Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (2024)

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.

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Stuffed Fried Sardines

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (1)

The traditional Galician preparation is to simply grill the freshly caught sardines over hot coals. Instead, cookbook author 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.

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02of 21

Garlicky Shrimp with Olive Oil

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (2)

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.

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Open-Faced Crab Empanadas

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (3)

Chef 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.

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Chicken Croquettes

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (4)

Although crisp and creamy croquettes are made throughout much of Spain, cooks in Rioja's wine country are unique in using boiled or Serrano ham mixed with leftovers like roasted chicken, as in this recipe.

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Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (5)

This timeless tapa from Spanish cookbook author Penelope Casas has everything going for it — it's sweet, smoky, and savory, all in one bite.

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Cauliflower Fritters

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (6)

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.

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Lamb Meatballs with Mint

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (7)

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.

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Chorizo Poached in Red Wine

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (8)

Restaurateurs Jim German and his wife, Claire Johnston, make wonderfully simple snacks to accompany his co*cktails. A favorite at their now-shuttered Jimgermanbar was this smoky Spanish sausage with garlic, cooked gently in red wine until plump and juicy.

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09of 21

Pincho Ribs with Sherry Glaze

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (9)

These ribs are named after Spanish snacks known as pinchos. Chef Jason McCullar rubs them with a smoked-paprika spice blend, then lacquers them with a sherry-spiked glaze. For an ideal co*cktail 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.

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Shrimp and Chorizo Flatbreads

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (10)

Chef 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. In this simplified version, store-bought pitas take the place of coca dough, topped with good-quality prepared hummus, fresh shrimp, and spicy slices of chorizo.

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Olives Stuffed with Almonds, Anchovies, and Peppers

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (11)

"For me there is no better tapa than a really good stuffed olive," José Andrés says. "If you love almonds, use good marcona almonds. If you love anchovy, use good Spanish anchovies. If you love peppers, use peppers; I like the wood-roasted piquillo peppers from Navarra. Or if you are like me, you use all three."

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12of 21

Tomatillo Toasts with Prosciutto and Manchego

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (12)

Inspired by classic pan con tomate, a Spanish dish of bread rubbed with fresh tomato, F&W culinary director at large Justin Chapple tops crunchy toasted bread with tangy grated tomatillos. To round the toast out, he also adds thin slices of prosciutto and shaved Manchego cheese. If you'd like to keep more in line with the traditional dish, you can use Spanish jamón instead.

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13of 21

Empanadillas Gallegas

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (13)

Cúrate chef Katie Button's handheld versions of empanada Gallega, the large savory pie from Galicia, Spain, are stuffed with tuna, hard-boiled eggs, and chopped olives. The filling is held together with jammy sofrito, an aromatic vegetable base of long-cooked tomatoes, onions, and garlic.

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Vegetable Tortilla

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (14)

The key to this delicious Spanish vegetable tortilla, which is packed with spinach, zucchini, bell pepper, and potato, is cooking it on the stovetop the entire time, which creates a lovely custard-like texture. To serve as tapas, cut into bite-size squares and skewer onto toothpicks.

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Fingerling Papas Bravas with Smoky Aïoli

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (15)

This twist on classic Spanish fried potatoes is paired with lemony aïoli, which gets its deep flavor from smoked paprika.

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Extra-Crunchy Calamares Fritos

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (16)

We often think of calamari as an Italian appetizer, but fried squid is eaten widely throughout Spain as well, where it's called calamares fritos. Skip the marinara and serve with lemon wedges or aïoli instead.

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Berenjenas con Miel (Fried Eggplant with Honey)

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (17)

Fried eggplant and honey is a classic combination served across Andalusia, especially in Córdoba.

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Warm Olives with Rosemary, Garlic, and Lemon

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (18)

Chef Marc Murphy serves these olives warm to accentuate the marinade's lemony flavor. They're ready in just 25 minutes.

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Steamed Mejillones (Mussels) with Aïoli

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (19)

"This is a dish I have eaten all over coastal Chile and in Galicia in Spain — it’s simple but inspired and it will impress your guests." says celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern.

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Pork Belly, Shrimp, and Pickled Tomato Pintxos

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (20)

Pintxos are the Basque region's answer to tapas. These simple, one-bite snacks are quick to assemble and grill just as your guests arrive. Sticky-sweet pork belly; tender, meaty shrimp; and bright, quick-pickled tomato variations offer something for everyone.

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Salt Cod Croquettes

Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (21)

These croquettes are chef Daniel Boulud's take on a classic Brazilian bar food, though a variety of croquetas are enjoyed throughout Spain as well — including cod. They're crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, with plump chunks of salted fish.

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Our 21 Best Tapas Recipes (2024)

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