10 Must-Try Spanish Tapas Recipes

Enjoy together a light meal or serve as appetizers at a party

settings Tapas and wine on rustic wooden table shot from above

fcafotodigital/Getty Images 

Tapas are simply a part of life in Spain and they've gained popularity all around the world. Though they're considered Spain's version of appetizers, tapas are eaten any time—day or night. Going out to eat tapas is such a big part of the culture that there is even a verb tapear which means "to eat tapas." Put a few of these little dishes together and they can make a meal on their own. Here are 10 recipes you can recreate at home—don't forget the sangria.

  • 01 of 10

    Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet)

    Spanish Omelet (Tortilla Española)

    The Spruce

    Bars and cafés throughout Spain serve this potato and egg strata as a meal starter, but it's also often eaten as a light dinner in Spanish homes. Tortilla españ​ola is portable as well, and many turn it into a sandwich by placing a piece between two pieces of a baguette.

  • 02 of 10

    Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)

    Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)

    Croquetas de jamón (ham croquettes) are a staple of the Spanish tapas scene. You can make them at home with Spanish cured ham. Enjoy them as an afternoon snack or with a glass of beer or wine as they would in Spain. Both the dough and the croquettes can be made ahead and frozen—quite handy when you need a snack or have last-minute guests coming over.

  • 03 of 10

    Patatas Bravas (Crispy Potatoes)

    Spanish patatas bravas

    The Spruce

    Patatas Bravas is a classic Spanish tapas dish featuring spicy potatoes. Legend has it that the dish was invented at a bar called Las Bravas in Madrid and you'll find variations throughout the country. The bravas sauce should have a bit of a kick, and this version gets it from Tabasco.

  • 04 of 10

    Empanadillas Gallegas (Galician Turnovers)

    Empanadillas Gallegas

     Tamorlan/Wikimedia Commons

    Empanadillas Gallegas, a meat or tuna-filled turnover, is the most popular dish from Galicia, a coastal area in the northwest of Spain. Empanadas are typically large and round and cut into pieces to serve; here, you'll make individual tapas-sized versions called empanadillas.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)

    Gambas al Ajillo Recipe (Spanish Garlic Shrimp Tapas) in a pan, with toasted bread

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp) is a one of the most beloved tapas in all of Spain. You'll want lots of garlic, excellent Spanish olive oil, dried cayenne pepper, paprika, a splash of brandy, and—of course—fresh shrimp.

  • 06 of 10

    Almejas en Salsa Verde (Clams in Green Sauce)

    Clams in Green Sauce

     Xemenendura/Wikimedia Commons

    Basque cuisine takes advantage of the seafood along Spain's northern coast. These clams in parsley green sauce, or almejas en salsa verde in Spanish, is a typical Basque specialty. Enjoy it with the Txakoli, a light white wine from the region.

  • 07 of 10

    Pulpo Gallego (Grilled Octopus)

    Grilled octopus with vegetables

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    Pulpo Gallego is Galician-style grilled octopus. Served all over Spain, this dish is incredibly simple, calling for slices of grilled octopus served with boiled potatoes, olive oil, and sweet Spanish paprika. It's typically set on a platter with toothpicks for you to spear and enjoy with beer or wine.

  • 08 of 10

    Pimientos Rellenos de Atun (Tuna-Stuffed Red Peppers)

    Tuna-Stuffed Red Peppers

    Tamorlan/Wikimedia Commons

    Pimientos rellenos ​de atun (stuffed red peppers with tuna) is a great dish for the summer since no cooking is required. Mix tuna with a bit of green onion and olives, then stuff into canned roasted red peppers.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Banderillas (Pickled Vegetable Skewer)


     Banderillas/Wikimedia Commons

    Banderillas gets its name from the barbed darts used during a bullfight. You won't have to do any cooking for this starter either. Instead, you'll employ your artistic talents to create a colorful skewer of the ingredients.

  • 10 of 10

    Ham, Cheese, and Chorizo Appetizer

    settings Tapas and wine on rustic wooden table shot from above

    fcafotodigital/Getty Images 

    Everyone will enjoy this classic tapa of ham, cheese, and chorizo. Slicing the jamón (Spanish ham) is an art form in Spanish tapas bars. Enjoy Manchego cheese and chorizo as well, with a baguette. ​