12 Incredibly Delicious Spanish Desserts (with Recipes!)

12 Incredibly Delicious Spanish Desserts (with Recipes!)

Spanish desserts are a huge part of Spanish culture, and each town and city has its specialties. From decadent cheesecake to creamy hot chocolate, there is a sweet for every time of day, and every month of the year! Read on to discover the most famous Spanish desserts.

A slice of burnt Basque cheesecake.
The world-famous burnt Basque cheesecake

So don’t be fooled by all that healthy talk about Spain’s Mediterranean diet. Spaniards definitely have a sweet tooth. From sugary custards to chocolate-filled pastries, Spanish dessert menus are a place of sweet, sweet joy. 

Most people in Spain having something sweet every day of the week — at least once a day! Their trick to staying healthy? Moderation and lots of walking!

From creamy custards to flaky pastries, Spanish desserts are downright delicious!
Save room for dessert!

Like so many foods in Spain, many of the country’s desserts are regional. The Moorish influence in southern Spain means many of the desserts there are almond-based. Located just south of the French border, the region of Catalonia serves desserts with a decidedly French flair.

But no matter where in Spain you are, your sweet tooth will not be disappointed. Here are twelve Spanish desserts that make my tastebuds water every time!

Top Spanish Desserts for Sweet Lovers

1. Tarta de Santiago (Spanish almond cake)

A delicious Tarta de Santiago recipe for the famous Spanish almond cake.
Almonds at their finest

The Tarta de Santiago may just be the most deceiving dessert in all of Spain. It breaks all my dessert rules: no chocolate, served room temperature, and often comes pre-made from a box.

But one bite of this thin, super moist almond cake and those rules evaporate from my mind. This simple cake hails from Galicia, specifically the town of Santiago de Compostela, where the pilgrimage of St. James ends. A powdered sugar cross of St. James usually adorns the top of the cake.

Recipe: Get Lauren’s Tarta de Santiago recipe here!

2. Tarta de Queso (Spanish cheesecake)

Burnt Basque cheesecake in the style of La Viña
Delicious Spanish cheesecake.

Spanish cheesecake is about as opposite of New York style cheesecake as possible. It is often light and fluffy with a strong cheese flavor. The crust (if there is one!) is usually drier and crunchier and more like a cookie. And I’ve only ever seen one cheesecake topping in Spain (occasionally): berries.

Cheesecake is a staple of the Spanish dessert menu. Consequently, it is also a staple of my weekend dinners!

Recipes: Try the Cantabrian cheesecake called Quesada Pasiega with this recipe or go for the famous Basque cheesecake recipe here.

3. Torrijas

 

Torrijas recipes from Spain
Delicious torrijas three ways!

If it were up to me, torrijas would be on every dessert menu every day of the year. These drunken, cinnamon-spiced slices of fried bread are like French toast taken to a whole new level.

Tragically, it is almost impossible to find torrijas outside of the Easter season. Only in March and April are the window displays and dessert menus of pastry shops, cafés, and restaurants loaded with torrijas, Spain’s traditional Easter dessert.

Torrijas come in three traditional flavors: milk and cinnamon, wine and simple syrup, or honey-soaked. All are positively delicious. And yes– the photo has a very non-traditional (but equally yummy) chocolate torrija from Seville.

Recipe: Luckily, these marvelous Spanish desserts aren’t difficult to make at home! Here’s Spanish Sabores’ torrijas recipe.

4. Crema Catalana

The strong French influence of Catalonia's northern neighbor is apparent in this creme brulee-like Spanish dessert called crema catalana.
Creamy and eggy crema Catalana.

Crema Catalana is sometimes called the poor man’s creme brûlée. And in this match-up, I put my money with the poor man! Served in a humble, shallow clay dish, this custard dessert from Catalonia is hugely popular throughout the country.

Creamy egg yolk custard is topped with sugar that is then torched to a crisp. This distinctive flavor is so popular, in fact, that ice creams and liqueurs often come in “crema Catalana” flavor.

Recipe: Get the best homemade crema Catalana recipe right here!

5. Chocolate and Churros

Spain wouldn't be nearly as sweet without chocolate and churros.
Spain’s all-day-long dessert!

While you won’t ever find chocolate with churros on the dessert menu (and if you do– run away!), it would be blasphemous to talk about Spanish sweets without including them! Chocolate and churros is like the dessert that has broken free from after-meal status into eat-it-whenever-you-want status.

For breakfast? Churros. Mid-morning snack? Churros. Late-night craving? Lots of churros.

These tubes of fried dough are as versatile as they are delicious! And the steaming cup of melted chocolate that comes with them ain’t too bad either.

Recipe: If you’re not in Spain, no pasa nada! Here’s an easy make-at-home churros recipe and the obligatory cup of homemade Spanish hot chocolate to go with.

6. Flan

flan on a plate
Delicious Spanish flan.

Vanilla flan, egg flan, cheese flan, coconut flan, chestnut flan, Christmas chocolate flan… Spain is all about flan. This rich, gelatinous dessert is made from milk, sugar, and eggs, which are mixed into a metal mold that is then placed in a water bath (known in Spain as a baño Maria). 

Once cooked and cooled the mold is turned upside down onto a plate, allowing that heavenly bottom layer of caramel to cascade down the wobbly mountain of flan. Yum!

Recipes: Taste this classic flan recipe or try a Canarian flan recipe (which uses condensed milk)! Looking for something different? How about pumpkin flan?

