Tapas are a popular hot or cold starter or snack in Spanish cuisine. You can make a full dinner out of several of these bite-sized morsels. Mixed olives, cheese, chops (baby squid that has been battered and fried), and patatas bravas (potatoes served with a spicy tomato sauce) are all examples of tapas.
Spanish term “tapar,” which means “to cover,” is where the word “tapas” comes from. One idea is that the first tapas were thin slices of meat or bread that people drinking sherry in Andalusian bars put over their glasses between sips.
As a practical matter, this was done to keep fruit flies from flying over the sweet sherry. Most of the time, ham or chorizo, which are very salty and make you thirsty, was used to cover the sherry. This is why bartenders and restaurant owners came up with different snacks to go with sherry, which helped them sell more booze.
Top 32 most Popular Tapas in Spain
- Fried anchovies
- Pescaíto Frito
- Papas arrugadas
- Octopus a feira
- Tortilla de Patatas
- Huevos rotos
- Black pudding and chorizo
- Spanish Deviled Eggs
- Jamón Ibérico and Cheese
- Albóndigas or Spanish Meatballs
- Calamares fritos (Fried Squid Rings)
- Patatas bravas and patatas alioli
- Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelette)
- Boquerones en Vinagre
- Albondigas en Salsa
- Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Prawns)
- Pá amb tomàquet (bread with tomato)
- Cazon en Adobo
- Spanish Chicken Croquettes
- Spanish Chorizo Recipe with Cider
- Spanish Stuffed Peppers
- Beef Empanadas
- Fried Baby Squid
The Andalusian and Spanish cold soup gazpacho is a national favorite. It’s healthy, energizing, and refreshing. Gazpacho is most popular in the summer, but it may be eaten at any time of year.
Tomatoes, green bell peppers, cucumbers, rustic bread, garlic, sherry vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and water go into making this soup.
The classic Andalusian recipe calls for those specific components, but modifications to the original recipe mean you may buy gazpacho with a wide range of flavor profiles. Watermelon and avocado gazpachos are two common variations.
2. Fried anchovies
In the Andalusian region of Spain, pescaíto Frito is one of the most famous starters. Since fresh fish is used to make these best Spanish tapas, you won’t have many options for fish types. The restaurant owners in the area will serve the day’s best fish. If you get the chance, you should ask for fried anchovies because they are so tasty. The fried layer, made with only flour, makes these Spanish snacks so tasty.
The main thing that goes into it is bread crumbs fried in olive oil with other things that add flavor. Some of these are chorizo, bacon, peppers, onions and garlic.
There are many kinds; some have fruit added, others meat instead of cod fish, and so on.
4. Pescaíto Frito
Fresh fish dipped in batter and fried in olive oil. It is mainly found in Andalusia, served in a paper cone, and made with a tasty spice mix. Additionally, it’s called bienmesabe there.
5. Papas arrugadas
These potatoes are especially delicious when paired with mojo, a sauce typical of the Canary Islands. The most well-known variety is prepared with small, locally-grown potatoes and is boiled before being sprinkled with salt.
6. Octopus a feira
In Galicia, an octopus is often placed on a wooden board. That’s why it’s called Pulpo a la gallega. It is eaten chopped up and boiled, with olive oil, salt, and paprika on top.
7. Tortilla de Patatas
The tortilla de patatas is a well-known Spanish tapas dish that is very good. Everywhere in the country, people eat it. You can serve it hot or cold. You should try tortilla de patatas when going to Andalucia, whether winter or summer. You can even find it in grocery stores, with or without onion. All love a Spanish dish called tortilla de patatas because you can add your favorite things to the mix of eggs and potatoes.
The most well-known dish from the Valencia area is one of the best tapas you get to try in Spain. Rice is the main element, along with veggies and sometimes meat or fish.
