Recipes for the Perfect Christmas Tapas Party

Festive-Looking, Easy-to-Eat, Make-Ahead Tapas

With so many fabulous tapas, how did we choose which ones to recommend for a holiday party? First, the tapas had to have a "wow" factor – very colorful, or a special flavor. Second, they had to be easy to eat at a cocktail party – not a drippy, hard-to-hold mess. Last, most (if not all) of the preparation could be done ahead of time, so you'll have more time with your guests. This is the formula for the perfect Christmas tapas party!

We recommend staged servings. Set out 2 tapas every...MORE 30 minutes, essential if you are planning an open-house or drop-in style affair. Below each item on the list has a brief description, as well as serving suggestions for a larger party.

  • 01 of 09

    Warm Serrano Ham on Toast Recipe - Alpargata Tapa

    Perfect Christmas tapa: Serrano ham on toast.
    Serrano ham on toast. Lauren Aloise/Spanish Sabores

    Serrano ham is warmed on a piece of toast, which has been rubbed with tomato to keep it a bit moist. We recommend doubling this recipe and making "mini-alpargatas" if you are hosting a large party. That way you can prepare a couple dozen slices of baguette. Colorful and delicious, these are perfect Christmas tapas to share. 

  • 02 of 09
    Ham and melon tapa.
    Festive ham and melon tapas. Westend61/Getty Images

    Salty and full of flavor, Serrano ham makes an excellent contrast with the sweet, juicy Honeydew melon. This tapa takes about 5-10 minutes to prepare and requires no cooking. The bright green melon contrasts nicely with the deep red ham, making a festive appearance.

  • 03 of 09
    Spanish omelet recipe with ham and mint.
    A Spanish tortilla tapa. Lauren Aloise/Spanish Sabores

    The classic Spanish omelet makes the perfect party food. After making the omelet and allowing it to cool, cut into 2-inch squares and serve atop small slices of baguette. Keep the tortilla in place using a toothpick. For a variation, make an even more festive Christmas tapa by adding green peas and red peppers to the tortilla. 

  • 04 of 09
    Bread, cheese and charcuterie Spanish holiday tapas.
    Delicious holiday tapas. Lauren Aloise/Spanish Sabores

    This is a simple, but delicious appetizer or tapa that everyone enjoys. It involves very little cooking and you can put it together at the last minute. Thinly cut Serrano ham, Manchego cheese and Spanish chorizo with bread slices. Add rubbed tomato and olive oil to the bread for an extra touch!

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    Christmas tapas recipes
    Beautiful Spanish seafood kebabs. Roger Stowell/Getty Images

    Shrimp, calamari, ​and fish are threaded onto skewers, then grilled on a hot flat iron or skillet and brushed with alioli sauce, giving them a rich garlic flavor. Prepare the skewers and sauce ahead of time. Then, grill the kabobs just before serving.

  • 06 of 09
    Garlic prawns
    Garlic shrimp tapas. kivoart/ E+/ Getty Images

    One of the most common tapas of Spain, gambas al ajillo is quick, easy and FULL of garlic flavor. We recommend using smaller, peeled shrimp for a party, and serving in small clay pots or plates with lots of toothpicks and slices of baguettes for dipping in the sauce.

  • 07 of 09
    Eggplant with honey tapas recipe
    Sweet and savory eggplant and honey. atl10trader/Flickr CC

    A typical dish from Granada and Malaga areas of Andalucia, it is quick, easy and inexpensive to prepare. Slice, flour and fry eggplant rounds. Drizzle molasses (miel de cana) or flavored honey over the top and serve.

  • 08 of 09
    Creamy baked brie recipe.
    Creamy baked brie. Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

    Smoked Spanish paprika has an intense and unique flavor that is a basic ingredient in many Spanish dishes. This tapa combines roasted garlic, dry sherry and paprika with baked Brie cheese to make a soft, rich appetizer. Allow cheese to cool, then slice carefully and serve atop slices of a rustic baguette.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09
    delicious roasted red peppers recipe. Holiday tapas recipes you can prepare in advance.
    Festive roasted peppers. Lauren Aloise/Spanish Sabores

    Roasted red piquillo peppers are marinated in Spanish extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, and minced garlic. Serve on a platter with a small fork, spoon and toothpicks. Let your guests top baguette slices with a pepper and drizzle the oil and vinegar on the bread if they wish.