahead of time and drizzle it over the potatoes when they’re ready to serve.
- If russet potatoes are not available, yukon gold potatoes would work in this recipe as well.
- Increase the amount of cayenne pepper in the bravas sauce if you’d like the sauce to be spicier.