10 Easy & Delicious Pintxos Recipes - Spanish Sabores

10 Easy & Delicious Pintxos Recipes

If you visit the Basque Country, one thing becomes especially clear. The Basque people really know how to eat! 

From San Sebastian to Bilbao, Basques pride themselves on their love of food, and their ability to cook it well. As a result, even the rest of Spain has to grudgingly acknowledge that the north of the country has a special way with food—and it’s all thanks to pintxos recipes like these.

Bar top with several plates of small tapas style bites called pintxos.
A typical pintxos bar in San Sebastian full of elaborate bites.

Given that, it’s not tapas that you’ll be eating up north! Instead, in the Basque Country, it’s all about pintxos.

Every tavern and bar in the region has a counter covered in a bounty of colorful and savory snacks, usually skewered to a piece of crusty baguette with a long toothpick (also known as a pincho or pintxo). Some of them are super simple, like a wedge of tortilla, while some can be artistic creations verging on haute cuisine. 

They’re also a great excuse to socialize! So if you can’t visit the Basque Country and go on a pintxos crawl, why not recreate the experience at home? Here are some easy, impressive, and delicious Basque pintxos recipes to help bring the taste of northern Spain into your kitchen.

Making & Serving Pintxos Recipes

The great thing about pintxos is that they are super easy to put together, but taste absolutely amazing. Each one is an appetizer by itself, but put together a spread of them and you’ve got your own at-home pintxos crawl. Serve them out on platters on a countertop for that authentic Basque tavern touch!

In general, pintxos fall into one of two main categories: cold or hot. Traditionally in the Basque Country, cold pintxos are the ones you see out on the bar, while hot pintxos are not displayed publicly. Instead, they’re made to order in the moment.

However, if you’re making these pintxos recipes to enjoy at home, you can simply set out both the cold and hot options at the same time. We’re willing to bet that the hot ones won’t even have time to get cold!

Cold Pintxos Recipes

1. Gilda

Skewers, or pintxos, of anchovies, peppers, and olives arranged on a plate.
A platter full of delicious gildas.

Why make things more complicated than they need to be? The gilda is one of the simplest pintxo dishes in Spain, but one of the most classic. In fact, legend says it was the first pintxo ever invented!

Whenever you get to the Basque Country, your first stop should involve a glass of cold vermouth and this simple appetizer. But in the meantime, it’s one of the easiest pintxos recipes to throw together at home.

To make this tasty treat, just skewer an olive with a salted anchovy fillet and some pickled green peppers. While it’s not traditional, you can also add a small pickle for a slightly sweet touch. It’s the perfect cocktail hour snack! 

Easy Spanish Gilda Recipe – Pepper, Olive, & Anchovy Skewers
This Gilda recipe makes the perfect Spanish appetizer to serve on a night of pintxos! It’s salty, acidic, and delicious, perfect for pairing with cocktails or Spanish vermouth.
Check out this recipe

2. Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Tuna

A person's hand holding a blue and white plate of red peppers stuffed with tuna
Delicious stuffed piquillo peppers. Photo credit: Stijn Nieuwendijk

Step aside, padrón peppers! When it comes to pintxos, it’s all about the piquillos.

These little red peppers pack some serious flavor. They’re roasted to intensify their sweetness, and no one could ever tell they come out of a jar! The Spanish are masters at putting delicious things in cans and jars. In fact, this tuna-stuffed piquillo peppers pintxo is made almost entirely from canned delights. 

Canned Spanish or Portuguese tuna isn’t the stuff you remember from bad-smelling high school sandwiches. Some of Iberia’s best seafood winds up in cans, be it tuna, mussels, mackerel, or anything else!

To complete the dish, mix the tuna with mayonnaise or garlic alioli, stuff it inside a roasted piquillo pepper, and serve on bread. 

Tuna Stuffed Piquillo Peppers
Get this tuna stuffed piquillo peppers recipe and prepare this easy Spanish appetizer in no time! This is a classic Spanish pintxo for any occasion.
Check out this recipe

3. Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Pintxo

Slice of bread topped with cream cheese, smoked salmon, black sesame seeds, and pickles
This modern version is topped with pickles and black sesame seeds! Photo credit: Marco Verch

This smoked salmon and cream cheese pintxo is a Basque classic. All you need is a handful of simple ingredients: a hearty baguette, cream cheese, and smoked salmon, and you’ve got one delicious appetizer!

