Spanish Style Fried Anchovies

Spanish Style Fried Anchovies

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
950 Calories
33g Fat
108g Carbs
53g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 950
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 42%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 96mg 32%
Sodium 6193mg 269%
Total Carbohydrate 108g 39%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 53g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 353mg 27%
Iron 13mg 73%
Potassium 840mg 18%
*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.)

There is nothing more typical of summer in Spain than a piping hot plate of fried anchovies served alongside a cold beer. From the north to the south of the country, these small fried fish are a common dish served in tapas bars. Some cities even have entire bars dedicated to serving only fried anchovies, and with reason, as these salty treats make a wonderful accompaniment to an afternoon drink like a tinto de verano, a traditional sangria, or a rebujito—a refreshing drink made with lemon soda and sherry.

Anchovies are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A, selenium, potassium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, among many other nutrients. A 3-ounce serving of raw anchovies packs almost 18 grams of protein, at a considerably low-calorie input of barely 111 calories.

They are known in Spanish as anchoas or boquerones depending on whether they are salt-cured (anchoas) or either preserved in vinegar or fried (boquerones). Our recipe for boquerones fritos is easy and very simple, and will put this tasty tapa on your table in less than 15 minutes. Simply dredge the fishes in seasoned flour, fry them in olive oil until crisp, and top them with a sprinkle of salt and perhaps a squeeze of lemon. Our recipe has instructions on how to clean the anchovies, but if preferred, ask your fishmonger to clean them for you.


  • 1 pound whole fresh anchovies

  • 1 to 2 cups olive oil, for frying

  • 1 cup unbleached white flour

  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

  • 1 French baguette, sliced, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Spanish Style Fried Anchovies ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Clean the anchovies by removing the heads and innards. Remove innards by running your thumb along the belly. Rinse the anchovies, pat dry, and set aside. Be fast at cleaning the anchovies, and keep them in a bowl on top of ice to avoid deterioration.

    Clean anchovies in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Pour the olive oil into a medium 8- to 10-inch frying pan. The oil should be approximately 1/2-inch deep. Heat the oil over medium heat. Be aware that olive oil has a low smoking point compared with other cooking oils. If burnt, it will impart a sour taste to the fish.

    Oil in a pan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. While the oil is heating, place the flour onto a large dinner plate and mix in approximately 2 teaspoons of salt.

    Flour on a plate

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Roll the anchovies one by one in the flour, coating them on all sides.

    Roll the anchovies one by one in the flour

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Fry the fish in batches just until golden, cooking on both sides. Depending on the size of the anchovies, it may only take 1 minute on each side to cook.

    Anchovies frying in oil

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  7. Remove the anchovies from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on top of paper towels to absorb excess oil. Taste for seasoning and add a sprinkle of salt if necessary. Serve with lemon wedges and slices of baguette.

    Spanish Style Fried Anchovies on paper towels

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Fried Anchovies Appetizers and Mains

Fried anchovies are the perfect appetizer, with many variations:

  • Dip the fried anchovies in homemade aioli sauce and serve on top of a slice of bread.
  • Drizzle the fried anchovies with basil or sun-dried tomato pesto, and serve with slices of bread.
  • Drizzle the fried anchovies in a creamy lemon and parsley sauce, and serve with slices of bread.

To use the anchovies as a main:

  • Make as many servings of pasta aglio e olio as you'd need and top each individual bowl with 10 to 12 fried anchovies. Serve with a wedge of lemon and top with freshly chopped parsley.
  • Serve the fried anchovies as part of a tapas platter for an informal dinner. Have enough hummus, green olives, hard cheese, salami, prosciutto, tamari almonds or chickpeas, Spanish tortilla, Italian vegetable antipasto, artichokes, and fried anchovies to delight all of your guests. Serve with a generous amount of bread.
Article Sources
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  1. Anchovies, Raw. FoodData Central, United States Department of Agriculture.