Our best Spanish tapas recipes include recipes for some of the most popular Spanish tapas bar snacks: the Spanish meatballs called albondigas, chorizo and potato croquettes recipe for croquetas de patata y chorizo, the classic garlic shrimp recipe for gambas al ajillo, a Spanish chorizo in red wine recipe for chorizo al vino tinto, and a simple calamari recipe for calamari a la plancha. All so delish!
If you’re not already a lover of Spanish tapas, a tapa is a small snack plate available at tapas bars in Spain and abroad – tapas is plural – where a tapas bar crawl is the best means by which to sample these delicious morsels.
A leisurely bar-hop from one boisterous tapas spot to another, sipping vermouth or vino while nibbling on these delicious snacks, preferably in the company of new friends, is must-do for food-loving travellers to Spain.
And if you can’t get to Spain yet, while it’s a bit tricky to replicate a tapas bar crawl in your own home, you can make a spread of tapas and reminisce about your Spanish travels or dream of a future eating trip to Spain.
As with so many of our recipes of the last two years, our series of best Spanish tapas bar recipes is a result of longing for Spain, Spanish food and the delicious experience that is the tapas bar crawl.
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Best Spanish Tapas Recipes for a Tapas Bar Feast at Home
Spanish Meatballs Recipe for Albondigas
Our Spanish meatballs recipe for albondigas makes juicy pork and beef meatballs in a rich tomato sauce spiced with smoked paprika and a touch of chilli and it’s one of our best Spanish tapas recipes.
This classic Spanish meatballs recipe for albondigas will make you juicy meatballs simmered in a rich tomato sauce spiced with smoky paprika and a slight kick of chilli.
Make the tomato sauce first as you can transfer batches of meatballs to the sauce, where they can simmer while you finish frying the others. As long as you remove the meatballs from the fry-pan or skillet after they brown, and don’t continue to cook them, they will remain deliciously moist and tender.
We use our kitchen scales to weigh the spoons of minced meat mixture before shaping it into meatballs to ensure they’re uniform in size – we like to aim for 32 g / 1.13 oz – so that they cook evenly.
We recommend serving up a dish of these juicy morsels with slices of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
Spanish Chorizo and Potato Croquettes Recipe for Croquetas de Patata y Chorizo
This classic Spanish chorizo and potato croquettes recipe for croquetas de patata y chorizo makes a delectable snack with a light crunchy exterior encasing fluffy chorizo-flavoured mash potatoes, flecked with spicy pieces of chorizo, and it’s easily one of our best Spanish tapas recipes.
With the chorizo for croquettes, it is best to use fresh chorizo, but only cook the crumbly chorizo very quickly. If you have firm chorizo, you do not need to fry it off, but chop it into very small pieces so the croquettes don’t have large chewy chunks in them.
Having used panko breadcrumbs for Japanese deep fried food forever, we’re now using panko crumbs for Russian dishes such as chicken kotleti, Australian pub favourites such as chicken schnitzel, and now for Spanish dishes, such as these croquettes.
The reason is that panko breadcrumbs are incredibly dry and result in a crunchier exterior. If you want those sandy Italian-style breadcrumbs, just run a rolling pin over the panko crumbs in a plastic bag.
You want to deep-fry these at the classic deep-fry temperature of 180°C (350°F). Any hotter and you risk having dark brown casings but a cold mix inside because the outside has browned before the chorizo-potato mash filling can warm up. Please use a thermometer rather than dropping a bit of panko in the oil, which is not a temperature measurement, it’s a guesstimate.
Make a big batch, as they’re addictive!
Spanish Garlic Shrimp Recipe for Gambas al Ajillo
This classic Spanish garlic shrimp recipe for gambas al ajillo makes one of the most popular Spanish tapas dishes on the menu at tapas bars in Spain and around the world, and it’s one of the best Spanish tapas recipes.
It’s also one of the easiest tapas dishes to make at home, as long as you don’t over-cook the shrimps – or prawns, depending on where you live.
