Spanish tapas are natural-born party plates!
Originating in southern Spain, tapas are small plates of tantalizing bites — assorted snacks and nibbles — typically enjoyed over a drink with friends, sometimes as a leisurely first course, or even in place of a main meal.
These small bites are perfect for entertaining. To create your own tapas party, try a variety of tastes and textures: salty, savory dishes, warm and chilled foods, and an assortment of crisp, chewy and soft, succulent textures.
Roasted almonds, olives, cheese, bread, and seafood — sardines, anchovies, tuna, cod — are classic tapas dishes. They’re also supremely simple to prepare!
Incidentally, the word tapas comes from the Spanish tapar, “to cover,” which refers to the tasty nibbles (maybe a piece of toast or meat) that were laid over a glasses of sherry or other wine, as they were brought to the table.
Spanish sheep’s milk cheeses, like Manchego, are often served with dried fig cake or Membrillo, a thickened, sliceable quince jelly. Serve breadsticks (picos) or crackers. Lavosh — a crisp flatbread — is Armenian, not Spanish, but it is a perfect accompaniment on your tapas table.
Tapas are always a smart choice for entertaining. For one thing, you can make many of these dishes ahead of time and serve them chilled or at room temperature.
Once your guests have awakened their appetites, bring on the hot stuff.
- Portuguese Steamed Clams
- Chorizo with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cider
- Valencian Savory Empanadas
- Maria’s Portuguese Bacalau
- Santiago’s Stuffed Squid
Explore our collection of tapa recipes.
Sherry is a classic wine to pair with tapas. In addition to dry sherries (Fino and Manzanilla) or medium-dry (Amontillado) sherry, serve cold pitchers of sangria and chilled Spanish or Portuguese white wine (Vinho Verde). Here’s more on the different styles of sherry and their perfect food pairing partners.
For a big finish to your small plates extravaganza, break out custard cups of Spanish Flan — or any of these sweet treats.
- Spanish Flan
- Vanilla Port Poached Figs with Honey Cream
- Portuguese Walnut Squares
- Panellets – Catalan Potato Cookies
- Melon Trio with Sherry and Mint