From paella to churros to tapas, Spanish foods are rich and rooted in tradition, boasting some of the most flavorful and popular dishes in the world. If you’re looking for a taste of Spain, you don’t have to go very far. There are restaurants popping up all over the world serving some of the tastiest Spanish cuisine. Although eating this entire list of traditional foods from Spain in the country itself might be best, it’s not essential.
From popular and typical dishes that will make you say ‘delicioso!’ to the names of ones much less famous, let’s take a dive into the country’s culinary scene. Which one’s will make your Spanish Food Bucket List?
Spanish Foods Bucket List: The Best Traditional Dishes to Eat in Spain
1. Albondigas Soup
Albondigas Soup is a traditional soup from Spain made with meatballs (albondigas), vegetables, and a flavorful broth. This hearty and filling soup is perfect for a winter meal, typically served with pan con tomate toast, or even crackers.
Recipe: Albondigas by Arman
2. Almejas A la Gaditana
Almejas a la Gaditana (clams in sherry sauce) is a typical Spanish dish from the southern region of Andalusia. The most common method of preparing the dish is to sauté the garlic in olive oil, add salt and black pepper, then the clams, wine, sherry, parsley, and chilies. It is usually served with lots of crusty bread to help sop up the flavorful broth from the plate.
3. Arroz con Leche
Arroz con leche is a delicious rice pudding enjoyed by people of all ages in Spain. Thanks to its simple ingredients and rich flavor, it is easy to see why this dish remains a popular dessert throughout Spain and has stood the test of time.
Codfish that has been dried and salted is known as “bacalao” in Spanish. It is thought to have originated in the Basque region of Spain, where it remains a part of different dishes today with its mild, fishy sweetness.
A famous recipe for bacalao is a Basque-style fish stew called Bacalao a la Vizcaina. It features salted cod, potatoes, tomato sauce, white wine, and other herbs and spices.
5. Basque Cheese Cake
Basque cheesecake is a type of cake originating from the Basque Country in Spain, typically made with eggs, cream cheese, and sugar. The mixture is then baked in high heat until it is slightly burnt but jiggly in the center. This gives the cheesecake a hint of smoky flavor and a more caramelized flavor compared to a normal one.
Bocadillos are small sandwiches typically made with a long tubular barra de pan (which is like a Spanish version of a baguette.) The bread can be filled with various ingredients, such as meats, cheeses, vegetables, and sauces. Some of the most popular varieties include fried calamari, potato omelet, and ham & cheese.
Recipe: Bocadillo Recipe by The Food Hog
7. Boquerones Fritos
Boquerones fritos are deep-fried anchovies, and a popular tapas dish. It is made by coating anchovies in flour and then frying them in olive oil. The result is a crispy, salty snack that is perfect for enjoying with a glass of wine or beer.
There’s a popular dish in Spain’s province of Asturias called cachopo. It consists of two thick slices of breaded, fried veal stuffed with different fillings like cheese and ham served with a side of french fries.
Today, different variations of the dish exist using fish, chicken, or pork instead of the traditional veal.
Recipe: Cachopo Recipe by Recipes Jinny
If you’ve ever been to Spain, you may have seen —or even eaten— a calcot. So, what exactly is it? It’s a type of onion grown in the Catalonia region in northeastern Spain.
Calcots are usually white or pale yellow and have a milder flavor than most onions. They are typically harvested in the spring and are often grilled or roasted before being eaten. In fact, there is even an annual festival devoted to grilled calcots, which takes place in the town of Valls, near Barcelona.
If you’re an adventurous eater, then callos might be one for your weird food bucket list. It is the Spanish term for beef tripe, which is made from a cow’s stomach.
One popular Spanish dish that uses callos is a dish originating from Madrid, Callos a la Madrileña. It is traditionally made with beef tripe, chickpeas, and blood sausage.
Another unique delicacy from Spain is carrillada, which usually refers to beef, pork, or lamb cheeks. Yes, cheeks. While it may be off-putting for some, it is actually quite delicious and even melts in your mouth when cooked properly.
The cheeks are braised in red wine and other vegetables like carrots, onions and garlic. The combination of the sweet wine and the savory cheeks make for a truly unique and delicious dish.
Chorizo is a type of cured sausage typically made from pork and seasoned with paprika. Due to its versatility and deliciousness it is one of the most popular ingredients in Spanish cuisine.
A world famous pastry from Spain, churros is a type of lightly sweetened fried-dough often served with a dip, like dulce de leche. It’s kind of like a donut stick! Newer shops are even poking holes down the middle and stuffing them with things a creamy chocolate and hazelnut. Yummy!
