You might already know that Spain is a country with extraordinary cuisine – paella, tapas, and gazpacho are just three out of many tempting dishes. Since we’ve already talked about the best Spanish dishes in general in another article, this post will only be about the tasty desserts Spain has to offer.
There are many typical desserts in Spain, as the country’s confectionery is wide and varied. As it happens with other dishes, sweets usually have a great influence from other cultures: Roman, Muslim, Arab, Jewish, and Phoenician, among others.
Each region or community within Spain has its own traditional desserts menu. And since we can’t talk about all of them, we have made a selection of those that we consider most popular and that, of course, you should not miss trying one day.
So let’s dive right into the world of Spanish sweets and deliciousness. As always, the list of 21 Spanish desserts is ordered alphabetically, and therefore not meant as a ranking.
What to find out in this post
- 1 The 21 most popular desserts in Spain
- 2 Almendrados
- 3 Buñuelos de viento
- 4 Churros
- 5 Coca
- 6 Crema Catalana
- 7 Ensaïmada de Mallorca
- 8 Filloas
- 9 Flan
- 10 Frangollo
- 11 Goxua
- 12 Quesada
- 13 Leche Frita
- 14 Membrillo
- 15 Natilla
- 16 Panellets
- 17 Sobaos pasiegos
- 18 Tarta de Santiago
- 19 Torrijas
- 20 Tortas de Aceite
- 21 Turrón
- 22 Yemas de Santa Teresa
The 21 most popular desserts in Spain
Among the most famous desserts in Spain, we can find Almendrados. These are pastries made with eggs, grated almonds, lemon juice, and sugar or honey. It is said that their origin is Sephardic and that they appeared during the Middle Ages.
With the ingredients mentioned above, a dough is made that is usually baked and shaped into cookies. However, as with many other recipes, the presentation may vary according to the place you try them.
The truth is that they are delicious sweets, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. They are usually part of the Spanish Christmas tradition and enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
Buñuelos de viento
Another Spanish cuisine dessert is Buñuelos de Viento, dough balls made with wheat flour, eggs, and lard and then fried in hot oil. They are called “de viento” (of wind) because they swell when fried, doubling their volume.
They are usually served during the celebration of All Saints, and it is said that this dessert is a Christian modification of the Bimuelos, which are fried buns of wheat flour that the Sephardic Jews prepare during the celebration of Hanukkah since the tenth century.
Nowadays we find these fritters with different fillings: Chantilly, chocolate, cream, sweet creams, jam, marmalade, and many other tasty options. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, that’s how they taste.
It is possible that of the sweets in Spain, this is one of the best known and this is because they are also popular in other regions of the world such as France, Portugal, Belgium, and Latin America.
Its origin is rather uncertain. However, there is a theory that the Portuguese exported a dough from China called youtiao and changed the elaboration until they obtained a new technique. It is also said that this recipe was an invention of Spanish shepherds who elaborated this dough to replace fresh bread.
In any case, churros are made with wheat flour, water, and salt. A dough is made with those ingredients and then fried in scalding oil. They are usually sprinkled with sugar or chocolate.
Depending on the place, they are made in the shape of a club, ribbon, or wheel.
In addition, you can find them under different names, for example, in Malaga and Cadiz they are called Tejeringo, in Jaen Tallos, in Huelva and Seville Calentito, or Masa frita and other names.
Coca is some kind of cake that is prepared in Catalonia, the Valencian Community, eastern Aragon, Andorra, and the Balearic Islands.
It is said that this dessert comes from the housewives who took advantage of the bread dough that did not swell, baked it flat, and added sugar. Following this tradition, the Catalan coca desnuda and the Balearic coca de pan are usually the oldest ones.
As with the churro, coca has different names, ingredients, and shapes throughout the country. Some versions are sweet and with candied fruits and salty ones, such as those made in the Alicante region. In some places, such as Lérida and the Aragon strip, it is called cóc.
In all cases, the main ingredient is panoli or seasoned bread. If it is sweet, sugar and egg are added, but if it is salty, yeast and salt are added. Both are usually consumed in all regions, although there is a certain preference for one of them.
