Whether you’re after a light snack, or you’re hosting a dinner party, knowing how to make some appetizers is crucial.
The Spanish know how to kill it when it comes to appetizers. Their love for food really shows in all their dishes, and their tapas are their specialty.
Tapas are basically small plates of food – otherwise known in the US as appetizers.
The world of tapas is huge. You can find anything from spicy potato wedges, to cuts of meat with some sauce. The best thing about them is that they are super simple to make, yet full of flavor, and all you need are a few ingredients.
This article is going to be providing you with a list of 19 delicious Spanish tapas that you and your guests won’t be able to get enough of.
Each one of these recipes pairs perfectly with a nice cold Spanish beer.
An Ensaladilla Rusa (Russian Salad) is a very popular Spanish tapas dish. It is lovely and refreshing, perfect for those summer months.
This recipe is made with potatoes, olives, tuna, mayonnaise, carrots, and red pepper, but it is super customizable, and if you’re ever in Spain, you’re likely to find some with sweetcorn and peas.
The salad is normally served with breadsticks (picos de pan), and pairs perfectly as a side dish with some grilled fish or meat.
Gambas Pil Pil (Pil Pil Prawns) is a delicious, garlicky, spicy prawn appetizer that you’re likely to find on many menus across Spain, especially on the Andalusian coast.
It’s also very healthy, as all it contains is prawns, oil, garlic, parsley, and chili.
Some variations can be relatively spicy, but this is easily customizable with how much chili you decide to use. Enjoy these juicy, delicious prawns, and then dip some bread in the sauce once you’ve gobbled up the gambas.
Patatas Bravas are some of the most popular tapas dishes across Spain. It is a simple yet delicious, and very easy to whip up yourself!
The potatoes are cut up into either wedges, or squared chunks, and fried in a good quality olive oil. These are then topped with a bright red, slightly spicy sauce.
Each restaurant you’ll visit in Spain makes its sauce differently, and the level of spice within it will vary.
This recipe uses olive oil, pimento Picanto (hot smoked paprika), flour, chicken broth, and salt.
Spanish Ham Croquettes (Croquetas de Jamon) are another staple tapas dish. They are small breaded and fried fritters that are filled with a rich béchamel sauce and Spanish cured ham.
The best croquettes are crispy on the outside, and creamy and flavorful on the inside.
They aren’t the simplest things to make, so you must follow the instructions very carefully in this recipe. Despite the intricacy, taking the time to make them perfect, will be totally worth it once you take a bite of them.
5. Huevos Rotos
Huevos Rotos, which translates to broken eggs, is a heart-warming, comforting tapas dish, served all over Spain.
Fried eggs are served on a bed of fried potatoes, and the egg yolk breaks and mixes with the potato.
It is best to make sure the potatoes aren’t too crispy so that they can absorb the yolk, mixing in for a delicious flavor.
To elevate this dish even further, some people enjoy adding some bits of Spanish-cured ham on top. The combination of flavors of this dish is like no other and just screams comfort.
Padron Peppers are some of the easiest Spanish tapas to prepare. They’re also pretty healthy!
These are small green peppers that come from Galicia, in the north of Spain. They are often served with huevos rotos, and adding a splash of color to that dish.
All you need to do is drizzle them with some olive oil and sea salt, and cook them in the oven until their outer skin wrinkles!
Eat them whole except for the stems, and enjoy!
Fried squid rings, referred to in Spain as ‘calamares’ are up there as one of the most popular Spanish tapas dishes (see also ‘Tapas: 18 Excellent Restaurants In New York City‘).
The squid is cut into rings and fried in a batter that is delicious. They are popular for lunch and dinner, and you can even have them in a sandwich! This is a signature dish in Madrid, and is known as the ‘bocadillo de calamares’.
This recipe will have you tenderizing the squid in either milk or lemon juice for around 30 minutes. Then, you’re to cover each ring with flour, pepper, paprika, and salt, and then dip it back into the milk before putting it back in with the flour.
This emphasizes the crispiness, but if you can’t have milk, then you can skip this step. They are then fried in olive oil until golden brown and crispy.
Almejas, in English, are clams marinara style. This is a very popular dish in Spain, that is eaten along with other seafood tapas.
They are easy to make, and healthy, so they’re perfect for any occasion. The clams are made in a marinara sauce that’s made with scallion, garlic, flour, chopped parsley and white wine.
This is another dish that often gets eaten with some crispy bread, and once all the clams have been eaten up, the bread is dipped into the delicious sauce, and enjoyed!
Also known as Spanish Omelette, the tortilla de patata is a very common dish among Spanish households and restaurants.
It can be served as a main course, but many people enjoy having a smaller tapas portion alongside some other of their favorite tapas.
It is another incredibly simple dish, utilizing only potatoes, eggs, onions, oil, and salt. This is also a great option as a filling for a baguette, and is often eaten like this throughout Spain.
