Spanish Braised Octopus in Paprika Sauce

Spanish Braised Octopus in Paprika Sauce

The Spruce / Ana Zelic

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 3 hrs 30 mins
Total: 4 hrs
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
2570 Calories
129g Fat
73g Carbs
277g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 2570
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 129g 165%
Saturated Fat 19g 97%
Cholesterol 871mg 290%
Sodium 5247mg 228%
Total Carbohydrate 73g 27%
Dietary Fiber 11g 40%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 277g
Vitamin C 222mg 1,110%
Calcium 1197mg 92%
Iron 93mg 515%
Potassium 6497mg 138%
*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.)

Spanish braised octopus in a paprika sauce is a simple recipe—most of the work is in the preparation of the octopus for finishing. Basically, you braise the octopus in its own juices and then cut it into pieces and dress it with a paprika-garlic sauce while it is still warm. This is a variant of a Spanish recipe known as pulpo a la gallega, though this one is braised instead of boiled. Any size octopus works with this recipe, which serves four as a starter or tapas.

If the octopus is fresh, put it in the freezer for 24 hours to tenderize it. The larger the octopus, the better, because the preparation process for an octopus reduces it in size. Tenderizing the octopus properly is the secret to success when cooking it. Although octopus can be tough when the preparation is mishandled, a long, slow cooking method results in a surprisingly tender and flavorful dish.


  • 1 to 2 pounds fresh or frozen octopus

  • 3 cups fresh herbs of choice, such as any combination of oregano, rosemary, bay leaves, laurel, saffron, sage, tarragon, thyme, basil, or parsley

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 2 to 3 medium lemons

Steps to Make It

Preparation of Octopus

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Spanish Braised Octopus in Paprika Sauce ingredients

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  2. If using frozen octopus, thaw the octopus in the refrigerator for a day or two. Wash the octopus thoroughly under running water, paying particular attention to the suckers on the tentacles.

  3. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Place the octopus in the pot, cover it and return the water to a boil. Boil the octopus for 8 minutes.

    octopus in a pot with water

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  4. Take the octopus from the boiling water onto a cutting board and chop off its head. Discard the head for this recipe.

    octopus with the head removed

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  5. Line a Dutch oven or similar pot with a nest of your choice of Spanish herbs and spices. Possibilities include a combination of oregano, rosemary, bay leaves, laurel, saffron, sage, tarragon, thyme, basil, or parsley. The octopus meat absorbs the flavors of the herbs and spices.

    herbs in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  6. Nestle the octopus legs into the nest of herbs. Cover and cook for three to four hours at 200 F until tender. 

    octopus and herbs in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  7. Cut the octopus into chunks and keep warm.

    octopus pieces on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

Preparation of the Paprika Sauce

  1. Meanwhile, put the salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic in a mortar and pound it until it is a paste.

    salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic in a mortar

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  2. Slowly add the olive oil, stirring and mashing all the while. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you could use a food processor, but the texture will be different.

    olive oil and spices in a mortar and pestle

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

  3. While the octopus is still warm, put it into a large bowl and toss with the paprika-garlic sauce. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the bowl and toss to combine.

    Spanish Braised Octopus in Paprika Sauce, in a bowl

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic