What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear people talking about Spanish tapas? Well, hunger, of course! Spanish tapas are known to be the main part of Spain’s signature cuisine that you can find at any bar in Spain. But worldwide too!
Do you want to know what these snacks are and how are they made? We’re about to show you the 15 most popular recipes for Spanish tapas you must try!
Where do Spanish Tapas Come From?
No doubt, there are too many different theories about what part of Spain tapas came from. You will find them in every Spanish region. But if you ask us, it’s more than enough that they were invented in the first place.
Some Spanish tapas originated from Spain way before we first heard about or tried them. The word tapa comes from the verb tapar (to cover). It is believed that the barkeepers in medieval inns used to cover customers’ drinks with a slice of ham, cheese, or bread to prevent flies from getting into the glass. Some other theories say that these were the sample dishes offered to exhausted travelers, probably due to the lack of a menu. We sure would love to have that kind of menu today!
Like any other dish that originated so long ago, Spanish tapas were also influenced by the foreigners who came to the Iberian Peninsula. When Romans invaded Spain, they introduced new systems of growing olives and irrigation methods. But with the discovery of the New World, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, sweet and chili pepper were brought to Spain. Thanks to its climate, these were easily grown on Spanish soil.
Discover the Most Popular and Delicious Recipes for Spanish Tapas
Let’s get into the more interesting and delicious part – the Spanish tapas recipes! There are so many types of tapas that you can find but we will show you the top 15 recipes for Spanish tapas that we consider the absolute best!
Warning: make sure you eat before reading this part!
Calamares a la romana
Some will say that calamares a la Romana are one of the best Spanish tapas. It’s battered-fried calamari that Spaniards usually serve with a slice of lemon, however, some prefer without it. If you cut them into rings and fry them in deep oil, the result is exquisite!
You want to learn how to prepare this delicious Spanish tapas dish? Check out the following video!
Delicious croquetas! Deep-fried and breaded balls with a filling that is typically jamón. However, Spaniards also like croquetas with other fillings. You can find different Spanish tapas recipes for croquetas with chicken or fish filling.
Even though they’re originally from France, croquetas became one of the most known Spanish traditional dishes.
Among many croquetas recipes, we found this one for you to try at home!
Gambas al ajillo
Some say that the Spanish tapas recipes are not complete without garlic. So, we present to you gambas al ajillo, shrimps sautéed in olive oil with lots of garlic, lemon juice, and paprika. We heard that the experienced Spanish cooks recommend white fresh shrimps, not the frozen ones, because the taste is never the same!
Watch the video below to learn how to prepare this tapa!
Gazpacho is a cold soup originally from Andalusia and is usually consumed during the hot summer months.
To prepare this plate, you need a bunch of vegetables, like tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, onions, and garlic. Salt, vinegar, bread, and olive oil are also the key ingredients. Some Andalusian cooks say they never add onions or red pepper into the traditional gazpacho recipe because it changes the original taste.
Watch the video below for more instructions!
Huevos estrellados o rotos
This dish consists of pan-fried eggs with liquid yolk on French fries and meat, like jamón and chorizo. All you need is two eggs, two potatoes, and jamón or chorizo. The quantity of the ingredients is up to you. It is one of the easiest Spanish tapas recipes to prepare as shown in the video.
Among all Spanish tapas, jamón is without a doubt a tapa that everybody knows about.
It is a dry-cured ham that is obtained from the pig’s back leg. When the front leg is used, it’s called paleta or paletilla.
We can freely say that ham is among the best Spanish tapas. Both jamón Serrano and Ibérico are good to make tapas. This dish can be served with a slice of bread and white wine (but don’t overdo the wine part).
Check out the following video and learn how Spaniards make this delicacy.
The olives are inevitably the most common Spanish tapas you will find in any bar in Spain. They will usually serve it with your drink.
Spaniards usually eat dressed olives. However, they also eat them without dressing. But, olives stuffed with anchovy and pepper are the typical ones.
Did you know that in Spain we call them olivas or aceitunas? While the first word comes from Latin, the second comes from Hispanic Arabic. Interestingly, people from the east of Spain tend to use the term oliva, however, Spaniards from the west say aceituna.
