21 Spanish Recipes Every Cook Should Know

Because learning to make sangría and tortilla española is cheaper than a plane ticket.

By SAVEUR Editors

Updated on April 2, 2024

Everybody loves tapas—those flavorful Spanish morsels that can be as simple as a handful of olives or as involved as gambas al ajillo (chile-garlic shrimp). But there’s far more to Spain’s culinary canon than sangría-soaked cocktail fare. From hearty mountain stews to crisp-bottomed rice to sleeper-hit soups like Andalusian salmorejo, these are the best Spanish recipes from our archive.

Photo: Belle Morizio • Food Styling: Pearl Jones • Prop Styling: Dayna Seman

​​One of Spain’s great unsung comfort foods is patatas con costillas, the brick-red pork rib stew that marries pork ribs, potatoes, and smoky pimentón (Spanish paprika). Served with crusty bread, it makes a simple, hearty braise. Get the recipe >

Belle Morizio

Gazpacho andaluz, the popular chilled soup that hails from Andalusia, Spain, is a zesty blend of tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar that takes on a velvety texture thanks to the addition of bread. In Spain, it's generally puréed to a smoothie texture (this recipe falls in that camp), while in the United States, a chunkier version that came into vogue in the 1990s remains more common. Top the soup with minced hard-boiled egg and cured Spanish ham, or keep things vegan and sprinkle over an extra handful of crunchy chopped veggies. Get the recipe >

Photo: Belle Morizio • Food Styling: Jessie YuChen • Prop Styling: Kim Gray

In Spanish cuisine, borracho (“drunken”) indicates that a dish contains alcohol. In this rabbit stew recipe, chunks of tender rabbit bubble away in a homestyle Catalan sauce made with sherry, mushrooms, and a “picada” of ground almonds. Get the recipe >

Photo: Andrew Bui • Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

Though traditionally deep-fried in olive oil, torrijas—Spain’s quintessential Holy Week dessert that falls somewhere between French toast and bread pudding—are subtler and less greasy when baked, as this knockout recipe from Madrid’s Panem bakery goes to show. Get the recipe >

Photo: Murray Hall • Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

Gazpacho’s more decadent cousin, salmorejo is heady with extra-virgin olive oil and velvety thanks to the addition of bread. Chopped hard-boiled egg and jamón are the traditional toppings.  Get the recipe >

Photo: Belle Morizio • Food Styling: Laura Sampedro

Named after Rita Hayworth’s bold, spicy character in the eponymous 1946 film, the Gilda quickly became a classic Basque pintxo. Served on the counters of bars and taverns throughout the region, pintxos are finger foods often pierced with a skewer (pintxo means “spike” in Basque), with infinite combinations of flavors like chorizo and Manchego cheese, tuna-stuffed peppers, or garlicky mushrooms. Get the recipe >

Photo: David Malosh • Food Styling: Pearl Jones • Prop Styling: Sophie Strangio

Meatballs in Spain are often made with veal, gently browned, and finished in a light gravy, making for supremely tender and juicy morsels to enjoy with rice or bread. This recipe for “gardener’s meatballs” works well with ground veal, pork, or a combination. Get the recipe >

Romulo Yanes

Pungent raw garlic shines in this bracing, no-cook Spanish soup of garlic, bread, and puréed almonds. The dish, one of Spain's oldest cold soups (which include gazpacho and salmorejo), dates to the eighth century. Fresh grapes, a traditional garnish for the dish, add a touch of sweetness. Get the recipe >

Photo: David Malosh • Food Styling: Pearl Jones • Prop Styling: Sophie Strangio

Paella gets so much attention that it eclipses Spain’s other, equally worthy, rice dishes—like this one-pot arroz al horno, or baked rice with chickpeas. The dish is primo Valencian comfort food, and it has pleasing Moorish undertones (saffron! cinnamon! dried fruit!)—a reminder that Arabs brought rice to the Iberian Peninsula in the 7th century.  Get the recipe >

Photo: Paola + Murray • Food Styling: Olivia Mack McCool • Prop Styling: Sophie Strangio

