Are you in the mood to go for tapas, but you’re stuck at home? Here is the best Spanish tapas food you should definitely try recreating in your own kitchen.
Spanish tapas are enough reason for anyone to be in love with Spanish cuisine.
Most of the popular Spanish tapas dishes out there are easy and fast to make.
They range from simple plates of toasted bread and spread to elaborate dishes involving a massive octopus!
If you feel adventurous, you can actually travel through Spain and sample the different tapas that the regions are particularly proud of.
If you have yet to embark on this journey, let’s settle for enumerating which of the best Spanish tapas food you should give a try.
- What are tapas?
- What is a tapas restaurant?
- Best Spanish Tapas Food
- 1. Gambas al Ajillo Recipe (Spanish Garlic Shrimps) with Butter & Sherry
- 2. Delicious Spanish Gazpacho
- 3. Setas a la Plancha
- 4. Tortilla Española
- 5. Patatas Bravas
- 6. Salmorejo
- 7. Pan con Tomate Recipe (Toasted bread with tomato, olive oil, and ham)
- 8. Berenjenas al miel
- 9. Champinones Al Ajillo
- 10. Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)
- 11. Calamares a la Romana (Fried Squid Rings)
- 12. Jamón, Queso y Chorizo con Pan (Ham, Cheese, and Chorizo With Bread)
- 13. Pulpo Gallego (Grilled Octopus)
- 14. Boquerones en Vinagre (Anchovies Marinated in Vinegar)
- 15. Tigres or Mejillones Rellenos (Stuffed Mussels)
- 16. Chorizo al Vino Tinto (Chorizo in Red Wine)
- 17. Brochetas de Gambas (Spanish Shrimp Skewers)
- 18. Papas Arrugadas con Mojos (Canary Wrinkled Potatoes with Dips)
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What are tapas?
Tapas are, in general, small plates of food. If you are served gambas, for example, as a tapa, it will be in a small portion. Tapas in Spain is served alongside alcoholic beverages.
What is a tapas restaurant?
A tapas restaurant or a tapas bar is a place that serves small plates of food and a variety of alcoholic drinks.
When one says you are “going for tapas,” it means you are tapas hopping from one place to another, digesting one tapa (or two) per restaurant.
Best Spanish Tapas Food
1. Gambas al Ajillo Recipe (Spanish Garlic Shrimps) with Butter & Sherry
Gambas al Ajillo or Spanish Garlic Shrimps is among my favorite classic tapas plates. It is easy to prepare and is quite a crowd-pleaser, too!
This Spanish Tapas Food is so well-loved that you will find many different recipes on the web and in books. I like making mine with butter and sherry.
Other people add pepper, lemon zest, parsley, and even other seafood varieties in their Gambas al Ajillo Recipe.
When making your own at home, don’t be afraid to add in other ingredients that you think will work with the shrimps.
When serving your Gambas al Ajillo, try topping it with toasted garlic to add more flavor and texture to your dish.
Make it extra special by preparing some toasted bread and a glass of white wine to go with your tapas.
2. Delicious Spanish Gazpacho
One of the numerous Spanish Tapas foods which never fails to make it on every Spanish tapas bar menu is the classic Gazpacho. Everybody loves this cold tomato soup!
Gazpacho is well-loved in all of Spain. It has many cousins, so to speak. In Cordoba, for example, they have Salmorejo, which is quite similar to Gazpacho. In Antequera, too – they have what they call porra Antequera.
Especially when it is made fresh, this Spanish tomato soup is both hearty and delicious at the same time.
Because this dish is simple to make and requires only a few ingredients, it is straightforward to assemble a delicious Spanish Gazpacho at home.
Once you have all the ingredients needed, blend them and place them in the refrigerator to chill.
After a few hours, you get to enjoy a tasty and freshly-made Spanish Gazpacho right in the comfort of your dining room!
Read the detailed recipe: SPANISH GAZPACHO
3. Setas a la Plancha
This is one of the best Spanish Tapas foods that is greatly enjoyed while harvest season permits! Not only is it flavorful in every bite, but it is also easy to recreate in your own kitchen.
