What do you eat in Spain: typical dishes, tips and curiosities on Spanish cuisine

Who I am
Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Spanish gastronomy enjoys world fame. The country is very large, there are 17 autonomous communities (what we call regions) extremely different in terms of environment, population, culture and, consequently, gastronomy. Each region therefore offers the own specialties made mostly with local ingredients. Some Spanish dishes are now so famous that they are also re-proposed by us, while others are less known, perhaps also due to the fact that they are peculiarities of areas a little less frequented by mass tourism.

Before discovering together the Spanish recipes to taste at least once in a lifetime, it is necessary to mention and celebrate two equally important typical products, but "excluded" from the list: the Chorizo ​​(characteristic sausage) and the Jamón ibérico, also known as the most expensive in the world.

And now here it is guide on Spanish gastronomic traditions.


  1. 10 Typical Spanish dishes
  2. Typical Spanish sweets
  3. Drinks and liqueurs: what people drink in Spain
  4. Tips and trivia: where to eat and what to avoid
  5. User questions and comments

10 Typical Spanish dishes

1 - Paella

Let's play it safe and start with a great classic, Paella. The dish symbol of Spanish cuisine, known practically by everyone and replicated everywhere with more or less happy results.

The paella doc is the Valencian one. He was born in Valencia, in the mid-th century.
The absolute protagonist is rice, an ingredient imported by the Arabs and which lends itself well to any type of combination. The original version includes rice, saffron, chicken, rabbit, green beans, tomato and garrofò beans.

Every region of Spain, but even more simply, every family and every chef, has elaborated his own recipe. The variations are therefore numerous, it seems that the Paella is the base and then free the imagination by adapting to tastes and fashions. There are in fact the de mariscos version, only fish, the vegetarian one, the mixed one with fish, chicken, sausage, peas and peppers. On the menus you can also find the nigra version, with cuttlefish ink and prawns, and the super expensive one only with crustaceans and lobster and many others!

  • Recommended to: lunch, dinner (single dish)
  • Average cost: minimum € 15,00
  • Main ingredients: rice, fish, chicken, sausage, rabbit, vegetables

2 - Gazpacho

The gazpacho is a cold soup usually served as an appetizer. Very pleasant especially on the hottest days, it is no coincidence that it is a representative dish of Andalusia, the southernmost region of Spain and, consequently, warmer.

The original recipe dates back to the th century AD. The base, consisting of stale bread, oil, vinegar, garlic and pepper, is then enriched with vegetables such as tomato, cucumber, red onion and pepper (preferably green). The classic gazpacho has a very liquid consistency.

The main variant of the gazpacho is the salmorejo, typical of Cordoba: it is denser and its ingredients are garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and bread, and is served with diced raw ham, hard-boiled eggs or croutons of toast.

  • Recommended to: entrèe for lunch and dinner
  • Average cost: € 6,00
  • Main ingredients: stale bread, oil, vinegar, garlic, pepper, tomato, cucumber, red onion, pepper

3 - Pulpo a la Gallega or Polbo à Feira

The Pulpo a la Gallega or Polbo à Feira is a specialty of Galicia, a region of north-western Spain, which is now also easily found in other areas of Spain.

It is a dish that contains few ingredients: octopus, potatoes, paprika and chilli. The secret lies in the perfect cooking of the octopus which must be boiled in a copper pot, until it becomes smooth and soft, but consistent. It is then cut into chunks, seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil, coarse salt and sweet paprika. If desired, the dish can be completed with a side dish of boiled potatoes.

The Pulpo alla Gallega is the recipe for great occasions; there is no party in Galicia where this dish is not present on the tables. According to connoisseurs, Pulpo alla Gallega must be served on a wooden plate.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 10,00
  • Main ingredients: octopus, oil, salt, paprika, potatoes

4 - Tortilla

Tortilla is the queen of Spanish cuisine. Perfect example of the simplicity and delicacy of the country's cuisine.

