What to Eat in Spain and Food Culture in Spain – Popular Food in Spain You Need to Taste
FOOD TO EAT IN SPAIN: TRADITIONAL FOODS IN SPAIN
Discovering new tastes and eating local food as I travel is an important part of my traveling experience. Experiencing culture through local foods and tastes in my case means getting better insights into societies, customs, and traditions and a better understanding of local people.
And Spain is famous as one of the best food and wine destinations in the World. That being said, traveling Spain meant for me to get familiar with the food culture of Spain by eating traditional Spanish food, sampling traditional dishes from Spain, and drinking typical Spanish drinks. Local food in Spain and local cuisine in Spain were on my list of things to do in Spain. Foods and Wines from Spain were on my itinerary!
Here you can read my Andalucia road trip itinerary, or what in my opinion are the 10 best places to visit in Southern Spain, what seafood in Spain you should try or you can read my tips for visiting Alhambra in Granada in Spain.
If you would like to taste some popular food in Spain, ethnic Spanish food, authentic Spanish food, Spanish typical food, Spanish famous food, traditional Spanish dishes, and authentic dishes from Spain, the following list of Spanish food and authentic Spanish dishes I have compiled on my trip to Spain will help you to taste authentic flavors of Spain.
Oh, yes, my Spanish food list comes with pictures of Spanish food and food names in Spanish!
¡Feliz viaje! ¡Provecho y salud!
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POPULAR FOOD IN SPAIN: FAMOUS FOODS OF SPAIN
Food of Spain – traditional Spanish foods
Spanish cuisine is probably best known for various Spanish tapas (cold or hot Spanish appetizers or snacks) including world-famous national foods of Spain like iconic jamon iberico, legendary paella, and glorified gazpacho. But actually, there’s an impressive number of gastronomic delicacies of Spain and only a comprehensive culinary encyclopedia would do full justice to Spanish cuisine.
However, here’s a Spain food list covering authentic Spanish food, typical food from Spain, traditional food in Spain, famous foods in Spain, famous Spanish tapas dishes, best Spanish dishes, typical dishes of Spain, the most popular dishes of Spain and popular Spanish drinks.
Cultural food from Spain – Traditional dishes in Spain and famous Spanish dishes:
1. JAMON IBERICO
Jamon Iberico is one of the most typical food in Spain and one of the most expensive tapas in Spain. Ruby red salted and air-dried Spanish cured ham hangs in almost every bar and restaurant in Spain. Jamon Iberico arguably stands as a trademark of Spain. Unnecessary to say, it is one of the most popular, if not the most popular food in Spain.
Jamon Iberico is also known as pata negra in Spain. If you look for ‘food made in Spain’ or native Spanish food, Spanish jamon iberico should be on your list. There are two types of cured Spanish ham: jamon serrano and jamon iberico. Jamon iberico de bellota is top-quality ham (the finest ham in Spain), while jamon serrano is of less quality and cheaper Spanish ham.
If you are heading to Madrid, taking this jamon iberico and wine tasting tour in Madrid you will taste genuine Spanish Jamon Iberico.
This widely worshiped Spanish rice dish is the most famous dish in Spain. Paella in Spain is considered to be a national dish of Spain. If someone asks you to name the top 3 Spanish dishes, your first thought most likely will be Spanish paella. This iconic Spanish food originates from the Spanish region of Valencia but it is eaten all over Spain. No visit to Spain is complete without tasting paella. In the Valencian language, paella means pan.
Spaniards savor different types of paella: meat paella (with chicken, rabbit, duck), seafood paella (clams, mussels, prawns, calamari, scampi, fish), vegetable paella (vegan paella) or mixed paella (meat, seafood, and vegetables). Although there are various paella types to meet each taste, authentic Valencian paella is mixed meat paella (rabbit, chicken, sausage, and snails). Paella de Marisco, the seafood paella, is the most famous paella in the World. Spanish paella is traditionally flavored with Spanish saffron and rosemary.
If you are visiting Barcelona, you should put on your Barcelona itinerary this authentic Spanish paella cooking class that will teach you how to prepare paella. Even better, if you traveling to Valencia, this authentic Valencian paella cooking class will teach you how to make genuine Valencian paella.
