Patatas Bravas (Fierce Potatoes)

March 19, 2014 (Last Updated: June 29, 2020)
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overhead view of a platter of potato pieces topped with red and white sauces

In honor of my amazing sister’s birthday last week, I created a fun and festive Spanish tapas meal to celebrate. Tapas are one of my favorite styles of small plate meals (along with dim sum) and can always get on board for enjoying tapas with family or friends whether at a tapas bar or in my home.

a closeup of a round pie with dough on top and a hole in the center

Along with a pitcher of fruity sangria (a tapas meal without sangria is just sacrilegious) I created a spread of dishes that included an Empanada with Marinated Pork Roasted Red Peppers, Shrimp with Garlic, Mussels on the Half Shell with Escabeche (served cold and prepped in advance), Patatas Bravas, and Roasted Broccoli (not exactly traditional tapas, but we needed some green veggies!).

a slice of savory pie with meat and pepper filling on a plate
Empanada with Marinated Pork and Roasted Red Peppers
A platter of shrimp with sliced garlic and chopped parsley
Shrimp with Garlic
an oval platter of mussels on the half shell with red and green vegetables on top
Mussels on the Half Shell with Escabeche
a closeup of mussels on the half shell topped with chopped red and green peppers

I also fulfilled my sister’s only menu request (luckily she gave me free reign over the rest of the menu) for the birthday cake. A couple years ago, I posted the recipe for the famous Hollywood Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake, and this is the cake my sister desired on her birthday this year.

a cake with white frosting topped with grapefruit segments on a glass platter
Hollywood Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake

It’s a personal favorite as well, light and spongey with a slightly tart grapefruit-infused cream cheese frosting and fresh supremes of grapefruit in the filling and to garnish. It’s truly timeless and reflects back to the olden days of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

a closeup of a cake with white frosting and grapefruit segments on a glass platter

I won’t be sharing recipes for all of the dishes I made, but instead just a couple (at least for now). Today I’m highlighting my favorite tapas dish of all time: patatas bravas (or fierce potatoes). I’m not sure I’ve ever attended a tapas meal without ordering this popular tapas staple. Typically it begins with fried potatoes (usually cubed) and is served with a smokey, slightly spicy tomato sauce and a mellow garlic allioli (the Catalan version of aioli).

a platter of halved small potatoes topped with red and white sauces

It’s magical… seriously. In this particular case, instead of frying the potatoes, I boiled, halved, and then roasted red-skinned fingerling-style potatoes. They weren’t quite as crisp as their fried friends, but they had wonderful flavor from the olive oil and were nicely golden around the edges.

A plate of food including shrimp and potatoes with red and white sauces

The sauces are truly what take these “patatas” from ordinary to extraordinary. The bravas sauce is a slightly spicy, smokey, garlicky tomato sauce. I’ve actually seen this sauce served at a tapas bar with croquettes, so there are really many ways it can be utilized.

a closeup of small halved roasted potatoes topped with red and white sauces

The second sauce is a traditional allioli, which much like an aioli (the French/Provencal version) is a garlic mayonnaise. The garlic in this recipe is olive oil-poached and thus results in a soft and mellow garlic flavor than if using fresh garlic. It’s super tasty and would be a lovely spread or dipping sauce on its own. Married with the smoky tomato-based bravas sauce, the allioli takes the “patatas” to a delicious dimension where potatoes reign supreme.

overhead close up of a platter of roasted potato pieces topped with red and white sauces

Patatas Bravas rule my tapas universe, and I’m so thrilled to finally create them in my own kitchen (after so many delicious experiences in restaurants). Stay tuned for future posts with more fun tapas creations.

overhead view of a platter of potato pieces topped with red and white sauces

Patatas Bravas (Fierce Potatoes)

A classic Spanish tapas dish, these patatas bravas are roasted instead of fried for a lighter but just as delicious outcome.
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack, Tapas
Cuisine Spanish
Servings 6 to 8 servings
Calories 243 kcal



  • 3 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or just enough to cover)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bravas Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small Spanish onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 9 ounces (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) canned diced tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (I have also used Champagne and white balsamic vinegars on different occasions)


  • 3 pounds waxy potatoes such as Yukon Gold, red-skin, or fingerling potatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil


  • To make the allioli: In a small saucepan combine the garlic cloves and olive oil and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the garlic is tender and honey gold (occasionally tilt the pan as needed to keep the garlic submerged–even off the heat the olive oil should be hot enough to keep cooking it). Watch the garlic carefully so that it does not overcook. Life the garlic cloves from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to cool. Reserve the garlic oil for another use (1 1/2 teaspoons will be used later for the allioli).
  • In a small food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the garlic cloves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the garlic oil. Taste, season with salt and pepper, and pulse to mix. Scrape the allioli into a lidded storage container and chill for up to 3 days. You should have about 1/2 cup allioli.
  • To make the bravas sauce: In a large saucepan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes, or until they soften but have not colored. Add the garlic and cook gently for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the garlic is tender and aromatic. Stir in paprika, the cumin, and the cayenne.
  • Add the tomatoes, and the vinegar to the saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about 20 minutes, covered, or until the sauce is heated through and the tomatoes have begun to break down.
  • Let the tomato sauce cool a little and then, working in batches if needed, puree in a blender until smooth. As one batch is pureed, transfer it to a bowl or a container with a tight-fitting lid. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Use the tomato sauce right away, refrigerate it for up to 3 days or freeze it (like you would with any other tomato sauce).
  • To make the patatas: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Put the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover by an inch. Season generously with kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until just fork tender. Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool. The potatoes can be boiled and cooled a day in advance (be sure to refrigerate them if you do this in advance). When cool, cut the potatoes into wedges, cubes, or if using fingerling potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise.
  • Season the cooled potatoes with salt and pepper and toss them with a generous drizzle of olive oil in a shallow baking pan (you can use some of the leftover garlic-infused olive oil as well). Spread out the potatoes in the pan so they are an even layer, and not overlapping. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are nicely browned on one side. Rotate the pan and turn the potatoes over. Roast for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned and crisp on the other side (I actually roasted mine for a total of 30 to 35 minutes).
  • If you prefer fried potatoes, heat about 10 cups of canola or another vegetable oil in a deep, heavy pot until it registers 375 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels.
  • Fry the potatoes in batches so that you don’t crowd the pan. Carefully submerge them in the hot oil and let them cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until crispy and browned. Lift the potatoes from the oil with a slotted spoon and let them drain on the paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining potatoes.
  • Serve the potatoes with the bravas sauce and the allioli drizzled over the top.

Notes & Nutrition

Adapted from The Barcelona Cookbook
Servings 6.0 * calories 243 * Total Fat 25 g * Saturated Fat 4 g * Monounsaturated Fat 7 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 13 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 8 mg * Sodium 496 mg * Potassium 175 mg * Total Carbohydrate 3 g * Dietary Fiber 1 g * Sugars 2 g * Protein 1 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*

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