Use cold-smoked salmon (also called Nova lox) for best results. Finished off with just a bit of black pepper and lemon juice, this pintxo is a sure crowd pleaser.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Pintxo
This smoked salmon and cream cheese pintxo recipe is the perfect appetizer to prepare for guests! It's a popular Basque dish from the north of Spain.
Check out this recipe
salmon and cream cheese pintxo recipe

4. Classic Spanish Tortilla Pintxo

Slices of potato and pepper omelet served skewered atop pieces of bread
Pintxos of tortilla made with green peppers in addition to potatoes.

The good news about pintxos is that many typical tapas recipes can easily be turned into them—just add a skewer and some bread!

That’s the case with the classic Spanish omelet, or tortilla de patatas. In almost every tavern in the Basque Country, you can get a tasty wedge of tortilla (always prepared nice and runny in the north of Spain) skewered atop a piece of bread. If you’re lucky, you might even get some alioli!

To make this recipe, just make a classic Spanish potato omelet (the gooier the better). Cut it into bread sliced pieces, put each piece on top of a baguette slice, stick a toothpick into the whole thing, and enjoy!

Note that many people in Spain eat tortilla de patatas at room temperature, but if you’d like to serve this as a hot pintxo, you’re welcome to do so as well!

Spanish Tortilla Recipe (Tortilla de Patatas)
This easy and authentic Spanish omelette recipe combines egg, potato, onion, olive oil, and salt in what is the best Spanish tortilla you'll try.
Check out this recipe
Finished Spanish omelet, the tortilla de patatas on a white plate.

Or try a twist on the classic:

5. Anchovy Pintxo

Three small pieces of bread topped with anchovies and blueberry jam on a white plate.
Delicious anchovy pintxos with blueberry jam.

Forget everything you thought you knew about anchovies. In the Basque Country, these little fish are done right: caught fresh from the Cantabrian Sea and cured to perfection in salt or vinegar.

For the anchovies to turn out especially perfect, they’ll need to marinate for several hours. But the prep work is simple enough, and once they’ve had the time to soak up plenty of flavor, all that’s left to do is stick them on top of some slices of crusty bread!

Boquerones en Vinagre Recipe
This delicious boquerones en vinagre recipe makes the perfect marinated anchovies — a traditional Spanish tapa.
Check out this recipe
Boquerones en Vinagre in Barcelona restaurant

6. Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Pintxo

One of the most important Spanish words to learn before visiting Spain: pintxo.
Pintxo of goat cheese and caramelized onions.

Goat cheese and caramelized onion is one of those made-in-heaven flavor combos. The sweetness of the onion is the perfect complement to the tanginess of the goat cheese, and a great choice for vegetarians. Put it all on top of a piece of bread and you’ve got the pintxos perfection.

While this recipe is pretty simple, it’s important to leave yourself enough time to caramelize the onions properly. But other than that, it’s simply a matter of putting it all together! This is one of the easiest pintxos recipes to make in advance—in fact, most Basque bars serve it at room temperature.

Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Pintxo – A Quick and Easy Basque Classic!
This goat cheese and caramelized onion pintxo is a quick and easy appetizer perfect for when you need to impress guests in a hurry! It’s a San Sebastian pintxo bar classic, and is sure to go down well.
Check out this recipe
Small pieces of crusty bread topped with goat cheese and caramelized onions, all held together with a toothpick.

Hot Pintxos Recipes

7. Gambas al Ajillo Pintxo

gambas al ajillo pintxo recipe
These skewers of garlicky shrimp are a brilliant take on the classic gambas al ajillo tapa!

Gambas al ajillo is one of the most iconic tapas dishes in Spain. It’s one of the few recipes you’ll see all across the country, served in small clay pots filled with sizzling garlic oil. It’s hard not to fall in love with your first taste of these addictive garlicky shrimp. 

And the only way to make a good thing even better: Serve it in pintxo form!

These garlic shrimp skewers are a guaranteed crowd pleaser. The shrimp are wonderfully sweet, and the garlic aroma will make you salivate as soon as you smell it! With a bit of lemon and sea salt to finish them off, this dish will have everyone coming back for seconds before you know it.