Recipe: Churros Recipe by Nagi
Cochinillo is made by roasting a suckling pig until the skin is crisp and the meat is cooked through. It is typically a popular dish for celebrations and special occasions, but it can also be enjoyed as a casual meal if you have the patience to cook it.
15. Crema Catalana
Any crème brulee fans out there? Then, you’re going to love crema Catalana. Also known as crema cremada in Catalan cuisine, crema catalana is a burnt custard dessert. It uses milk as one of its ingredients and is flavored with cinnamon and lemon juice.
Croquetas are a fried Spanish dish traditionally made with a thick béchamel sauce base mixed with shredded chicken, ham, or fish. The mixture is then formed into small cylinders, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried until golden brown. Yes, please!
17. El Arroz Negro
El arroz negro, or black rice, is a traditional Valencian and Catalan dish that gets its distinctive color from cuttlefish/squid ink. The ink is used to both add flavor and color to the white rice (usually short-grain.) Other common ingredients in el arroz negro include garlic, other seafood, and Cuban pepper.
Empanadas are smaller calzone-shaped, turnover-style stuffed pies said to have originated in Galicia, Spain. They are either baked or fried until crispy and golden brown. Fillings can include anything from ground beef and chicken to seafood and vegetables, depending on regional preference. Empanada gallega is a popular variation in Spain, made with pork or tuna, red/green peppers, and lots of onions.
Looking for a simple tapas dish or a hearty meal? The traditional Spanish dish escalivada is sure to please. It is basically roasted veggies featuring eggplants (my favorite!), bell peppers, and onions, which are roasted over an open flame until they are soft and slightly charred. The vegetables are then peeled and served with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Enjoying a hot meal during winter is a great way to feel warm and cozy inside, especially with a bowl of fabada asturiana. This rich bean stew mainly consists of a type of white beans called fabes de la Granja. It is then slow cooked with other ingredients like pork shoulder, blood sausage, chorizo, and paprika.
Fideuà is a seafood dish similar to paella, the only exception being that it uses short pasta noodles instead of rice. Aside from pasta noodles, it mainly uses white-fleshed fish (like monkfish) and shellfish and then seasoned with lemon.
The dish is typically cooked in a casserole dish or paella pan over an open flame, which gives it a distinctive smoky flavor. As for the pasta, it is sauteed in stock instead of being boiled.
22. Frito Mallorquin
Frito mallorquin is a classic Mallorcan dish consisting of lamb offal (lung, liver, and heart) and different vegetables. If offals are too adventurous for your taste, some toned-down versions use pork loins or seafood instead.
Recipe: Frito Mallorquin by tapasonline
23. Gambas al Ajillo
One of the more famous Spanish dishes, gambas al ajillo is made from prawns/shrimp sauteed in garlic and olive oil. It is then garnished with fresh parsley and served with bread for dipping.
24. Garbanzos Con Espinacas
Garbanzos con espinacas is a tasty Andalusian dish made from two key ingredients: chickpeas (garbanzos) and spinach (espinacas). The stew is usually flavored with herbs and spices like cumin, paprika, garlic, and tomatoes.
Gazpacho is a refreshing cold soup made with blended fresh vegetables. The most common ingredients in gazpacho are tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, bread, olive oil, wine vinegar, and salt.
26. Iberian Ham
When it comes to hams, one variety that reigns supreme is the world’s most expensive ham: Jamón ibérico (Iberian ham). It is made from the hind legs of pure bred Black Iberian pigs (or a 50% cross breed with Duroc pigs,) which are cured for at least two years to achieve its distinct marbly taste. The highest quality ones can cost more than $4000 (for one hind leg)!
When it is finally ready to eat, the ham is thinly sliced and typically served with bread or olives. Iberian ham is prized for its unique flavor, which has been described as nutty, salty, and slightly sweet.
27. Leche Frita
Leche frita is a delicious Spanish dessert made of a pudding-like milk mixture covered in flour and egg batter. It is then fried and covered in sugar glaze and cinnamon before serving.
With a crunchy coating and a soft, creamy center, leche frita is a delicious and unique Spanish dessert (or snack) that will surely deliver.
Magdalenas are tall, fluffy muffins with a lemon taste that is easy to prepare and goes great with a hot cup of cafe con leche.
They can either be sweet or savory and are typically served for breakfast or as a snack. Sweet magdalenas are usually topped with sugar, while savory ones are usually topped with cheese or ham.
