Our Best Tapas Recipes
Popular throughout Spain, tapas are festive and delicious appetizers and snacks. Traditional tapas include mixed olives, fried baby squid, meatballs and chorizo. Whether you're craving briny seafood or crispy potatoes, these are our best tapas recipes.
Pan con Tomate with Garrotxa Cheese
Garrotxa is a semi-firm Catalan goat cheese that's delicately flavored and perfect for grating over crunchy, garlicky, tomato-rubbed toast.
Stuffed Fried Sardines
The traditional Galician preparation is to simply grill the freshly caught sardines over hot coals. Instead, Janet Mendel fills the tender fish with a sweet-salty ham-and-raisin stuffing and fries them to make a crunchy starter that loves a crisp Albariño. For a light meal, serve these sardines with a mesclun salad and fresh lemon juice.
These light and cheesy fried potato croquettes are breaded twice: They’re dredged in bread crumbs, dipped in beaten eggs seasoned with mustard and garlic, then dredged in bread crumbs once more. The payoff is a supercrisp, flavorful crust for the filling of soft mashed potato and melted cheese.
Garlicky Shrimp with Olive Oil
At La Casa del Abuelo, a tiny taberna in Madrid, gambas al ajillo (shrimp with garlic) are cooked in individual earthenware cazuelitas and served with plenty of bread to dip into the garlicky oil once the shrimp have been eaten. This dish can also be prepared in a skillet.
Open-Faced Crab Empanadas
José Andrés says: "I love America! Without a doubt, one of my favorite American ingredients is blue crabs, a true delicacy! And a great value, I think." This recipe is his twist on the traditional Basque txangurro (crab simmered with tomato), crossed with a Galician empanada (a savory pie). "Part of my efforts to build a bridge between America and Spain," he explains.
These croquettes are crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and an excellent vehicle for leftover roast chicken.
Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon
This timeless tapa from Spanish cookbook author Penelope Casas has everything going for it—it's sweet, smoky and savory, all in one bite.
Flat Breads with Shrimp and Romesco Sauce
Chef Sergi Millet cooks homey, regional food like romesco sauce, a slightly smoky puree of roasted red peppers, garlic and almonds. The versatile sauce is often served with fish or vegetables, but here Millet spreads it on rounds of soft homemade flat bread and tops it with sautéed shrimp.
Fingerling Papas Bravas with Smoky Aioli
The lemony aioli gets its deep flavor from smoked paprika.
To create these wonderful tapas, José Andrés makes a batter with crunchy nubs of chopped cauliflower florets, fries spoonfuls in a skillet and then tops the fritters with yogurt sauce and a dollop of caviar.
Lamb Meatballs with Mint
The bar at Seville's Enrique Becerra restaurant serves a standout tapa, Albóndigas de Cordero a la Hierbabuena, meatballs made with the classic combination of lamb and mint.
Chorizo Poached in Red Wine
Jim German and his wife, Claire Johnston, make wonderfully simple snacks to accompany his cocktails. A favorite at their restaurant is this smoky Spanish sausage with garlic, cooked gently in red wine until it's plump and juicy.
Fried Peppers with Prosciutto
Spanish cooks traditionally fry sweet-hot Padrón peppers and toss them with salt. Adding prosciutto and mint makes the peppers extraordinary.
Pincho Ribs with Sherry Glaze
These ribs are named after Spanish snacks known as pinchos. Jason McCullar rubs them with a smoked-paprika spice blend, then lacquers them with a sherry-spiked glaze. For an ideal cocktail snack, look for riblets, a half portion of baby back ribs; they're especially meaty. Or ask your butcher to split your rib racks crosswise.
Lamb Skewers with Salsa Verde
Crispy Wonton Pea and Ricotta Ravioli
Perfect for any tapas party, these crispy fried wonton pea and ricotta ravioli are always popular.
Saucy Clams and Shrimp with Wild Mushrooms
One of the specialties of Seville's Modesto restaurant is Almejas Negras al Marqués de Villalúa, a wonderful, saucy clam dish cooked in Marqués de Villalúa, a wine from the neighboring province of Huelva. If you can't find this wine, substitute any dry, fruity white.
Shrimp and Chorizo Flatbreads
Chef Way Jose Garces prepares fresh coca dough, a Spanish dough similar to pizza dough, for the flatbreads. He also cooks dried garbanzos for the bean puree that's spread on top.
Easy Way Store-bought pitas take the place of coca dough, topped with good-quality prepared hummus, fresh shrimp and spicy slices of chorizo.