Prepared on the grill and doused in mayonnaise or alioli, Puntillitas, the Andalusian name for fried chopitos (which resemble cuttlefish but are smaller in size), is a favorite dish in many parts of the world.
10. Huevos rotos
These are fried eggs with a soft yolk served over ham and fried potatoes. They are also called huevos estrellados. It breaks up the yolk and runs over the other things. Most of the time, it comes with bread that you can dip in the egg yolk. Other famous versions remove the ham and use baby eels, prawns, or other cured pork meats.
In the Basque Country, where this comes from, tapas are known as pintxos. It’s a stick with an anchovy, an olive, and a hot pepper on it, and one of Spain’s most popular tapas.
12. Black pudding and chorizo
These two are a close second when it comes to cured pork foods offered as tapas. The first is made with rice, and the second can be fried or cooked in cider. Picadillo is chopped and fried meat, and chicharrones and torreznos, mostly made from bacon, are some other popular pork tapas.
13. Spanish Deviled Eggs
Spanish deviled eggs are one of the best ways to start a meal in this country, and it definitely is one of Spain’s best tapas. Because they may be filled with many different things, locals cook them in many different ways, and they can make them without meat or fish, based on what guests like. The Spanish deviled eggs with tuna are among the most famous kinds of Tapas in Spain.
Most croquettes are made with ham, but more and more are being made with wild mushrooms, king crab, squid, prawns, cod, or strong cheeses, such as Cabrales. Croquettes from Spain are very famous all over the country, and it is one of Spain’s top tapas to try. Some types are more popular than others in different places you visit.
These croquettes are easy to find along the coast of Spain. The word “bacalao” in English means “cod.” Getting them ready is easy, but it takes time. To begin, you need to cook the cod and potatoes. It will be easier for you if you choose cod that has already been salted.
15. Jamón Ibérico and Cheese
Spain’s tabla de jamón Ibérico and cheese is a common way to start a meal and one of the country’s best tapas. People in many parts of Spain say these are the best Spanish tapas because they don’t take long to make.
The jamón de bellota is the best type of ibérico ham, which you should know before you order it. This particular type of jamón was fed natural foods, which gives their meat a unique taste. To get the most out of this food experience, ensure the snacks you order are made with local ingredients.
16. Albóndigas or Spanish Meatballs
One type of tapas that can be made in many different ways is albóndigas. They can be made with a lot of different kinds of meat and served with many different flavors. But the original recipe calls for pork meat seasoned with garlic, parsley, and pepper. They will taste better with fresh tomato sauce.
17. Calamares fritos (Fried Squid Rings)
One of the most common popular tapas in Spain is fried squid, which is also known as calamares a la romana. It’s also very simple to make. They are fried squid rings with just a little bread crumbs.
These are a common “fast food” dish from Madrid. People often eat them as a snack near the Puerta del Sol, in places like the Plaza Mayor that are known for their history.
18. Patatas bravas and patatas alioli
You can share patatas bravas with your friends when you get together for a beer. It’s a simple Spanish dish yet one of Spain’s most popular tapas. Usually, these potatoes are cut into big cubes and fried.
They are served with a hot sauce. Aioli is olive oil and garlic, with added ground sweet and spicy pepper, chicken broth, and flour. The sauce for patats bravas is spicy.
One of the most popular tapas in Spain is jamon serrano. The meat is cured and dried in salt for a specific amount of time to achieve the desired color and texture. Jamon Bellota is a type of ham that comes from a pig and is the best you can get. Until they reach fifty kilograms, these pigs are fed grass and acorns. That depends on how much the Iberian breed is in the ham.
20. Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelette)
This omelet is made with eggs and potatoes, and it’s a favorite tapas in Spain. An egg seasoned with salt before cooking will maintain its moisture, and potatoes and onions cooked slowly in plenty of olive oil will have a velvety texture that belies their perfection.
