The 9 Best Spanish Tapas

Tempting tapas for your next dinner party

Gambas al Ajillo: Spanish Garlic Shrimp Tapas

 The Spruce

Spanish tapas are Spain's signature snacks and small plates. They range from a simple bowl of olives or a wedge of cheese with bread to a recipe of shrimp and garlic or a slow-cooked beef dish. They also vary by region—you can travel throughout Spain and experience many different offerings of tapas. Here are nine of the most common tapas recipes.

  • 01 of 09

    Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet)

    Spanish Omelet (Tortilla Española)

    The Spruce

    No doubt about it, the tortilla Española is the most commonly served dish in Spain and is also known as a tortilla de patata or potato omelet. It is such a popular dish, some call it "the national dish of Spain." It is made of 3 simple ingredients: eggs, potatoes, and onions. It is not only served as a tapa, but also as a main dish for a meal and a filling for sandwiches.

  • 02 of 09

    Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)

    Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)

    The Spruce



    Croquetas or croquettes are a small, lightly breaded and fried sort of fritter. They are a sure hit as a tapa or an afternoon snack with a glass of beer or wine. These croquetas de ​jamón are creamy and smooth and very tasty. A bechamel and ham mixture turns into a dough that you roll into logs and coat with egg and breadcrumbs--then the croquettes are fried to golden brown.

  • 03 of 09

    Calamares a la Romana (Fried Squid Rings)

    Calamares fritos
    Fotoasturias/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

    Calamares fritos or calamares a la romana are such a simple but delicious and very popular appetizer or tapa in Spain and here in the USA. With a little preparation and close attention, you can make these melt-in-your-mouth calamares a la romana at home. Try to purchase cleaned squid for a quicker and easier process.

  • 04 of 09

    Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)

    Spanish Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

    The Spruce

    Gambas al ajillo is one of the most common and most popular tapas in Spain, as it's quick, easy and full of garlic flavor. Fresh shrimp are sauteed in olive oil with plenty of garlic and a dash of cayenne pepper which gives this dish a little heat. Sometimes paprika and brandy are included. Your guests will be asking for the recipe after the first bite, especially the garlic lovers! 

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Patatas Bravas (Bravas Potatoes)

    Spanish patatas bravas

    The Spruce

    Patatas bravas is one of the classic Spanish tapas dishes and is served in bars all over Spain. Fried potatoes are covered in a tomato-based sauce which has a slight bite from Tabasco, hence the name bravas, which means "fierce" in Spanish.

  • 06 of 09

    Jamón, Queso y Chorizo con Pan (Ham, Cheese, and Chorizo With Bread)

    Spanish Chorizo With Cheese
    Lisa Sierra

    Jamón, queso y chorizo con pan is a simple but delicious appetizer or tapa that everyone enjoys. It involves very little cooking and you can put it together at the last minute. Be sure to use Spanish chorizo and Serrano ham for best results. 

  • 07 of 09

    Pulpo Gallego (Grilled Octopus)

    Pulpo Gallego
    Sergio Amiti/Getty Images

    Pulpo gallego is a grilled octopus that's a traditional tapa from Galicia, served all over Spain today. It is very simple: cooked octopus that is served with boiled potatoes, olive oil, and sweet Spanish paprika. If you freeze the octopus first it will cut down the cooking time.

  • 08 of 09

    Boquerones en Vinagre (Anchovies Marinated in Vinegar)

    Boquerones en Vinagre Are a Delicious Spanish Tapa
    Lauren Aloise/Spanish Sabores

    Boquerones en vinagre (anchovies marinated in vinegar) is a traditional and very popular "tapa" in Spain. A good tapa bar always has a platter of boquerones on the bar and it is a favorite of Spaniards and visitors alike. Make sure you purchase large, whole fresh anchovies for this recipe. 

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Tigres or Mejillones Rellenos (Stuffed Mussels)

    Tapas Dish of Fried Stuffed Mussels
    Getty Images/Trevor Wood

    If you have ever been to Spain, you’ve most likely tasted “tigres,” mussels that have been stuffed, breaded and fried. Making tigres or mejillones rellenos at home does require a few steps, but you will find it is worth the time. The mussel meat is chopped and mixed with stuffing ingredients and placed back on a shelf half. The mussels are covered with a bechamel and breadcrumbs and then chilled. When solidified they are coated in egg and another layer of breadcrumbs before frying.