Pan con tomate
Pan con tomate is one of the most popular dishes in Catalonia, an autonomous community in the northeast of Spain. It is safe to say that it’s one of the best recipes for Spanish tapas you will ever try!
Spaniards love bread so it is not strange that this dish is such an important part of their cuisine.
This is a simple and easy dish to make. Spread a cut tomato on the bread, add olive oil and some salt, which is optional. You will be amazed by the taste of this combination of ingredients!
Check out this video for more instructions!
One of the recipes for Spanish tapas that never fails are patatas bravas, classic Spanish tapas you will find anywhere.
It’s a portion of spicy-fried potatoes cut into cubes and deep-fried in olive oil. They are served with a sauce like salsa brava or alioli. While salsa brava is a spicy sauce, alioli is a garlic sauce that usually Spaniards from the east use.
Watch the video below to learn how to make this delicious tapa!
Although pescaíto frito is a common tapa all over Spain, it is more popular in Andalusia.
The word pescaíto comes from pescadito (little fish). And what’s more unique is that Andalusians often shorten words or give them diminutives. It’s their way of speaking.
To prepare this tapa, Spaniards batter fish with flour and fry it in olive oil. They don’t use eggs in this case, because the idea is that the wetness of the fish sticks to the batter.
You will find many Spanish tapas recipes about how to prepare pescaíto frito but we like this one!
Pimientos de Padrón
Spanish tapas pimientos de Padrón are peppers from the Padrón municipality in A Coruña, Galicia. Although most of the peppers are mild in flavor, a minority of them are spicy.
You can sauté them, bake, or fry. Normally, they are fried in olive oil and seasoned with sea salt, which enhances the flavor.
As you will see in the video below, it is a very simple recipe out of all the recipes for Spanish tapas that include this tasty dish.
Pulpo a la gallega
Pulpo a la gallega is a traditional dish from Galicia, but it is popular all over Spain.
This tapa is made of pieces of boiled octopus, salt, paprika and olive oil. It’s important to soften the octopus before cooking it, which is why the general recommendation is to buy it frozen or to freeze it, if you bought it fresh. Then, leave it in the fridge the day before to thaw slowly.
You can make this delicious tapa as shown in the video!
As gazpacho, salmorejo is also a cold soup from Andalusia.
It contains tomatoes, garlic, salt, olive oil and bread. But not just any bread. The typically used bread is pan de telera. It is white bread made with flour, yeast, water and salt.
Salmorejo is usually garnished with ham and hard-boiled eggs.
Follow the instructions for salmorejo in this video and you won’t go wrong!
Tortilla de patatas
Tortilla de patatas is by far one of the most famous and maybe one of the best Spanish tapas, we dare say. It is an omelette with potatoes that optionally has onion. In our opinion, the onion should be mandatory in this tapa because it is what gives it that rich flavor.
As a tapa, Spaniards serve it in small pieces and normally cold. Para chuparse los dedos, as we say in Spain!
As you will see in the video, the preparation is very simple. Yet, you must be very careful and not let potatoes fry too much.
Cheese tapas are very typical and queso Manchego is one of the most popular cheese Spaniards use.
Manchego cheese is a sheep milk cheese from La Mancha, Don Quixote’s land. Actually, there are two types of Manchego: semicurado and curado. The first one matures from 2 to 6 months and in the second the maturation process exceeds 6 months. You’ll hear people say that some of the best Spanish tapas recipes are made of queso Manchego curado.
Watch the video below to learn how Spaniards make Manchego cheese.
Are you hungry now? We knew it!
After going through some of the most popular recipes for Spanish tapas, we hope you learned how important the gastronomy in Spain is. Spaniards really enjoy el tapeo and we hope you will too!
The tapas are not only the best way to experiment the Spanish cuisine but also the most economic. In some bars you don’t need to pay for tapas, they will serve it with a drink, as we appreciated during our visit to Granada a few years ago.
If you are a cooking enthusiast, would you like to have your own Spanish tapas recipes cook book? You can find here a few of them!
What’s more, learn when is a good time to order the best Spanish tapas and other dishes in Spain. Our guide can be of help there!
Now it’s your turn!
- Have you ever tried any of these tapas?
- Which one do you like the most?
- Do you know about other Spanish tapas we didn’t mention?
We can’t wait to read your answers in the comment section below!
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