It is essentially one omelette, nice firm, compact and rather tall.
Spanish tortilla is also known as tortilla de patatas, as potatoes (pre-fried) are the main ingredients after eggs. The traditional recipe involves adding chopped onions, but not everyone likes it. There are therefore two factions: for and against onion.

In Spain, despite the simplicity, there are many bars where tortilla is a real house specialty. And it usually is omnipresent, cut into cubes, on the counters set up for the tapas ritual. In the coastal areas, fishermen have devised the version with cod.
Among the more particular versions, we remember the Sacromonte tortilla: rich omelette with brains and testicles of lamb or veal, potatoes, red peppers, peas, chorizo ​​and jamón serrano. A very complete dish.

  • Recommended to: always
  • Average cost: € 2,00
  • Main ingredients: eggs, potatoes, onion

5 - Fabada

The Fabada is a typical recipe from Asturias. The star of this dish is faba, a type of white bean from the Asturian region, which is cooked for long hours together with other ingredients such as pork, bacon, chorizo ​​and morcilla, a salami similar to black pudding .

The result is a tasty red stew, ideal for long and cold days but also to recharge your batteries after demanding excursions. It is no coincidence that this recipe was devised by the inhabitants of the mountains, of the most picturesque region of Spain, precisely to warm up during the winter.

There are variants that also include clams or hare meat.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 9,00
  • Main ingredients: faba (white bean), pork, bacon, chorizo, morcilla

6 - Huevos al salmorejo

Salmorejo eggs are originating from the city of Zaragoza, in the Aragon region. It is a dish with humble origins, as you can well guess from the simplicity of its ingredients: eggs, pork, sausage, asparagus.

Although the ingredients don't seem to have much to do with each other, the resulting recipe is very tasty, to the point of being elected one of the best known in the autonomous community of Aragon.
The sausage used is absolutely that of Aragon: very thick and spiced with pepper and anise.

It is certainly not a dish that stands out for its beauty in its presentation, but for its flavor.
The sauce obtained during cooking, resulting from the cooking of asparagus and sausage, is absorbed by the loin and above all by the egg. The result at the tasting level is that of a high-end restaurant. A very rich, tasty and decisive dish. Perfect for regaining energy and invigorating on winter days.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 12,00
  • Main ingredients: eggs, pork, sausage, asparagus

7 - Cocido Madrid

Cocido madrileño is a stew made with chickpeas, vegetables, pork, bacon and sausages. This is the dish par excellence of Madrid, originally consumed by the working class to make cold winters bearable. A real institution, it is a strongly rooted dish even in the daily life of modern Madrid.

Like any traditional dish, each family prepares "its" cocido. However, some ingredients are fundamental: chickpeas, vegetables (cabbage, carrots, turnips, potatoes), meats (hen or chicken, shank of beef, fresh bacon, raw ham bone), sausages chorizo ​​(seasoned sausage with paprika), morcilla (sausage soft pork blood), raw ham; la bola: a kind of large meatball added during boiling.

The way to serve and eat Cocido it must follow a certain ritual. It is a single dish that is served in tres vuelcos, "three reversals". First the sopa (soup) is consumed, to which fine pasta is usually added; followed by chickpeas, accompanied by potatoes and vegetables; and, finally, the meat is served together with the bola. Given its abundant and substantial nature it is a purely winter dish.

  • Recommended to: single dish for lunch or dinner
  • Average cost: € 18,00
  • Main ingredients: chickpeas, vegetables, various meats, ham, chorizo, morcilla, bola

8 - Croquetas

The Croquetas represent one of the most versatile dishes in Spain. They are more of a hunger-breaker snack, the Spanish appetizer par excellence present in any bar and represent one of the most common and popular types of tapas.

Delicious, crunchy, one leads to another, Croquestas can be found with any ingredient, even if the most famous are those of potatoes, Iberian ham, chicken and cod.
They are made by mixing a thick béchamel with onion and your favorite ingredient. The whole is then mixed in the form of small ellipses, covered with breadcrumbs and fried.

