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Food and Drink: Classic Dishes

Listed below are a few of the many dishes associated with the cuisine of Spain. Recipes for these classic dishes and many others can be found in the Recipes section.


Pimientos del Piquillo al Ajo (Garlic Peppers) – Piquillo peppers are a favorite appetizer and ingredient in season. Often they are simply pan-roasted whole with a bit of salt and no oil, but they can also be part of more elaborate appetizers.

Tapas – Spaniards commonly go out to bars and cafés for tapas, which is a generic term encompassing a variety of finger foods. Whether the function of the tapas is to "open up" the appetite or to temper the drinks that often accompany them, they enjoy wide popularity.

Tortilla de Patata (Potato Omelet) – A frittata of fried potatoes and eggs seasoned with onion is a common appetizer or light meal throughout Spain.


Gazpacho – A chilled, tomato-based soup normally served in hot weather.

Sopa Marinera (Seafood Soup) – This fish and seafood soup common in northern Spain is often served as a main course.


Ensalada de Alubias (Bean Salad) – White beans, tomatoes, and tuna dressed with vinaigrette make a common Spanish hot-weather dish.

Orange and Onion Salad– Oranges and red or yellow onion are paired in this Spanish classic, which may also include potatoes, olives, and/or eggs.


Calamares en Su Tinta– Squid are stuffed with a mixture of shrimp or scallops and vegetables, then tossed in squid ink.

Cordero Asado (Roast Lamb) – Roast lamb is a classic Spanish dish, especially common in central and northern Spain.

Paella Valenciana– A rice dish with origins in the coastal region of Valencia, paella is now common throughout Spain.

Albóndigas Guisadas (Meatballs in Tomato Sauce) – Fried beef meatballs in a tomato sauce are often served with rice or pasta. 


Patatas a lo Pobre – Potatoes sautéed with bell peppers and garlic are a common side dish with eggs, cured meats, and roasted or grilled meat.


Arroz con Leche – Rice pudding is an everyday dessert in Spain, common in both homes and restaurants. It is usually flavored with cinnamon.

Flan – Baked egg custard flavored with caramel is a typical Spanish dessert, well known throughout the Spanish-speaking world. The original Spanish version of the dish contains very little added flavoring.

Turrón – Hard, almond-rich nougat is a popular sweet in many parts of Spain, particularly at Christmastime.


Coffee – Spaniards often drink coffee for breakfast, at snack times, and when socializing.

Wine – Red and white wines are local products consumed throughout the country, especially with meals, but also when socializing. A wine punch called sangria is popular during hot weather.