These simple Spanish appetizers will turn your next gathering into a tapas party!
From gazpacho to bean dip to shrimp, these authentic recipes are just too good!
I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Spain. So picking out my favorite appetizers was tough!
There are so many to choose from. It’s the land of tapas, after all!
Appetizers in Spain can be anything from potato salad to spicy wedges, and pretty much anything under the tapas umbrella can be considered a starter.
One thing that I love about these snacks is how simple they often are.
Though they’re full of flavor, they only include a handful of ingredients, letting the herbs and spices do the heavy lifting.
You can try one or two, or make a meal out of them with lots of little dishes for everyone to share.
Add some sangria, close your eyes, and just pretend you’re basking in the Spanish sun with this list of 16 traditional Spanish appetizers.
1. Traditional Spanish Pisto Recipe
This dish is a lot like a Spanish ratatouille and is made using a wide variety of cooked vegetables.
Between the tomatoes, garlic, thyme, and cumin, it has plenty of flavor.
For the best pisto, be sure to cook your veggies in the right order to prevent them from becoming too soft.
It will take a little extra time but will be worth it in the end.
And don’t skip the fried egg. When you cut into that yolk and let the golden liquid ooze into the vegetables, you won’t be sorry.
2. Spanish Potato Salad (Ensaladilla Rusa)
I’m pretty sure everyone (and every country) has their go-to potato salad recipe.
Some are loaded with pickles, others have hard-boiled eggs, and some keep it light with no mayo.
Why not mix it up with something new and exciting?
You’ll find this version in most Spanish restaurants, and you can order it as tapas or as part of a meat and cheese platter.
Filled with creamy egg and mayo, it’s super colorful, with the inclusion of peas, carrots, and roasted red peppers.
It also often includes tuna in the mix, which might sound odd, but makes for a really unique salad.
3. Simple Patatas Bravas
I’m fully aware that there are countless tapas dishes throughout Spain, and I know they’re all delicious.
But every time I visit the country, I have to have patatas bravas on the table.
There’s just something about the sauce! It’s a spicy mix of tomatoes, garlic, onion, and cayenne that’s incredible over the crunchy potatoes.
And with a light sprinkle of parmesan or manchego cheese, they’re to die for.
In some places, you can even get them served with a fried egg on top. It’s the ultimate breakfast of champions!
4. Authentic Spanish Gazpacho Recipe
Don’t judge me, but I’m not the biggest fan of gazpacho…
I know, I’m sorry! But my brain just can’t get past the cold!
However, I do know how popular it is, so I had to include it.
Made with just a handful of ingredients, it’s super simple to make and is the perfect appetizer for a hot day.
For the most authentic flavor, try to use Roma tomatoes and allow the soup to sit for a couple of hours so that the flavors can marry.
5. Tomato + Butter Bean Dip
As much as I love a big bowl of buffalo chicken dip, sometimes I don’t want all those crazy calories.
This chunky dip makes for such a nice change to what we’re all used to, and it’s a lot healthier.
Much like many Spanish dishes, it has a tomato base, spiced with garlic, red wine vinegar, and parsley.
Butter beans are a must in this, and you should be able to find them near the other Hispanic ingredients.
Alternatively, use cannellini beans for a similar creamy texture.
6. Spanish Bean Salad with Red Peppers
This vegan-friendly salad is a lovely light option to start your meal, and it only takes 5 minutes to throw together!
Cannellini beans are creamy and slightly nutty in their mild flavor, which is the perfect partner for the powerful capers, roasted peppers, and sherry vinegar.
I love the flavor and color of the spring onions, but you could use red onion if you want some peppery notes.
7. Gambas a la Plancha (Spanish Grilled Shrimp Tapas)
There’s nothing quite like a big bowl of Spanish shrimp. Cooked whole, the flavor is unmistakable and not masked by harsh spices.
All you’ll need is a grill and some lemon to make these babies pop!
Just be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand because it can get a little messy.
8. Marinated Manchego With Orange Preserve
Made in Spain from Manchega sheep, this cheese is used all over Spain. It has a mild, buttery flavor with a hint of nuts and a semi-hard rind.