  • Recommended to: snack, always
  • Average cost: from € 1,00
  • Main ingredients: bechamel, onion, potatoes, chicken, cod, ham, oil for frying

9 - Ternasco Asado

The Ternasco Asado is an important meat dish typical of Aragon, in the north of Spain on the slopes of the Pyrenees. The typical ingredients of Aragon are characterized by their own rural and pastoral nature: in addition to markedly territorial products of the earth, the absolute protagonist of the strong dishes of the local cuisine is meat.

Ternasco de Aragón PGI is thesuckling lamb of Aragonesa, Ojinegra de Teruel and Roja bilbilitana breed which is slaughtered within 90 days of birth. This makes it an unmatched balance of flavors, as it is not as strong as regular lambs, nor does it taste less than suckling lamb.

The Ternasco is considered "the dish of the party"; for this reason it never fails on the Aragonese tables on the occasion of various celebrations. It comes traditionally roasted in pieces in a wood oven in an earthenware container, accompanied by potatoes which by absorbing the juices released by the meat, are particularly tasty. With this type of cooking, a decidedly palatable external caramelization is obtained.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 18,00
  • Main ingredients: suckling lamb

10 - Bacalao al pil-pil

Bacalao al pil-pil, "cod al pil-pil" is a typical Spanish dish based on fish. He is originally from the Basque Country, in particular of Biscay.
The Basque Country offers, in general, a very varied choice of both sea and mountain products. The inhabitants have always been skilled sailors and it is not surprising that they are specialized on fish-based raw materials.

Cod, in particular, is very popular and extremely versatile: cooked fried, in soup, a la vizcaína (with dried pepper sauce), but the favorite and most popular is Bacalao al pil-pil. It is quite simply cod with garlic, oil and chilli, first desalted and then fried in a terracotta pan. Despite the simplicity of the basic ingredients, the particularity of the dish is due to the chef's ability to treat the moods of the fish to obtain the delicious white sauce with which the dish is sprinkled.

Curiosity: "Pil-pil" would be an onomatopoeic version to describe the rotary movement necessary for cooking preparation. According to other sources, the name "pil-pil" refers to the Swahili name of the piri piri peppers.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 15,00
  • Main ingredients: cod, garlic, oil, chilli

Typical Spanish sweets

Cheerful and curious, as is the spirit that distinguishes its population, Spanish pastry is one of the most popular in the world. Based on different gastronomic cultures, primarily the Arab one, Spain offers arich and varied offer through local recipes that, despite being different in presentation, are often united by the same ingredients. At the base we often find milk, eggs, chocolate and dried fruit, harmonized in a horizon of aromas where fruity notes of citrus are expertly blended with spicy notes.

Among the many desserts offered, we recommend some:

1 - Catalan cream

Crema Catalana is most likely the best known Spanish dessert. A spoon dessert of clear Catalan origins, which has long earned theappellation of national dish next to the paella.

A very simple custard, with an unmistakable taste, based on milk, eggs and sugar, often flavored with citrus and cinnamon. The sugar that covers it is caramelized with a flame, thus allowing the creation of a thin layer of crunchy caramel to be "smashed" with a spoon. It is served in a typical very low terracotta bowl. This is the Spanish version of the classic French crème brûlée.

  • Average cost: € 2,50
  • Main ingredients: milk, eggs, flour, sugar

2 - Churros

l Churros are it favorite snack of Spaniards and South Americans: a deep-fried batter, dusted with sugar and usually dipped in thick hot chocolate.

In addition to being a snack and snack, churros are the essential must on Sunday for breakfast, at dawn on New Year's Eve and generally after a night of celebrations. I'm available all year round in street kiosks along the main streets, in the squares and in the markets, but you can also find them in pastry shops and chocolate shops.

They are served in a paper towel and enjoyed by dipping them in thick hot chocolate.
Churros are a real calorie bomb. But during a trip to Spain we can also give ourselves an exception to the rule.