Recipe: Magdalenas by Caroline’s Cooking
Marmitako is a tuna stew hailing from the Basque Country and cooked in a pot with different ingredients like potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. The dish’s name comes from the Spanish word marmita, which means ‘pot’ and the added suffix -ko, which (in its entirety) translates to ‘from the pot.’
The thick texture of the stew is primarily a result of the starchy potatoes. While it is typically made with tuna, other types of fish can also be used.
A traditional breakfast food in Spain, migas is made from stale/leftover bread or tortas mixed with other ingredients such as chorizo, bacon, garlic, olive oil, and spices.
The stale bread is cut into small pieces and fried in olive oil or pork/lamb fat. Once golden brown, chorizo, garlic, and spices are added. Despite being a high-calorie dish, migas makes for a great winter food that is tasty and simple to prepare.
In Spain, there is a popular variety of blood sausage called morcilla. It is made from pork blood, ground pork, onions, rice, and spices and is typically grilled or fried. The most well-known of the Spanish morcilla is morcilla de Burgos, which uses pork blood and fat, rice, onions, and salt.
While it may sound like a strange food to some, morcilla is a staple of Spanish cuisine and an essential part of many traditional dishes.
Recipe: Morcilla by MyRecipes
32. Murcian Salad
Murcian salad (ensalada murciana) is a traditional dish from the region of Murcia in southeastern Spain. It consists of fresh vegetables, including tomatoes, onions, black olives, and eggs, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It may also be spiced with garlic or chili peppers.
33. Natillas de Leche
A traditional Spanish dessert similar to pudding or custard, natillas de leche is made with milk, eggs, sugar, and cinnamon. It is usually served chilled and garnished with ground cinnamon or shaved chocolate.
34. Oreja a la Plancha
One of Madrid’s popular unique tapas is oreja a la plancha. It consists of sliced or cubed pig’s ears grilled in olive oil with seasonings and spices. In Madrid, they add bacon bits, mushrooms, and lemon wedges to complement the dish.
What makes it a favorite of many people is the contrast of textures between the crunchy cartilage and chewy skin. Best enjoyed with a bottle of cold beer on the side.
Paella is one of the most famous and popular Spanish dishes in the world, proudly coming from the Valencian region. Although different variations of the dish exist, one thing they have in common is they are cooked in a special large pan over an open fire.
One of the traditional recipes is paella valenciana, which is made from round-grain rice cooked with chicken, rabbit, beans, tomatoes, and snails. Seafood paella (paella de marisco) is also popular, and can be made with any type of seafood, including shrimp, lobster, and mussels.
36. Pan Con Tomate/Pa amb Tomàquet
Pa amb tomàquet (pan con tomate in Spanish,) is a traditional dish from the Catalonia region. It is made with bread that is rubbed with garlic and tomato, then drizzled with olive oil. Yum! The bread is typically grilled or toasted before being topped with the tomato mixture.
37. Patatas Bravas
I think we can all agree that we all love us some fried potatoes. This next one is a dish native to Spain called patatas bravas (which means spicy potatoes.) These are basically fried cubed potatoes drizzled with a Spanish spicy tomato sauce called salsa brava. Aside from being a great snack and appetizer, it is also one of the most popular tapas out there.
Named after Pope Pius IX’s Spanish name, the Spanish pionono is a traditional pastry from Santa Fe. You can think of it as something like a jelly roll soaked with different syrups and topped with some toasted cream. It is fairly sweet and has a pleasant texture, which the sweet tooths in us will surely love.
39. Pimientos de Padron
Pimientos de Padron (Padron pepper) is a one-of-a-kind pepper from Padron in northwestern Spain. What makes it so is that, unlike most peppers, the spiciness varies dramatically from each individual pepper. They say that out of ten, one of them will have that very spicy kick. It’s like a game of Russian roulette! As a tapas dish, it is well-loved, especially when fried in olive oil and dusted with coarse salt, and served with bread.
40. Pinchos Morunos
A pincho moruno is a Spanish meat skewer similar to a kebab. The meat usually used for it is pork and chicken. However, lamb or beef are also great alternatives.
The skewers are covered in a mixture of olive oil and different herbs and spices and are then grilled on both sides. Enjoy it with some bread, lemon wedges, and wine.
Recipe: Pinchos Morunos by Corina Blum
41. Pinxtos & Montaditos
Pintxos & Montaditos are the cousins of tapas. Pintxos are a type of small snack or appetizer that originated in the Basque region of Spain. They typically consist of a piece of bread topped with something like meat, cheese, fish or vegetables.
