Want to know more about Spanish food and cuisine? I’ve been traveling a lot in Spain, and for some period of time, I have also lived there for nearly 2 years in total.
I love Spanish food, and here is a list of 15 traditional dishes that you should eat in Spain!
Further down in the article, you also read more about the Spanish cuisine, and see what Spaniards eat for Breakfast and Christmas as well as some local beverages and pastries that you should try!
Eating tapas is common, and instead of having 1 large meal, you get to enjoy several dishes in smaller portions which is often shared between family and friends.
1. Tortilla Española
When we say tortilla in Sweden, we usually talk about thin bread made from flour. In Spain however, a tortilla is basically a Spanish omelette made of eggs and potatoes.
And it is delicious with countless varieties according to the traditional family and regional recipes. You can eat it for breakfast, lunch or even for dinner.
2. Gambas al ajillo
When it comes to Spanish food, Gambas al ajillo might just be my #1 favorite dish. It’s an appetizer and tapas dish with garlic shrimps that have been fried with olive oil in a special clay pot.
You will find this dish in many restaurants across the country, and it’s a favorite among the locals as well.
Swedish meatballs are famous worldwide, but Spain has their own version of meatballs, known in Spanish as Albondigas. They are usually served in a bowl with a spicy tomato sauce.
4. Pulpo a la Gallega
Another famous tapas dish that you should try. Even if you dislike octopus or find it scary to eat, I encourage you to taste Pulpo a la Gallega while you travel to Spain.
If you don’t like it, then it’s safe to say that you aren’t a fan of octopus. It’s a traditional Galician dish.
5. Jamón Serrano and Iberico
Both Jamón Serrano and Jamón Iberico are Spanish specialties that shouldn’t be missed if you eat meat. You will find these types of cured ham almost everywhere and there are various standards and pricing according to quality and age.
The cured ham is commonly served on a platter, but you can also try to eat it together with melon.
A very traditional Spanish dish that has been eaten for a long time. Its origins are disputed as well as the “original” ingredients, but basically, it’s a cold tomato soup with mixed raw vegetables.
7. Rabo de toro
Spanish oxtail stew is another traditional dish in Spain known for its rich taste and juicy meat.
8. Mallorquin Tumbet
When it comes to Spanish vegetarian food, Tumbet is one of the most delicious dishes. It’s a traditional dish from the Spanish island of Mallorca, which is why it’s known as Mallorquin Tumbet.
It consists of layers of sliced aubergines, potatoes and red bell peppers which has been fried in olive oil. It’s available in almost every local restaurant in Mallorca.
9. Pollo al ajillo
Garlic chicken wings is another popular tapas dish.
During the colonization, the Spanish conquistadors introduced empanadas in America. And while it is regarded as a Spanish food, it might have Arabian origins and was perhaps created during the Arab rule in Spain.
Nonetheless, Empanadas can be found everywhere in Spain and they are delicious. It’s a baked pastry that has been stuffed with various fillings such as minced meat and cheese.
Cod is a popular type of fish in Spanish cuisine, known locally as Bacalao. It can be prepared in many ways but is generally salted cod which can be either grilled, fried or even put inside croquettes.
It’s very common in northern Spain.
12. Pimientos de Padron
Remember that I told you that Gambas al ajillo was my #1 favorite when it comes to Spanish food? In reality, I have a hard time deciding if I love Pimientos de Padron more or if the first place is shared between these two dishes.
Anyway, these Padron peppers is another specialty from Spain which you can find almost everywhere in the country. They are usually served on a plate after having been fried in olive oil and salted.
13. Patatas bravas
If you like spicy food, I highly recommend trying Patatas bravas, which is another typical tapas dish in Spain.
Croquetas is also a typical tapas dish which is commonly found in the majority of Spanish restaurants. The fillings can vary, but it’s essentially a breaded fried food.
Last but not least, we have Paella, which is perhaps the most famous Spanish food in the world. Most people have probably heard about this famous dish with saffron and seafood.
While many think of Paella as the national dish in Spain, it’s more of a regional dish from Valencia, which is the home of the Paella. But, of course, due to its popularity, it can be found almost all over the country and the islands.
Many also have their own version of Paella, including traditional family recipes.
More about Spanish food
These 15 Traditional dishes from Spain are of course just a handful of what you can enjoy while visiting. But I think that all of these Spanish dishes are those that shouldn’t be missed, and I feel that they are some of the best foods that Spain has to offer.
Each region has its own specialties and that’s one of the things that makes it so interesting to explore the Spanish food culture. There are endless variations and delicious dishes to eat!
Other Spanish produce that you should try
- Manchego cheese
- Olive oil and olives
- Mojo sauce (if you visit Canary islands)
What do Spanish people eat for breakfast?
Breakfast is known as “El Desayuno” in Spanish, and below you can see some of the most common breakfast foods in Spain.
- Toast with tomato, olive oil, and cured ham
- Pincho de tortilla
Churros dipped in hot chocolate is a popular breakfast on Sundays.
- Crema Catalana (Spanish version of Creme Brule)
Spanish Food on Christmas
What do Spaniards eat for Christmas? Many families have their own traditions, but some of the most popular types of Spanish food served on Christmas include the following dishes:
- Entremeses (Charcuterie plate)
- Cochinillo Asado (Roast suckling pig)
- Roscón de Reyes (Christmas bread)
The Spanish Cuisine
Spanish cuisine is highly regional as every region in the country have its own food traditions, but there are many traditional Spanish dishes that are more or less the same as today.
Many ingredients that are used in today’s dishes were not yet used before the discovery of America, such as tomatoes. This radically enhanced the Spanish cuisine and since then Spanish food culture has influenced many countries and food cultures worldwide.
One thing that is similar all across the country is the way of eating small dishes, which is shared among family and friends. This is known as tapas, and while every region has its own tapas dishes, they are all eating tapas.
What is your favorite Spanish food? Leave a comment below!