Spanish Banderillas

Tamorlan / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Yield: 24 skewers
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
67 Calories
3g Fat
9g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 67
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 550mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 53mg 266%
Calcium 32mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 247mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These easy tapas called banderillas (little flags) get their name from the barbed darts used during bullfights. Fortunately, banderillas aren't dangerous, nut they are delicious, simple to prepare, and able to hold your guests during cocktail hour while dinner cooks. All is fair in the banderilla game—there's no one true recipe. As long as it can be skewered on a toothpick, the item belongs on a banderilla. Try olives, cheese, pickles, peppers, tomatoes, fish, eggs, cold cuts, charcuterie, raw vegetables, sundried tomatoes, and grilled meats. Anything cut in small pieces and wisely combined with pairing flavors makes an outstanding banderilla. Our choice of flavors is a savory treat with the best of Spanish tapas flavors. This bite has it all. The saltiness from the olives, creaminess from the quail eggs, spiciness from the wax peppers, and fresh sea taste from the tuna are well complemented by the tangy and sweet flavor of the pickles. Savory artichokes add some freshness and pungent onions round out the perfect taste.

Banderillas are widespread in Spain as a simple tapa consisting of varied items on a skewer. Possibly the most famous banderilla, the Gilda, originated in San Sebastián, where a bar used to offer anchovies, spicy peppers, and olives to accompany their wines. Legend has it that a customer came up with the idea of skewering the three items for easy consumption, and just like that, the little pincho was born. The name came when the movie Gilda starring Rita Hayworth was released. The film was "spicy and salty," just like the banderilla, and gave the perfect name to this tasty combination. Nowadays skewers of salty and spicy, sometimes with a touch of sweetness, embody the banderillas we all love to devour. Great with a glass of wine, an assortment of banderillas can make a great pre-meal offering, and are particularly pretty when served as part of a cheese and charcuterie plate. Make them your way, vegetarian with cheeses and veggies, vegan with just veggies, or an omnivore dream with anything that you can think of.

For a pretty banderilla, think about both visuals and flavors. Mix colors and flavors that complement each other and excite your pallet. Black and green olives topped with a piece of Manchego, cherry tomatoes, grilled peppers and feta drizzled with olive oil, or cubed smoked ham, apples and Brie cheese with a touch of honey. There's no wrong way of making them. To be banderilla-ready at all times, buy jars of these ingredients and keep them on hand in your kitchen for when unexpected guests arrive or you receive a last-minute invitation.


  • 1 (12 1/2-ounce) jar gherkin pickles

  • 1 (10-ounce) jar cocktail onions

  • 1 (10-ounce) jar green olives, pitted and stuffed with pimento, garlic, or anchovies

  • 1 (2-ounce) can anchovies

  • 1 can white tuna in oil

  • 1 can artichoke hearts, in water or oil, halved

  • 1 (12-ounce) jar banana wax peppers, or pepperoncini

  • 12 quail eggs, hard-boiled and peeled, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Traditional banderillas are made with the pickle, onion, olive, and tuna skewered onto the toothpick, however, you can mix and match the ingredients listed above.

  2. Be careful to choose peppers such as the suggested banana wax peppers or pepperoncini and not a hot pepper, such as jalapeño. Hot, spicy peppers will overpower the rest of the ingredients.

  3. For something a bit different, add a hard-boiled quail egg to each toothpick.


  • You will not need all of the ingredients. We recommend that you choose 3 to 4 different ingredients to slide onto a toothpick. Pick items that you think will go well together. Lay each one on a plate until you have a nice, colorful presentation.