21 Authentic Spanish Appetizers

Create a fiesta party at home with these yummy Spanish dishes

Claire Onidi By
Claire Onidi
Passionate about food and pastries since always, Claire spends most of her time in the kitchen to develop new recipes. She is French but lived many years abroad.
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Updated November 8, 2022

Bring variety and lots of flavors to your Mediterranean diet with these tasty Spanish appetizers!

Spanish appetizers

Small plates, or ‘tapas,’ are appetizers or smaller dishes served together with drinks or as part of a main meal. Because tapas are made from different ingredients and incorporate different flavors, you can order a range of dishes and share them.

People also often share Spanish appetizers at a larger party or at more informal gatherings over a drink.

The name ‘tapa’ comes from the pot cover that early versions of these kinds of dishes were served on. Innkeepers would lay out sausage or ham slices or bread, perhaps served with some sherry.

Basic ingredients such as seafood, meat, or chicken, are used and then enhanced with spices and seasonings such as olive oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Other dishes are suitable for vegetarians too.

Some starters are made with tomato-based sauces and then served with bread or crackers.

Spanish appetizers in some areas of Spain are called ‘pinchos’ – ‘toothpicks’. These are bite-sized dishes served on a bit of bread with the pick acting as a skewer to hold the fajita topping and bread together.

Tapas are often served in tapas bars across Spain, but you can easily make them at home.

For your next dinner party, try out some of our easy Spanish appetizers. The recipes are quick and easy but will really showcase some authentic Spanish cooking.

Spanish appetizers_

01. Chorizo Stuffed Jalapenos

Create a taste sensation with these jalapeno poppers that have a bit of everything – smoky, creamy, and spicy flavors. The peppers are stuffed with a mixture of chorizo, onion, cream cheese, and a Mexican cheese blend.

The jalapenos provide enough heat, so you can use a mild chorizo sausage. And there’s a tangy, creamy dip you can make too to serve alongside this dish, made easily from a mixture of lime, cilantro, sour cream, and mayo.

02. Chorizo Bites

Chorizo sausage is a firm favorite at a Spanish tapas party. And this 15-minute recipe is super easy to recreate and the ideal finger food as you serve the chorizo prices on little cocktail sticks or skewers.

A yummy, sticky sauce is made from unsalted butter, soy sauce, beer, brown sugar, and ketchup. If you’ve got a large crowd to feed, you can easily double or triple the recipe to produce a large batch.

03. Patatas Bravas

A tapas meal wouldn’t be complete without this classic Spanish appetizer!

Everyone loves golden and crispy potatoes and has their own take on it. It’s a simple but flavorful recipe and involves roasting potatoes and serving them with a spicy bravas sauce.

Hot or smoked paprika adds an authentic taste to the sauce. And the aioli it’s served with is also easy to make – simply combine some mayo, olive oil, and pressed garlic.

04. Empanadas

Crisp, flaky pastry parcels filled with a well-seasoned sausage and bell pepper filling. Empanadas take a little longer than other Spanish appetizers to prepare, but once you’ve mastered the dough, you’ll not regret the effort you’ve put into making this delicious dish.

If you can’t find the linguica sausage, chorizo is a great substitute. And the pastry is great to make ahead, as this gives it plenty of time to prove overnight before it’s filled and baked.

05. Melon Con Jamon Serrano

For delicious food that requires no cooking time and very little prep time, there’s nothing better than this straightforward but well-liked tapas. Serrano ham slices are used to wrap melon cubes – the perfect combo of salty flavors and crisp, refreshing textures.

You can use whatever melons are in season on the day. And if you’re short on time, these are ideal for making last-minute once your other prep is finished.

06. Spanish Garlic Shrimp

Definitely one for garlic lovers, this warm Spanish appetizer is juicy, tasty, and packs a little bit of a punch (depending on how much chili you use!). The garlic sauce is easy to make with good quality olive oil, pepper flakes, paprika, lemon juice, and sherry or dry white wine.

The shrimp is best served with either toasted bread, or you can just tear a crusty bread loaf into pieces. And to turn it into a main meal, try serving the shrimp with some rice to soak up the lovely sauce.

07. Spanish Potato Salad (Ensalada Rusa)

A bright and delicious salad, this Spanish food is ideal for tapas parties held in the summer, or if you’re going to a barbecue. This recipe takes inspiration from South America and combines potatoes, peas, onions, carrots, apples, and hard boiled eggs.

The result is a nice mixture of textures and flavors, and in different seasons you can try adding other fresh vegetables such as corn or beets. The ingredients are then simply bought together with some mayonnaise, salt, and pepper – and it’s ready to eat!

08. Manchego Cheese (Fried)

You’ll find it difficult to share this tasty tapas dish made with manchego cheese, which is made from sheep’s milk. It’s soft and gooey on the inside, and yet has a delicate crispness to the outside due to being coated in bread crumbs and fried in olive oil.

And the Romesco sauce you can cook to go with it tastes divine! This is a mixture of tomatoes, garlic, hazelnuts, almonds, and red bell peppers – it pairs so well with the fried cheese.

09. Catalan Style Spinach

Create a vegetarian-friendly appetizer by following this Spanish style spinach recipe. In just 10 minutes you can whip up this bright and flavorful dish which is full of different textures.

Shallots, garlic, raisins, and pinenuts add sweet, savory, and crunchy elements. And the sherry vinegar adds a touch of tanginess – substitute for apple cider vinegar or sherry wine if you can’t find any.

