14 foods you need to try if you visit Spain

JON NAZCA/ApImagesIn Spain, churros are often dipped in hot chocolate.
  • Manchego cheese, churros, and pan con tomate are just a few of the foods worth trying in Spain.
  • If you’re craving sweets in Spain, opt for churros or crema Catalana.
  • Spanish tortillas, made with potato and egg, are a typical Spanish tapa.

  • Pork is a staple in Spain and can be found in empanadas and chorizo sausage.

Spain is a food lover’s dream with no shortage of mouthwatering fare. From salty manchego cheese to sweet churros, Spain has some of the most delectable food in the world.

Here’s what you should put on your plate next time you’re in Spain.


Trying a simple yet mouthwatering pa amb tomàquet, or pan con tomate, is a must.

Joselu Blanco/Flickr/2.0The tomato is meant to soften stale bread.

Coming from Catalonia, the original recipe dates back to the late-19th century. In order to soften two-day old stale bread, a tomato was spread across it along with a drizzle of olive oil.

The savoury treat has made its way into Valencian, Andalusian, Aragonian, Balearic, and Murcian cuisines in Spain. There are still differences, though, even in the way it’s consumed. Although it’s normally eaten at lunch or dinner in Catalonia, for example, in Andalusia, it’s more commonly seen at the breakfast table.


Churros are often enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate.

Susana Vera/APImagesChurros are often dipped in rich, Spanish hot chocolate.

Very often, the churros, fried dough pieces, from Spain are not doused in heaps of sugar.Instead, they’re mostly bare leaving them less sweet and making them the perfect pair for a Spanish hot chocolate.

Spain may or may not be the creator of the churro. According to HuffPost, some believe nomadic Spanish shepherds invented them but others say it was Portuguese sailors that discovered the treat after trying a similar treat, “You Tiao” in Northern China.

Whether or not they originated from Spain, they’re a popular dessert found throughout the country.


You’ll definitely want to order some Manchego, a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk.

Getty ImagesManchego is a hard cheese with a salty taste.

Hailing from the Castilla-La Mancha area, this may be one of the country’s most-famous cheeses. It is a hard, slightly salty cheese with a strong flavour made exclusively from Manchega breed sheep’s milk.

Manchego is common all around Spain and you may have even seen it in stores in the US. But there’s something to be said about eating it as fresh as it can possibly be and sourced as locally as possible.


Both seafood paella and paella Valenciana are popular in Spain.

Feda Wong/FlickrSeafood paella often features shrimp.

Paella comes from Valencia, on Spain’s eastern coast.

There are two main varieties: a seafood paella, which is flavored with saffron and paprika and often includes shrimp, and paella Valenciana, which often features chicken or rabbit and beans.


A Spanish tortilla is made of eggs and potatoes.

ShutterstockSpanish tortillas are a classic tapas dish.

A Spanish tortilla, or tortilla española, is popular throughout Spain and usually served as a tapa, a small plate meant for sharing. Unlike the flat, flour- or corn-based tortilla found in many other parts of the world, Spanish tortillas are primarily made up of eggs and potatoes.


Jamón Ibérico, or Iberico ham, is enjoyed as a tapa.

MARIO ANZUONI/APImagesThe ham is often eaten as an appetizer.

This type of cured ham is a celebrated Spanish product often eaten as a mid-morning tapa or an appetizer. The black Iberian pigs, from which the ham comes, consume a mostly acorn diet, making the meat taste nutty.

Spain’s tourism board recommends trying ham from each of its four origins, namely la Dehesa de Extremadura, Guijuelo, Jamón de Huelva, and Los Pedroches.


Cool off with a bowl of gazpacho, typical to the Andalusia region.

Joselu Blanco/Flickr/Attribution 2.0Olive oil and vinegar give the vegetables a satisfying taste.

The cold tomato soup, hailing from the Andalusia region, is often made with diced vegetables, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and water. It is then typically served in a glass or a bowl accompanied by bread and a hard-boiled egg.


If you’d prefer something packed with vegetables, try pisto.

Javier Leiva/flickr/attribution 2.0The dish, without added chorizo, is a great option for vegetarians.

Described as “Spain’s ratatouille” by The New York Times, this savoury dish features squash, onions, garlic, and tomatoes which are combined and cooked until tender. Peppers and chorizo may also be added.

You’ll often see pisto served on a piece of bread with a fried egg on top, and the dish doubles as the filling for empanadas.


Empanadas are a great on-the-go meal.

Oskari Kettunen Follow / FlickrEmpanadas make for a hearty snack or meal.

The empanada is a Galician specialty from the western part of the country. The name comes from the Spanish word “empanar,” which means “to roll or cover.”

Empanadas are often stuffed with a variety of ingredients like pork loin, tenderloin, shellfish, chicken, beef, cheese, and corn.


There’s a reason Spain is known for its olive oil.

Matthew Eisman/Getty ImagesOlive oil is often served with bread before a meal.

According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAOSTAT),World Atlas reported that Spain is the No. 1 producer of olive oil.

“Most Spanish olive oil farms are in Andalucía. The other producing regions are Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, Cataluña and Madrid,” a report from FAOSTAT stated.

With over 200 varieties of olives grown in Spain, the country’s olive oils have a wide variety of tastes from nutty to peppery.

Read more:15 amazing things you never knew you could do with olive oil


You’ll find croquettes in most tapas bars in Spain.

fotoedu / iStockIn Spain, croquettes are often filled with ham.

Quite simply, croquettes are a concoction of food covered in breadcrumbs and then fried. They can include a variety of ingredients, but some you’ll likely see in Spain are pulled chicken, mushroom, or cod croquettes. The country’s most-famous croquette, however, is its “croquetas de jamón,” or Spanish ham croquette.

Despite originating in France, Spain has become a popular place to find the savoury treat.


Craving dessert? Don’t miss out on a crema Catalana.

Flickr/Moritz BarcelonaThe dessert is topped with crystallised sugar.

This sweet dish originated in Catalonia but can be found anywhere in Spain. The custardy treat, made with sugar, milk, and eggs, is similar to French crème brûlée but with the added flavoring of lemon or orange zest and cinnamon.


Patatas bravas make an excellent choice as a tapa.

Leon Brocard/FlickrThe potatoes are typically cut into uneven, large pieces.

Originating in Madrid, patatas bravas are fried potatoes usually served with a sauce of tomato sauce, vinegar, and chilli.

In Catalonia and Valencia, however, the sauce is typically made without tomatoes and instead with olive oil, chilli, paprika, and vinegar.


Meat-lovers will want to try some chorizo before leaving Spain.

Wikimedia CommonsChorizo is made with pork.

Chorizo sausage is almost like a salami in that it is hard and smoky. The popular sausage, made with chopped pork meat and pork fat, is red due to the addition of paprika.

Although chorizo is a part of cuisine around the world and its origin is somewhat in question, it’s believed to most likely have originated from Catalonia.

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