In Catalonia, this cake is especially popular for Sant Joan, on 24th June.
The ingredients of this tasty dessert are sugar, egg yolk, wheat or cornflour, milk, cinnamon, and lemon or orange zest. This cream is cooked in a small saucepan until it is thick and then placed in the refrigerator to cool.
It is usually used to fill for cakes, ensaimadas, cocas, and other sweets. However, it is also served as an individual dessert in an earthenware dish where the cream is sprinkled with sugar and burned with a blowtorch to caramelize it.
As its name indicates, it is of Catalan origin and is written in the medieval recipe books of this region. In fact, it is considered one of the oldest Spanish sweets.
Its fame has spread throughout Europe and it is also known by the name of Crema quemada (burnt cream) or simply by the name of crema. Although it is consumed throughout the whole year, it is usually very popular on St. Joseph’s Day.
Ensaïmada de Mallorca
When thinking of the best pastry in Spain, many locals arguably think of ensaïmadas. These yummy baked goods from Mallorca are part of the historical and cultural heritage of this region. And, despite being present on the island since the 17th century, it still preserves its traditional characteristics.
According to history, this dessert was made for different celebrations and parties. In 1854, it became popular after the businessman Garin opened the pastry shop La Mallorquina in Puerta del Sol, Madrid. There, the sweet became famous and began to internationalize.
It is so important that in 1996 and 2003 it obtained protection as a Specific Denomination and later it would be recognized as a Protected Geographical Indication product.
This well-known dessert is made with flour, eggs, sugar, sourdough, water, and lard, then the mixture is fermented and baked.
We can find different types, such as the ensaïmada de Mallorca, which is popularly known as “lisa” and has no filling, and the ensaïmada de Mallorca de cabello de ángel, which is filled with cabell d’àngel, a sweet filling made out of pumpkin.
Although there are also other variants that do not fall under the Protected Geographical Indication but are part of everyday life and are those filled with other sweets such as Crema Catalana, chocolate, or pastry cream.
This is one of the desserts that are traditional in Asturias and Galicia.
It is made with flour, broth or milk, and water, although other ingredients such as honey, eggs, blood, and sugar can also be added. They are also known by the names of filloga, freixó, afilloa, or morcillas dulces.
It is said to have originated in Roman times and is a variant of food called phyllon from which various recipes such as pita from Lebanon, blini from Russia, or crepes from France emerged.
Whatever their origin, filloas can be prepared in different ways, eaten like this, or filled with honey, cream, cream, chocolate, or jam.
Another option is to eat them salted, using the same basic ingredients but eliminating sugar and using broth instead of milk. The most widespread variety of the hearty version is the one made during the pig slaughtering season. In this case, pig’s blood is added to the mixture, and sometimes raisins are added.
Flan is one of Spain’s traditional desserts that is extremely popular and is often present at family gatherings or parties. It is prepared with milk, whole eggs, and sugar.
Apparently, its origin is located centuries before Christ and was elaborated by Greek and Phoenician Romans. Although by then they called it tyropatina and added pepper. In fact, there is a recipe by the culinary writer Marco Gavio Apicius.
Later, the recipe continued to be prepared and during the Middle Ages, it was prepared especially during Lent, later to be known as flan.
France and Spain adopted it as a dessert. From there, it became popular and today it is known all over the world.
This rich dessert is made by burning caramel and then curdling milk, eggs, and sugar. Some add other ingredients such as condensed milk, almonds, coffee, or nuts.
The next Spanish sweet dish on our list comes from the Canary Islands. Although Frangollo is a simple dessert, it is very delicious. It is made with millet flour, milk, lemon, sugar, almonds, raisins, cinnamon, eggs, butter, and aniseed.
In some places, there are variants, so they make it with water instead of milk or add other ingredients such as matalahúva (anis).
According to some scholars, the origin of this word is the product of an archaism introduced by Canary emigrants returning from the Antilles and America in the mid-twentieth century.
