Gastronomy

The 15 most popular foods in Spain you must try before leaving!

Spain is internationally known for its food culture. You will find foods in Spain for every taste as we have thousands of different dishes and recipes. In every region there are different traditional recipes, but you will find the most famous ones in every city.

Spanish food is part of what it’s called, Mediterranean cuisine. The main characteristic of this cuisine is based on three main ingredients: olive oil, bread and pasta (more for Italian cuisine).

Also, in Spain we have traditional dishes for special occasions (Easter, Christmas, summer…) Food has an essential role in Spain culture, and recipes are heritage over the years generation after generation. 

So, if you are visiting Spain, you MUST try all these recipes before leaving.

1. Jamón Ibérico

Iberian ham - Jamon Iberico España

You won’t have a full knowledge about how much ‘jamón ibérico’ (iberian ham) means for the Spaniards until you visit Spain. Honestly, jamón is the most important food in Spain (apart from olive oil). It’s known worldwide and there are different types of cured ham, depending on the pig the jamón is made with (black iberian pig or white pig). 

The most expensive one is the Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. But trust me, it will melt in your mouth! 

2. Tortilla de patatas

Tortilla de patatas - Spanish recipe

A potato omelet can look very easy to make, but, to do it right, you’ll have to be a real expert! This recipe is very common in every part of Spain and is typically done by mothers and parents when they are going out with their children to the beach or the mountain. 

Honestly, you can eat tortilla de patatas (or tortilla española) at every moment of the day: as a breakfast, before lunch as an appetizer, or as a main dish during dinner! 

Also, I will tell you a secret: there are two completely different thoughts about how it should be the ‘perfect’ tortilla de patatas: with or without onion! You can ask any Spanish people about it, and they will argue with you about their preferences.

3. Paella

Spanish paella

This recipe is, probably, the most famous dish in Spain. Paella is originally from Valencia, but you can eat it in every city in Spain. This saffron-flavored rice is made with seafood, meats, and vegetables.


It’s cooked in and served in a large shallow pan and there are different types of it: seafood paella, meat paella, vegetarian paella… But, as I said, the original paella comes from Valencia and this one consists of round grain rice, varieties of green beans, rabbit and chicken, cooked in olive oil and chicken broth.

3. Gazpacho

Spanish Gazpacho recipe

Gazpacho is a cold Spanish soup made with tomato, peppers, and other vegetables. It originated in the southern regions of Spain (Andalusia) and it’s a very popular dish for summer months, as the heat sometimes is unbearable and people prefer cold dishes to refresh themselves.

Typical Spanish gazpacho has tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, water, vinegar, onions, cucumbers, and green peppers, thickened with bread crumbs.

To check the full recipe, click here.

4. Salmorejo (or porra)

Salmorejo is a very similar dish to Gazpacho. The difference is that Salmorejo is thicker and creamier. In Andalusia, it’s also known as Porra (in Malaga region).

It has very similar ingredients to Gazpacho is served cold and can be garnished with diced Spanish serrano ham and diced hard-boiled eggs.

To check full recipe, click here.

5. Gambas al pil-pil (pil-pil prawns)

This dish is cooked and served in a cazuela (Spanish clay pot) and it’s cooked with a great amount of olive oil, prawns, garlic slices, and cayenne. 

It’s a very popular dish as a ‘starter’ and it’s a classic in every tapas bar in Spain! 

To check the recipe, click here.

6. Pulpo a la gallega

Pulpo a la gallega is a traditional Spanish dish served on a wooden plate with a base of sliced potatoes, topped with slices of octopus. It’s dressed with Sea salt flakes, Spanish smoked paprika, and extra virgin olive oil.

This traditional dish originated from the Galicia region, where seafood and sea traditions are an important part of its culture.

To check the full recipe, click here.

7. Pimientos de Padrón

Padrón peppers are a variety of Spanish peppers from Padrón, a little town in Northern Spain (Galicia) 

They are green and about 5 cm long. The taste is mild, but, sometimes, you can find some of them very hot. It’s very funny because you will never know when you will eat a spicy pepper! But, trust me, if you find one, you will identify it immediately. 

There is a Spanish saying that says: ‘Pimientos del Padrón, unos pican y otros no’ (Padrón peppers, some are hot, some are not). 

To prepare Pimientos del Padrón, it’s only necessary to fry them in hot olive oil until they start to blister and add a bit of coarse salt.

8. Ensaladilla rusa

Ensaladilla Rusa - typical foods in Spain

Another classic you can’t miss if you are visiting Spain! It’s a very popular potato salad made with potatoes, carrots, boiled eggs, cooked peas, tuna, and mayonnaise. Yummy! 

It’s very common to find ensaladilla tapas in every city in Spain. 

This type of potato salad is very common in many countries (Russia, Italy, Portugal) but… as the Spanish ensaladilla rusa, there is no one!

9. Croquetas

If you ask any Spaniard who makes the best croquetas, they’re going to answer you ‘my grandmother or my mum’, and, don’t dare you to say the opposite! 

There are real croquettes lovers in Spain. I can understand what, as dish food, made of flour, chicken soup or milk, egg, bread crumbs and chicken! They are a very popular tapa throughout Spain 

The true trick to Spanish croquettes is time, patience, and a great arm for stirring the bechamel sauce. The most famous croquettes in Spain are the Spanish ham croquettes and Spanish chicken croquettes. You’ll love it!

10. Flamenquín

This is one of the most famous dishes in Cordoba region. Flamenquin is made with slices of jamón serrano wrapped in pieces of pork loin, coated with breadcrumb batter, and deep-fried. There are different sizes of flamenquín, and you will be able to find different sizes (until 16 cm long!)

If you love meat, this dish is for you! 

To check the recipe, click here.

11. Cocido

cocido madrielño - spanish stew

I would say cocido is the most multifaceted soap in Spain. Every Spanish region has its particularities and is cooked in different ways depending on the place you are eating it. 

One of the most famous ones is the ‘Madrileño’ (from Madrid) cocido, and it’s made with chickpeas, beef black pudding, chicken, streaky bacon, and chorizo.

12. Patatas bravas

Spanish tapas - Patatas bravas

Easiest and best tapa in Spain! Patatas bravas are the best appetizer for a cold beer or a glass of wine. 

The trick of this famous tapas resides in its sauce. Bravas sauce is bright red and slightly spicy.

13. Churros

Spanish churros

We are closed to the end. That’s why I couldn’t miss a sweet course. ‘Churros’ are the most famous merienda (a small meal or snack eaten throughout Spain that is typically enjoyed between lunch and dinner) in Spain.

It’s very common to see Spaniards eating Churros for breakfast too and in Ferias (Spanish fairs) as there are many churros food trucks in these festivities. 

The ingredients for churros are flour, baking powder, oil, and boiling water to make the batter, then cinnamon and sugar for coating. The key here is boiling churros with hot olive oil until they are crunchy! 

14. Tapas

tapas in Spain

I’m sure you have heard about tapas already but, just in case, I will recommend you to eat as many tapas as possible when you’re in Spain! Tapas are delicious appetizers and snacks.

Many of the dishes that I mentioned you will find as tapas in many bars in city centers. Sometimes tapas are included in the drink price. In Spain, you can enjoy caña + tapa for 2€.

If you are visiting Malaga and looking for the best tapas restaurants, check this blog post here where we’ll show you our favorites!

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