  • Average cost: € 3,50
  • Main ingredients: fried batter, hot chocolate

3 - Santiago cake

The Santiago cake is a delicious one almond cake decorated with the Santiago Cross.
It is the main dessert of Galician cuisine, as well as a classic in the suitcase of pilgrims who complete the Camino de Santiago.
The Santiago Cake is easily identifiable as it is decorated with the Santiago Cross, the typical cross of the Santiago de Compostela monastic-military order, which recalls its origin.

Despite the simplicity of the ingredients involved and the preparation, it is a pleasantly surprising dessert. Upon tasting, a good Santiago Cake is one that has a very spongy dough. The encounter between chopped almonds and whipped egg white with sugar give a unique and unmistakable taste. This cake was offered to pilgrims about to make the famous Camino de Santiago.

  • Average cost: € 2,50 per portion / slice
  • Main ingredients: almonds, flour, eggs, sugar

4 - Tocino de Cielo

The Tocino de cielo is a spoon dessert based on caramelized egg yolk and sugar, compact and bright yellow in color, very similar, at least in appearance, to the much better known Crème Caramel.

The Tocino de cielo is typical of Andalusia but, in reality, it was created in 1324 by the nuns of the convent of Santo Spirito in Jerez de la Frontera, with the name Tocinillos de Cielo de Grado. Its origin is linked to the wine clarification technique obtained through the use of egg whites. The surplus yolks were donated to the nuns who had the greedy idea.

The name Tocino de cielo, which literally means "lard from heaven", has been attributed for its appearance, texture and "religious" origin. It is probably the most popular and popular Andalusian dessert to be enjoyed cold.

  • Average cost: € 2,50
  • Main ingredients: egg yolks, sugar, water

5 - Arnadi

Arnadí (or Arnad), is one of the oldest sweets typical of the gastronomy of Valencia.

It is a homemade sweet with a golden color, decorated with almonds and dusted with sugar. Its main ingredients are pumpkin and sweet potatoes, as well as almonds, pine nuts and cinnamon. It is usually accompanied with must wine or muscat.

It is prepared and consumed in Semana Santa, the week of Easter.

  • Average cost: € 2,00
  • Main ingredients: pumpkin, sweet potatoes, almonds, pine nuts, cinnamon

6 - Bizcochà

The Bizcochà is a typically Mediterranean dessert which corresponds to our classic sponge cake. It is characteristic of the region of Castilla La Mancha, is a soft dessert with a spongy consistency, made with simple ingredients such as milk, eggs, sugar and flour. It is often used as a base for more elaborate and greedy creations.

There are many versions proposed. The one with chocolate, almonds and chopped hazelnuts is definitely worth a taste. Also try the version produced in Alcázar de San Juan: a cake, apparently created by the nuns of the order of Santa Chiara, soaked in milk scented with vanilla and cinnamon.

  • Average cost: € 2,00 per slice
  • Main ingredients: flour, milk, eggs, sugar

Drinks and liqueurs: what people drink in Spain

In Spain, lunch and dinner, or simply the traditional tapas ritual, are accompanied by the tinto de verano, a characteristic drink obtained by mixing wine and soda. Unmissable on Spanish tables, especially at parties and repatriations with friends, one colored jug of sangria.
The younger ones often order the calimocho: wine and cola. No problem even for beer lovers who can find a fresh cerveza everywhere.

Given the heat that characterizes much of the Iberian Peninsula for much of the year, there is no shortage of refreshing non-alcoholic drinks. Let's see what they are:

1 - Sangria

It needs no introduction: Sangria is the eat and drink born in Spain that has conquered the whole world.
There are thousands of recipes and versions, but the original requires that small pieces of fresh fruit are added to a young red wine: peaches, apples, oranges and lemons, as well as spices such as cinnamon and cloves.

The secret to the success of sangria lies in the prepare it well in advance so that there is enough time for the ingredients to mix well and flavor the wine.
There is the variant of Catalonia which also includes the use of white or sparkling wines.