However, others assure that it is older and came from the Canary Islands to America. What is certain is that it basically consists of a mixture of crushed grains. Even though today this dessert is not as known anymore by the youth, it is still an important traditional dish of the country.
From Frangollo in the deep South, let’s go North to taste the delicious Goxua. It is part of the typical confectionery of the Basque Country, particularly in the city of Vitoria. It is made with layers of sponge cake, pastry cream, cream, and a touch of caramelized with a blowtorch.
Its origin is said to be an invention of the Vitoria pastry chef Luis López de Sosoaga, who in 1868 opened his pastry shop and, inspired by the Catalan custard, created the Goxua. However, another confectioner named Miranda de Ebro is as well considered the original inventor.
Even with these doubts, we can affirm that its name in Basque means delicious or rich, a perfect and representative name.
Quesada is a traditional dish in the Pasiego Valleys of Cantabria. It is made with milk rennet, sugar, butter, lemon, cinnamon, and flour.
The mixture, once kneaded, is placed in cake molds that are placed in the oven until golden brown. It has a sweet flavor and the consistency is like pudding.
Although its origin is uncertain, there are very similar recipes that can be found in cookbooks of the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. In addition, there are almost identical recipes in other regions of the world.
Leche Frita (fried milk), which is made with milk, cooked flour, egg yolk, and sugar. Once the dough thickens, it is cut into portions and fried, adding a little sugar and cinnamon powder on top.
Although there are several regions that dispute the origin of this recipe, it is usually considered that it was born in Palencia and from there it spread to other territories of the country.
Since it is a traditional sweet that is made in an artisanal and homemade way, there are different variations in all senses.
The quince fruit is used to make this sweet, originally from Spain and Portugal, which is obtained by mixing the pulp with the same amount of sugar.
History tells that the Romans and Greeks considered that the quince was the fruit of fertility and love. In fact, the trees of this fruit were consecrated to Aphrodite (Venus for the Romans), the Goddess of love.
In addition, because of its pleasant aroma, it was used by Greek brides to perfume their mouths before giving their first kiss.
But they also had the custom of cooking quince and sweetening it with honey. The Greeks and Romans brought this fruit to Spain, and during the 12th century, the sweet would become popular in the country thanks to Sephardic cuisine.
Natilla is one of Spain’s most typical postres (desserts) and is extremely popular throughout the country. This creme is prepared with egg yolks, milk, sugar, and a touch of vanilla or lemon. It usually has a creamy smooth texture with a delicious flavor.
As it happens with other desserts, its origin is unknown. However, there is a theory that assures that this sweet was born in European convents, due to the simplicity in the preparation and the low cost of the products.
Others are of the idea that its origin is located in French confectionery due to its influence and culinary splendor. Whatever its origin, it is a dessert worth trying.
Often, Natillas are served with a little cookie on top of it as you can see in the picture above.
This is one of the desserts on our list that requires a little more elaboration.
First, a dough is made with egg, sugar, ground raw almonds, and lemon zest. Then it is covered with egg white and a layer of pine nuts is added on top. Subsequently, it’s baked and left to cool.
It is an exquisite sweet that has its origin in the eighteenth century in the religious celebrations panellets of the Holy Cross and panellets of San Marcos, where it was consumed to share after the corresponding offices.
They are currently registered in the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed of the European Union and are a typical dessert of the Valencian Community, Catalonia, and the Balearic Islands. They are consumed especially on November 1st during the feast of All Saints.
If you want to try them, you can find them with different flavors such as coffee, quince, chocolate, coconut, orange, and pistachio.
When we talk about Sobaos Pasiegos we usually mean a sponge cake made with wheat flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. Additionally, lemon zest, rum, or anise may be added. It is a typical dessert from the Pasiegos Valleys of Cantabria.
It is believed that this sweet began to be made spontaneously with the resources that the inhabitants of this area had at hand. Today, however, it is a highly commercialized and recognized product throughout the country.
It is one of the dishes that you can eat for breakfast or as a snack, and if you accompany it with a coffee with milk, it is ideal.
