Today David is back, sharing another pintxos recipe. This smoked salmon and cream cheese pintxo is typical in the Basque Country and is absolutely delicious.
Pintxos are Basque appetizers with style. Every tapas bar in the País Vasco, from San Sebastian to Bilbao, has counters filled with these tasty morsels and hordes of locals chowing down.
In their most simple form, a pintxo is just a slice of crusty baguette topped with something savory. It can be as easy as a piece of tortilla with mayo, or as creative as a piece of foodie art! The beauty of pintxos is their versatility. One of them can be a snack, and a plate can make a meal. When locals hit the town, they do a classic pintxo crawl and hit up a few different bars, sampling the best bite at each one.
But back at home, pintxos are perfect for guests. When you have people coming over and need to feed them quickly, these bites are your best friend. They’re quick to make, taste great, and always impress.
How to Make this Pintxo
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. You can make it as a snack, an easy appetizer, or serve it with some of my other authentic pintxo recipes for a night of Basque cuisine!
To make this recipe, you’ll want good, cold-smoked smoked salmon (also called Nova lox). When it comes in packets, the fillet slices are usually layered on top of each other, so be careful and peel them off gently before slicing them for the pintxo. If you buy the fillet whole, use a sharp knife to slice it horizontally (easiest when it’s cold from the fridge).
My recipe makes 12 pintxos, but you can halve or double the quantity depending on your desired quantity.
And don’t forget to experiment with toppings! I like simple things, so I just go for a squeeze of lemon and some fresh parsley leaves. But why not try out some more advanced tastes? You’ll find this dish in the Basque country, with varied toppings like salted anchovies, caviar, pickles, hard-boiled egg, and capers.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Bread: You can experiment with different kinds of bread here, but in Basque Country, a hearty baguette is the most commonly used.
- Salmon: If you can’t find smoked salmon (or it’s too pricey) try smoked trout. It’s a common substitute in Spain, and you can barely tell the difference. Other smoked fish, such as cod, could also work.
- Cream Cheese: If you prefer, try another creamy spreadable cheese, such as mascarpone.
- Toppings: You can get creative here! From the black sesame seeds (pictured) to a skewer with pickled vegetables, hard-boiled egg, and more — feel free to experiment.
More Easy Pintxos Recipes
If you like this easy pintxo, bookmark these recipes for next time!
- Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions Pintxo: This delicious combination of creamy goat cheese and slightly sweet caramelized onions is a popular pintxo and easy to recreate at home.
- Gambas al Ajillo Pintxo: One of the most popular Spanish tapas, in pintxos form! These garlicky shrimp are a must-try.
- Bacon-Wrapped Dates Pintxo: Dates are stuffed with cheese and Marcona almonds, wrapped in bacon or Serrano ham, and baked until crisp and warm.
- Classic Basque Gilda Pintxo: This is the most traditional pintxo and it’s so delicious. Olives, anchovies, and spicy pickled peppers — just try it!
Printable Recipe Card
If you’d like to print this out, you can do that here. The recipe can print in black and white, without the photos for an easy read.
Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Pintxo
- 1 baguette
- 1 pound cold-smoked salmon (a.k.a. Nova lox) (450 grams)
- 1 pound cream cheese (450 grams)
- 1 lemon sliced into thin wedges
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves to garnish
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (160°C). To prepare the baguette, slice it into 1/3-inch thick pieces and arrange them on a baking tray. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Put to one side and let cool.
- Generously spread the cream cheese on each slice of baguette. Cut the slices or fillet of salmon into pieces the size of the bread slices, and layer over the cream cheese.
- Serve, garnished with a few fresh parsley leaves and a thin slice of lemon.
- Pintxos in Basque Country are often as beautiful as they are delicious. To make this simple pintxo truly exciting, you can put some optional toppings on a decorative toothpick and spear the skewer into the center of the pintxo.
- Optional toppings: I love making a skewer with a couple of olives, a good quality anchovy, a hard-boiled quail egg (or a quarter of a hard-boiled chicken egg), and a small piece of pickle. Yum!
- Substitutions: If you can't find smoked salmon or it's too pricey, here in Spain we often substitute smoked trout. It's delicious!
What’s your favorite pintxo in the Basque country? And how would you customize your own smoked salmon and cream cheese pintxo? Let me know in the comments.