I’d never seen marinated cheese before going to Spain, and it’s such a shame we don’t do it more over here in the States.
Flavored with garlic, rosemary, thyme, and navel orange, this will elevate your cheese platter in an instant.
9. Spanish Rice Stuffed Tomatoes
With the explosion of incredible vegan meals, meat-free Monday has never looked so good.
I’m not saying you should be giving up meat, but with dishes like this, it is easier to cut back if you want to.
Cooking the short-grain rice in the mix of tomato, garlic, onion, and broth will ensure every bite is packed with flavor.
Just keep an eye on it, as you may need to add more broth as it absorbs.
If you like it spicy, add in some chopped chili with your bell peppers.
10. Croquetas de Jamón Serrano Recipe – Traditional Spanish Ham Croquettes
These little bites are so heavenly, you’ll need to order double.
Rather than filling them with mashed potatoes or melted cheese, they get their incredible flavor through a jamon-infused bechamel sauce.
The key to a great bechamel is to add the milk in stages. When you put the flour in with the butter, keep stirring until it turns golden brown.
When adding the milk, ladle it in in batches and mix in well to avoid lumps.
You will need to let this rest in the fridge overnight to solidify like a chocolate ganache. You’ll want it firm enough to handle.
Once they make their way through the breading process – flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs – they need to be fried in hot oil until golden and crisp.
11. Pan Fried Spanish Cauliflower
If it takes deep frying to get the kids to eat their veggies, then so be it!
The good news is, everyone will want their fair share of these crispy cauliflower bites. They’re so good!
Be sure to start with fresh, raw cauliflower, as the frozen stuff will have too much liquid and won’t hold up the same.
This really couldn’t be easier. You’ll just need beaten eggs and breadcrumbs. Of course, the paprika gives it a lovely kick.
But if you’re looking for something less spicy, why not try dusting with parmesan or even some ranch seasoning?
12. Pan con Tomate (Spanish Tomato Toast)
This quintessential Spanish snack is often served for breakfast, and you won’t believe how easy it is.
Like many of these Spanish appetizers, the main ingredients are tomato, garlic, and olive oil. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
The key is to start with some decent, thick bread and toast it until the edges are crisp.
Then, rub one side with a clove of garlic, getting all that great flavor right into the bread.
I prefer to grate my tomato rather than use a blender since it keeps some of the texture, but feel free to blitz yours if you like.
When salting your tomatoes, try to use sea salt if possible for the best flavor possible, and use good quality olive oil. I promise you can taste the difference.
13. Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Omelette)
If you’re looking for something Spanish that doesn’t include tomato or paprika, this is it.
It’s like a frittata, made with potato, eggs, and onion, and the onion and potatoes are sliced and cooked in olive oil.
Once the potatoes are fork-tender, they need to be drained and cooled before being mixed with the eggs and cooked.
This will take a little practice, as it needs to cook on the stovetop and be flipped halfway through.
The tortilla can be served hot or cold and needs nothing more than a sprinkling of sea salt.
14. Albondigas (Tapas Spanish Meatballs)
Rather than a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, you’ll find these served in a hot dish with lots of crusty bread.
Tapas are made to be shared, and these meatballs are another favorite of mine. Since many tapas dishes are served cold, it’s nice to have a few hot options.
The combination of beef and pork with Manchego cheese and a rich tomato sauce is super delicious and such a satisfying mouthful.
15. Spanish Garlic Mushrooms Recipe (Champiñones al Ajillo)
When a dish is served “al ajillo,” it means that it is covered in a heavenly mixture of garlic, cayenne pepper, and olive oil.
Everything tastes incredible when cooked al ajillo, but there’s something extra special about these mushrooms.
Everyone knows that mushrooms taste immeasurably better with garlic, and the white wine won’t hurt either!
16. Spanish Green Beans with Garlic and Paprika
If all the shrimp, meatballs, and fried food are too much for you, then this light dish is the one to try.
Green beans are super flavorful and are often undervalued as a vegetable. But when they’re dusted with smoked paprika, you’ll be crossing forks for the last one!
I love the garlic chips in this dish, and with a drizzle of lemon juice, they’re ready to go.
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