There’s something about Spanish cuisine and its ability to take rustic, simple ingredients and make something special. This is especially true when it comes to desserts in Spain. Here, we share our recommendations for the best Spanish dessert recipes.
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After living in Spain for three years and taking countless trips around the country, I can honestly say that Spanish food is my second favorite cuisine.
Italian food is still my favorite. For a relatively small country, the depth and diversity of Spanish food, including desserts, is astonishing.
In this post, we share the best Spanish dessert recipes. Some are traditional recipes, while others are modern variations.
We’ve tried to include recipes from different regions of Spain including Catalan dishes, Basque Country specialities, and Andalucia.
What Are Spanish Desserts?
Along with traditional Spanish tapas, mains, and side dishes, desserts in Spain vary from one region to the next. Over its long history, numerous outside forces have left their mark on the cuisine of Spain, including desserts.
The range and variety of Spanish desserts are out of control. You’ll find everything from cream or chocolate filled pastries to desserts made using olive oil. And they are all regional.
If you head north to Catalonia along the border with France, you’ll find Crema Catalana. This dessert is a cousin of the more famous, French creme brulee. Examples like these can be found in nearly every region of Spain.
Postres is dessert in Spanish. This is important to learn if you are traveling to Spain. No meal in Spain is complete without having your postres. As somebody who can easily pass on dessert, this was something I had to adjust.
There were times I felt like I was insulting the restaurant by not ending my meal with dessert. It’s also very difficult after a typical two-hour meal to willingly agree to one more course.
Traditional Spanish Desserts
Our list of dessert recipes includes traditional Spanish dessert recipes as well as recipes modified for those keeping to specific diets like gluten-free and Keto.
Some of these also include recipes for Spanish desserts that are modern or contemporary versions of classic Spanish dishes or snacks, like churros.
We’ve tried our best to include easy Spanish dessert recipes. From experience, we’ve come across numerous Spanish recipes involving many steps. These aren’t those. As we find and test out new recipes, we will continue to update.
Spanish Rice Pudding (Arroz con Leche)
In our travels for food, we’ve discovered that you either love rice pudding or hate it. We love it. We love it to a point bordering on unhealthy.
It’s a light dessert which is a big plus as we generally don’t like desserts. When served cold, it’s a refreshing dessert to enjoy especially during the long hot Spanish summer. Best of all it’s fairly simple to make.
Using only five ingredients (short grain rice, lemon peel, whole milk, cinnamon, and sea salt) it’s a fairly easy recipe to make. We’ve been told there are two secrets to making Arroz con Leche.
One, add a pinch of good quality sea salt. Most recipes don’t call for it but it makes the difference. Two, adding the milk slowly while constantly stirring will create an unbeatable creaminess.
Check out our Arroz Con Leche Recipe.
Basque Burnt Cheesecake
This is one of our favorite Spanish dessert recipes. We love NY-style cheesecake, but many of the Spanish versions, known as torta de queso, are just not the same. Instead, they are more cakey than we are used to.
That said, there is one version of Spanish cheesecake that is simply perfect. It’s a burnt Basque-style cheesecake, made famous by a restaurant in San Sebastian. It’s creamy and delcious, with no cakey-flavor whatsoever.
Check out our burnt Basque mini cheesecake recipe.
Crema Catalana Recipe
In the three years we lived in Girona, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve eaten Crema Catalana. First, it’s on every menu del dia (menu of the day) and dinner menu.
Much like Arroz con Leche, it’s a lighter dessert that is perfect after eating big plates of meat and cheese typically associated with a Catalan dinner.
So what is Crema Catalana? If you are familiar with French creme brulee, then you know what Crema Catalana is.
The two dishes are virtually identical, each being made with whole milk, eggs, lemon peel, sugar, and cinnamon.
Similarities in food should come as no surprise given the proximity of France and the Spanish region of Catalonia. The influence on both cuisines can be seen in a wide variety of dishes.
There’s no mistaking Crema Catalan. Its signature caramelized sugar top is easy to spot and impossible to resist. Underneath, a creamy and sweet custard-like pudding awaits.
During our time in Girona, it was always fun to watch both young and older dinners enjoying this simple dessert.