Because a good portion of the surroundings of Spain is forested, wild mushrooms are plentiful in many regions.
When you see these mushrooms in their prime being sold in markets near you, buy a handful or two and try making Setas a la Plancha at home.
In English, the dish translates directly to grilled wild mushrooms. What if you do not have a griddle at home?
You can substitute it with a large flat pan and fry the mushrooms in batches.
Use herbs of your choice, drizzle with olive oil, and you have good classic tapas ready to be consumed along with a cold draft beer!
Read full recipe: SETAS A LA PLANCHA
4. Tortilla Española
You can call it Spanish omelet, potato omelet, tortilla de papas, pincho de tortilla, tortilla de patatas or Tortilla Española. It is all used to describe one of the traditional Spanish Tapas foods.
Tortilla Española is tasty and simple. In fact, it is among the easy Spanish appetizer recipes I have come to love.
If going the traditional route, this dish is basically eggs, potatoes, and salt. Doneness is dependent on your preference; some like their eggs runny while others prefer theirs dry.
Tortilla Española is enjoyed not just as a tapas dish. Because it does not require you to heat it before eating, the dish can be part of your picnic basket and can be enjoyed even at room temperature.
Sometimes, it is also treated as a main dish in itself, along with some greens on the side.
Read the detailed recipe: Authentic Spanish Tortilla Recipe (Tortilla Espanola)
5. Patatas Bravas
A lot of cuisines have this one simple dish dedicated to the celebration of potatoes. You have French fries, hash browns, and the likes.
With Spain and all the potato dishes it has up its sleeve, can it possibly be Patatas Bravas?
If indeed it is, I am not shocked at all. Patatas Bravas is one of the common Spanish Tapas foods which easily captured my attention (and appetite) when I was scouting for Spanish vegetarian recipes.
It is a staple part of a Spanish appetizer menu – and once you’ve tried it, you’ll know why.
Patatas Bravas has two simple components: the potatoes and the spicy sauce that goes with it.
Fried potatoes in itself can already be filling, but once the kick from the sauce blends in, the dish becomes all the more flavorful.
As you make Patatas Bravas at home, you can adjust the level of spiciness to your liking. Just don’t omit the pepper altogether; otherwise, it won’t be Patatas Bravas anymore!
Read the detailed recipe: PATATAS BRAVAS RECIPE
When you see Salmorejo being served alongside all other Spanish Tapas Food, you might quickly judge it as Spanish Gazpacho.
While the base of both dishes is practically the same, there are notable differences between the two popular tapas dishes.
Salmorejo comes from Cordoba. It is a tomato soup that is thick inconsistency.
You would think that there might be cream in the recipe because of its richness, but the secret of a traditional recipe is to use delicious tomatoes.
Add in cloves of garlic and olive oil to the mixture, and you have a delicious dish that is best served cold.
Once you try making Salmorejo at home, you will notice how more straightforward making Gazpacho is. While the latter calls for you to blend in all ingredients together, Salmorejo calls for more detailed preparation.
Once served, though, both are equally flavorful and fit to be part of your list of Spanish tapas cravings.
Read also: Delicious Salmorejo Recipe
7. Pan con Tomate Recipe (Toasted bread with tomato, olive oil, and ham)
All (if not most) of the types of Spanish Tapas Food that I have been recreating are easy enough to make at home. One of these traditional Spanish tapas that easily won my heart is Pan con Tomate.
Tomatoes are juicy and flavorful on their own, but once bread and herbs come in, they take this well-loved fruit to a whole other level.
There is freshness and crunch in every bite. What makes it a total winner is the fact that it can be prepared in minutes!
I envision myself serving up this Pan con Tomate recipe to surprise guests. Toasted bread layered with tomato, ham, and olive oil will surely be a hit alongside all the other great Spanish tapas food I recently learned to make.
What makes a good Pan con Tomate?
If you ask me, it is all about the variety and ripeness of the tomatoes you are using. Ensure that they are the best in the market or are freshly picked from your garden.
