16 Classic Spanish Desserts

Go Beyond Churros

Spanish flan with caramel sauce

The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

If you can’t get to a traditional Spanish pasteleria or pastry shops, you can recreate the delectable flavors of the beautiful handmade cakes and pastries right at home. In addition to fancy sweets that look as scrumptious as they taste, there are many classic or traditional Spanish desserts that don’t require any tricky techniques or specialized tools. Try making one or all of the below for your next gathering, for a taste of Spain wherever you are.

  • 01 of 16

    Turrón

    Easy chocolate turron recipe

    ​The Spruce / Teena Agnel

    This Spanish almond nougat is the traditional Christmas treat in Spain and, until recently, was almost exclusively made from almonds and honey. This simple and delicious turron uses crisped rice cereal, two kinds of chocolate, and almonds for a sweet, rich flavor. Allow at least six hours for it to firm up in the fridge before serving.

  • 02 of 16

    Mantecados

    spanish crumble cookies

    Say "mantecados" to a Spaniard and watch their eyes widen as they remember the rich, crumbly anise-scented drop cookies they’ve eaten at Christmas since childhood. They’re so light and fluffy, they melt in your mouth. Make them yourself and you’ll understand why they no Spanish home is without mantecados at Christmas!

  • 03 of 16

    Polvorones

    Polvorones cookies

    The Spruce

    Ranking right up there with mantecados, rich and crumbly polvorones get their name from the word "polvo," meaning dust. They can dissolve into just about into a dust-like consistency in your hands or mouth, so handle with care. Some people also cover them in powdered sugar, which looks dusty.

  • 04 of 16

    Flan

    Spanish flan with caramel sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

    This classic Spanish flan is made with a velvety vanilla egg custard, topped with a sweet and sticky caramel sauce. It’s one of the most popular desserts for a reason, because it’s light enough for those watching what they eat and decadent enough for a special occasion. If you don't have individual ramekins, try making one giant flan in a larger baking dish.

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  • 05 of 16

    Instant Pot Flan

    Instant Pot flan, or creme caramel, in a dessert dish.
    Diana Rattray

    This Instant Pot version of the classic Spanish dessert flan cooks in less than 10 minutes, though you do need to plan ahead as it must chill in the refrigerator for four hours before you serve it. The light vanilla custard with a caramel topping makes a sweet finish to any meal.

  • 06 of 16

    Crema Catalana

    Crema Catalana
    Gavin Kingcome Photography/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    Crema Catalana or Catalan cream is the Spanish version of the creamy and delicate crème brulée of French fame. Once you taste the burnt sugar crust and delicate creamy custard underneath, you may eat the batch all by yourself. Traditionally, Spaniards create a spiral shape with a heated iron on the top, but you can caramelize them using your oven’s broiler. Just watch them carefully—sugar burns quickly.

  • 07 of 16

    Churros

    Avila Churros and chocolate coffee with milk
    Alan B. Windhausen / Getty Images

    Churros are long, fried dough fritters, which make a traditional late-night snack in Spain. They’re very similar to sugar donuts, but instead of a ring like a doughnut, churros are normally long and relatively straight, with ridges. After frying, cut them into lengths and top with sugar or honey. Serve with thick hot chocolate or caramel sauce, for a delicious sweet treat.

  • 08 of 16

    Bunuelos de Viento

    Bunuelos de viento recipe

    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

    Light, fluffy, and melt-in-your-mouth, Spanish bunuelos or fritters are perfect for an afternoon snack or dessert. These lightly fried, round fritters are dusted with powdered sugar or filled with pastry cream, egg custard, or marmalade for an irresistible treat that’s just as easy to make as they are versatile.

    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    Natillas de Leche

    A bowl of custard

    Manuel Velasco / Getty Images

    Spanish custard, or natillas, is one of the comfort foods that make many Spanish adults recall their childhood. This simple and delectable version makes a smooth, rich custard, flavored with cinnamon and vanilla extract, which is wonderful eaten while still warm or chilled.

  • 10 of 16

    Pantxineta

    Pantxineta. San Sebastian, Spain
    Pantxineta. San Sebastian, Spain. Getty Images/Sergio Amiti

    This traditional Basque dessert looks lovely on your table, but it’s simple enough for even beginner cooks. Just sandwich some pastry cream between puff pastry sheets and cover in chopped almonds, hazelnuts and powdered sugar. If using frozen puff pastry, make sure to defrost it completely before using.

  • 11 of 16

    Leche Frita

    Leche frita recipe
    Javier Lastras on Flickr CC

    While the translation can get a bit confusing, this popular Spanish dessert is comprised of a sweet, firm milk pudding encased in an egg and flour fried shell. It may sound complicated, but requires no special techniques or tools to make. Just give yourself at least three hours in the refrigerator (preferably overnight) for the pudding to get nice and firm.

  • 12 of 16

    Frixuelos de Asturias

    Frixuelos with ice cream

    Silverman68

    These sweet Asturian crepes traditionally get filled with apple compote then served with custard and whipped cream. You can also make them savory by rolling them up with chopped meat, eggs, and melted cheese. Try mixing up the flavors or stacking them like pancakes instead of rolling.

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  • 13 of 16

    Leche Merengada

    Traditional Leche Merengada is made with milk, sugar, egg whites, and cinnamon
    Jodi Pudge Radius Images/ Getty Images

    Made with milk, sugar, egg whites, cinnamon, and a little lemon zest, leche merengada is served in ice cream shops all over Spain. The resulting texture comes out somewhere between a milkshake and a smoothie, and makes the perfect refresher on a hot day.

  • 14 of 16

    Goxua

    Goxua
    Flickr CC 2.0 

    Where the Italians have Tiramisu, the Basque region loves Goxua. This creamy, layered dessert has one layer of liquor-soaked ladyfingers, one layer of creamy custard, and a crispy, burnt-sugar topping. Some chefs use a caramel sauce on top instead, and you can try it both ways. It makes an impressive finale for any dinner party.

  • 15 of 16

    Ponche Segoviano

    ponche segoviano
    (c) Lisa Sierra

    While this beautiful layered cake isn’t hard to make, it does require several steps. First, bake up the light and fluffy cake, then slice it into thin layers. Then, put it all together with a rich pastry cream and cover the whole thing in sweet marzipan. You’ll end up with a perfect cake for any occasion.

  • 16 of 16

    Tarta de Manzana Casera

    Spain, Apple tart with cinnamon, close-up
    Getty Images/Foodcollection RF

    This Spanish apple tart makes the most of sweet and tart apples, highlighted by flaky puff pastry and sticky apricot preserves. To make it even prettier for a fancy presentation, try arranging the apple slices in a nice spiral pattern. Make sure you thaw the pastry sheets completely before using.