Food Culture in Spain

Food culture in Spain

Spanish cuisine is considered one of the best cuisines in the world. You will eat delicious food while exploring Spain. Spaniards are known for eating often and later than North Americans and countries of northern Europe. Most Spaniards eat between four and six meals a day.

This post explains

  • mealtimes in Spain
  • the number of meals Spanish people have in one day
  • the most popular dishes, tapas and desserts!

Mealtimes in Spain

Empanadas por desayuno


Desayuno, which means breakfast in Spanish, is the first meal of the day. It usually happens between 7 AM and 9 AM depending on when you start work. Typical Spanish breakfast can be sweet or savory. These are the top traditional Spanish breakfasts and its translation into Spanish:

  • Coffee → café (The most popular coffee is “café con leche” or “cortado”)
  • Fresh orange juice → zumo de naranja
  • Pastries such as croissants, empanadas, and muffins are the most popular
  • Toasted bread with tomatoes and olive oil → Tostada con tomate y aceite
  • Toasted bread with jam and butter → Tostada con mermelada y mantequilla
  • Churros & Chocolate → Chocolate con churros

Comida or Almuerzo

Comida or Almuerzo, which means lunch in Spanish, is the second meal of the day. It happens between 2 PM and 3:30 PM. See examples of popular dishes below.


Merienda, which is a mid-day snack, happens between 5 PM and 7 PM. The word “merienda” translates to “afternoon snack” but it is considered a midday meal. Merienda can be sweet like donuts and croissants, or savory like sandwiches or empanadas.


Cena, which means dinner in Spanish, happens between 9 PM and 11 PM. Dinner in Spain is a lighter meal than lunch. You will notice that the portions served at dinner are smaller and simpler. Spanish people love to eat seafood or/and tapas for dinner as it is a very light meal.

Popular Spanish Dishes

Keep in mind that every region has its own popular dishes too. Here is a list of popular Spanish products and dishes that you will find in most restaurant menus and that you should try while visiting Spain.

Popular Dishes for Lunch and/or Dinner

Popular Spanish Dishes

  • Paella → rice dish originally from Valencia.
  • Tortilla de patatas → Omelette made with eggs, potatoes, and sometimes onions.
  • Gazpacho → Soup made from tomatoes, other vegetables and spices. Soup is served cold.
  • Cocido madrileno → Pottage of chickpeas, sturdy vegetables, and sausages popular in Madrid.
  • Fabada → Bean stew with preserved meats like dried pork shoulder, black pudding, and bacon from Asturias.
  • Cordero asado → Roasted lamb.


Tapas are small appetizers but if combined they can serve a full meal. Tapas can be served hot or cold.

  • Pulpo a la gallega → Grilled octopus with potatoes
  • Jamon serrano or jamon Iberico → Spain dry cured ham
  • Queso manchego → Semi soft cheese
  • Bravas → Fried potatoes served with a spicy sauce.
  • Gambas al ajillo → Shrimp with garlic
  • Calamares a la romana → Fried squid
  • Croquetas → Round patty prepared with a battery bechamel filled with either ham, cheese, chorizo, etc.

Spanish Deserts

Spanish Deserts

  • Crema Catalana → Spanish version of Creme Brulee
  • Flan → Caramel pudding
  • Chocolate con churros → Fried dough served with hot chocolate
  • Natillas → The dish is an egg custard made with milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
  • Arroz con leche → Rice pudding
Th Essential Spain Travel Guide

The Essential Spain Travel Guide

I have created the Ultimate Spain Travel Guide with all the important things to know before traveling to Spain. I want you to feel confident during your trip and understand what is going on around you. It includes information such as:

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