After spending several years living in Spain, and now living in Ireland, we realized if we wanted authentic Spanish tapas recipes, we needed to make them at home. Here’s our ultimate list of the best Spanish tapas recipes that you can make at home.
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What Are Authentic Spanish Tapas
In Seville, Spain, bartenders would put a saucer or a coaster on top of a drink to keep the flies out. Eventually, they offered a little snack on top, like olives or jamon.
Bar patrons started to like the free food on top, a tapa. The practice spread throughout southern Spain.
Today, tapas are assumed to be small portions or plates of all types of cuisine served at Spanish restaurants across the country and the world.
Although it is still possible throughout Spain to order a drink and receive a small plate of potato chips or olives, generally patrons will purchase tapas and drinks separately. Granada is the exception to this rule where free tapas are still provided.
The types of dishes and tapas are also regional. In the north, in the Basque country, bars serve pintxos. Pintxos are small bites traditionally served on a skewer.
Check out our Spain Food Guide – What To Eat In Spain for more details on regional must-try dishes in Spain. Or learn about What To Expect From El Celler De Can Roca In Girona, one of the best restaurants in the world.
Tips For Cooking Spanish Tapas At Home
Most of these are easy Spanish tapas recipes, but a few are a little more complicated. Here are some tips for cooking Spanish food at home.
First, almost every recipe starts with olive oil. Having good quality Spanish olive oil helps. Do yourself a favor and don’t skimp when buying Spanish olive oil.
Like many things, if it’s cheap, it’s not going to be good. Especially with olive oil. In fact, we keep two different qualities of Spanish olive oil in our kitchen. One olive oil for cooking and one spreading on bread, salads, etc.
If using these recipes for a night of Spanish tapas, there are a few of these recipes that can be made ahead of time or prepped ahead of time.
Cold tapas recipes, like ensaladilla rusa, espinacas con garbanzos, or a piquillo pepper dip, can be made ahead of time, even the day before. Items like Jamon and Manchego cheese should be put out ahead of time to get them to room temperature. This enhances the flavor.
Mushroom tapas recipes, like our Spanish garlic mushrooms, can also be made ahead and reheated. The same goes for the Spanish chorizo tapas recipes including this traditional Spanish chorizo and bean recipe.
Only a few of these should be prepared just before serving. For example, the Spanish tuna stuffed peppers should be served the day you make them.
The pimientos de Padron, or Spanish blistered peppers, should be served just after cooking them. Same with fried items like fried calamari (Calamares Fritos Recipe). Don’t forget to put a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper right before serving.
Our Favorite Traditional Spanish Tapas Recipes
Ensaladilla Rusa Recipe – Spanish Potato Salad
Ensaladilla Rusa is the Spanish version of what is in fact a very popular side dish in Russia. The original recipe for Russian salad dates back to Moscow during the 1860s.
Over time, the recipe was shared and now from Europe to the Middle East and Latin America, you can find different versions of the salad. In the Spanish version, you’ll find minced boiled potato, boiled carrots, canned tuna, boiled eggs, peas, and mayonnaise.
This Ensaladilla Rusa recipe makes a perfect Spanish tapa or side dish. It’s an easy-to-make Spanish potato salad, made with only a handful of pantry ingredients.
Padron Peppers Recipe – Spanish Pimientos de Padron
This Padron peppers recipe is an easy-to-make classic Spanish tapas recipe with only 3 ingredients. We share two different Padron pepper recipes including a stovetop version and an Air Fryer recipe version.
A mild pepper, it’s not uncommon to find one or two that are spicy. Having enjoyed many plates of pimientos de Padron, it’s always fun to see who ends up biting into the hot one.
While the peppers are very popular, during our three years living in Spain, we would only find them in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona.
We could rarely find them in Girona where we lived. When we had a craving we made them at home.
Croquetas de Jamon – Spanish Ham Croquettes
Croquetas de Jamon, or Spanish ham croquettes, are one of the most typical Spanish tapas that you will find at restaurants and bars across the country. This croquetas recipe is a perfect way to make a traditional Spanish dish at home.
They can be served as part of a tapas evening, as a starter or appetizer, or as a snack paired with Spanish wine or beer. This croquetas de jamon recipe is super creamy and not all that difficult to make.
Berenjenas Con Miel Recipe – Spanish Fried Eggplant With Honey
This berenjenas con miel recipe is a homemade version of classic Spanish tapa from the Andalusia region. Spanish fried eggplant with honey is a perfect starter, tapa, or even snack with the perfect blend of savory and sweet.
Berenjenas is the Spanish word for eggplant. Miel is Spanish for honey. Together, that makes eggplant and honey, in this case, breaded eggplant. It’s also referred to as berenjenas fritas con miel because the eggplant is fried.
Eggplant and honey are two things I wouldn’t have thought went well together until we started traveling to Andalusia while living in Spain. The batter that coats the eggplant actually pairs perfectly with the honey.
This vegetarian tapas recipe can also be easily made vegan as well. We also have a round up of tasty Spanish vegan recipes too.
