You Can't Top This: 14 Tapas Recipes for Your Next Cocktail Party

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J. Kenji López-Alt

It's 2017, so I don't think I need to explain to anyone the wonder of tapas, Spanish snacks originally designed to entice people into bars. These small dishes, often served on bread, are just what you need to soak up a glass of sherry. And while tapas originated in bars, they're easy to make at home and perfect for cocktail parties.

Spain is a land of fantastic seafood, which is reflected in many of our favorite tapas, from garlicky gambas al ajillo to piquillo peppers stuffed with tuna. We've got plenty of vegetarian options, too—try our addictive blistered Padrón peppers or crispy patatas bravas. Stock up on wine, invite some guests, and get ready for your next party with 14 of our favorite tapas recipes.

Seafood

Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

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J. Kenji López-Alt

I hope you like garlic, because this dish is made with a full 12 cloves. Four of the cloves are grated onto the shrimp as it marinates, four are smashed and infused into the olive oil, and four are sliced and fried. After all of the shrimp is gone you'll be left with plenty of garlic- and shrimp-infused oil, so make sure to have crusty bread on hand to soak it up.

Get the recipe for Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo) »

Sous Vide Shrimp With Garlic, Sherry, and Smoked Paprika

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J. Kenji López-Alt

For this less-traditional dish we cook the shrimp sous vide, which allows you to get textures that are impossible with conventional cooking methods. The technique might be high-tech, but the flavorings are classic: extra-virgin olive oil, sherry, and garlic, and some unconventional (but still delicious) smoked paprika.

Get the recipe for Sous Vide Shrimp With Garlic, Sherry, and Smoked Paprika »

Spanish Tuna-Stuffed Piquillo Peppers (Pimientos del Piquillo Rellenos de Atún)

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J. Kenji López-Alt

Canned food has a bad reputation in the US, but in Spain it's practically an art form. This recipe is based on two Spanish canned delicacies: piquillo peppers and bonito tuna. We dress the tuna with homemade allioli, olive oil, shallots, capers, and parsley; stuff the mixture into the peppers; and serve on top of toasted baguette slices.

Get the recipe for Spanish Tuna-Stuffed Piquillo Peppers (Pimientos del Piquillo Rellenos de Atún) »

Galician Empanada With Tuna, Onion, and Green Bell Pepper Filling

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Vicky Wasik

The Galician empanada—a predecessor to the Latin American version of the dish you're probably more familiar with—is another great way to use oil-packed tuna. Rather than individual hand pies, this recipe makes one big pie stuffed with onion, green pepper, and the tuna.

Get the recipe for Galician Empanada With Tuna, Onion, and Green Bell Pepper Filling »

Classic Pulpo Gallego (Galician Octopus Tapa)

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Vicky Wasik

If you've never cooked octopus before, this Galician dish is a good place to start. It's about as simple as can be—nothing more than slices of octopus topped with olive oil, salt, and Spanish smoked paprika. You can cook perfectly tender octopus on the stove, but it's much faster with a pressure cooker.

Get the recipe for Classic Pulpo Gallego (Galician Octopus Tapa) »

Anchovy, Red Pepper, and Manchego Pintxos

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Marvin Gapultos

Pintxos are a blank canvas—slices of bread are a must, but you can top them with just about anything you want. To get you started we've got a version made with nutty Manchego cheese, salty anchovies, and sweet roasted red pepper. We finish the pintxos with a drizzle of acidic sherry vinegar.

Get the recipe for Anchovy, Red Pepper, and Manchego Pintxos »

Grilled Sardines With Lemon, Garlic, and Paprika

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Marvin Gapultos

In my opinion, no tapas experience is complete without sardines. The little fish can be a little, well, fishy, so here we marinate them with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic before they hit the grill. A teaspoon of smoked paprika reinforces the charred flavor from the fire, while parsley and lemon brighten the dish up.

Get the recipe for Grilled Sardines With Lemon, Garlic, and Paprika »

Vegetarian

Pan con Tomate (Spanish-Style Grilled Bread With Tomato)

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J. Kenji López-Alt

If you want a break from all that fish, try this humble dish of toasted bread rubbed with garlic and topped with tomato. We grate the ripe beefsteak tomatoes on a box grater, which pulverizes the pulp and separates it from the skin. Cut the bread on the thicker side to support a generous helping of tomato.

Get the recipe for Pan con Tomate (Spanish-Style Grilled Bread With Tomato) »

Spanish-Style Blistered Padrón Peppers (Pimientos de Padrón)

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J. Kenji López-Alt

Even easier than pan con tomate, this tapa is made with just Padrón peppers, oil, and coarse sea salt. We char the peppers in canola oil in a blisteringly hot skillet and finish with olive oil—we don't worry too much about the safety of searing in olive oil, but high heat gives the oil a strong flavor that would overpower the peppers.

Get the recipe for Spanish-Style Blistered Padrón Peppers (Pimientos de Padrón) »

Warm Spanish-Style Giant-Bean Salad With Smoked Paprika and Celery

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J. Kenji López-Alt

Starting with high quality cooked beans, this salad takes only five minutes to prepare. We start by heating up tomato paste in a skillet with olive oil, paprika, garlic, and shallot, then add celery, sherry vinegar, olive oil, and the beans. Give the beans just a minute to warm through and you're ready to serve.

Get the recipe for Warm Spanish-Style Giant-Bean Salad With Smoked Paprika and Celery »

Tortilla Española (Spanish Egg and Potato Omelette)

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Vicky Wasik

Tortilla española is hearty enough for a full meal, but works equally well as a tapas snack. It's made by cooking potatoes and onions in lots of olive oil until the spuds are tender, then mixing them with eggs and cooking until the outside of the omelette is nicely browned. Don't cook it too long though—you're looking for a soft, creamy center.

Get the recipe for Tortilla Española (Spanish Egg and Potato Omelette) »

Salt-and-Vinegar Spanish Tortilla With Quick Cheaty Allioli

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J. Kenji López-Alt

Don't want to go to the trouble of cooking potatoes? Chef José Andrés taught us that you can make a quick, delicious tortilla española using potato chips instead. We use salt-and-vinegar chips here, but go with whatever you like. In the spirit of keeping the recipe fast, we serve the tortilla with a cheaty allioli made by mixing mayo with olive oil, minced garlic, and black pepper.

Get the recipe for Salt-and-Vinegar Spanish Tortilla With Quick Cheaty Allioli »

Patatas Bravas

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J. Kenji López-Alt

Every tapas bar has its own version of patatas bravas. Many use a dark red sauce, but our recipe tops the cubed potatoes with allioli, smoked paprika, and scallions. Par-boiling the potatoes in vinegar-spiked water helps them get extra crispy when fried up in a skillet.

Get the recipe for Patatas Bravas »

Mushroom and Crushed Egg Tapas (Tapas de Setas con Huevo)

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J. Kenji López-Alt

When you're only using a couple of ingredients in a dish, you need to make sure that they are as good as possible. In this case that means springing for the fanciest mushrooms you can find and reaching for your best bottle of strong, grassy olive oil. The eggs don't need to be anything special, but make sure to cook them right.

Get the recipe for Mushroom and Crushed Egg Tapas (Tapas de Setas con Huevo) »