The holidays are a time to share your love for the special people in your life via gifts. But I often find it difficult to know what to buy people these days! So I default to a classic no-fail strategy: when in doubt, I gift food! Read on for some of my favorite Spanish inspired holiday gift ideas (food and otherwise) and hopefully you’ll be able to avoid the last-minute shopping this year!
Spanish Christmas gifts can seem an odd-shaped bunch under the tree…
Strategically wrapped prongs of ham holders poke out among feebly disguised necks of wine and olive oil bottles. Nearly an entire roll of wrapping paper can barely cover the surface of the family-sized paella pan and no holiday paper, box or bag can contain the smoky smell coming from the paprika tins.
For foodies, Spain holds the mega load of awesome Christmas presents.
The traditional cooking, carving and serving items I’ve found here have been huge hits with my family back in the US and friends around the world. The best part about these gifts for me is the little slice of Spanish culture they bring with them. Each food item and kitchen gadget has a storied history that makes opening presents on Christmas morning even more interesting.
Cooking for the holidays? See my top Spanish Christmas recipes
Whether you are doing your Christmas shopping in Spain or online, these items are pretty easy to find, easy to mail, and sure to add a little taste of Spain to your holidays.
Spain Inspired Holiday Gifts for Foodies
Spanish Christmas gifts for the meat lover in your life
Spanish cured meats (jamón, chorizo, sausage…) are incredible quality and make a fantastic gift for any meat lover.
1. Great Iberian jamón!
It may sound too obvious, but Iberian ham is a delicacy and anything but cheap. The best hams (here in Spain) sell for well over €100 per pound (over €200/kilo). Outside of Spain they can be even more expensive! Gifting great quality jamón will always be welcome. If you’re lucky enough to live in Spain or Europe, you can find great quality in specialty shops or even online. Cinco Jotas (5J) and Joselito are excellent brands.
In the US? No worries — great Iberian ham has made it’s way there too.
I recommend purchasing from La Tienda, a reputable online shop (with a physical location in Virginia too!) with a huge selection of Spanish jamón. They stock the famous 5J brand, as well as Fermín, another of the most famous Spanish ham brands.
For a less expensive option they do fabulous jamón samplers, but if you want to go all the way you must purchase a bone in whole jamón! This is the way we celebrate the holidays in Spain, everyone gets the best whole jamón they can afford and slices it throughout the holidays until only the bones remain. (We use those too — we bring them to our butcher and have them chop them up to use in soups!).
This brings me to the next item for the jamón lover in your life…
2. A jamonero (ham stand) and slicing knife
If you’re going to go all the way in and buy a whole jamón, you’ll need the stand and knife as well.
Why bother with the gear?
Think of eating Iberian Spanish ham-like drinking really good wine. If you gulp down a giant swig, you lose the flavor of the wine. Same with jamón. If you slice off a thick chunk, most of the magic is lost.
A jamonero is a specially designed stand that holds cured ham legs in the perfect position to be expertly sliced into those nearly see-through shavings of pure Iberian ham goodness. This thin slicing allows the flavors of the ham to really shine as the small pieces nearly dissolve on the tongue. Without a jamonero it is nearly impossible to properly slice a ham leg (trust me, I’ve tried and failed miserably!).
3. Spanish sausage
Nothing spices up Spanish food more than some excellent chorizo or one of Spain’s many other delicious sausages. I’ve purchased this sausages of Spain gift box for my family in past years and it’s always a hit. They think of me every time they enjoy a bite!
Unique gifts for olive oil lovers
They call it liquid gold for a reason. Spain produces 40 percent of the world’s olive oil, cranking out more than 1 million tons per year. Here people pour olive oil over everything. From salads and shrimp to fried croquettes and bull tail stew, almost every Spanish dish starts with a drizzle of olive oil.
If you’re planning to mail or carry olive oil in a suitcase, be sure to buy it in a tin can rather than a glass or plastic bottle. With the changes in pressure during flights the oil expands and contracts which could lead to broken bottles and ruptured seals leaking oil. The tin and its stronger seal is flexible enough to withstand these pressures without bursting or leaking.
4. Spanish style olive oil from California
My friend Erin fell in love with olive oil while living in Spain and decided to dedicate her life to this incredible food. She recently launched PRMRY, a line of excellent quality extra virgin olive oils. And not only are they delicious, they’re gorgeous, making them an impressive gift or stocking stuffer!
5. First day of harvest olive oil from Andalusia
In the heart of Jaén you’ll find Castillo de Canena, one of Spain’s most impressive and award-winning olive oil producers. I had the pleasure to visit there a few years ago and still dream of touring the olive groves and tasting the new oil.
Castillo de Canena sells their first day of harvest oil and it is the ultimate gift for someone who appreciates the good things in life! I would highly recommend the picual variety (green, grassy and delicious). If you’re looking for a more affordable option their family reserve oil is also excellent.
Beautiful pieces for the tableware enthusiast
6. Cazuelas de Barro
Garlic shrimp, baked chorizo and eggs, Spanish style creme brûlée…. none of these dishes would be possible without these clay dishes. Cazuelas, or cazuelitas if they are small, are the key to many Spanish meals.
This thick clay warms slowly and stays boiling hot much longer than conventional bowls and pans, keeping your gambas al ajillo sizzling until it reaches the table! They can be used in the oven, on the stove, over the fire or even in the microwave.
7. Hand painted ceramics
I love ceramics and try to buy something every new place I travel. In Spain, I have gorgeous ceramics from Cadiz, Seville, Granada, Malaga, Toledo, and Galicia.