Spain’s signature tuna dish starts with good “tomate frito,” the silky Spanish mother sauce of plum tomatoes, onions, and enough fruity olive oil to turn it bright red-orange. Into the puréed tomate go hunks of ocean-fresh tuna, which poach to flaky perfection in a matter of minutes. And as they say in Spain, ya está.  Get the recipe >

Eric Medsker

At El Quijote, one of America’s most legendary Spanish restaurants, A few drops of store-bought balsamic reduction and a splash of cinnamon syrup enhance the sweetness, body, and complexity of the classic iced cocktail. Get the recipe >

Photo: Paola + Murray • Food Styling: Olivia Mack McCool • Prop Styling: Sophie Strangio

Chicken in almond sauce is an Andalusian stew that, when done right, evokes the heady flavors of Moorish Spain: saffron, garlic, oregano, parsley. Our favorite version adds white wine for depth and sherry vinegar for tang—and is made in a single pot. Get the recipe >

Photo: Linda Xiao • Food Styling: Jason Schreiber • Prop Styling: Summer Moore

Spaniards love getting into armchair debates over where to find the best tortilla, and what should go in it. Our staff favorite comes from Syklar restaurant in Madrid and produces a stunning, hubcap-sized omelet made of waxy potatoes fried until melty-soft in Andalusian olive oil.  Get the recipe >

Photo: Paola + Murray • Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich • Prop Styling: Sophie Strangio

Cabrales is a dry, crumbly, intense blue cheese from the northern Spanish region of Asturias. It melts into a pungent sauce for veal cutlets in this classic old-school recipe. Get the recipe >

Photo: Linda Pugliese • Food Styling: Jason Schreiber • Prop Styling: Elvis Maynard

Joan Roca, chef of the three-Michelin-star Celler de Can Roca in Girona and one of Spain’s most revered culinary figures, grew up on simple Catalan comfort food prepared by his mother, Montserrat. This saucy braise of pork ribs and chestnuts was one of his favorite childhood dishes. Get the recipe >

Photo: Paola + Murray • Food Styling: Simon Andrews • Prop Styling: Sophie Strangio

Venison is the star stewing ingredient in the Pyrenees during deer hunting season, which runs from September to February. The abundance of red wine and the long marination time tame the lean meat’s faint gaminess. Ladle the stew over mashed potatoes enriched with olive oil or serve with roasted vegetables for a cozy cold-weather meal. Get the recipe >

Photo: Paola + Murray • Food Styling: Simon Andrews • Prop Styling: Sophie Strangio

Mild, tender quail is a crowd-pleasing game bird. Available at specialty butcher stores, it cooks quickly and plays well with aromatics like garlic and herbs. The keys to this recipe’s deeply flavored sauce are the well-browned mirepoix at the start of cooking and the scant shards of dark chocolate whisked in for depth and sheen at the end. Get the recipe >

Benjamin Kemper

Drape these sardines whole over a bed of salad greens, and let the sauce dribble through the leaves like dressing. You can also use your fingers to pull the fillets off the bones for an easy pasta or rice add-in or sandwich-stuffer. Spaniards often serve sardines in escabeche as a tapa alongside a pile of well-salted potato chips and a cold caña (half-pint). Get the recipe >

Jessie YuChen

Menestra—Spain’s vegetable medley flavored with jamón, white wine, and abundant olive oil—will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about boiled vegetables, as this recipe goes to show. Get the recipe >

Photo: Julia Gartland • Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

You won’t find this homestyle Spanish dish on trendy tapas menus, but there’s a reason it’s a generations-old favorite. Caramelized garlic and crisped niblets of jamón are tossed with boiled beans to make a vegetable side that’s anything but boring. Get the recipe >

Photo: Belle Morizio • Food Styling: Laura Sampedro

It doesn’t get more satisfying than a bowl of this creamy mac and cheese made with sharp manchego and smoky Spanish paprika. Get the recipe >

Continue to Next Story

Want more SAVEUR?

Get our favorite recipes, stories, and more delivered to your inbox.