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. These are popular in San Sebastian and there is an entire street in Logrono, in Rioja, dedicated to pintxos bars.
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.
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 a good quality Spanish olive oil helps.
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 or a piquillo pepper dip, can be made ahead of time, even the day before. Mushroom tapas recipes, like our Spanish garlic mushrooms, can also be made ahead and reheated. The same goes for the Spanish chorizo tapas recipes.
Slow cooked meat tapas recipes, like the rabo de toro (oxtail) and carrilladas (pig’s cheek) taste even better the day after.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Best Spanish Tapas Recipes
Making authentic Spanish tapas recipes is easier than you think. From vegetarian tapas to dessert tapas we have recipes for you to build a full dinner menu of classic Spanish tapas.
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.
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. This vegetarian tapas recipe can also be easily made vegan as well.
The first time we had this Spanish carrots recipe was at a tapas bar in Seville on quite a hot day. Zanahorías aliñadas is a marinated carrots recipe and a good way to use up a bag of carrots that have been sitting in the fridge. They also make a good side dish for any roasted meat or fish, or an easy-to-make-ahead addition to a tapas night.
This recipe for champinones al ajillo is a traditional Spanish mushroom tapas recipe that I learned when living in Spain. With only a handful of ingredients, it’s an easy-to-make vegetarian tapas recipe that is a perfect snack or addition to a night of Spanish tapas.
This chorizo al vino tinto recipe is a classic tapas recipe for Spanish chorizo in red wine. It’s common at tapas bars in Spain and easy to make at home with only 6 ingredients. I learned to make this dish when we lived in Spain and now make it when we do tapas nights.
This Spanish chorizo a la sidra recipe is an easy to make Spanish tapas recipe. With just 6 ingredients, a Spanish chorizo in cider recipe is a perfect addition to a Spanish tapa night. I learned this recipe when I lived in Spain and it’s on a constant rotation when we are looking for the flavors of Spain.
This mojo picon rojo recipe is an easy to make version of a traditional Canarian mojo rojo, a red sauce from the Canary Islands in Spain. It can be served on potatoes or with grilled or roasted meat or fish.
This rabo de toro recipe is a classic Spanish oxtail stew, which is super rich and perfect to serve as a Spanish tapa or a meal with potatoes. Rabo de toro al vino tinto is most commonly found in Southern Spain, in the region of Andalusia.
This carrilladas de cerdo recipe is a traditional recipe for Spanish braised pork cheeks. This carrilladas recipe is a slow-cooked pork cheek recipe made with red wine. It’s perfect as part of a Spanish tapas night or served as a main course with roasted potatoes.
The Spanish do amazing things with pork, from fresh pork loins to pork cheeks and cured ham. This solomillo a la pimienta recipe is one of our favorite ways to cook pork loins or fillets in a creamy black pepper sauce. It’s a decadent pork loin with black pepper that’s easy to cook.
This Spanish recipe always takes me right back to Andalusia and the tapas bar in Seville where we first ate it. Solomillo Al Pedro Ximenez is a pork fillet made with Pedro Ximenez sherry sauce and can be served as a main course or as a Spanish tapa.
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 pot luck.
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 it cold, warm, or room temperature sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon.
Amber Hoffman, the food and travel writer behind Food And Drink Destinations and The Bean Bites Recipe Blog, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for helping people travel for food and drink. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Limerick, Ireland, after spending three years living in Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries.