Top 10 Beginner Recipes for Spanish Food

The Most Popular and Most Typical Spanish Dishes

The following are the recipes we recommend that cooks who are new to Spanish cuisine try. This list includes dishes that are some of the most typical or representative of the Spanish kitchen, or the most famous. Below each dish is a short description.
  • 01 of 10
    Tortilla Espanola, a Spanish Omelet
    Tortilla Espanola - Spanish Omelet (c) 2006 Lisa Sierra.
    The "tortilla española" has to be the number most common Spanish dish. If it is not number one, it must be a close second. If you have visited Spain, you've seen it in cafes and "tapas" bars everywhere. Thankfully, "tortilla española" or "tortilla de patata" as it is also called, is not a difficult dish, but it does take a little practice to turn it over without spilling.
  • 02 of 10
    Gazpacho - Andalusian Cold Tomato Soup
    Gazpacho - Andalusian Cold Tomato Soup (c) 2006 Lisa Sierra Licensed to About.com.
    This dish is called a "soup" for lack of a better term. With fresh ingredients like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, oil and vinegar to name a few, it counts as a serving of vegetables. Like a soup, it can be served in a bowl, although it can be served like a cold beverage in a tall glass with ice.
  • 03 of 10
    Paella de Marisco - Seafood Paella
    Paella de Marisco - Seafood Paella (c) 2006 Lisa Sierra.
    "Paella" is the most internationally known dish of Spain. It originated on the farms of Valencia as a dish for the midday meal, made over open flame right in fields and has evolved into the most well-known Spanish dish inside and outside of Spain. It comes in many varieties now, including seafood and vegetarian. "Paella de Marisco" is probably the most popular version.
  • 04 of 10
    Alioli - Spanish Garlic Mayonnaise
    Alioli - Spanish Garlic Mayonnaise. Lisa Sierra (c) 2010 Licensed to About.com Inc.
    "Alioli" is a garlic mayonnaise sauce, originating in Cataluna and served with many different dishes and as an ingredient in many more. If you are a beginner to Spanish food preparation, try preparing the simple "patatas con alioli" or "potatoes with alioli sauce" as a "tapa."
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Empanadas - Galician Turnover or Pasties
    Empanadas - Galician Turnover or Pasties (c) 2007 Lisa Sierra.
    There is no more perfect travelling food than "empanadas" or the small version called "empanadillas." They are tasty turnovers filled with different fillings. The traditional filling for these turnovers is tuna or ground meat and spices. Originating in Galicia province, "empanadas" are extremely popular all over Spain and Latin America.
  • 06 of 10
    Gambas al Ajillo - Shrimp in Garlic
    Gambas al Ajillo - Shrimp in Garlic. Gambas al Ajillo - Shrimp in Garlic (2006) Lisa Sierra
    One of the most common "tapas" of Spain, "Gambas al Ajillo" is quick, easy and FULL of garlic flavor. Your guests will be asking for the recipe after the first bite and only you will know how simple it was to prepare.
  • 07 of 10
    Lechazo (Cordero) Asado - Roast Suckling Lamb
    Lechazo (Cordero) Asado - Roast Suckling Lamb. Lisa Sierra (c) 2010 Licensed to About.com Inc.
    Tender suckling lamb roast is a favorite dish of the region of Castilla, in Central Spain. It is roasted until crispy on the outside and so tender on the inside that it almost falls off the bone. It requires no special cooking utensils and is very, very easy.
  • 08 of 10
    Cochinillo Asado - Roast Suckling Pig
    Cochinillo Asado - Roast Suckling Pig in Segovia, Spain (2004) Tony Sierra. Cochinillo Asado - Roast Suckling Pig Segovia, Spain
    "Cochinillo Asado" or Roast Suckling Pig is one of the most typical dishes in the cuisine of Castilla. The city of Segovia is famous for this dish, where the pigs are roasted until the meat is so tender that it is cut with plates! "Cochinillo Asado" is eaten everywhere - from the smallest village to the largest cities and practically has a cult following!
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Fabada Asturiana - Asturian Bean and Sausage Casserole
    Fabada Asturiana - Asturian Bean and Sausage Casserole. Lisa Sierra (c) 2010 Licensed to About.com Inc.
    "Fabada Asturiana" is a typical dish from Asturias, made with beans, sausage, ham, meat and tomatoes. If you don't have the time or all the ingredients, try this simplified "fabada" recipe, which does not require overnight soaking, takes half the cooking time and only a few ingredients.
  • 10 of 10
    Spanish Tomato Sauce - Sofrito (c)
    Spanish Tomato Sauce - Sofrito. Lisa Sierra (c) 2008 Licensed to About.com
    "Sofrito" is a basic tomato sauce that is made all over Spain. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers and olive oil are sautéed in a frying pan, so that the acid in the tomatoes mellows and mixes with the flavors of the onion, pepper and garlic. It can be eaten with rice or eggs, but often it is used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as the filling for "empanadas."