Zanahorías Aliñadas – Marinated Spanish Carrots
The first time we had this Spanish carrots recipe was at a tapas bar in Seville on quite a hot day. They were entirely refreshing.
Zanahorías aliñadas is a marinated carrots recipe and can be served as a classic Spanish tapa. They also make a good side dish for any roasted meat or fish, or an easy-to-make-ahead addition to a tapas night.
I love carrot salad recipes because they are a great way to use up a bag of carrots. Check out our Moroccan carrot salad recipe too.
Piquillo Peppers – Spanish Tuna Stuffed Peppers
This piquillo peppers recipe, or Spanish tuna stuffed peppers, is a classic Spanish tapa. Pimientos de piquillo rellenos are roasted, red peppers that are stuffed with tastiness.
Piquillo peppers are a variety of chili peppers but with no heat. Instead of heat, the peppers are surprisingly sweet making them more versatile than their fiery cousins.
They are the perfect peppers to make pimientos piquillo rellenos or stuffed peppers. In this recipe, we offer a classic Spanish tapa of tuna stuffed pepper.
Spanish Desserts For Tapas Night
When planning a tapas evening, some bite sized desserts would round the evening out. Here are two of our favorites, but we have a whole list of Spanish dessert recipes for inspiration.
Mini Burnt Cheesecake Recipe – San Sebastian Cheesecake
This easy arroz con leche recipe is the perfect dessert for a Spanish tapas night. With only a few ingredients, this creamy Spanish rice pudding is sure to please. Serve arroz con leche cold, warm, or room temperature sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon.
Arroz Con Leche Recipe – Spanish Rice Pudding
This mini burnt cheesecake recipe is a bite-sized interpretation of the classic Basque or San Sebastian Cheesecake. Made famous by La Viña, in San Sebastian, Spain, these are the perfect little snack cheesecakes or a great dessert for a party or potluck.
Putting Together A Spanish Tapas Night
If you want to have a little tapas party, I would suggest a menu that offers a sampling of our easy Spanish recipes below.
One of the most classic tapas is this croquetas de jamon recipe. It’s not as easy to make as some other recipes but is the most classic. Especially with a nice glass of Spanish white wine. Part of it can be made ahead of time too.
Starting with something cold makes it easy as well. Then, one or two hot tapas recipes like the Spanish garlic mushrooms or chorizo tapas makes a good second round.
To have a full night of tapas, there should be one hefty or hearty recipe, like the oxtail or pigs’ cheeks. These can be served alongside potato tapas recipes, like a Canary Island wrinkled potato or patatas bravas (Spanish fried potatoes).
Then, to round out a tapas dinner, finish with a little Spanish dessert, like mini Basque cheesecakes or Spanish rice pudding. The rice pudding can be served warm or even at room temperature making it easy to use when entertaining.
Kitchen Tools & Gadgets For Making Spanish Tapas
There are a handful of kitchen tools and gadgets that make cooking tapas at home much easier.
We use our UnoCasa cast iron skillet for a lot of these recipes. The skillet distributes the heat evenly and goes from the stovetop to the oven easily. Use this link to save 10% on all UnoCasa products. Discount applied at checkout.
Almost every Spanish recipe has a base of garlic and olive oil. I always prefer to mince or press my garlic so that there aren’t big chunks of garlic in the final recipe.
Of course, for Spanish garlic prawns, I want big chunks of garlic. But, otherwise, I prefer the garlic melt into the recipe more. We have the Zulay garlic press and love it. No need to even peel the garlic.
We also have a couple of Spanish cazuelas for serving. These are classic terracotta pots. You can also cook in some of them.
We use ours in the oven and they’ve worked well on electric stovetops. Just be sure to get one that is safe to cook in.
For slow-cooking pork and beef tapas recipes, like oxtail or pig cheek, we use a large Dutch oven.
We have the 6.75 quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven, which is the perfect size for slow cooking and braising.
FAQs – Authentic Spanish Tapas Recipes
Ask anyone in Spain what are traditional Spanish tapas and you’ll get a million different answers. That said, there are a few Spanish dishes that most would agree are traditional tapas including Jamon, mixed olives, patatas brava, and fried baby squid. These can be found in nearly every tapas bar in Spain.
In any tapas bar in Spain, you are going to find 3 main types of tapas. If you don’t see these, get out of there as soon as you can. The 3 types of tapas are cheese and charcuterie platters including Iberico Jamon, cold tapas like Spanish potato salad, and hot tapas like Spanish meatballs (albondigas).
Without a doubt, the most traditional tapa in Spain is Jamon. Jamon Iberico or Jamon Serrano is also the most popular tapas in Spain. Why? Because it is absolutely delicious and arguably the national dish of Spain. This tapas can be eaten by itself or on a small slice of fresh bread.
Spanish tapas come in all shapes and sizes including fried. Two of the most popular fried Spanish tapas are fried calamari and patatas bravas. Both dishes can easily be found in tapas bars all across Spain. Fried calamari and patatas bravas are seasoned with salt and pepper and served with either a tomato sauce or aioli.