5 Simple Spanish Tapas

Can be made: Gluten Free with Vegan Friendly and Vegetarian variations where possible

10 Feb · Written by Raquel Jones


Hailing from Andalucia and iconic to Spain, 'tapas' are small servings of traditional dishes, often enjoyed with a drink in bars. In the north, you'll find 'pintxos,' bite-sized snacks on bread or skewers.

'Tapa' literally means 'cover,' and legend has it they were once used as drink covers to keep insects out. Another theory links tapas to King Alfonso X's decree, requiring food with alcohol to curb drunkenness. This practical tradition, rooted in necessity, has spread worldwide. While typically a pre-meal appetizer in Spain, serving various tapas at home can create a satisfying meal without the formality.

In Spain, there's a distinction between 'tapas' and 'pintxos.' Tapas are generally more substantial servings of traditional dishes, often meant to be enjoyed with utensils, and are common in the southern regions.

In the north, particularly in the Basque Country, you'll find pintxos, which are bite-sized snacks typically served on slices of bread or skewers. This regional variation reflects the diversity and creativity of Spanish cuisine.

These five recipes are a mix of tapas and pintxos, including one of the most famous pintxos - The Gilda. They are perfect for any gathering, offering delightful surprises for your guests, no matter the season.

Elevate your culinary game effortlessly and explore even more of my tapas recipes (in the links provided at the bottom of this page) to take your small gatherings to the next level.

Bon Profit! Raquel x

Recipe 1 - 'The Gilda'

Yields: 12 pintxos (two per person, when serving 6)


  • 12 Always Fresh Brand Chilli Peppers - MildThis is the closest I can find to the pepper you need for the recipe, and is available at most supermarkets
  • 6 cornichons (mini gherkins)
  • 6 green pitted olives, if you like olives, feel free to add 2 per stick (you will need 12 for double)
  • 6 fillets anchovy - in olive oil
  • extra virgin olive oil spray


  1. Drain the olives and the peppers. Chop the peppers to size if they are too long (although long ones can look cool on a stick! - I'll let you decide)
  2. Any order will do - you can decide what looks best! Personally, I start by skewering two peppers, different colours if I have them.
  3. Then, I thread one end of the anchovy fillet (about 2 cm along the end), letting the other loose end hang for the moment.
  4. Skewer an olive next and then fold the hanging anchovy end over the olive and skewer the other end of the fish.
  5. Cap off the cocktail stick with the cornichon.
  6. Spray for a second or two all over with the olive oil spray.
  7. Serve as is, or atop a fresh crusty piece of bead (substitute GF bread, if needed).

Recipe 2 - Gambas Al Ajillo (Garlic Prawns)

Yields: Six Portions 


  • 900 g of green prawns, deveined and shelled, but with tails left on (you can easily get this from your local seafood shop/supermarket) - this amount will give approx. 6 prawns per person
  • 375 mL olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 medium red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional, you can leave out)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • parsley to garnish (optional)

Note: I use traditional earthenware to cook my prawns directly on the stovetop. For simplicity, you can use a large frypan or, if you have it, a large clay dish that can withstand direct flame.


  1. Place frypan on the stovetop and add the olive oil to pan.
  2. Heat over medium flame until oil begins to smoke.
  3. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for about a minute until garlic begins to colour.
  4. Add the prawns to the pan.
  5. Sprinkle over salt and allow to cook - turning once - until the prawns just begin to turn opaque. Note: remove from heat as prawns begin to whiten - they will finish cooking in the hot oil
  6. To serve: pour ALL contents CAREFULLY into a large shallow bowl or earthenware dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley (if using).

Recipe 3 - Perrechicos Fritos (Sautéed Mushrooms)

Yields: Six Portions 


  • 400 g button mushrooms, keep whole
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 sprigs of thyme, leaves Only
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry, cooking Sherry
  • 100 g Butter
  • 2 tsp salt
  • parsley to garnish (optional)

Note: I use traditional earthenware to cook my mushrooms directly on the stovetop. For simplicity, you can use a large frypan or, if you have it, a large clay dish that can withstand direct flame.