Legendary gazpacho is basically a cold tomato soup but beyond any question, this famous dish from Spain goes among the top 10 Spanish foods and is one of the best tomato soups in the World overall. Spanish gazpacho originates from Andalusia but over time has become a Spanish national dish beloved by all Spaniards and beyond. Gazpacho is traditionally drunk from a glass or traditional Spanish bowl and it comes as an appetizer in Spain. Spanish gazpacho is a classic tapa dish and the ultimate summer soup in Spain.
Spanish salmorejo is another popular Spanish dish. Salmorejo is a version of gazpacho originally coming from the town of Cordoba in Andalusia. It is made of pureed tomatoes, bread, garlic, and vinegar. Salmorejo is served with chopped egg or ham on the top.
But if you are a vegetarian, you can order salmorejo without topping ham. Personally, I prefer salmorejo to gazpacho. In my opinion, salmorejo is one of the best Spanish food. Salmorejo recipe is one of the recipes from Spain I took home with me.
If you are taking a trip to Seville and want to learn how to prepare authentic Andalucian salmorejo, this Spanish cooking class is for you.
5. TORTILLA ESPANOLA
Spanish tortilla or also called Spanish omelette is the most common food in Spain and one of the most popular food in Spain too. Moreover, tortilla de patatas is another national dish of Spain and the typical food of Spain. Spanish tortilla Espanola is a simple tapas dish made of slow-cooked caramelized onions and potatoes in olive oil and eggs. This famous food from Spain looks more like a quiche than an omelet. Tortilla Espanola is served sliced or squeezed between bread into a sandwich (called bocadillo in Spanish).
When we talk about tapas food in Spain and common foods of Spain, Spanish croquettes are on the list for sure. Crispy croquettes are a typical Spanish tapa. Spanish croquettes are fried breadcrumbs and food leftovers tied with potatoes and bechamel sauce. Croquettes in Spain are made with jamon (cured ham), bacalao (codfish), creamy cheese (queso), local black sausage (morcilla) or Spanish blue cheese (queso de Cabrales).
7. PAN CON TOMATE
Spanish bread with tomatoes might sound like a simple dish, but it is one of the most famous dishes in Spain and exceptionally toothsome! Pan con tomate is literally toasted bread with fresh grated tomatoes sprinkled with salt and olive oil. This quick and easy Spanish tapa is eaten for breakfast, but also at nights as an appetizer. Pan con tomate is also called pan tumaca. Remember, pan con tomate might be common Spanish foods and might seem like a humble dish, but trust me it is not humble in taste at all. Quite opposite, it is divine! Top Spanish food, again!
Bocadillo is a traditional Spanish sandwich made with baguette-like bread. These high in demand Spanish sandwichs are the most common Spanish food eaten literally everywhere in Spain: from Spanish taverns, tapas bars, cafeterias, and restaurants to Spanish homes. This famous Spanish snack comes in many forms. The most popular types of bocadillos are omelet bocadillos, cold meat bocadillos, vegetarian bocadillos, egg bocadilllos, fish bocadillos, cheese bocadillos, and even sweet bocadillos. For sure, these popular Spanish snacks are one od favorite Spanish food ever!
Spain is not in love with only big sandwiches – bocadillos, but with tiny Spanish sandwiches – montaditos as well. Montaditos are popular Spanish foods eaten in every food corner in Spain. You know the expression: ‘good things come in small packages’. Well, try Spanish finger food!
10. RABO DE TORRO
Talking about delicacies in Spain and Spanish food in Spain, ‘rabo de torro’ takes a special place in traditional Spanish cuisine. The bull’s tail stew is an authentic Spanish dish and one of Spanish meat dishes that is widely prepared in Spanish homes. Rabo de torro is made by slowly cooking oxtail flavored with red wine, garlic, and thyme at low temperatures. This typical Spanish dish comes from the town of Cordoba. Once a working-class meal of Spain, rabo de torro has become a leading delicacy of Spanish gastronomy and one of the top Spanish dishes.
The list of Spanish food from Spain wouldn’t be complete without Iberico chorizo. Spanish pork sausage with sweet and spicy paprika flavor is called chorizo. To be more precise, this fresh or cured Spanish sausage is made of chopped pork marinated in pimenton (Spanish paprika), herbs, spices, and white wine and represents typical Spain’s food. Spanish chorizo is one of the common foods in Spain and it is eaten alone with bread, or as an ingredient of many popular Spanish dishes. Yes, chorizo comes in many common Spanish dishes and traditional foods from Spain, since it is a kind of food that blends well with almost everything. Spanish chorizo is one of those Spain culture foods that come in different variations: sweet, spicy, smoked, unsmoked, fresh and dry-cured.
