Finger-licking churros, rich and creamy croquetas, simple but unforgettably crispy potatoes, and more. Find out everything about the best Spanish food!
What Makes Spanish Cuisine so Tasty?
If you're looking for a fabulous food travel experience, Spain is your ideal destination. Not only do Spaniards know how to make the most out of local produce, but they know how to enjoy life — and it shows in their local cuisine.
From simple but superb tapas to heavenly Spanish gourmet food, there's a Spanish recipe for every taste. Prepare yourself for wonderful Mediterranean herbs and spices, crazy tasty breakfast food, tapas you won't get enough of — and top everything off with a glass of refreshing sangria! Continue reading and find your favorite recipe.
Ideas for Spanish Breakfast
1. Tortilla Española: The Spanish omelette
Photo by Goya.com
- Ingredients: potatoes, onions, peppers, eggs, chives, butter
If you ask the purists, they will tell you that this humble meal should only contain potatoes and eggs, but you can add peppers, onions, chives, chorizo, and anything else you like. The potatoes are diced and lightly fried before you add the eggs on high heat. The tricky part is flipping the pan over to turn it. If you get it right, shout "Olé!" and enjoy your breakfast. If not, the nearest tapas bar should have it on its menu.
2. Bocadillo de huevos revueltos: Scrambled egg sandwich
- Ingredients: Spanish bread, eggs, bacon, cheese, spinach
The main ingredient of this incredibly popular sandwich is pan de barra, a rustic Spanish-style baguette. The bread is usually sliced in half, then filled with freshly scrambled eggs. Often, you'll find that the sandwich is enhanced with a few slices of bacon, while the bread may be toasted on its drippings for extra flavor. Some versions also contain toppings like cheese and spinach.
3. Empanadas: Baked pastries with meats and vegetables
- Ingredients: flour, water, salt, butter, eggs + meat and vegetable fillings
Pockets of joy, golden pastries, little pockets with hot fillings — those are all used to describe empanadas. Once prepared for the working class, this inexpensive, easy to prepare, and convenient Spanish specialty food became one of the most popular party foods in Spain and Latin America. They are usually filled with spiced meats and vegetables, such as beef, onions, peas, celery, and carrots.
4. Churros with hot chocolate: Crispy dough with sugar + hot chocolate
- Ingredients: flour, salt, olive oil, sugar, chocolate
If you're having a cheat day, churros with hot chocolate might be the best way of starting your morning. This deep-fried crispy and intensely fragrant dough encrusted with sugar is simply too hard to resist! They were invented by shepherds who used to make them over an open fire and became a number one choice for hot breakfast food in Spain and Latin America. We recommend dipping them in hot chocolate or enjoying them over a strong cup of coffee.
5. Pa amb tomàquet: Toasted slices of bread with tomato
- Ingredients: bread, salt, tomato, olive oil
As the name suggests, pa amb tomàquet consists of toasted bread slices sprinkled with salt, rubbed with tomatoes, and drizzled with olive oil. This traditional Spanish food has a great origin story — the simple but genius recipe was invented in the 1880s when people used to rube stale bread with tomatoes to soften it. Today, the dish is consumed for breakfast or is served before a big meal, as a tapa.
What to Eat for Lunch and Dinner in Spain
6. Gazpacho: No-cook soup with tomatoes
- Ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, bread, red peppers, cucumber
You're not a cook but still want to have a go at making typical Spanish food? Well, you've found the perfect recipe — gazpacho. Take the reddest, ripest tomatoes you can find and blend them with the rest of the ingredients until it's silky smooth. People in Andalucia in southern Spain eat it every day during summer, and we suggest you do the same, as the meal is packed with vitamin C and is low fat.
7. Paella: Rice dish with seafood or chicken
- Ingredients: rice, saffron, vegetables, seafood, or chicken
You simply can't visit Spain and not have paella. Every restaurant and tapas bar in the country has at least one version of paella on its menu. The dish originates from Valencia, a town on the Spanish east coast, where paella actually means “frying pan”. It makes total sense, as all ingredients eventually end up in a giant pan. People in Valencia claim you can have a different paella every day of the year, but a classic version includes saffron, vegetables, and seafood or chicken.
