11 Foods You Absolutely Need to Try in Spain

I know I talk about Spain a lot on my blog, but that should tell you something about how awesome it is! I even have a whole post about why everyone should love Spain! Plus, after living here for almost a year, I have so much knowledge that I want to share! 

Spanish food is so unique and different than any other place. I hadn’t heard of many typical Spanish dishes before coming here, so I feel like it’s not very well known around the world. That’s not because it isn’t delicious, though. 

One of the reasons why I love Spanish food so much is because it’s so fresh. Every time you are served bread in a restaurant, you know it just came out of the oven and the olive oil that’s paired with it was definitely made in Spain and probably bought from the local market that day. 

Due to the fact that different types of Spanish food might not be very popular in other parts of the world, I have compiled a list of my personal favorites. These are the 11 different kinds of food that I recommend trying while you’re in Spain. I have a good feeling that you won’t be disappointed by any of them. 

1. Tortilla de Patata

This is one of my absolute favorite foods, period. Tortilla is one of the most popular dishes in Spain. It is similar to an omelette and it has chunks of potatoes and sometimes onion inside. It is cooked in a round dish and cut into triangle slices. Usually, the middle is still a little gooey (but not too gooey, you know, the perfect amount of gooeyness) and delicious. Often served with bread, this is a great meal to enjoy at any time of the day. In my life in lockdown video, you can see us making tortilla for dinner at home!

2. Paella

Chances are, if you’ve heard of any kinds of Spanish food, paella is one of them. 

Originating in the region of Valencia, paella is a dish made of rice and various types of seafood and sometimes chicken or chorizo. Seafood is very fresh and common in Spain, making paella a favorite among families for generations. 

If you aren’t a fan of seafood, don’t worry. You can usually order a veggie paella at most restaurants and still enjoy all the same flavors without the fish. 

3. Croquetas

This traditional tapas dish is one of the first foods we tried after arriving in Spain and it quickly became a favorite. Croquetas are usually made with ham and have a doughy center. They are breaded and fried until crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. 

Sometimes you can find croquetas made with chicken or even cheese. While all kinds are delicious, if you want to have the authentic taste of Spain, opt for the ham ones. 

4. Patatas Bravas

Also another favorite tapas dish of ours, patatas bravas consists of wedged potatoes covered in a spicy sauce. I believe they are the perfectly paired with croquetas for a delicious tapas meal. 

Tapas are a really fun way to enjoy the culinary experience of traveling through Spain. Many tourists specifically seek out tapas as full meals. There are many restaurants dedicated to serving strictly tapas on the menu. I recommend stopping by one of these and ordering a bunch for everyone to try. 

5. Jamón Ibérico (con pan y queso manchego)

In Spain, ham is very popular to use in many different dishes, including simply eating it by itself. There is one kind of ham in particular that you MUST try in Spain called Jamón Ibérico. It is a very expensive kind of ham that is cured and thinly sliced right off the leg that you’ll probably see hanging from the ceiling in the restaurant. 

These legs can cost several thousands of euros as they are made from a very rare breed of pigs, called Black Iberian Pigs, that are found in Southern Spain and Portugal. These animals are fed a diet of mostly acorns, giving the meat a special flavor. 

Often times when you order this ham, it will come with some freshly baked bread and manchego cheese. I am definitely a bread and cheese kind of girl, so anything that includes both will automatically shoot to the top of my list. Throw in some vino tinto and it’s the perfect meal!

6. Churros 

I think pretty much everyone has heard of churros and maybe they’ve even tried them before, but I’m here to tell you that churros in Spain are probably different from one’s you’ve tried in America. 

Typically when I’ve seen churros elsewhere, they come fried and covered in a cinnamon sugar mixture. Here in Spain, they are served plain with a hot chocolate sauce for dipping. The sauce is kind of bitter and runny, making the churro experience as a whole much less sweet than I’m used to. Still delicious and worth trying, of course!

7. Cochinillo 

This one may seem a bit more out-there and not for everyone. Cochinillo is essentially an entire baby pig that is roasted and served whole. The pig is usually slaughtered between the ages of two and six weeks. The city of Segovia is known for serving this dish, although in most places it is reserved for special occasions.

As you can imagine, this practice is quite controversial as some people find it off-putting to consume a whole baby big. Of course, if this isn’t for you, no worries. There are places that serve a smaller sized portion so you can still try it if you’d like.

8. Bocadillo de Calamares 

It’s a delicious sandwich that’s made on a fresh bread roll and stuffed with breaded and fried rings of calamari. Like most things in Spain, it is made fresh which ensures that the squid’s breading is nice and crunchy. 

I was nervous to try this the first time because I was unsure of my thoughts on calamari. I can assure you, this Spanish sub-like sandwich makes a yummy lunch or snack. 

9. Pan Con Tomate

This is a very simple and popular Spanish food consisting of freshly toasted bread, drizzled olive oil and topped with a tomato paste. Sprinkle a little salt on top and I promise you won’t know how you lived your whole life without this perfect combo.

This is a very typical breakfast in Spain, but it can really be eaten at any time of the day. Even if you’re not a big fan of tomatoes (me, before coming to Spain) you need to try this because there is something different but incredibly delicious about fresh tomatoes grown near the Mediterranean. Trust me, give it a try!

10. Torrezno 

More for all you meat lovers!

This is a typical appetizer made of pork with a fried crust. The meat is taken from the belly of the pig and marinated before being cut into strips and fried in olive oil. Many say it has a similar taste to bacon. Do I need to say more?

11. Any Baked Goods from Local Bakeries

One thing I love about Spain is all the bakeries! There are seriously bakeries on every block in Madrid and I’ve never had a single thing from one that I didn’t love. Whether it’s cookies, pastries or mini cheese cakes, everything is super fresh and delicious. Not to mention, it’s always very inexpensive. 

Stop into a bakery while in Spain and grab whatever yummy looking desert speaks to you and a café con leche and sit out at a patio table or sip and eat it while you stroll around the streets. 

Tell me that you thought of my list! What Spanish foods would you add? Which ones do you love or want to try someday? Comment below!

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I am a 25 year old American girl trying to see the entire world with my travel partner/boyfriend, Jacob. We find beauty in the biggest and smallest places and the journey it takes to get there.