The National Dishes of Spain

Traditional Spanish Dishes That Are Served Throughout the Country

Since each of Spain’s regions has its own specialties, it is difficult to say that there is a national dish of Spain. Historically, Spain was divided into small kingdoms, each one with its own language, culture, and cuisine. Even today, Spain remains separated into 17 autonomous communities, each one with its own unique cuisine. However, there are a few dishes that have gained popularity all over Spain and some internationally that can be considered the country's national dishes. 

  • 01 of 05
    Tortilla recipe; Spanish omelet recipe
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    The most commonly served dish in Spain, the tortilla Española is the Spanish version of the omelet. In Spain, it is called tortilla de patata (potato omelet) because it is made with potatoes and eggs, along with onion for flavor. More like a crustless quiche than an omelet, tortilla Española is cut into wedges and served as a tapa, mid-morning snack or sliced and used as a filling for a sandwich.

  • 02 of 05
    Tomato gazpacho
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    This refreshing dish originated in the hot and dry region of Andalucia ​but is offered everywhere in Spain during the steamy summer months. Served chilled, this tomato soup is silky smooth and can be either eaten from a bowl with toppings or presented in a cup as a drink. No matter what, it is a healthy meal or snack as it is simply made of fresh vegetables, a bit of bread, and oil and vinegar.

  • 03 of 05
    Brian Leatart/Getty Images

    Paella Valenciana originated in the fields of Valencia, where country folk mixed rice with rabbit, snails, and vegetables and cooked it over an open fire. It has evolved into Spain’s most well-known dish, where fish, shellfish, meat, pork and/or chicken may be used. No matter what protein is added, no paella would be complete without its signature seasoning of saffron, which also contributes to the dish's orange hue.

  • 04 of 05
    Ham tapas served on white plate
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    Several regions of Spain are known for the ham they produce, but it is eaten all over the country and considered a prized gourmet food. When it comes to air-dried cured ham, Spain is both the largest producer as well as the biggest consumer. Cured ham varies widely in Spain--from affordable to expensive--but is readily available in supermarkets. There are two types of Spanish ham: jamon Serrano and jamon iberico. Jamon Serrano is made from several breeds of white pigs and is cured between 7 and...MORE 16 months.

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  • 05 of 05
    Chorizo Sausages for Sale
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    A wide variety of chorizo sausage is eaten in every corner of Spain on a regular basis. Chorizo is a pork sausage that is most often cured, although you may be able to find it fresh. It is made of chopped pork that is marinated in spices, including paprika which gives the chorizo its familiar flavor and color. The casing is edible and the chorizo is eaten both simply sliced, either alone or with bread, or is used in a variety of dishes as a key ingredient.

In addition to the foods listed, you must remember that tapas, the little snacks that are served in taverns all over Spain, are also “national” dishes. And there is a huge variety of them! Each town may have its own specialty tapa, although some tapas dishes are eaten nationwide, like olives, ham, and chorizo.