Apart from your usual ceramic plates, there are plenty of other options.
In homes across Spain, it is a rare sight to see a bottle of olive oil straight from the producer on the dinner table. Usually, those bulky bottles are left in the kitchen and a daintier bottle that is easier to pour from is brought to the table.
While many of these olive oil dispensers are made of glass, my favorites are the elaborately decorate ceramic containers. The bright yellow and blue designs of ceramics from Talavera de la Reina are, in my humble opinion, the rightful homes something so wonderful as olive oil. These sets of oil, vinegar and salt holders are all the makings of the classic Spanish salad dressing.
La Tienda has some beautiful pieces on sale, and I’ve also found that (sometimes) I’ve seen authentic Spanish ceramics at TJ Maxx (in the US). Their Homegoods store is a treasure trove!
8. Olive wood everything
From cutting boards and wine holders to stirring spoons and salad bowls, just about every kitchen utensil used in Spain can be found carved from olive trees. The grain of this durable wood makes these useful utensils gorgeous. And as many of these products are sold in tiny craftsman shops, they come with the added benefit of being able to say “I watched the 75-year-old craftsman carve this spoon out of a 90-year-old olive tree branch just for you, Dad!”
I really love these wooden salad bowls and am sure they’d make anyone happy!
9. Your very own porrón
There are few ways to drink wine that are more fun than using a porrón. These funky funnel-fused-to-a-vase gadgets were originally created centuries ago as a utilitarian way to share wine during Spanish lunches. Porróns are still used in Spain as a hygienic way to share vino among friends.
Ingredients & gadgets for the at home chef
For anyone who loves to cook, these are some of the items and ingredients you can’t go without!
10. Tins of Paprika
I am quickly discovering that everything is more delicious with smoky Spanish paprika sprinkled over it. Mashed potatoes? I add paprika. Scrambled eggs? Definitely need paprika. Green beans? Pork Chops? Spaghetti Sauce? Paprika! Paprika! Paprika!
This fundamental Spanish spice is sold in intricately decorated tins that need nothing but a bow! Can you say stocking stuffer?
11. Paella Pan
It’s not a true paella unless you have the pan. In fact, the name paella belonged to the pan before it was used for the now-famous rice dish that it contains.
These wide shallow metal pans are made of carbon steel or stainless steel and are specially designed to evenly distribute heat across the entire bubbling layer of rice. An authentic paella is traditionally cooked over a fire or over a ringed gas burner, meaning the pan has to be extra sturdy to withstand the heat!
You can grab a fantastic stainless steel paella pan here (be sure to select the best size for your needs — I use the 17 inch pan for four people) and if you’d like to glam up this gift why not try an entire paella making kit?
12. A tortilla pan
I’ll admit — I was skeptical about these tortilla pans as the classic way to make a Spanish tortilla is to use a plate to flip. But when a Spanish friend of mine swore by hers, I had to see what they were all about. And I will admit, these funny little pans certainly make flipping a large tortilla easier! So if you have to buy a gift for a person who loves kitchen gadgets (and also loves tortilla) this is the perfect thing!
13. Spanish Cookbooks
Spanish cooking is shockingly simple, at least according to the ingredient lists.
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With just three or four items used in most recipes, homemade tapas are extremely feasible. While every Spaniard will tell you the best recipe for whatever dish you want to make is their mother’s recipe, there are quite a few cookbooks that give those Spanish moms a run for their money!
One of the best is Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain and another (that I helped write!) is a digital cookbook called Spanish Feasts from the Devour Tours Kitchen. It includes over 50 recipes for holiday foods in Spain, making it the perfect companion for this time of year!
14. Real Spanish saffron
At €3,000 per kilo (more than $1,500 per pound) saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. And Spanish saffron, many will argue is some of the best. The red threads of saffron are the stigmas of the crocus flower, a finicky flower that must be harvested on the same day that it blooms.
The spindly stigmas are whisked from the flower petals by hand and then lightly dried over gas burners or charcoal fires. Saffron adds deep flavors and bright colors to dishes like paella, chicken, fish and even cakes!
Buy authentic Spanish saffron from La Mancha here (the best stocking stuffer)!
15. A Spanish cafetera
The thing my mom tells me she misses most about Spain is the coffee. One part espresso, two parts milk and foam, a Spanish café con leche is coffee as it should be. And thanks to the ridiculously simple cafetera, they are now global.
This coffee-making contraption is genius in its simplicity. Pour water into the bottom, fill the center ring with finely ground coffee and screw the top on. Five minutes on the stove and a pot of rich, creamy espresso awaits!
For the sweet lover
16. Chocolate Covered Figs
The Christmas holidays are perfectly timed. Not for the fireplace weather or the long nights to fill with decorative lights. December is the ideal month for the holidays because it is smack dab after fig season.
The thousands of tons of Spanish figs that fall from the trees in October are dried in the sun, dunked in rich dark chocolate, and ready to eat by the bagful by Christmas! They are, without question, my absolute favorite Christmas sweet in Spain!
There is nothing more Spanish than Christmas turrón! These delicious candy bars come in all flavors nowadays, but the traditional ones are made with almonds and come in soft (turrón blando) and hard (turrón duro) varieties. If you want your Christmas spread to taste like Spain, you need to stock up on turrón!
Read more: Top Spanish Christmas traditions
What’s on your Christmas list this year? Will one of these Spanish Christmas gifts make the cut?