Read the detailed recipe: TOMATE CON PAN
8. Berenjenas al miel
Berenjenas al Miel is among the Spanish starters I encountered when searching for vegetarian tapas to recreate. In English, the dish translates to Fried Aubergine and Honey.
It is basically what its name says: you fry some cut eggplants and drizzle them with honey.
At first, I was truly not sure about the flavor combination. As it turns out, this tapas dish is famous in Andalusia and other Spanish regions.
Berenjenas al Miel is one of the easiest Spanish appetizer recipes which you can try in your kitchen. You only need four basic ingredients, which are eggplants, flour, milk, and honey.
What is the milk for? The dish calls for you to soak the cut eggplants in milk so that the vegetable’s bitterness washes off.
The flour will then make it crisp, and then the honey will give sweetness to this delicious Spanish food.
Read the detailed recipe: BERENJENAS AL MIEL
9. Champinones Al Ajillo
Champinones Al Ajillo, in English, translates to Spanish Garlic Mushrooms. It is easily one of the best Spanish Tapas foods that you can get from a Spanish tapas bar.
What if you feel like recreating this delicious dish at home?
It is easy to do so. This classic Spanish dish only requires a few ingredients – but be ready to be overtaken by so much garlic flavor!
Many recipes in Spanish cuisine call for garlic. This, among many other notable aspects, characterizes the country’s kind of cuisine.
Champinones Al Ajillo is best cooked and served with a lot of garlic and a bit of spice if you are keen to have a good kick from your tapas.
Once cooked, serve your garlic mushrooms immediately. This dish is best enjoyed hot.
Champinones Al Ajillo, when ordered in a tapas bar, is usually paired with dark beer or red wine.
10. Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)
Spanish Ham Croquettes or Croquetas de Jamón are always included in a classic Spanish Tapas Food menu. This dish is widely cooked in Spanish homes.
Making Croquetas de Jamón in your own kitchen is not going to be a challenge at all.
While the French croquettes call for potatoes, the Spanish version calls for creamy bechamel. For this recipe, we are adding ham to the mix.
When making Croquetas de Jamón, make sure that you make your bechamel very thick so that you can shape a dough from it.
If you are preparing a big batch, you can make the dough ahead of time, freeze them, and continue coating and frying them on the day you will serve them.
Once you perfect that golden brown Spanish Ham Croquettes, be confident to serve them to guests as snacks or appetizers.
This Spanish dish will surely be a party favorite, with a sip of beer or wine for every bite.
11. Calamares a la Romana (Fried Squid Rings)
Take your home cooking to the next level by trying some easy-to-make Spanish appetizers such as Calamares a la Romana.
Fried Squid Rings are a staple favorite by many. The dish is among the Spanish tapas, which you can conveniently cook in your own kitchen.
If you want to ensure the freshness of the squid that you will use, it is good to buy the whole squid, which you can clean and cut on your own. This entails some kitchen skills for you to perform.
Alternatively, you can easily buy squid rings that are already cut up.
Your batter can either make or break your Calamares a la Romana. You can use any flour of your choice, but it will greatly affect the taste of your tapas.
This portion of the recipe will be trial and error until you find the flour that best meets your preference.
12. Jamón, Queso y Chorizo con Pan (Ham, Cheese, and Chorizo With Bread)
Simple Spanish starters are my go-to when I want something quick and easy to prepare. This Jamón, Queso y Chorizo con Pan recipe, in particular, never fails to deliver.
This ham, cheese, and chorizo appetizer is commonly found in a traditional Spanish tapas menu. Many will have different flavor combinations that they serve with bread, but these three ingredients are a true classic.
Serrano, the ham typically used for this dish, is special. You may not be able to get it from your local supplier, but the effort is definitely worth it if you do find it through other means.
Spanish chorizo is also special. It is firm and dry as compared to other chorizos such as those from Mexico.
If you are going to substitute Spanish chorizo with another readily available type, at least look for something with almost the same flavor profile.
13. Pulpo Gallego (Grilled Octopus)
Pulpo Gallego or Grilled Octopus originated in Galicia; that is why it is also commonly called Galician Octopus.
