20 Authentic Spanish Tapas Dishes
If you're looking to impress the crowd during your next tapas party, these authentic Spanish tapas dishes will be a great addition to the plates. Spanish tapa dishes are prepared on small plates and offered around the tables during the party.
These dishes are often served as appetizers or snacks and are made with simple ingredients. What makes tapas especially appealing is that they allow the incorporation of a large variety of dishes, ranging from seafood to barbecue. Here are 20 authentic Spanish Tapas dishes:
Types of Spanish Tapa Dishes
There are four categories of dishes which are included in Spanish Tapas:
- Bite-sized snacks are smaller in size and are great as appetizers.
- These are easier to carry around in tiny plates and can be served individually.
- Some commonly served bite-sized tapa dishes are croquettes and bacon-wrapped dates.
- Soups can be paired with toasted bread or a side of salad.
- Varieties of Gazpacho are served at tapa parties, ranging from chilled cucumber soup to watermelon-mint soups.
- This tapas category is prepared with filling protein (mostly meat) cooked in a rich sauce.
- These dishes can be modified to add them as entrèes for another day.
- Heartier appetizers include grilled shrimp, meatballs, and skewers.
- If you want to incorporate alcohol into your tapas party, go for cocktails made with fruits and or just plain old chilled beer.
- Commonly served drinks as Spanish tapas are sangria, rosè and rebujito.
1. Garlicky Shrimp
Gambas Al Ajillo or Garlicky Shrimp is a heartier tapas dish where succulent shrimp is prepared in an oily garlic sauce. People often use slices of crusty bread to soak up the sweet and spicy sauce. It is a quick dish that can be prepared in just 10 minutes.
The sauce is prepared with olive oil, garlic cloves, peppercorns, Spanish paprika and some lime juice. Go for larger shrimps as they will shrink during cooking.
2. Chicken Croquettes
Croquettes are common throughout the world, but Spanish chicken croquettes are prepared with Serrano ham for the additional umami flavor. Leftover chicken shreds are mixed with small pieces of ham and chilled before making them into balls.
These are first coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried. The crispy outside is complimented by the creamy insides of the balls, consumed as bite-sized snacks at parties.
3. Chorizo al Vino Tinto
This is a traditional tapas dish where Spanish chorizo is cooked in red wine for an extra flavor. Slices of chorizo (a type of Spanish pork sausage) are pan-fried to create a charred outside, which is then cooked with red wine bay leaf and garlic.
There are different types of Chorizo al Vino Tinto dishes depending on the type of chorizo used. You can either serve it in a big bowl or make smaller bowl for each of the guests. Many eat this with bread so that it can soak up the spiced sauce.
4. Pan Con Tomate
Pan Con Tomate is a soft slice of bread topped with fresh tomato sauce, olive oil, and garlic. It is a quick and easy dish that allows your tapas menu to be diverse as well as unique.
Even though the dish has been around for centuries in the culture, there have been many modifications to this recipe to make for crispier bread, tastier sauce, and spices. You can serve this with a side of chilled coup so your guests can enjoy the combination.
5. Tortilla De Patatas
Spanish omelet is prepared with just five simple ingredients in not more than 10 minutes. Even though we have included this dish in a tapas list, it can be eaten as breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner.
It is a traditional recipe that has been passed down through generations in families. The recipe is prepared with mashed potatoes and onions, over which the omelet is prepared for the soft and fluffy texture. The beauty of this dish is that it can served, cold, warm or hot.
As a delicious and vibrant recipe, Pisto is an authentic Spanish vegetable dish made with tomatoes, aubergine, and peppers cooked in a rich stew. It is healthy, flavorful, and extremely pleasing to the eye.
Often served with a fried egg on top, this can be prepared on small plates for individual portions. The vegetables can be cooked separately or together to prepare this dish, depending on how much time you have on your hands.
7. Marinated Olives
These olives can be prepared in minimum time with the seasoning of your choice, which includes rosemary, garlic, and lemon. Olives prepared like this are mostly served on their own on tiny plates. You can even store them in your fridge to consume in the future.
The leftovers can be added to pizzas, salads, or just cheese boards. Add more chili flakes and aromatic herbs to make it a delightful experience.
8. Sous Vide Octopus
Sous Vide Octopus is a proven recipe to make sure the dish is flavorful and tender. The process of creating this dish is complicated, but the results are totally worth the hassle.
The sealed octopus remains juicy as the meat is slow-cooked. The octopus is then further cooked on a grill to obtain beautiful charred marks on the outside. Often served with a side of tomato sauce, the recipe takes over five hours to prepare.
9. Bacon Wrapped Dates
This 3-ingredient appetizer tapas dish is easy to make and will be everyone's favorite in no time. Once the seed is removed from the dates, goat cheese is stuffed inside.
