Five Traditional Dishes to Try in Spain

One of the easiest ways to really get to know a country and delve into its culture is to sample the local food. So whether you’re visiting Spain for just one day as part of a Mediterranean cruise or you’re spending your whole holiday there, don’t pass up the chance to savour these mouth-watering top 5 traditional dishes in Spain. A must for all foodies!

Top 5 Traditional Dishes in Spain


The first in our list of top 5 traditional dishes in Spain is paella. There’s a reason it is Spain’s national dish – it’s delicious! This hearty main meal is best enjoyed in seafront restaurants in Valencia (where the dish originated) where it’s served up at your table in a huge wok-style pan with the ingredients sizzling away. Rice, stock, saffron and a selection of local vegetables and seasonings always feature in paella, but there are many different variations of it. Paella Valenciana (the original) includes chicken, rabbit and snails, but you can also get vegetarian paella, seafood paella and mixed paella which is a combination of all three, too.

Top 5 Traditional Dishes in Spain: Seafood paella with lot of colourful vegetables
Seafood paella with lot of colourful vegetables, image via Flickr, Philippe Gama / CC BY 2.0


Although Germany might be the first country which springs to mind when you think of sausages, Spain certainly holds its own when it comes to this type of casual cuisine. Known in Spain as ‘salchichas’, Spanish sausages take all shapes and forms – from the smoky chorizo and peppery fuet to the sweet blood sausage morcilla and the cured salchichón. Some sausages are sliced thinly and used as sandwich fillings, whilst others are served in small dishes as tapas or used as ingredients in stews. As a result, you could easily eat sausages for every meal of the day in Spain!

Top 5 Traditional Dishes in Spain: A tapas dish of thick slices of chorizo
A tapas dish of thick slices of chorizo, image via Flickr, Jules Morgan / CC BY 2.0

Churros con Chocolate

Can you think of a better way to start your morning than with long, thick strips of crispy-on-the-outside fluffy-on-the-inside pastry dipped into a rich and thick hot chocolate? If you answered ‘no’, then you’d best make your way to Madrid, where you’ll find some of the very best churro cafes in Spain. This staple meal is served for breakfast in almost every Spanish café in the country, but be warned – it’s not one for the health conscious as the pastries are deep-fried in dough and then rolled in sugar to get their amazing texture and flavour. But on the bright side, all those calories at breakfast will give you more than enough energy to explore the city’s iconic sites!

Top 5 Traditional Dishes in Spain: Start your day with churros con chocolate!
Start your day with churros con chocolate! Image via flickr, x_tine / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Jamón Ibérico

If you’ve ever visited Spain, you could have easily looked over jamón ibérico as being just plain old ham – but it’s so much more than that. Jamón ibérico is said to be the finest ham in the world, made from pigs which are a minimum 50% Iberian. This type of ham is sliced tissue-thin and is characterised by small veins of fat which run along the outside and through the ham, bursting with the sweet, nutty flavour this incredible sandwich meat is known for.

Top 5 Traditional Dishes in Spain: A plate of tissue-thin jamón ibérico
A plate of tissue-thin jamón ibérico, image via Flickr, Zachary Leetch / CC BY 2.0

Gambas al Ajillo

Even if you’re not much of a seafood lover, gambas al ajillo is one dish you’ve simply got to try whilst you’re in Spain. Another staple you’ll see on most tapas menu, gambas al ajillo simply translates into English as ‘prawns with garlic’, but it’s the way the dish is served that really makes it deserve a place on this list. Find a good tapas restaurant to order your gambas al ajillo from and they’ll arrive at your table in a small terracotta dish, with the prawns, olive oil and garlic still sizzling, sending the most amazing smells across the restaurant which are guaranteed to make all other diners incredibly jealous.

Top 5 Traditional Dishes in Spain: Sizzling gambas al ajillo
Sizzling gambas al ajillo, image via Flickr, Trevor Huxham / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

About Nicola Quinn


Nicola is a travel and food writer living in the Canary Islands who loves exploring far-off places, pushing herself to the limit and trying local eats wherever she goes.

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2 Responses

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