Tarta de Santiago
Tarta de Santiago is a traditional Galician dessert made with sugar and pulverized almonds in equal amounts, and eggs.
Firstly, a compact dough is obtained, lard or butter is added, then it is baked in the oven. Once it is ready, a template of the Cross of Santiago is placed on it, and it is sprinkled with sugar. In this way, the silhouette is marked.
The birth of this recipe is a mystery, although it is believed that the origin can be located in the sixteenth century. The only written recipe with the name Almond Cake. In 2006, this dessert became part of the Protected Geographical Indication Register.
It is often served in restaurants after your meal and accompanied by a shot of Spanish herb liquor or similar.
If you pass through the Camino de Santiago, you can buy it in most of the pastry shops in each of these towns, especially during July and the first week of August.
This traditional dessert consists of soaking a slice of bread in milk, wine, or syrup, then dipping it in egg and frying it in oil. It is then topped with sugar, honey, or molasses and a touch of cinnamon powder. It’s basically the Spanish version of French toast.
There are very similar recipes dating back to the 4th century, and during the Middle Ages, it was widespread to dip the bread in milk and sweeten it. In addition, there are recipes from the 14th century where the bread is dipped in egg and then fried and finally sugared.
Fun Fact: The origin of this recipe might actually be from my beautiful home, the Harz Mountains in Germany, under the name of Arme Ritter (poor knights). From there, it also made its way to Canada where it was first known as “German toast” but was later called “French toast” after being prepared in the french-speaking part of Canada.
However, the name torrija or torreja appears in the 15th century in a carol by Juan del Encina and, in 1607, this sweet is mentioned in the recipe book of the cook Domingo Hernández de Maceras.
In short, it is a dish with a lot of tradition and very good flavor.
Tortas de Aceite
Tortas de Aceite (Oil cake), a traditional pastry sweet in Castilleja de la Cuesta, Seville, is made with wheat flour, sugar, anise, olive oil, sesame, and salt. With these ingredients, you can achieve such a crunchy, elegant, and tasty dessert.
It is said that different cultures may have influenced this sweet, but it is not known exactly. However, between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Tortas de Aceite appeared in a book by Mateo Alemán.
In 1910, a woman from Castilleja de la Cuesta named Inés Rosales found the traditional recipe and it was passed from generation to generation until it became a popular sweet throughout the country.
Today, it is protected by the label Denominación Especialidad Tradicional Garantizada.
Undoubtedly, Turrón is one of the typical Christmas desserts known worldwide, since Spain is its first producer.
It is made with a sweet dough obtained from sugar or honey and to which toasted almonds are added. Some add egg whites, and others do not, as it is optional. Once kneaded, it is given a rectangular shape. But there are dozens of versions and recipes of how to prepare this yummy treat.
Almost all experts seem to agree that the origin of this sweet is located in the Arabian Peninsula and that it was brought by the Arabs to Spain and Italy.
In the case of Spanish Turrón, its birth is located in the south of the kingdom of Valencia during the 15th century, and already during the reign of Charles V, it was very famous.
The main producers of nougat are located in Valencia, Alicante, and Lérida. It is usually consumed mainly during the Christmas season.
Yemas de Santa Teresa
From the city of Avila comes this popular sweet that honors Saint Teresa. It is made with sugar and egg yolk, which are beaten in a copper bowl.
Afterward, the dough is put to cool and once it has rested, balls of approximately 2 cm are made and placed in paper tartlets.
Like many other desserts from this list, its origin is not known for sure, although it is believed that it may come from Andalusian cuisine.
What is certain is that it began to be marketed under that name in the mid-nineteenth century in the pastry shop La dulce Avilesa, today known as Flor de Castilla.
If you visit the province of Avila do not forget to buy your yolks of Santa Teresa, although to tell the truth, you can find them all over Spain.
Each of the sweets listed here has its history and has remained in the culture and tradition of the Spanish people despite the passing of the years. If you wish to travel to Spain, which of these sweets would you like to try?
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