  • Average cost: minimum € 15,00 per pitcher
  • Main ingredients: red wine, fresh fruit, cinnamon, cloves

2 - Cerveza

Spain has excellent production of beers, and the ritual of beer is intrinsic to Iberian culture.
Often and willingly, all over Spain, you come across people from all walks of life who, in a bar, in the middle of the afternoon siesta, sipping a cold beer.

The culture of drinking in Spain is conceived in a distinctly different way from what we are used to: a small beer and a tapa and they are already happy! The main Spanish beer brands, which can be found practically everywhere in the Iberian Peninsula, are: Mahou, Alhambra, San Miguel, Estrella and Cruzcampo.
For those who prefer the draft version, just ask for a caña, the traditional half pint.

  • Average cost: € 3,00
  • Main ingredients: beer

3 - Horchata

The horchata is a sweet and refreshing drink typical of Valencia. Very similar, especially in appearance, to our barley, the horchata is drunk especially in the summer.

It is done with water, sugar and chufa, the milk of a small brown tuber typical of the area. Although it is perfect for quenching your thirst in summer, in Valencia you can find it without problems all year round. Ideal as an alternative to the classic granita or iced coffee, horchata can also be enjoyed accompanied by churros.

  • Average cost: € 2,00
  • Main ingredients: water, sugar and chufa

4 - Quarry

The Cava, or rather, el Cava, is it Spain's most famous classic method sparkling wine, 98% produced in medio Penedés, a small area of ​​Catalonia between Barcelona and Tarragona; as well as minor locations located in the north of the country.

The Cava is the Catalan response to champagne, a sparkling wine produced with the classic method, but with different grape varieties. The most famous brands are Freixenet and Codornìu. In mid-October, a festival is celebrated in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, one of the towns that produces it.

The classification of Cava includes three basic types: Cava, with a minimum of 9 months on the yeasts, Cava Reserva, with at least 15 months of stay on the yeasts, Cava Gran Reserva, with over 30 months on the lees. As for the residual sugar, Cava can belong to seven categories: Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Dry, Demisec and Sweet.

  • Average cost: from € 20,00 to L
  • Main ingredients: grapes

5 - Tinto de Verano

Tinto de Verano is thegreat alternative to sangria. The recipe is simple: half red wine (better if fruity and delicate) and half lemonade or soda (so to speak, Sprite and 7Up are fine), usually served with ice cubes to make summer evenings even cooler.

Literally, Tinto de Verano means "Red summer wine". It is a very famous drink in Spain, very popular because fresh and thirst-quenching, as well as easier to prepare and cheaper than sangria.

Variant of Tinto de Verano is Calimocho in which Coca-Cola is added to red wine. There is also the white version: the Rebujito, obtained by mixing equal parts white wine and gaseous. Light, fresh and thirst-quenching, Tinto de Verano, Calimocho and Rebujito are perfect to accompany tapas!

  • Average cost: € 8,00 the jug
  • Main ingredients: red wine, soft drink or lemonade

Tips and trivia: where to eat and what to avoid

Good to know: the Spaniards they eat very late. And the further you go down to Andalusia, the harder it is to find a restaurant that opens for dinner before 20:30 pm! Then everything goes accordingly: breakfast after 10:00 and lunch around 15:00, if not at 16:00.

Il lunch is the main meal, in the evening, then, nibbles here and there. In short, at dusk we go to tapear. It is customary to be with friends in a bar, have a drink and share a long series of saucers. Tradition has it that you don't spend the whole evening in the same place, but move to other bars and taverns. Tapas are miniature, finger-food versions of any typical dish. Prices vary according to the type: from € 0,80 for croquettes and tortillas to € 5,00 (and more) for meat and fish ones.

As for where to eat, there are so many types of clubs suitable for all budgets: from small quaint clubs to luxury restaurants in the most important squares, from small kiosks on the beach where you can drink a good beer to restaurants with a sea view to enjoy an excellent fish dinner. There are also large markets rich in local products and km 0!

Audio Video What do you eat in Spain: typical dishes, tips and curiosities on Spanish cuisine
add a comment of What do you eat in Spain: typical dishes, tips and curiosities on Spanish cuisine
Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.