Spanish Flan Recipe
This has to be the most recognizable of all the traditional Spanish desserts. When we lived in the US, we’d find flan on dessert menus at every Mexican restaurant.
I’ll admit that I used to think it was a Mexican, not a Spanish dessert. When we started traveling to Spain, I was surprised to see it on menus and more surprised at how many Spaniards were eating it.
What’s great about flan is it continues the Spanish tradition of using only a few ingredients to create something so delicious.
To make flan all you need is whole milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Granted there are a few steps between gathering your ingredients and enjoying the final product. But, flan is another example of the simple creativity of Spanish cooking.
Spanish Bread Pudding (Torrijas)
This is a personal favorite. I can’t recall the first time we enjoyed torrijas, but I was immediately hooked. I love torrijas for three reasons.
One, it’s a warm dessert and those are the best desserts. Two, it’s another Spanish dessert that uses a handful of ingredients. Three, one of those ingredients is stale bread, and wasting food is a pet peeve of mine.
Living in Spain we bought fresh bread 2-3 times per day. It’s just what you do. Instead of wasting any leftover bread by throwing it in the trash, you can make torrijas.
The recipe for torrijas calls for day-old, stale bread to be soaked in warm milk that’s been infused with lemon peel and cinnamon.
Are you drooling yet?
Baked in the oven, torrijas come out warm and gooey. It’s very similar to a bread pudding or even a French toast recipe.
Orange Almond Cake
Similar to our Italian lemon cake recipe, this recipe for orange cake is super moist and delicious. This version is also a gluten-free option. This is actually common in contemporary versions of Spanish recipes mostly because of the heavy use of almonds. By using crushed almonds or almond flour, you can turn a lot of these recipes into gluten-free options.
Orange Olive Oil Cake
This Orange Olive Oil Cake Recipe is a Spanish inspired cake made with olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, chocolate ganache, and toasted almonds. Olive oil is one of the main ingredients in almost every Spanish recipe, so to bring it into a dessert from Spain is not surprising. This is particularly true alongside orange and almonds, which are commonly found in desserts in Spain as well.
Spanish Almond Cookies
These Spanish almond cookies are a great option for restricted diets. They are gluten free and dairy free, but don’t sacrifice any of the flavor found in Spanish desserts.
Unlike a lot of other dessert recipes, there’s no flour or butter and instead are made from mostly ground almonds. This also means that they are true to the flavor of almonds as well.
Churro Chips & Chocolate
I love churros and chocolate. There is a certain place we love when eating in Malaga that makes the most creamy chocolate perfect for dunking. It’s possible to make traditional churros at home, but I like this more contemporary version.
This Spanish churros recipe is a bit easier because you don’t need a funnel or any tools to get the flavor. Instead, the cinnamon flavor is included on a bit of a chip. But, that chip is still perfect for dunking into a creamy chocolate sauce!
Mini Churro Donuts
Love your churros and want something softer, and more similar to the classic version of this tasty Spanish treat? Mini churro donuts are the perfect treat and easier to make than the classic version. Plus, this version is baked, so it’s a touch healthier than the deep-fried version.
These can be called churro bites, or let’s call them churro-flavored munchkins! Regardless of what you call them, these churro bites are soft, fluffy, tasty, and delicious, flavored with cinnamon and sugar.
Chocolate Turron With Almonds
Turrones are super popular in various regions across Spain, including Andalusia and even in the Canary Islands. They come in a variety of flavors and even textures, with some being a bit on the crunchy side.
This Spanish chocolate and almond turron recipes is one of the easiest variations to make a Spanish-style dessert at home. Simple ingredients include chocolate, almonds, and salt – that’s it!
Classic Spanish Buñuelos
At their most basic, Spanish buñuelos are like little donuts. They are made in a similar fashion, generally donut shape or in small balls. But, they taste different than traditional donuts.
This is particularly true because there are a variety of different types of buñuelos recipes. In Catalonia, buñuelos tend to be flavored with a bit of anise, which is not our favorite. We’ve also had versions with apple or pear, which are sweeter. The classic recipe calls for a bit of lemon or lime zest to give them a zing. They are a perfect traditional Spanish dessert or snack to pair with coffee or an after dinner drink.
They can be topped with powdered sugar, cinnamon, or even drizzled with a bit of honey.