21. Boquerones en Vinagre
You can find boquerones en vinagre all over Spain. It’s a great starter dish and a popular tapas. They are fresh anchovies stored in salt water for three hours and vinegar for six hours. After being rinsed, salt, garlic, and parsley are added to taste. It is generally served with beer because it has a lot of vinegar.
22. Albondigas en Salsa
Meatballs made of beef and pork are cooked in a spicy tomato sauce in this type of food. Because of these spices, they smell great and make you want to eat them right away.
23. Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Prawns)
The meal known as “gambas al ajillo” is typically served in the southern and central regions of Spain, especially in the capital city of Madrid. It’s the kind of thing that comes with your drink at a pub. The prawns are cooked in a clay pot and then fried in olive oil with parsley, garlic, and other seasonings. It pairs well with either red or white wine.
24. Pá amb tomàquet (bread with tomato)
It would be best to try pan tunica, also called pa amb tomàquet, when you eat Catalan food. Toast a piece of bread, spread crushed tomato, and add garlic and olive oil. You can also add sausage, tortilla, ham, or cheese, based on what each person likes.
25. Cazon en Adobo
The best Spanish tapas come from Cadiz, in the southern part of Andalucía. One of them is Cazon en Adobo. There are a lot of cazón, which are white fish. They soak pieces of fish meat in garlic, sweet pepper, cumin, and oregano to make this tasty Spanish tapa.
26. Spanish Chicken Croquettes
One of the most well-known classic Spanish tapas is croquetas. The Spanish ham croquettes are the most popular; they make a lighter version with chicken instead. You can enjoy these plates of tapas with some great Spanish wines. They made it with milk to make them creamy and boiled chicken meat to make them.
27. Spanish Chorizo Recipe with Cider
If you have yet to try it, you should get some hot chorizo a la sidra at one of the many Spanish bars. This is a simple chorizo dish that is cooked in apple cider. It would be an excellent starter for a party with a Spanish theme.
Many Spanish people also like this dish in the fall, when apples are riper and taste better.
Mussels are mostly cooked and can be eaten with lemon or tomato, onion, and pepper that have been chopped up and dressed. It is, without a doubt, one of Spain’s most popular tapas.
29. Spanish Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed peppers called piquillo are one of the best snacks and tapas in Andalucía, Spain. But because it has a strange flavor, this snack isn’t good for everyone; it is often sold in a can and is filled with tomato sauce and bechamel. They add canned tuna or small pieces of smoked ham to this mix.
Peppers stuffed with piquillo are usually served cold, but they are also delicious when warm.
Typically served cold, this dish consists of boiled potatoes, mayonnaise, tuna, egg, and various finely chopped vegetables and pulses, including carrots, peas, or green beans.
31. Beef Empanadas
When you are traveling and want to continue at a place for a full meal, Spanish empanadas are a great snack to bring with you. You can grab some at a nearby grocery store or restaurant. I
In Spain, you can find many different kinds of empanadas. Some are made with chicken, others with lamb, and you can even find beef or squid. A salty bread inside is filled with ground meat and peas and is cooked in an oven with onion and olive oil.
32. Fried Baby Squid
Fried baby squid is one of Spain’s best tapas to serve as a tapas starter. This Spanish tapa is sure to make people lick their fingers. A squeeze of lemon juice is often added on top. Without a doubt, you’ll love it.
When it comes to numbers, Spanish appetizers are bigger than tapas. A starter is usually enough for two people to share, but each tapa is its own thing. If you order a bunch of different snacks to share, they can fill you up. People from the area often get together with friends for drinks and tapas for dinner. You can always order more if you get hungry again. Beer or wine are usually served with traditional Spanish snacks. When you go to some parts of Spain, the waiter or maid will always bring you a tapa, no matter what you order.
This guide will help you decide when to order tapas in Spain. You can get these and other typical tapas dishes at any bar or restaurant serving tapas or full plates. You may find additional visual information on our social media platforms. Be sure to check them out as well.