10. Spanish Meatballs (Albondigas)

Spanish appetizers don’t come much more authentic than this meatball dish. A rich tomato sauce is made alongside fairly small meatballs (they should be small enough to pick up with little skewers).

The locals normally use pork, veal, or beef as the meat, or a mixture of 2 or more of these for their Spanish meatballs. Red wine and paprika give a greater depth of flavor and a little sweetness to the tomato sauce.

11. Spanish Bean Salad

This yummy cannellini beans salad is a healthy and vegan slice of Spanish cuisine. It’d be great as a side dish to a main meal, or as a light and refreshing lunch.

There’s no cooking required and to save on time you can use roasted red peppers from a jar instead of making your own. Then all you have to do is combine the ingredients and serve, it couldn’t be easier.

12. Spanish Garlic Mushrooms

This quick and easy dish can be served as part of a vegetarian meal, or as tapas alongside meat or fish recipes. There is a little alcohol – some dry sherry – but don’t worry, this is cooked off so it’s suitable for children too.

Remember to add the parsley after cooking the mushrooms, and then it doesn’t overcook but remains a bright green topping to your dish. And it’s best to serve your mushrooms warm with some crusty bread to soak up the lovely garlic sauce.

13. Warm Olives

A spread of delicious Spanish appetizers wouldn’t be the same if there were no olives on the table! This recipe elevates the taste of olives and adds a mixture of colors to your dinner plate.

Garlic, olive oil, fennel seeds, lemon juice, orange, and fresh rosemary are mixed and heated. And you won’t be creating a spike in your blood sugar levels by eating this dish, as olives are very low in carbs and sugar.

14. Spanish Green Beans with Garlic and Paprika

Perfect as a side dish to a large meal or as a Spanish appetizer, this recipe raises the humble green veg and makes it inviting and very palatable. You’ll find yourself wanting to up your veg intake if you make these green beans regularly.

And this dish only takes about 20 minutes to make. Make sure that you source some sweet, smoked paprika, as it’s this spice that gives the beans a delicious mixture of sweet, slightly spicy, and smoky flavors.

15. Spanish Croquettes with Jamon Serrano

Crispy, creamy, and bursting with flavor, these melt-in-the-mouth croquettes are an easy dish you’ll come back to time and again. The delicious Spanish ham adds savory and salty tastes, and the breadcrumbs a crispy outer shell.

Make sure that you use fresh oil when frying this appetizer as this way the croquettes will cook and slowly turn golden brown, rather than overheat too fast. And they’ll last in your freezer for up to 6 months.

16. Gambas Al Ajillo

Lovers of seafood should definitely give this easy Spanish prawn dish a try. Packed with garlic flavor, you only need to cook the prawns for a few minutes in oil, paprika, lemon juice, and seasoning.

A good quality olive oil is best for this dish – although it’s better to use any type of olive oil and avoid vegetable oil, as you won’t get the same rich flavor. And try using smoked paprika if you want to add a touch of smokiness to this delicious appetizer.

17. Spanish Omelette

A popular, light meal in Spain, this omelet dish does contain eggs like normal omelets, but potatoes and onion are also key ingredients. The veg is fried first before being added to beaten eggs and then cooked in a skillet.

It’s important to flip the omelet (also referred to as a Spanish tortilla de patatas) while it’s frying to cook both sides evenly, and the recipe tells you exactly how to do this right! The dish is then sliced into pieces – like a pie – before being served with salad and bread.

18. Pisto (Spanish Vegetable Stew)

A comforting, hearty part of Spanish cooking, this stew is vegetarian-friendly and packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Eggplant, onion, chili, peppers, garlic, crushed tomatoes, and zucchini are cooked together in lots of olive oil.

This is a great recipe to batch cook if you’ve got lots of mouths to feed, or want to freeze some for another day. It suffices as a main meal on its own, or why not try serving it with crispy potatoes, mashed potatoes, meat, or fish.

19. Spanish Gazpacho

You might be surprised that this gazpacho recipe is actually a soup and yet requires no cooking time! The simple ingredients are blended together and the soup is traditionally served cold or at room temperature.

This creamy, smooth dish is then finished off with veg toppings to add some crunch and extra flavor. You can try chopped cucumbers, peppers, corn or olives, or even some ham or hard-boiled eggs to up the protein content.

20. Tomato and Butter Bean Dip

Tasty Spanish appetizers don’t have to be complex to make. Sometimes a humble ingredient, like some butter beans, can be made into something delicious in just a short amount of time with the right spices and seasonings.

And the flavor of this dip actually gets better the longer it’s left before serving, so it’s great to make ahead. It’s perfect served with crackers, pitas, or chunks of crusty bread.

21. Spanish Hamburger Recipe

You might not normally expect to see a hamburger recipe among a list of Spanish dishes. But this is the perfect appetizer or main meal if you want to dip your toe in Spanish cooking, but also like your more traditional American food.

The burgers are fried and then broken up into small pieces in a food processor. You then add ketchup and some brown sugar before serving in your soft buns.

21 Authentic Spanish Appetizers


  1. Choose your favorite Spanish appetizers from our list of delicious recipes

  2. Gather and purchase all of the required ingredients

  3. Get prepping and cooking and set your dining room up as a tapas bar

  4. Impress your guests with your tasty Spanish dishes.

Spanish appetizers - Pinterest