Tarta De Santiago – Spanish Almond Cake
This is another gluten-free Spanish dessert recipe, made with crushed almonds and lemon. And, it’s another example of the regional cuisine of this tasty country. It’s from Santiago de Compostela, which is most known for the termination point for the famous pilgrimage route. That’s why this dessert tends to have a bit of a religious element.
We first tried bienmensabe when traveling and eating in Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain.
When I asked our guide exactly what is bienmesabe, he simply replied: “it tastes good to me.” And that is its literal translation.
More specifically, it’s a sugary spread made with local Canary Island almonds, along with eggs, sugar, and lemon.
For me, dessert begins and ends with cheesecake. Growing up in New Jersey and eating a lot of New York-style cheesecake might have something to do with this.
Imagine my skepticism when we traveled to San Sebastian years ago and were told we had to try their take on my beloved cheesecake.
San Sebastian is world-renowned for its pintxos bars. While each pintxos bar serves up a wide range of bite-sized snacks, there’s only one known for its dessert pintxos, tarta de queso, or cheesecake.
As a lover of cheesecake, La Vina easily has the best cheesecake in the World, outside of New York.
La Vina’s cheesecake is lighter and fluffier than a typical New York-style cheesecake. Which is nice after filling up on pintxos. It also has a signature “burnt” top.
In classic Spanish style, the recipe for making tarta de queso is fairly simple, calling for only five ingredients. While there are other dessert tapas recipes out there, this by far is my favorite.
How Do Spanish Desserts Compare To Other Country’s Desserts
We’ve written about desserts from other countries as well. Desserts from Spain definitely differ from other countries. They are probably most similar to Portuguese dessert recipes, with a lot of similar dishes. Italian desserts also feature a lot of the same ingredients, but Spanish recipes tend to be a little more simple, or even rustic.
That said, if you simply love making desserts at home, or learning about different dishes, we have you covered. Take a look at our posts on Japanese desserts for some dishes that will blow your mind in both simplicity and complexity. Back to Europe, there are great traditional Irish dessert recipes that incorporate simple ingredients as well as famous Irish drinks like Guinness and Baileys.
Spanish Food 101
Spain is world-renowned for its mouthwatering cuisine. Spain’s cuisine ranges from high-end 3 Michelin Star restaurants like El Celler Can Roca and Arzak to simple, traditional dishes cooked by Spanish grandmothers (abuelas).
The cuisine of Spain is also one of the healthiest. Grouped into the “Mediterranean Diet,” many Spanish recipes feature heart-healthy ingredients like olive oil, fish, and garlic. Then there are the Spanish desserts.
For three years we lived in Girona. Located 100 km north of Barcelona, in the region of Catalonia, it was our jumping-off point to explore the rest of Spain.
In our three years, we managed to see a lot of Spain. This means we managed to sample a lot of dishes from cities like San Sebastian, Sevilla, Malaga, and Valencia. If there’s one thing we learned about Spanish food, it’s that you can’t simply label it as Spanish.
Check out our Spain Food Guide – What To Eat In Spain for more details on regional must-try dishes in Spain.
Spain’s Regional Cuisine
The food of Spain is highly regionalized. What’s eaten in Catalonia isn’t necessarily eaten in San Sebastian in the Basque Country. And vice versa.
There are several reasons for this including climate, geography, and outside influences.
Southern Spanish regions like Andalucia and Murcia are much warmer and grow very different crops compared to northern regions like Catalonia and the Basque Country.
This diversity of cuisines across Spain is great for anyone who loves food, especially desserts.
FAQs – How To Make The Best Spanish Dessert Recipes
Two of the most popular sweets from Spain are Chocolate and Churros and flan. Enjoyed by locals and tourists, you can find both of these sweets all over Spain.
When traveling in Spain, the word postres on a menu means dessert. When ordering a set menu, or menu del dia, often a postre, or dessert will be the third dish on the menu.
We lived in Spain for three years and have eaten a ton of Spanish desserts. Like most food in Spain, desserts are regional. Meaning, you won’t find a dessert from Catalonia in Andalusia. That said, some of the most popular desserts in Spain include flan, torrijas, leche frita, and crema Catalan. The Spanish love their desserts so make sure to save some room when eating in Spain.