It is also regarded as pulpo á Feira because it is the most celebrated Spanish appetizer served during festivities and parties.
Pulpo Gallego is not as easy to prepare at home compared to some of the most popular tapas dishes. First of all, you need to get your hands on a massive octopus.
If you can score the core need of this dish without sweat, then you have most of the difficult work done. Making the octopus tender will require a lengthy time, so study the recipe beforehand.
After all the preparations, next comes easy cooking, wherein a traditional Pulpo Gallego only requires salt, olive oil, and smoked Spanish paprika, which they call pimentón.
Once you get to taste Spain’s Grilled Octopus, you will be taken aback by the richness of the flavor of the octopus – even though it required minimal seasoning.
14. Boquerones en Vinagre (Anchovies Marinated in Vinegar)
Boquerones en Vinagre, as its English translation gives away, are Anchovies Marinated in Vinegar.
If you are searching for Spanish appetizers menu ideas for your next get-together, this is one of the popular tapas dishes which you should include.
It may not sound much. Some will even directly say no to the idea of anchovies. Hopefully, this simple Spanish recipe will make them think twice about this delicacy.
The key to loving anchovies, I believe, is by getting fresh ones and marinating them yourself. Make sure not to scrimp on your fish because it affects your overall tapa.
While the preparation part is easy, the marination can be quite a long wait. However, once you serve this with your choice of wine, you will be glad to have tried this delicious recipe.
15. Tigres or Mejillones Rellenos (Stuffed Mussels)
Tigres or Mejillones Rellenos is a kind of tapas Spanish food. In English, it translates to Stuffed Mussels.
It is one of the trendy Spanish tapas in the region of Galicia (along with Pulpo Gallego.) This is all thanks to their proximity to fresh seafood sources.
Why is Mejillones Rellenos also called Tigres? What do tigers have to do with this delightful tapa?
They say when you take a mouthful of Mejillones Rellenos, it is as fiery (to the taste) as a tiger.
When preparing your mussels to be stuffed, make sure to throw away any open shells before cooking. Then, after being cooked, throw away any closed shell from the pot,
The mussels, after being thoroughly cleaned and cooked, are then stuffed, breaded, and fried.
This may seem like a really elaborate recipe to follow, but the final product is worth every step.
Pair your Tigres with either a glass of white wine or a beer.
16. Chorizo al Vino Tinto (Chorizo in Red Wine)
Chorizo al Vino Tinto or Spanish Sausage in Red Wine is just like finding a valid (and delicious) reason to have more wine to go with your tapas.
Chorizo is special. You cannot just substitute it with anything else. Make it even more sumptuous by braising it in red wine, and I would think I have just entered tapas heaven!
Don’t just choose any red wine for your Chorizo al Vino Tinto. I suggest you use dry Spanish red wine.
Of course – don’t forget the garlic. In fact, be generous with it.
Get ready to eat this Spanish Tapas Food after just a short time of preparation! Fast and easy – how we like our recipes to be.
Serve your Chorizo al Vino Tinto immediately. It is best served while still piping hot!
Chop some fresh herbs as garnish and slice some loaf of bread on the side.
Read the detailed recipe: CHORIZO AL VINO TINTO
17. Brochetas de Gambas (Spanish Shrimp Skewers)
Brochetas de Gambas, in English: Spanish Shrimp Skewers, is another delicious Spanish tapas food made with shrimps.
The Shrimp Skewers are marinated with garlic, sea salt, and paprika.
You can use an outdoor grill, grill pan, or broiler to prepare the Brochetas de Gambas.
Read the detailed recipe: BROCHETAS DE GAMBAS
18. Papas Arrugadas con Mojos (Canary Wrinkled Potatoes with Dips)
Papas arrugadas con Mojos (English: Canary Wrinkled Potatoes with Dips) is a typical and traditional recipe from the Canary Islands. All tapas bars on the islands serve papas arrugadas as either tapas or as a side dish to meat or fish dishes.
The potatoes are served with two different kinds of dips. One dip, mojo Verde, is prepared with coriander, green chili, and garlic. The other dip, mojo picon, is made with paprika and red chili.