23 Spanish Recipes For Saffron-Laced Happiness

Get a taste of the Iberian Peninsula without ever leaving home

From grilled vegetables to hearty paellas to refreshing sangria recipes, Spain is home to many of Europe’s great culinary treasures. Of course, there’s nothing more quintessentially Spanish than authentic paella recipes—vibrantly spiced rice dishes with meat and/or seafood traditionally cooked in a shallow pan over an open flame. But you can capture the taste of Spain so many ways: saffron is a vital component, while tomatoes, garlic, and onion are all typical.

One of the most traditional protein combinations is rabbit and snails. Seafood paellas are also common—try our version with monkfish, squid, and langoustines. Spain has a rich tradition of chilled soups, like classic, summer-in-a-bowl gazpacho Andaluz—a no-cook soup of perfect, ripe in-season tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, and bread. Salmorejo is a close cousin of gazpacho—topping it with boiled eggs and jamon iberico gives it a savory richness.

Wines, including fortified wines and sherries, are the lifeblood of Spain, and don’t forget about the wine cocktails. Sangria is a refreshing wine drink made with fruit, brandy, and seltzer. Kalimotxo is an incredibly simple wine cooler that sounds lowbrow but is totally delicious—it’s a simple mix of dry red wine and cola. Find these dishes and more with our best Spanish recipes.

Braised Rabbit with Salmorejo Sauce

Smoky Spanish paprika adds deep flavor to this braise from Chef Katie Button of Cúrate and Nightbell, matching perfectly with gamey, succulent rabbit. Get the recipe for Braised Rabbit with Salmorejo Sauce »

Philippine Paella

Part Spanish, part Filipino, made with rich coconut milk and hard-cooked eggs for garnish. Get the recipe for Philippine Paella »

Grilled Calçots and Asparagus with Romesco Sauce

Grilled Calçots and Asparagus with Romesco Sauce

Escalivada Catalana

Akin to Puerto Rican escabeche, roasted, tender vegetables are marinated in a simple sherry vinegar dressing for an easy side dish to grilled fish, roast pork, or tender rib eye steak. Get the recipe for Escalivada Catalana »

Paella with Chorizo, Chicken, and Shrimp (Paella Mixta)

This over-the-top Americanized paella gets its smoky kick from paprika and chorizo. Why “Americanized”? Traditional paella valenciana, as documented by David Rosengarten in The Art of Paella, usually contains rabbit, snails, and chicken. Get the recipe for Paella with Chorizo, Chicken, and Shrimp (Paella Mixta) »

Catalan Asparagus Vinaigrette (Espàrrecs amb Vinagreta)

Salsa vinagreta is a deceptively simple mixture of olive oil, white wine vinegar, chopped parsley, and crushed tomato. Somehow it telegraphs coolness and warmth, acidity and richness all at the same time. When poured over steamed asparagus, it transforms the green and subtle vegetable into a sumptuous and well-turned-out dish—exactly what a great dressing should do. Get the recipe for Catalan Asparagus Vinaigrette (Espàrrecs amb Vinagreta) »

Maricel E. Presilla’s Fish with Escabeche Sauce (Pescado en Escabeche)

The cooks of Islamic Spain, or Al-Andalus, like the Romans before them, had a penchant for using vinegar-and-olive oil pickling sauces, or escabeches, to flavor and preserve everything from fish to vegetables. The technique survived the demise of Al-Andalus in Spain, as well as in many former Spanish colonies. In my native Cuba, escabeche was synonymous with sierra (sawfish), much appreciated for its firm, white flesh. You could go to any cafeteria or restaurant and always find on the countertop a large earthenware cazuela filled with fried sawfish steaks topped with an olive oil-and-vinegar pickling sauce. Cuban escabeches often resemble contemporary Iberian models, simply seasoned with garlic, sliced yellow onion and bell pepper, and some bay leaf. Because escabeches start with a sofrito, the iconic Spanish and Latin American flavor base subject to infinite permutations, it is not surprising to see that escabeches, too, vary tremendously across Latin America. But vinegar and olive oil remain the backbone of this singular, ocean-spanning technique. —Maricel E. Presilla Get the recipe for Maricel E. Presilla’s Fish with Escabeche Sauce (Pescado en Escabeche) »