Don’t miss taking a peak at our Pinxtos Bucket List.
Montaditos are similar to pintxos, but they are made with a roll or baguette instead of bread. Both pintxos and montaditos are usually served with a toothpick or skewer to hold everything together.
One of the best things about pintxos and montaditos is that they are perfect for casual get togethers. Whether you’re at a bar with friends or at a party, it’s easy to grab one (or two) and enjoy. They’re also relatively cheap, so you can try out a bunch of different combinations without breaking the bank.
The Spanish equivalent of imam bayildi, caponata, and ratatouille is called pisto. Although it can be found throughout Spain, pisto is a native of the Murcia region.
It’s a hearty vegetable stew cooked with tomatoes, red and green peppers, onions, eggplant, zucchini, and loads of olive oil. Fresh, in-season veggies and high-quality olive oil, as with other Mediterranean vegetable stews, are essential.
Puchero is a hearty stew that has been a part of the cuisine of many countries, each with different recipes and ingredients that make the dish their own.
In Spain, the soup’s base is made up of meat (chicken, pork, beef, or veal), bacon, cured bones, and vegetables (usually root and leafy ones.) It goes well with rice, noodles, bread, and chickpeas.
44. Pulpo a la Gallega
A classic Galician meal is called Pulpo a la Gallega or Pulpo a Feira, which means “fair style octopus” in Galician. It serves as the centerpiece of the celebrations honoring the city of Lugo’s patron saint. In Spain, this meal is frequently served as a tapa, but it is also occasionally offered as a main course.
The preparation involves boiling, cutting, and then cooking the octopus in olive oil with paprika and salt.
45. Queso Manchego
Queso manchego is a special kind of cheese made in Spain’s La Mancha region. The milk used for the cheese comes from a breed of sheep called Manchega, which is also native to the region. It is often served in tapas but can also be used in different food such as plain bread.
The cheese’s flavor depends on how long it has been aged and comes in different varieties: fresco (2 weeks), semicurado (3 weeks to 3-4 months), curado (3-6 months), and viejo (1-2 years). As for the taste? It’s a nice balance between sweet and savory with a crumbly, creamy texture.
46. Rabo De Toro
Rabo de toro is a classic Spanish dish made with the tail of a bull. Although the ingredients vary from each restaurant and region, it usually involves a mixture of oxtail, olive oil, carrots, celery, tomatoes, red wine, aromatics, and spices.
Salmorejo is a traditional cold soup from Spain made with tomatoes and bread. It is similar to gazpacho but thicker and creamier because of the extra olive oil and the type of bread used (usually pan de telera, a kind of firm bread).
It is a fantastic soup to have during the hotter months. It also pairs well with other tapas, such as shrimp fritters and croquetas.
Sangria is one of Spain’s most popular alcoholic drinks, and for good reason. While there are many variations of sangria, the classic recipe calls for red wine, fresh fruit, brandy, and a sweetener such as sugar or honey. This fruity wine-punch is a perfect drink to enjoy with friends during happy hour.
49. Tarta de Santiago
One of the most distinctive and delicious desserts from Spain is Tarta de Santiago, or Spanish almond cake. This rich and flavorful cake is made with ground almonds, eggs, sugar, butter, and flour, and it is traditionally flavored with lemon zest. Whether you enjoy it plain or adorned with fruit, this delicious cake is sure to leave a lasting impression.
50. Tortas de Aceite
Spanish tortas de aceite are one of the most popular types of traditional Spanish cookies. They are made with wheat flour, olive oil, almonds, sugar, sesame seeds, anise seeds, which gives them a unique flavor and texture. The dough is typically rolled out very thin and then cut into small squares or circles.
51. Tortilla Española
Spanish tortilla, or tortilla española, is a popular Spanish dish made from eggs, potatoes, and sometimes onion. It is sometimes called a Spanish potato omelet.
The dish is incredibly versatile; it can be served hot, room temperature, or even cold. It can also be cut into bite-sized pieces and served as a tapa. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a hearty meal, tortilla española has got you covered.
The Spanish turrón is a delicious nougat-like treat usually eaten by kids of all ages as a dessert during Christmas. This variety uses a combination of honey, eggs, sugar, and probably, most crucially, toasted almonds. They also have two types of turrón in Spain: turrón blando (soft, peanut butter texture) and turrón duro (hard, like peanut brittle).
We hope this list of dishes has gotten your taste buds and tummy craving for some Spanish food asap! Known for their intense flavors, beautiful presentation, and healthy ingredients, traditional Spanish cuisine is one of the best in the world. Buen provecho!
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