20 Terrific Tapas Recipes to Turn Heads

Let’s face it, sometimes the most exciting part of the meal are the hors d’oeuvres. Chefs have to be both more meticulous and creative, because they only have a bite or two to make the flavors shine. More often than not, chef take advantage of this challenge and create dishes that are not only delicious but just downright fun.

Eating tapas multiplies the fun, allowing you to consume entire meals composed of many small dishes, designed to be shared with others. Tapas bars are now so prolific and iconic as to have popularized a unique cuisine in and of itself that has spread globally. The Spanish may have spent a couple hundred years perfecting the classics, but since creativity knows no country, we’ve also gathered up some untraditional (and equally delicious) tapas recipes that are in the spirit of the classics. Our tapas drink of choice? Sangria, sangria, sangria for all to share!

Herb and Citrus Marinated Olives

Salty and irresistible, use whatever herbs are in-season and enjoy year-round. (Recipe and photo: Magnolia Days)

Herb and Citrus Marinated Olives

Tortilla Espanola

No, not what you wrap a taco in! Traditionally made with only three ingredients (egg, onion and potato) the Spanish tortilla allows flexibility to add flavor highlights. (Recipe and photo: Confessions of a Foodie)

Tortilla Espanola

Gambas Al Ajillo

Garlic-studded and gleaming, these shrimp are perfect on their own, or even better with a crust of bread to sop up the sauce. (Recipe and photo: No Recipes)

Gambas Al Ajillo

Blistered Padrón Peppers with Buttermilk Aioli

Unpredictably spicy or mild, padron peppers are a hit for those whose taste buds like a little spice action. (Recipe and photo: Kitchen Confidante)

Blistered Padrón Peppers with Buttermilk Aioli

Bacon Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese

Bite-sized pockets of happiness. Make double what you think you’ll need because these will be gone in 30 seconds flat. (Recipe and photo: Mother Thyme)

Bacon Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese

Patatas Bravas

Never let it be said that the Spanish cannot appreciate a good potato. Once again the star, crispy cubed potatoes are complemented but not overpowered by a homemade tomato sauce. (Recipe and photo: Simone’s Kitchen)

Patatas Bravas

House-Cured Anchovies (Boquerones)

Cure your own fresh anchovies (not canned!) for a delicate flavor that won’t overpower the roasted red peppers. (Recipe and photo: Wild Greens and Sardines)

House-Cured Anchovies (Boquerones)

Manchego and Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Mushrooms

Whether you love or hate mushrooms on their own, it’s a fact that cheese somehow makes anything and everything exceedingly better. (Recipe and photo: Little Ferraro Kitchen)

Manchego and Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Mushrooms

Easy Spanish Paella

This no-fuss version of a classic, notoriously attention-consuming Spanish dish is great for sharing or makes a filling dinner on its own. (Recipe and photo: Panning the Globe on NoshOn.It)

Easy Spanish Paella

Classic Spanish Flan

What would a fancy dinner be without dessert? Creamy flan is satisfying but still light enough to enjoy even after a large meal. Because really, with so many tasty tapas options, you can’t be blamed for over-ordering. (Recipe and photo: May I Have That Recipe on NoshOn.It)

Classic Spanish Flan

Peach, Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Crostini

We (and the Spanish too) are big fans of topping bread with deliciousness of all kinds. Peaches and honey add a sweetness that makes this a great starter tapa while caramelized onions and goat cheese provide savory depth. (Recipe and photo: Something New for Dinner)

Peach, Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Crostini

Fried Olives Stuffed with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese

Yes, you can and should stuff olives with that many things. And then fry them, because why not go all out while you’re at it? (Recipe and photo: Host the Toast)

Fried Olives Stuffed with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese

Watermelon Salad Bites

Bite sized salad = much easier to share and nibble on. (Recipe and photo: From Away)

Watermelon Salad Bites

Potato Bites with Ricotta & Corn Relish

Cheese, corn, and potatoes are all ingredients you might expect in a hearty country meal but the flavors pair just as nicely in sophisticated layers of grilled potato rounds, herbed ricotta and corn relish. (Recipe and photo: Barbara Cooks)

Potato Bites with Ricotta & Corn Relish

Cheese, Fig, and Ham Tapas

Ham and cheese, no matter what kind, create a no-brainer combination. Adding short-seasoned fresh figs makes this ordinary combo stick out. (Recipe and photo: Share My Kitchen)

Cheese, Fig, and Ham Tapas

Grilled Apples with Serrano Ham & Maple Syrup

A twist on the northern Italian pairing of Parma ham and cantaloupe, grilled apples make this a savorier option. (Recipe and photo: Delicious Tapas)

Grilled Apples with Serrano Ham & Maple Syrup

Chorizo, White Bean and Chard Bruschetta

A Spanish meal without chorizo? Inconceivable! This bruschetta to the rescue! (Recipe and photo: The Candid Appetite)

Chorizo, White Bean and Chard Bruschetta

Mexican Street Corn Croquettes

What can we say, it’s all in the drizzle— a chili-lime crema helps knock old-fashioned ham and cheese croquettes out of the picture. (Recipe and photo: Shared Appetite)

Mexican Street Corn Croquettes

Caramelized Onion, Feta & Serrano Ham Flatbread

Classic combinations make for a decidedly classy pizza that is perfect for summertime grilling. (Recipe and photo: Kitchen Confidante)

Caramelized Onion, Feta & Serrano Ham Flatbread

Goat Cheese Fundido with Cherries, Balsamic and Honey Drizzle

Fundido is traditionally a savory dish made with queso and ground meat, but here, cherries, balsamic vinegar and goat cheese make for a tangy unconventional dessert edition. (Recipe and photo: The Housewife in Training Files)

Goat Cheese Fundido with Cherries, Balsamic and Honey Drizzle