Essential Spanish Recipes

If you're new to Spanish flavors, this collection of recipes gives you a sense of the fresh ingredients and varied cooking techniques that are used in this world-renowned cuisine.

All of the dishes are representative of the Spanish kitchen: some are very famous, and others are just the basic dishes that you need to try to tour through Spanish cooking. Don't miss the chance to try these beautiful, emblematic Spanish dishes, from egg dishes to seafood rice to cold soups and appetizers.

  • 01 of 10

    Tortilla Española

    Spanish Omelet (Tortilla Española)

    The Spruce

    Tortilla española has to be the most common Spanish dish. This simple Spanish take on the French omelet appears in cafes and tapas bars everywhere. Filled with potatoes, this dish is served at any time during the day, and because of its simplicity and wonderful flavor, it's an all-time favorite.

    You need potatoes, onions, eggs, and seasonings to make this tasty dish. Thinly slice the potatoes and pan-fry them with the onions in abundant olive oil. Once they're cooked, drain the oil, and add the eggs. Cook in a non-stick pan and once there's a brown crust on one side, flip, and cook on the other. Ready in 35 minutes.

  • 02 of 10

    Gazpacho

    Fresh Summer Gazpacho

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Called a soup for lack of a better term, this beautiful and fragrant mixture of vegetables and spices is a refreshing dish better enjoyed in the hot days of summer.

    Put peeled tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, oil, vinegar, and spices into a blender. The recipe uses the doughy insides of a day-old baguette to thicken the soup, so this is not a dish suitable for gluten-free diets. Skipping the bread will still give you a very tasty soup.

    Served in a bowl or in a tall glass. Ready in 30 minutes.

  • 03 of 10

    Paella for Two

    Seafood Paella
    Seafood Paell. Waynohk / Twenty20

    Paella is the most internationally known Spanish meal. Originated in the farms of Valencia as a dish for the midday meal, it was originally made over an open flame right in the fields. Paella comes in many varieties, including seafood, mixed meats, or vegetarian.

    This recipe makes enough for two, and it's great for a celebratory meal. The recipe gives you the chance to choose your meats, or go with the vegetarian option. It starts with basic paella rice made with sofrito, broth, onions, garlic, saffron, peas, and seasonings. Depending on the meats you're using, the cooking times might vary but this small paella should be ready, no matter the version, in approximately 1 hour.

  • 04 of 10

    Empanadas Gallegas

    Empanadas - Galician Turnover or Pasties

    The Spruce

    There is no more perfect traveling food than empanadas, or their smaller version called empanadillas. These stuffed pieces of dough are ubiquitous in Spain and its former colonies and have countless versions throughout Latin America.

    They can be filled with different flavors (tuna or ground meat are common) but vegetarian versions are also found. The recipe guides you through the multiple steps: making the dough, the tuna filling, and the meat filling, assembly, and finally the frying of the empanadas. Although they're time-consuming, don't miss the chance to these tasty and crispy turnovers.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Alioli

    Alioli - Spanish Garlic Mayonnaise

    The Spruce / Lisa Sierra 

    Alioli is a garlic mayonnaise sauce originated in Cataluna. Known elsewhere as aioli, the original, correct term is the Catalan word for "garlic with oil." You need olive oil, egg yolks, garlic, salt, and fresh lemon juice.

    If you are a beginner to Spanish food, make this sauce and try making patatas with alioli as your first tapa dish.

  • 06 of 10

    Garlic Shrimp

    Spanish Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

    The Spruce

    One of the most common tapas of Spain, gambas al ajillo is quick, easy, and filled with garlic flavor, hence the name. You'll need 10 large cloves of garlic that you'll have to carefully cook in olive oil, without burning the oil or browning the garlic too much. Add the deveined shrimp, cayenne, paprika, brandy, and pepper, and serve your shrimp in the sauce with a fresh baguette.

    Ready in 20 minutes.

  • 07 of 10

    Roast Lamb

    Spanish Roast Lamb (Cordero Asado or Lechazo)

    mlsfotografia / Getty Images 

    Tender suckling lamb roast is a favorite dish of the region of Castilla in Central Spain. Roasted until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, the meat falls off the bone. It's easy to make, you need just lamb, lard and salt and an adequate roasting pan.

    Use melted lard to baste the lamb during the 2 hours of cooking. A crispy outer layer will form and the inner meat will cook without losing moisture. Serve with roasted potatoes and vegetables.

  • 08 of 10

    Cochinillo Asado - Roast Suckling Pig

    Balinese Suckling Pig on Spit
    Beata Bernina / Getty Images

    Cochinillo asado or roast suckling pig is one of the most typical dishes in the cuisine of Castilla. The city of Segovia is famous for this dish, where the pigs are roasted until the meat is so tender that it's cut with plates.

    For this recipe, you'll need a 6-pound piglet, olive oil, veggies, and seasonings. The step-by-step also includes the instructions for a veggie gravy that you can serve with the pig. It's ready in just under 3 hours.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Fabada Asturiana

    Asturian Fabada

    Rafa Elias / Getty Images

    Fabada Asturiana is a typical dish from Asturias. It's made with beans, sausage, ham, beef, and tomatoes. This simplified "fabada" recipe does not require overnight soaking, uses few ingredients and is one of the most common ways of preparing bean dishes in Spain.

    Use lima beans, pork ribs, vegetables, chorizo, and paprika. Serve with bread. It's ready in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

  • 10 of 10

    Sofrito

    Spanish tomato sauce

    The Spruce

    Sofrito is a basic tomato sauce that is made all over Spain. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers, and olive oil are sautéed in a frying pan so that the acid in the tomatoes mellows and mixes with the flavors of the onion, pepper, and garlic. It can be eaten with rice or eggs, but often it's used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as the filling for empanadas, or to color and flavor paellas.

    Hispanic cuisines have similar basic sauces with similar ingredients, some spicier than others. Mastering this recipe means that you can add a touch of Spanish flavor to other dishes.