Spanish Chilled Tomato Soup (Salmorejo)

Salmorejo is gazpacho’s richer, deeper cousin. Get the recipe for Spanish Chilled Tomato Soup (Salmorejo) »

Potatoes Roasted with Saffron

The pleasantly bitter and floral flavor of saffron adds a complex taste to these otherwise ordinary roasted potatoes. Get the recipe for Potatoes Roasted with Saffron »

Roast Chicken with Saffron and Lemon

Roast chicken is a classic dish all over the world. In this beautiful version from Spain, the bird is rubbed with musky, floral saffron and stuffed with bright lemons and fresh rosemary before being popped in the oven. Get the recipe for Roast Chicken with Saffron and Lemon »

Gazpacho Andaluz

Though there are many versions of gazpacho, the traditional, tomato-based Andalusian variety is the one you want on a hot afternoon or warm evening. Get the recipe for Gazpacho Andaluz »

Charred Cauliflower and Shishito Peppers with Picada Sauce

Picada is a Catalan-style pesto, made here with almonds, parsley, and chocolate—a surprise ingredient that adds a pleasing touch of bitterness to this delicious side dish. Get the recipe for Charred Cauliflower and Shishito Peppers with Picada Sauce »

Almond and Garlic Soup (Ajo Blanco)

Pungent raw garlic shines in this no-cook soup adapted from Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain (Ecco, 2011). Get the recipe for Almond and Garlic Soup (Ajo Blanco) »

Scrambled Eggs with Bread and Chorizo (Migas con Chorizo)

This Spanish-style egg scramble, made with spicy chorizo and chunks of olive oil-crisped bread, is as satisfying for dinner as it is for breakfast. Get the recipe for Scrambled Eggs with Bread and Chorizo (Migas con Chorizo) »

Patatas Bravas

In Spain, the stopgap to late-night dinners is bar snacks like patatas bravas, crisp potatoes blanketed in mayonnaise and a thick spicy tomato sauce. Get the recipe for Patatas Bravas »

Spanish Potato Frittata (Tortilla Española)

Tortilla española is everything we love about Spanish cooking—lusty, elemental, assuredly simple. Traditionally this Iberian omelet gets its heft from thin-sliced potatoes, but chef Ferran Adria substitutes a generous handful of store-bought thick-cut potato chips. Get the recipe for Spanish Potato Frittata (Tortilla Española) »

Red Sangria

For his riff on the classic Spanish wine-based drink, Jon Santer of Prizefighter in Emeryville, California, layers on more fruity flavors with French apéritif Lillet Rouge and the orange cognac-based liqueur Grand Marnier. Get the recipe for Red Sangria »

White Sangria

Choose a high-acid, no-oak sauvignon blanc or similar white for this sophisticated version of the party wine drink from bartender Jon Santer of Prizefighter in Emeryville, California. Get the recipe for White Sangria »

Grilled Sangria

Whether it’s juicing grilled limes into margaritas, charring tomatoes for bloody marys, or making this reimagined sangria with caramelized fruits, grilling your drinks will add smoky depth to every sip. Get the recipe for Grilled Sangria »

Stone Fruit Rosé Sangria

This version of a Spanish sangria is ripe with summer fruit; its light, crisp flavors complement seafood and poultry. Get the recipe for Stone Fruit Rosé Sangria »

Los Gintonic

Vermouth adds character to this Stateside riff on the elaborate Spanish-style gin tonic, while a tonic water flavored with bitter lemon balances the aromatized wine’s sweetness. Navy-strength gin stands up to them both. Get the recipe for Los Gintonic »

Hierba Gin and Tonic

At Spanish-born chef José Andrés’ U.S. restaurants, including the Washington, D.C.– and Las Vegas–based tapas bars called Jaleo, at least ten different variations on the gin and tonic are served. One of our favorites is this pretty version that’s dressed with whole pink peppercorns, citrus, and rosemary. A dry gin lets the aromatic garnishes shine. Get the recipe for Hierba Gin and Tonic »


Brisk and aromatic, celery flavors this savory gin and tonic variation in three ways: in a salt rim, in the bitters, and in the garnish. A fennel frond adds an extra layer of perfume to the drink. Get the recipe for Mother-of-Pearl »