Gambas al Ajillo Pintxo Recipe
This simple gambas al ajillo pintxo recipe is the perfect way to impress your guests with no work at all! Bring the flavors of Spain into your kitchen with just a few simple steps.
Check out this recipe
gambas al ajillo pintxo recipe

8. Bacon-Wrapped Dates Pintxo

Three bacon-wrapped dates on a white plate in front of green asparagus
The perfect quick and easy starter! Photo credit: Jessica and Lon Binder

Everyone needs a simple go-to appetizer recipe in their back pocket for when guests come around. Whether it’s a dinner party or a pintxos feast, these bacon-wrapped dates are the perfect party pleaser! 

All you need are three ingredients to recreate this classic Basque pintxos bar snack. Stuff dates with tangy goat’s cheese, wrap in bacon, and bake in the oven for a bite with a perfect balance of salt, umami, sweetness, and acidity! 

Bacon Wrapped Dates Recipe
This bacon wrapped dates recipe is my go-to appetizer for dinner parties – of any size! You just need three ingredients, and 20 minutes, to make this delicious dish.
Check out this recipe
Stuffed Bacon wrapped dates served on a cutting board

9. Pinchos Morunos

Pinchos Morunos on wooden skewers on a white plate with lemon wedges.
Spanish pork skewers pack plenty of spice! Photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

These juicy and flavorful Spanish pork skewers aren’t actually a Basque dish—they have their roots in the south of Spain. But they’ve since made their way up north, and are now a common fixture on pintxos bar menus throughout the region.

The blend of spices used in this pintxos recipe comes from Moorish Spain, but the Moors would have made early versions of this dish with lamb due to their Muslim faith. The pork version became popular during the Christian Reconquest and is the most common version of this pincho in modern Spain. However, if you don’t eat pork or just want to try something different, these are also delicious with lamb or chicken!

Pinchos Morunos (Spanish Pork Skewers)
These addictive Spanish pork skewers are called pincho morunos because of their fascinating history. The marinade is a delicious blend of spices and they make the perfect tapa!
Check out this recipe
Spanish pork skewers on a white plate with lemon wedges.

10. Roasted Asparagus with Ham

Green asparagus spears wrapped in slices of cured ham on a white plate
Ham and asparagus is a match made in heaven! Photo credit: Snow

Bright green asparagus takes an even more delicious turn in this guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Wrap each stalk in top-quality cured Spanish ham, sprinkle with Manchego cheese, and pop it in the oven for a few minutes to roast—pintxos recipes don’t get any easier than this!

Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Ham with Manchego Cheese
A delicious ham wrapped asparagus recipe topped with Manchego cheese for extra flavor.
Check out this recipe
A delicious ham wrapped asparagus recipe with Manchego cheese on top!

Pintxos Recipes FAQs

What is the difference between pintxos and tapas?

Pintxos and tapas are closely related, but the former is a twist on the latter found almost exclusively in northern Spain. Tapas are generally small portions of food, whereas the concept of pintxos takes those small portions and skewers them atop slices of crusty bread. Many foods, such as Spanish potato omelet, can be either pintxos or tapas depending on how they are served.

What are Basque tapas?

In the Basque Country, tapas are called “pintxos.” The idea is the same in that both are small bites, but pintxos are often served on top of bread with a toothpick holding it all together. However, even for those small dishes served without the bread and toothpick, you’ll still always see the word “pintxos” up north rather than “tapas.”

How do you say pintxos?

The i in “pintxos” is similar to the long E sound in English, and the distinctly Basque tx is pronounced like “ch.” The stress is on the first syllable. So “pintxos” would be pronounced “PEEN-chos”!

Are pintxos eaten with or without cutlery?

Given their bite-sized nature, you don’t usually need cutlery eat pintxos. Most can be held in your hand and bitten into directly. (Yet another reason to love pintxos—fewer things to clean when it’s time to do the dishes!)

Are pintxos served hot or cold?

This depends on the pintxo. Many are prepared in advance and served room temperature or even cold—these are the pintxos that you’ll see lining bar tops across the Basque Country. However, many pintxos are best when prepared to order and served hot.

Update Notice: This post was originally published on December 14, 2020 and was updated with new text and photos on June 8, 2021.

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