  1. Place frypan over high heat.
  2. Add olive oil to pan and once it starts to smoke a little, add 2 tbsp of the butter (about 30 g) and melt.
  3. Add mushrooms and stir, cooking for 1 minute until sizzling.
  4. Lower heat to medium and add garlic, thyme and salt.
  5. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until mushrooms have softened a little and liquid has reduced.
  6. Add in the sherry and cook down until the sherry has reduced to about half.
  7. Take off the heat and stir through the remaining butter. Serve immediately.
  8. To serve: pour ALL contents CAREFULLY into a large shallow bowl or earthenware dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley (if using).

Recipe 4 - Pimientos Asados

Yields: Six Portions 


  • 4 medium red and/or yellow capsicums, cut into quarters
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt (more if desired)
  • 2 sprigs thyme (optional, for use as garnish)


  1. Preheat oven to 250° Celsius (fan-forced is fine).
  2. Place your cut and deseeded peppers, skin side up, on a large parchment paper-lined baking tray.
  3. Roast for 15-20 minutes until skin is charred and blistered.
  4. While the peppers are still hot, cover with a clean plastic bag or cling film until they are just warm to the touch. (This allows the pepper to sweat and the skin to peel easily.)
  5.  Once cooled, but still warm, peel the burned skins off.
  6. Transfer to cutting board and cut into finger-sized ribbons.
  7. Place in bowl and cover with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and salt.
  8. Mix through until well combined.
  9. Allow to sit for AT LEAST one hour (preferably overnight in the refrigerator)
  10. Serve atop fresh bread or a large crouton.

Note: Best served at room temperature

Recipe 5 - Asparagus, Jamón and Mayonnaise Montaditos

Yields: Six Portions 



  1. In a toaster, or under a grill, toast your baguettes slices until golden brown.
  2. Layer the toasts in the following order: a half slice of Jamón and then a tsp 'dollop' of mayonnaise. Then lay an asparagus tip down and cross the spear with a slice of roasted pepper.
  3. Pierce all of the ingredients through with a toothpick or cocktail stick to hold the tapa together.
  4. Serve on a large platter where people can help themselves.
ALTERNATIVE METHOD (using fresh asparagus):
  1. Steam your (fresh) cut asparagus for 3-5 minutes until just tender.
  2. Drizzle over some olive oil and a pinch of salt, mix to coat evenly.


I've shared a few recipes in the past that can add even more excitement to your Tapas Party menu. To make it convenient for you, I've included the links below. While these additional recipes may require a bit more time and effort, they're perfect for those occasions when your friends are enjoying themselves so much that they decide to stick around from lunch through to dinner!


When you dive into exploring Spanish cuisine, you'll quickly notice that it relies on a wide array of preserved foods. Whether it's vegetables, fish, or cured meats, the tradition of food preservation in Spain can be traced back to Roman times. Known as "Las Conservas," these preserved foods serve as Spain's equivalent of fast food. They were born out of necessity, allowing people to store food during times of scarcity while capturing the peak flavors of the harvest without any waste.

In Spain, Conservas are considered a delicacy. Whether enjoyed in a local bar or a Michelin-starred restaurant, these canned goods are proudly presented, as they represent the best ingredients that producers have carefully preserved. Many of these Conservas play a crucial role in classic tapas dishes. Fortunately, in Australia, most of these preserved delights can be found in supermarkets or specialty delicatessens. You can easily enhance your dinner party offerings with Spanish stuffed olives paired with cubes of Manchego cheese, pickled anchovies served with crusty bread, or my personal favourite, fat white asparagus accompanied by quality egg mayonnaise. These additions will elevate your menu without any hassle and impress your guests with the appearance of a lavish spread.