7. Miguelitos (puff pastries)

One of the most addicting Spanish desserts ever: Miguelitos filled with chocolate.
How can you resist? Photo credit: mumumio from Flickr CC

There are few things more dangerous for me to have in the house than a box full of Miguelitos. These tall squares of fluffy phyllo-like dough filled with, in my case, chocolate are slightly bigger than a matchbox. One just isn’t enough and the whole box is a bit too much (oops!).

Made from umpteen layers of thin pastry, they tend to disintegrate into a million flakey pieces with each bite. Yet somehow, the genius pastry chef who invented them managed to make these airy pastries marvelously moist and packed with a potent punch of chocolate ganache (or cream) in the center.

8. Tarta de Aceite (Olive Oil Cakes)

Spanish olive oil cake recipe
Moist and delicious Spanish olive oil cake.

I am a huge cake lover, especially in the afternoon alongside a piping hot café con leche. My favorite Spanish cakes are simple ones that can be made in about an hour. They’re olive oil based, meaning they’re super moist and delicious — and arguably healthier than their butter cousins. 

Recipe: Two delicious olive oil cake recipes are a lemon olive oil cake and an apple olive oil cake

9. Mantecados y Polvorones (Spanish Christmas Cookies) 

polvorones de almendra recipe
Yummy polvorones

Spanish Christmas cookies aren’t usually made at home, instead, people stock up on their favorite brand of shortbread cookies at the local shops. They come wrapped in pretty paper and in a variety of flavors. These dry and crumbly cookies are a far cry from my mom’s chocolate chip cookies growing up, but I’ve come around to them over the years. 

You can try both popular versions — mantecados are usually made with lard, flour, and sugar and then can be made with a variety of flavors… chocolate, cinnamon, and lemon to name a few.

Polvorones are a type of mantecado made with almonds and are so popular they get their own name. Both can be made with butter if preferred.

Recipes: Try these recipes for mantecados and polvorones this Christmas 

10. Leche Frita (fried milk)

Leche frita recipe
Delicious leche frita topped with nougat ice cream!

Fried milk sounds a bit odd at first, but I guarantee it’s absolutely delicious and worth a try. Basically, you make a very milky custard and then deep fry it in a crispy crust of sugar and cinnamon. Pictured with nougat ice cream here, it is one of my favorite Spanish desserts!

Recipe: Make leche frita at home with this recipe

11. Arroz con Leche (Spanish rice pudding)

Two servings of arroz con leche in clay bowls.
Try my creamy rice pudding recipe for a Spanish dessert.

While we’re on the topic of milky Spanish desserts — have you tried Spanish rice pudding (arroz con leche)? This delicious and creamy treat is truly warming on a cold winter day. 

Depending on where you are in Spain you might find this dessert served warm or cold, with or without cinnamon and with or without a caramelized sugar crust (just like on crema Catalana). 

Recipe: Try making a classic Spanish rice pudding

12. Frisuelos (Spanish crepes)

Try this Spanish crepes recipe for frisuelos. This simple frisuelos recipe make a deliicious breakfast, snack or dessert!
Frisuelos– Spanish crepes!

These thin and simple Spanish crepes are typical in the north of Spain and are often filled with pastry cream or fruit compote. The beauty of frisuelos is that you can truly make them your own with the filling that you prefer. Some break the classic traditions and add Nutella or dulce de leche. Others are purists and just add a sprinkle of sugar on top. Either way, you can’t go wrong!

Recipe: Classic Spanish frisuelos recipe

What are your favorite Spanish desserts?

 

NEVER MISS A RECIPE!

Sign up with your email address to receive free weekly recipes. You'll get a copy of my Spanish Cooking Essentials checklist when you do!

 

Comments

  1. So before this post makes me start butchering the Mediterranean diet by eating nothing but the dessert part…why would churros never be found on a dessert menu in Spain? I assume you mean menus at full restaurants, not cafes.

  2. We just. A k from cuenca Spain 4 days at the paradoxes de Cuenca& 6 days in Marbella side trip to tangier morroco, what a wounderful trip!!! Food was beautiful, our son was doing a six mint internship in Cuenca has his Bs degree in language& culture in Spanish, what an experience, planned the whole thing myself, a few mistakes, that’s ok small lessons learned IAM DEFINATELY GOING BACK TO EXPERIENCE ALOT MORES

    1. We are doing the day trip to Tangier in September and would love your insight and hints of great things to see, do, and purchase while there.

  3. Obviously the list could be longer, but if I could add just one, it’d be one which is not very popular in the rest of Spain but is definitely in my top 3: Piononos de Santa Fé (Granada)
    If you try them you’ll have to change the list!

  4. Me gusta el flan mucho.
    Hice mi propio toque personal mediante la adición de la mezcla de torta amarilla para ella. esto lo hace aún mejor y se lo recomendaría a todo el mundo al que le gusta el flan tradicional

  5. I made your Spanish cheesecake for dessert last night – our untraditional Thanksgiving feast – topped it with a little apricot preserve – the perfect thing after our Asian dinner. In April we will be visiting Spain so we are looking forward to your list of special foods to taste. Thanks for all your recipes!

  6. I’m the biggest fan of tarta de Santiago, but if I see “natillas” on the menu you know I’m gonna ask for that…even more so if it’s “natillas de la abuela” 😉 I just love the combo of simple, vanilla and/or lemon-infused custard with cinnamon and maria cookies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe for free Spanish recipes weekly!

Subscribe for free weekly recipes and you'll get a copy of Spanish Cooking Essentials checklist!

Spanish Pork Skewers Spanish Muffins Chocolate Olive Oil Cake Seafood Paella Spanish Beef Stew