Gambas a la plancha translates to ‘grilled shrimp’. This is another classic tapas dish you are likely to see in many menus across Spain.
The shrimp are cooked whole, without peeling them, on a flat-iron grill after being salted. While they are cooking, there is the option of adding a dash of lemon juice to them.
These shrimp are packed with flavor already, so there’s no need to add much to them!
Getting to peel them is all part of the fun – the most experienced people can even peel them with a knife and fork!
A montadito, is an Andalusian-style warm sandwich that has a variety of fillings – one of the most popular being the serranito.
While this recipe uses a bocadillo (Spanish-style baguette), the tapas variety uses a smaller baguette, known as a montadito.
The filling consists of pork, Spanish cured ham, and a sautéed green pepper. Some variations include tomato as well.
12. Chicken Skewers
Chicken skewers, known in Spain as ‘pinchitos de pollo’, are native to Morocco, but are a staple tapas dish in many tapas bars across Spain.
They can be made with chicken, lamb, or beef, and the meat is cut into square chunks, marinated, and then added to a skewer.
If you were ever to attend a Spanish barbecue, these are bound to be in every corner you look.
Galician octopus is served on a bed of cooked potatoes, and is a dish that originated in Galicia but has since spread throughout Spain.
The octopus is cooked in a copper pot after being cleaned. It is then cut into bite-size pieces, served with boiled potatoes, along with a sprinkle of paprika, salt, and extra virgin olive oil.
Some prefer to cook the octopus on the barbecue, and this allows for it to tenderize nicely and take on a smoked flavor.
Gazpacho is a cold soup that originated in the Andalusian area of Spain, and is now popular all over the country.
Gazpacho connoisseurs claim that it is a dish that can cure all, from hangovers and colds, to breakups and sadness! Whatever the cause, Gazpacho has your back.
It is often served as an appetizer, and is traditionally drank from a glass, but many people enjoy it from a bowl as a soup and add certain toppings.
It is also a wonderfully healthy and refreshing dish. The main ingredients are tomatoes, pepper, onion, and garlic. Blitz them all together, and there you have it!
Salmorejo is very similar to Gazpacho, which we discussed above, but it is creamer and thicker. Those who aren’t too fond of Gazpacho, may enjoy Salmorejo due to the thicker consistency.
This is another cold, refreshing soup that is perfect on a hot summer’s day. Unlike Gazpacho, which is made with tomatoes and other vegetables, Salmorejo is simply blended tomatoes, garlic, some stale bread to add a thick consistency, olive oil and sherry vinegar.
The best way to eat this is by adding some crumbled bits of boiled egg, and Spanish cured ham on top.
Jamon Iberico, and Manchego cheese are two of the most popular Spanish items in any Spanish supermarket and menu.
Jamon Iberico is the most popular ham in Spain. It is a certain kind of ham that is cured in such a way, that it leaves a very salty and fine cut of meat. The ham is dark red in color, and very well marbled.
Manchego cheese is a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese and is Spain’s most popular cheese. It is semi-soft with a nutty, tangy, sweet flavor.
This recipe consists of some toasted bread with a slice of Jamon Iberico, followed by your Manchego cheese with a drizzle of honey on top. This is a lovely, healthy little snack that can be prepared in under 10 minutes!
A steaming plate of mussels in a delicious sauce is also a common dish across Spain. They are often served with fresh bread for dipping!
Mussels are often seen as a fancier kind of dish, and they are extremely easy to make. Learning how to cook them can level up dinner times in your home, and really wow any guests you may have over.
This recipe provides you with a step-by-step guide on how to clean your mussels, how to prepare the sauce, and how to cook the dish to completion!
Galician turnovers (empanadillas gallegas), are a very popular dish in Galicia. Each portion normally brings two, so they are perfect if you’re out for some tapas.
These empanadillas are filled with tuna or meat, and both variations pack a lot of flavor. While they are relatively time-consuming to make, the end result will be worth it, and your family and guests will be begging you to make more.
To end this list, we have a reveulto with chorizo and potato. The dish itself may not look like much, but it is absolutely delicious, and very easily customizable as you can add literally anything you have on hand!
Revueltos are Spanish-style scrambled eggs, with any added vegetables or meats you like! This one uses chorizo and potato, which gives the dish a more wholesome, comforting feel.
A popular vegetable added to reveultos is asparagus. All you need to do is fry everything together in a pan, and you’re done!
The Spanish know what they are doing when it comes to food, and tapas are a staple over there, so you really can’t go wrong with any of these Spanish appetizers.
In Spain, rather than going for a full meal, many prefer to order different tapas for the table, and share and contribute as they please.
Eating is a very social activity there, and tapas are normally served with beer or wine. Why not take inspiration from this culture, and invite your friends round for a Spanish tapas night! Food brings people together, after all!