12. PULPO A LA GALLEGA
Galician style octopus is one of the delicious and typical Spanish dishes that come from the Galicia region and today is one of the most famous hispanic dishes. To keep it short, pullpo a la gallega is boiled octopus, soaked in paprika, salt, and olive oil. This tender and mouthwatering Spanish tapa is traditionally served on a wooden platter. One of the Spanish delicacies again! Yummy!
13. GAMBAS AL AJILLO
Gambas are prawns in Spanish and ajillo is garlic in Spanish. When you cook Spanish prawns with roasted garlic, olive oil, and small chili in a small clay pot you get a Spanish dish called gambas al ajillo. Spanish garlic prawns are popular Spanish tapas and one of those typical dishes in Spain that originally comes from Andalusia but nowadays you can find it in every tapas bar in Spain. If you are a seafood lover like me and you are up for some good Spanish food, no way you can’t get wrong with gambas al ajillo!
If you taking a vacation in Malaga, in this evening tapas and wine tour in Malaga you will sample traditional Spanish tapas with fine Andalusian wines.
14. BOQUERONES FRITOS
Spanish fried anchovies are on the menu of all tapas bars in Spain. Boquerones fritos are one of the most popular foods in Spain. Best fried anchovies you can find in chirinquitos (Spanish beachfront bars). If you are in Barcelona or on the Costa de Sol, look for a chirinquito and don’t think twice to order boquerones fritos. This typical Spanish food will make you ask for more.
15. EL ARROZ NEGRO
Italy has ‘risotto al nero di seppia‘. Montenegro and my homeland Croatia have ‘crni rižoto od sipe‘. And Spain has ‘el arroz negro‘. In each case, it is a rice dish prepared of white rice with black squid ink, squid or cuttlefish, olive oil, and seafood broth. In Spain ‘el arroz negro‘ is sometimes called ‘black paella‘, although it is a risotto, not paella. Spanish black risotto originates from Valencia and Catalonia. Therefore, when in Barcelona or Valencia, don’t forget to try ‘el arroz negro‘.
16. GARBANZOS CON ESPINACAS
Spanish style spinach with chickpeas is a simple Spanish vegetarian dish. Even more, garbanzos con espinacas is a healthy Spanish vegan tapa. This traditional Spanish tapa comes, guess from where: Andalusia, again. Seville is the hometown of garbanzos con espinacos. If you are in Seville, you should order garbanzos con espinacas – a typical tapa from Seville!
Breadsticks called picos are popular Spanish snacks that come with soups and salads in Spain. Thus, when you order gazpacho or salmorejo, expect to get picos with them too. But, equally important, these crunchy snacks are simply enjoyed with a bowl of olives and a glass of wine in bars and restaurants across Spain.
If you seek to taste something somewhat bizarre but delicious, you should try Spanish caracoles (snails). Snail tapas might look and sound odd, but you might be surprised to find out that snails in Spain are Spanish traditional food, common Spanish tapas and even more favorite spring tapas in Spain. If you travel Spain in the season of snail tapas (in May and June) and want to try one of the unique dishes from Spain, make sure to check out this exceptional Spanish tapa dish. Read more about my experience of eating snails in Spain: Eating Snail Tapas in Spain
19. MANCHEGO CHEESE
Queso Manchego is an authentic Spanish cheese made of milk of the Manchega sheep from the La Mancha region in central Spain. Needless to say, Manchego cheese is the most popular Spanish cheese and should be on any Spanish foods list. This semi-hard cheese is characterized by sweet caramel and nutty flavor. Spanish Manchego goes well with toasted almonds, honey, and fruits. But most commonly Manchego in Spain is served with membrillo (quince paste). If you are after food products from Spain and some of the best and most famous food in Spain, you need to try queso Manchego!
20. CHURROS CON CHOCOLATE
When talking about traditional food from Spain and popular food in Spain, on the list should be popular desserts in Spain too. So, let’s talk about authentic Spanish desserts. Churros with chocolate are undeniably Spanish favorite dessert. Actually, Spaniards eat their beloved churros daily while sipping coffee for breakfast. Typical Spanish breakfast includes dipping churros in dark chocolate. Coffee and some sweets for breakfast? I am in. And what about you?