8. Patatas bravas: Spicy potatoes
- Ingredients: potatoes, Spanish paprika, olive oil, flour, stock
Patatas bravas are perhaps the most popular tapas Spanish food. The recipe varies quite a bit around the country, but all versions include delicious spicy fried potatoes. Bravas sauce is the one that has different takes in different parts of Spain. In its capital, Madrid, the bravas sauce is made from sweet and Spanish paprika pimentón, olive oil, flour, and stock.
9. Croquetas de jamón: Spanish croquettes with ham
- Ingredients: Iberian or serrano ham, butter, flour, milk, chicken stock, eggs, nutmeg, black pepper, salt, bread crumbs, olive oil
From mint and salt cod to mushroom and peas, there is a Spanish croquettes recipe for each taste. But nothing beats the impossibly creamy and rich croquetas with local cured ham. Many are surprised to know that the creaminess doesn't come from cheese or mashed potatoes — it's actually a thickened bechamel sauce!
10. Pollo al ajillo: Chicken with garlic and white wine
- Ingredients: chicken, olive oil, garlic, bay leaves, white wine
Pollo al ajillo is a typical way of cooking chicken in Spain. The meat is cooked with garlic, white wine or fino sherry, and bay leaves. To make it perfect, the juices of the chicken should emulsify with wine, garlic, and olive oil. You can enjoy the meat on its own or have it served with simple rice.
Must-try Spanish Drinks
11. Sangria: Wine with fruits
- Ingredients: red or white wine, lemon, orange, apple, peach, mango, melon, kiwi, pineapple, berries
Sangria is the signature Spanish beverage. Use red or white wine as a base, then pick your favorite fruits, such as lemons, oranges, apples, mango, kiwi, and marinate them in base alcohol. Some variations include triple sec or brandy. Sangria is the perfect party drink and is usually served in large jugs with accompanying glasses for all.
12. Cava: Spanish sparkling wine
- Ingredients: cava
Simply put, Cava is Spanish champagne, so you’ve maybe even tried it without realizing it. It's usually more affordable than the actual champagne and it comes in the form of light bubbly wine, which can be either white or rose. Spaniards consume it alongside tapas but it's also an important part of weddings, Christenings, family celebrations, and more. In Barcelona, people love to use cava to make sangria.
13. Horchata: Refreshing rice drink
- Ingredients: white rice, cinnamon, lime zest, water, sugar
Horchata is a refreshing beverage made out of water or milk, fruit, seeds, nuts, or grains such as almonds, walnuts, or white rice and cinnamon. You can buy pre-made bottled syrup to make your own horchata, but it's not that hard to prepare it from scratch. Besides the basic recipe, you can make a coffee horchata (add instant coffee powder), a coconut horchata (add coconut milk), or a chocolate horchata (add cocoa powder).
14. Cortado: Short coffee with a dash of milk
- Ingredients: espresso, milk
The word cortado means "to cut" in Spanish. It makes total sense that this short coffee drink is named cortado, as the milk is supposed to cut through the espresso. It was created in the Basque Country in Spain but today is popular all over the world. Like a true Spaniard, start your morning with a cortado alongside churros dipped in hot chocolate!
15. Cerveza: Beer
- Ingredients: each has its own tasty recipe!
Having a cold beer on vibrant Spanish streets is something you need to do when visiting Spain! You'll have a lot of beer brands to choose from, as Spain is the fourth-largest beer producer in Europe, the most popular being Moritz, Estrella Damm, San Miguel, and Mahou. To feel like a real Spaniard, order a caña (a small glass of beer), a tubo (long glass), or a bottle.
Now when you know what to eat and drink in Spain, it’s time to start planning the trip. Get inspired by our 5-day Barcelona itinerary!