The entire thing is then wrapped in bacon to prepare it in the oven. The crispy outside of the bacon complements the soft and fluffy inside to prepare the perfect bite-sized snacks that will be gone in no more than 30 seconds. The sweetness of the dates and the salt from the bacon balance each other out.
10. Pimientos de Padrón
Pimientos de Padrón is a type of pepper especially found in the northwestern region of Spain. They are only mildly spicy which makes them ideal for this dish. The bright color of the pepper will catch everyone's eye at the party.
It takes only 5 minutes and three ingredients: pepper, salt, and oil. The peppers are fried in some oil to create tiny blisters. Once seasoned with salt, these can be eaten as a bar snack or just an appetizer to impress your guests.
11. Jamon Iberico and Manchego Cheese
Often served as an appetizer, these two Spanish staples complement each other's complex flavors. Even though these can be served separately, they are even better together.
Jamon Iberico is a special type of cured Spanish ham prepared from hoofed pigs. Iberico pigs are native to Spain and have a higher fat content which makes them ideal for long-term curing. The meat pairs well with Manchego cheese, which is firm and buttery. A slice of the cheese is wrapped by a meat of cured meat and served in a wooden plate.
Baked or fried, Empanadas are savory pastries with mostly meat filling and served with a sauce. A classic Spanish empanada is a beef empanada where the filling has minced meat, boiled eggs, potatoes and peas.
The filling is spiced with paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper while the outside pastry coating only has some salt. The outside is crispy after a quick fry while the inside remains soft and chewy. The inside is pre-cooked and then filled into the flaky crust.
13. Almejas A La Marinera
Almejas A La Marinera or Spanish-style clams are a type of tapas served in small portions during gatherings. Despite the name, the Marinera sauce is not a red tomato sauce. It is a watery sauce seasoned with a lot of garlic, onion, parsley and pepper.
The clams are cooked separately in warm water until they open and then transferred to the saucepan. White wine is often added to this to make it more flavorful. Serve this with a side a bread to soak up the sauce.
14. Calamares Fritos
Spanish calamares are prepared with breaded squids that are deep-fried. Often served as one of the classic tapas dishes, it is easy to make and make for the perfectly crunchy snack.
The fried bits are seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne once they are removed from the heat. It is a common dish throughout Spain and has been adapted by restaurants as well. Serve this with some lemon slices at the next party.
15. Green Gazpacho
As the first soup recipe on this list, we introduce green gazpacho, which is a fresh, garlicky, and cold soup for summer. A lot of fresh summery vegetables are blended together and seasoned with fresh herbs like mint and parsley.
Some recipes add yogurt to the gazpacho but it is completely up to you if you want to make it without the added fat. Instead, add an avocado for a similar buttery taste.
16. Grilled Shrimp Skewers
Shrimp Skewers are marinated with garlic, lemon juice, and fresh herbs to enhance their flavor. They are quick and easy to make and make for a unique tapas recipe. The grilled flavor of the shrimp adds a new set of flavor to the table.
Make sure not to overcook the shrimp as it can turn rubbery and tough. Serve this hot as the guest can grab one and move through the dinner for hearty conversations.
17. Garlic Butter Steak Bites
Ready in just 15 minutes, this recipe is one of the most iconic tapas recipes. Small pieces of steak is cooked in butter, garlic and fresh herbs so that they remain crispy on the outside but juicy on the inside.
Even though you can cook them on their own, some add potatoes to cut down on the richness of the meat. Serve this as a tapas dish in your next cook-out and you will soon be handing out recipes.
18. Spanish Meatballs
Also called Albondigas, Spanish meatballs are quite famous throughout the tapas bar in Madrid. The tomato sauce takes inspiration from Italian marinate, but what sets it apart in the amount of paprika and Spanish red wine, which gives it somewhat of a sweet taste.
The meatballs are smaller in size and made with beef, veal and pork and can either be baked or pan-fried. The smaller size makes them idea as one-bite snacks which can be served in small portions.
19. Patatas Bravas
Fried potatoes are a part of all cuisines throughout the world, but Spanish fried potatoes are a step further due to the spicy red bravas sauce. Small cubes of potatoes are cooked in olive oil for a crispy outside and soft inside.
The bite-sized potatoes are then drenched in the red smokey bravas sauce and often served with a side of lemony cocktail. The sauce is prepared with fresh tomatoes and smoked paprika. You can add pepper and cayenne if you want more of a kick.
20. Gilda Pintxo
Gilda Pintxo is a skewer recipe with marinated olives, fresh anchovies and guindilla peppers on a toothpick. There is a burst of flavor ranging from salty, and pickley to fishy.
Mostly served in bars with classic Spanish drinks, these have made their way into tapas parties because of their easy preparation and rich flavors.
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