21. TORTAS DE ACEITE
Spanish olive oil tortas are famous Spanish biscuits made of wheat flour, white egg, sugar and olive oil with anis, sesame seeds, and almonds. Although these crispy sweet wafers originate from southern Spain, today tortas de aceite are enjoyed all over Spain.
22. CREMA CATALANA
France has creme brulee, and Spain has crema catalana. Spanish custard with a caramel topping is one of the most popular Spanish desserts. This creamy Spanish dessert is made only of milk and eggs, and with just a little bit of cornstarch to thicken the texture. Authentic Crema Catalana is flavored with lemon peels and cinnamon sticks. A perfect fit for a king!
Turron is the most famous Spanish sweets. Spanish turron is a nougat candy made of sugar, eggs, honey, and roasted nuts, most commonly almonds but sometimes pistachios too. There are two main types of turron: turron de Alicante (or turron duro) and turron de Jijona (or turron blando). Turron de Alicante is hard and brittle, while turron de Jijona is soft and chewy. Just to mention, Spain is the biggest exporter of turron in the World, although ‘torrone’ (how it is called in Italy) is super popular foods in Italy too . Don’t forget to try turron while in Spain!
Popular Spanish cuisine consists of popular Spain food and popular Spain drinks. Thus, it’s time to talk about authentic Spanish drinks. I believe, Spanish Sangria doesn’t need any special introduction. Sangria is probably the most famous Spanish drink ever.
Red wine with sweet chopped fruit with orange juice or brandy makes a divine mix. Vacation in Spain without Sangria is not a vacation in Spain at all. Amen!
25. TINTO DE VERANO
Tinto de Verano is another classic Spanish drink that comes on the list of famous Spanish foods and drinks. When you mix red wine with lemon soda you get one of the most refreshing drinks you will ever taste. Tinto de Verano is popularly known as ‘Spanish summer wine‘. The name says it all.
Spain + summer + wine = ♥
26. CAVA WINE
Talking about foods and wines from Spain cava wine can’t be missed out. This authentic Spanish sparkling wine is similar to French Champagne. Cava wines originate from the Catalonia region in Spain but these days famous ‘Spanish champagne‘ is produced also in Aragon, La Rioja, Basque Country, Castile and Leon, Extremadura, Valencia, and Navarre. Cava wines come as blanc or rose and best go with Manchego cheese, Spanish seafood, egg dishes, and fruit-based desserts.
27. SHERRY WINE
Spanish Sherry is authentic Spanish wine originating from the town of Jerez in Andalucia. In fact, the name Sherry is an anglicized version of Jerez. Authentic sherry wine is a sweet dessert wine made of white grapes. Sherry wine varies from driest Sherry Fino and light Sherry Manzilla, rich in flavor Sherry Manzilla Posada, medium sweetened Sherry Amontillado, darker in color Sherry Oloroso and Palo Cortado, to sweet black Jerez Dulce. Sweet Sherry makes sweet memories of Spain, for sure!
If you happen to be in Seville and have limited time, in this Cadiz and Jerez sherry tasting day trip from Seville you will savor first quality sherry.
If you prefer beer to wine, cold Spanish beer goes well with Spanish tapas as well. And Spain doesn’t lack good beers. That being so, Spaniards are one of the biggest beer-drinking nations in the World.
There are many good-quality Spanish beers to choose from. The most popular Spanish beers are Estrella Galicia (from Coruna), Alhambra (from Granada), Mahou (from Madrid), San Miguel (from Madrid), Cruz Campo (from Madrid) and Ambar (from Zaragoza).
SPANISH FOOD COOKBOOKS TO READ
FOOD TOURS IN SPAIN
If you are traveling to Spain, you should consider taking some great authentic food tours in Spain and sampling some authentic Spain dishes with authentic Spanish wines: from authentic tapas tour, Spanish wines tasting tour, Spanish food cooking class to traditional Spanish dinner with a flamenco show and more.
Learn how to cook authentic Spanish paella in Spain, have a glass or two of the finest Spanish sherry in Spain, explore Spanish local food markets …
Discover authentic Spain in a unique way. Try some typical dishes from Spain and Spain popular dishes, have fun in Spain and make the most of your trip to Spain.
Have a good time in Spain with authentic foods from Spain!
Beyond any doubt, Spanish food and drink will spice up your Spanish vacation.
