Spanish Braised Octopus in Paprika Sauce

Braised Octopus on plate
James Strange/Moment/Getty Images
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 3 hrs 30 mins
Total: 4 hrs
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
586 Calories
31g Fat
23g Carbs
54g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 586
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 40%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 163mg 54%
Sodium 791mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Protein 54g
Calcium 257mg 20%
*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 octopus
  • any combination of oregano, rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, laurel, saffron, sage, tarragon, thyme, basil, or parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 to 3 lemons

Steps to Make It

Preparation of Octopus

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  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.

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

  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, garlic, bay leaves, laurel, saffron, sage, tarragon, thyme, basil, or parsley. The octopus meat absorbs the flavors of the herbs and spices.

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

  7. Cut the octopus into chunks and keep warm.

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.

  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.

  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.