Sweet plump garlic prawns are just cooked in a fragrant, gently-spiced, garlicky olive oil that’s just calling for you to mop it up with crusty bread.
The key to creating an incredibly delicious dish is using the best quality ingredients you can source and afford. A quality extra virgin olive oil is essential, as is good fresh garlic, which you simply want to smash or crush a little in a mortar and pestle.
Good quality shrimps or prawns are a must – we buy tiger prawns here, as much for the colour as flavour. Medium sized shrimps (or prawns!) are better than big or small, and while fresh shrimps (or fresh prawns!) are best, frozen prawns (or shrimp!!) will work as long as they’re good quality.
Spanish Chorizo in Red Wine Recipe for Chorizo al Vino Tinto
This Spanish chorizo in red wine recipe makes chorizo al vino tinto, another popular Spanish tapas dish served in tapas bars in Spain and abroad, and another of our best Spanish tapas recipes and one of our favourite recipes with chorizo.
While easy to make, there are a few important things to know: semi-cured Spanish chorizo is best; use a quality red wine you’d be happy to drink; and don’t over-cook the chorizo so it goes hard.
Make sure you’re cooking the right chorizo. You want to buy a semi-cured Spanish chorizo, which will be firm like a cured chorizo sausage, but it’s not completely cured, so it still needs to be cooked.
You don’t want to use a fresh chorizo sausage, as it won’t be firm enough, and you don’t want to use a cured sausage, as it’s too firm, and will go hard after cooking. That’s not to say that a semi-cured chorizo sausage won’t go hard. It will if you cook it for too long.
Once the chorizo is ready, remove it from the heat, transfer the chorizo and sauce to a dish, garnish with chopped fresh celery leaves or flat leaf parsley, and serve it immediately while it’s piping hot, with slices of crusty bread to mop up the chorizo juices.
Simple Calamari Recipe with Garlic, Chilli, Olive Oil and Lemon
Our simple calamari recipe with garlic, chilli, olive oil, and lemon makes calamari a la plancha, squid cooked on a barbecue or griddle, and it’s another one of our best Spanish tapas recipes.
It’s also one of the easiest calamari recipes you can make for a Spanish tapas feast, yet if done correctly it’s also one of the most delicious.
Calamari is a Spanish food staple found in everything from seafood paella and slow-braised squid stew to fried calamari and calamari a la plancha, popular Spanish tapas bar dishes.
Although normally sliced in rings, we use the Southeast Asian ‘pineapple cut’ of scoring the squid in a criss-cross pattern, which ensures the calamari stays tender and the flavours cling.
Once cooked, it’s important to serve the calamari immediately with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and a lemon wedge, and squeeze on some lemon juice just before digging in.
Spanish Potato Salad Recipe for Ensaladilla Rusa
This Spanish potato salad recipe makes ensaladilla Rusa or ensalada Rusa, one of the most popular Spanish tapas dishes found in tapas bars in Spain and abroad, and it’s another of our best Spanish tapas dishes.
‘Ensalada’ means ‘salad’ in Spanish and when you see ensalada Rusa on a menu, it will usually come as an appetiser size that’s called ‘raciones’. ‘Ensaladilla’ means little salad and is a smaller size potato salad in the typical tapas snack size.
My recipe is based on an ensaladilla Rusa recipe by British born chef Marc Fosh who has lived in Spain for decades. We met him in Mallorca many years ago. I’ve made just a few small tweaks to Marc’s recipe.
In his original recipe, the chef boils the potatoes, carrots, peas, and beans. I’m not a fan of soft olive-coloured peas and beans, so I just blanche the beans and peas so they’re still bright green and firm.
The chef includes green olives in his recipe but I prefer a bit more tang, crunch and acidity, so I’ve included a teaspoon of pickled onions (see my recipe for pink pickled shallots), which I’ve chopped finely, and tiny capers in brine. If you can only find the larger capers, best to chop them in thirds.
In Spain, this creamy potato salad is typically served with crunchy mini breadsticks called picos, but we mostly serve it with toasted baguette slices brushed with extra virgin olive oil.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make our best Spanish tapas recipes, as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.