FOOD TOURS IN MADRID
If you are traveling to Madrid, you should check out some of the awesome culinary tours or Spanish cooking classes in Madrid:
FOOD TOURS IN BARCELONA
If you are on your way to Barcelona, make sure to check some of Spanish food tours or cooking classes in Barcelona:
FOOD TOURS IN VALENCIA
Valencia provides some great Spanish food cooking classes and culinary tours too:
FOOD TOURS IN VIGO
If you are in Vigo, here’s an excellent trekking and food tour:
FOOD TOURS IN MALAGA
Malaga is a great place for some Spanish foods culinary tours too:
FOOD TOURS IN GRANADA
Visiting Alhambra and exploring Spanish food in Granda will make you want to stay forever in Spain:
FOOD TOURS IN SEVILLE
Royal Seville doesn’t lack first-class Spanish food culinary tours:
FOOD TOURS IN ZARAGOZA
Zaragoza is charming. Especially if you tour Zaragoza with a wine tasting and tapas tour:
FOOD TOURS IN PALMA DE MALLORCA
Sunny Mallorca offers some tasty Spanish food tours too:
FOOD TOURS IN SAN SEBASTIAN
Grab your pintxo in a food tour in San Sebastian:
BASIC VOCABULARY FOR EATING IN SPAIN
Some basic Spanish vocabulary to help you to navigate easier through Spanish gastronomy and Spain foods:
Drink in Spanish is la bebida.
Food in Spanish is la comida.
Snack in Spanish is el tentempie, or la merineda.
Breakfast in Spanish is called desayuno. Typical Spanish breakfast consists of coffee and pastry.
Lunch in Spanish is called comida. Spanish comida comes between 2 pm and 4 pm. Typical Spanish lunch consists of soup and salad as the first course, meat or fish as the second course, and pastry, cake or fruit as dessert.
Dinner in Spanish is called cena. In Spain dinner comes from 9 pm until 11 pm. Spanish dinner is much lighter than lunch. Typical Spanish dinner consists of selections of salads, sandwiches or tapas.
POPULAR SPANISH FOOD ON INSTAGRAM
To end, don’t forget to check out popular Spanish food on Instagram (the #spanishfood hashtag) for some Instagram food inspiration.
I have just checked out some hashtags about popular food in Spain. Solely the paella hashtag (#paella) has more than two million and two thousand posts on Instagram and the sangria Instagram hashtag (#sangria) leads with two million and nine thousand Instagram posts.
But if you play and mix some Instagram hashtag and Instagram captions related to Spain and Spanish food aka Espana food, the number of Instagram posts about popular food in Spain goes enormously up.
Well. Spain, Spanish vacation, and Spanish food are definitely inseparable. And with a good reason. There’s no good vacation without good food. And, Spain and food from Spain beat many ethnic cuisines in the World.
PS: I hope you liked my introductory guide to Spanish food with Spanish food pictures and Spanish food names!
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
Paella (Spanish rice dish) is widely accepted as the national dish of Spain. But gazpacho (Spanish cold tomato soup) and tortilla de patatas or Tortilla Espanola (Spanish omelet) are also considered among Spaniards as national dishes of Spain.
Spain is best known for jamon iberico, paella, gazpacho, tortilla espanola, pan con tomate, pullpo a la gallega, bocadillos, montaditos, rabo de torro, Iberico chorizo, salmorejo, montaditos, churros.
Popular food in Spain is Spanish ham (jamon iberico), Spanish rice dish (paella), Spanish tomato soup (gazpacho), Spanish omelet (tortilla espanola), Spanish sandwiches (bocadillos), Spanish finger food sandwiches (montaditos), Galician octopus (pullpo a la gallega), Spanish sausage (Iberico chorizo), Spanish garlic prawns (gambas al ajillo), Spanish spinach with chickpeas (garbanzos con espinacas), Spanish cooked oxtail (rabo de torro), Spanish fried anchovies (boquerones fritos), Spanish croquettes (croquetas), Spanish cooked snails (caracoles), Spanish snails in tomato sauce (cabrillas en tomate), Spanish fried fish (pescaito frito), Spanish Manchego cheese (queso Manchego), Spanish fried-dough pastry (churros), Spanish custard (crema Catalana), and Spanish nougat candy (turron).
Paella originates from the Spanish region of Valencia but it is eaten all over Spain and it is considered as a national dish of Spain.