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Open up your home kitchen to a world of sumptuous Mediterranean sweetness, and get inspired with these popular Spanish dessert recipes to wow friends and family at your next holiday or gathering.
Spanish cuisine has a big focus on simplicity when it comes to desserts. Many of the country’s classic desserts bring together simple ingredients to ignite big, rich, and delightful flavors.
From decadent pastries to creamy puddings, many of the desserts of Spain are simple to make, yet will keep you yearning for more with every mouthful.
So let us take you on a rich, creamy, and sweet culinary tour of Spain, and find out all about 14 of the country’s most beloved desserts, and how to make them at home.
Most Popular Spanish Desserts with Recipes
1 – Crema Catalana
A close cousin, or some argue even a sibling, to French crème brûlée, crema catalana is a refreshing Spanish dessert that perfectly closes Spanish lunches or dinners in the heat of the summer sun.
Literally meaning ‘burnt cream,’ crema catalana is a custard cream of milk, egg yolks, and cornstarch that is mixed, beaten, heated, and finally chilled.
Traditionally, once the custard had set, sugar was poured over the top and burnt with an iron rod to create its iconic dark crust. Today, chefs use other tools, such as a blowtorch.
The thick, creamy texture of the custard and the caramelized, crunchy sugar make for a delightful bite with each and every mouthful. Its sweet taste, with cinnamon and citrusy notes running through, makes for a truly delicious dessert.
2 – Leche Frita
Many Spanish desserts show how simple techniques can still deliver highly sweet, rich, and delightful flavors, and leche frita is a classic example of this style of cooking.
Meaning ‘fried milk,’ leche frita is a dessert of fried dough, made from a wholesome mixture of milk, flour, sugar, and eggs.
At first, the mixture is cooked until thickened. Once ready, the dough can be molded into a wide array of different shapes and wedges, ready to be fried.
Finished with a sweet sugar glaze and dusted with cinnamon powder, this is a dessert of Spain that is simple to make, yet utterly indulgent. You’ll want to sink your teeth in from the moment you lay eyes on each cake.
3 – Arroz Con Leche
Incredibly diverse and enjoyable for the whole family, arroz con leche is a Spanish take on the globally popular rice pudding.
Historically, it was a simple, sweet treat that utilized leftover rice. Today, Spanish chefs from all over the world have enhanced this wholesome dessert with new and exciting twists and flavors.
Arroze con leche gets its rich, luscious body from a mixture of white rice, milk, water, sugar, and butter.
The use of vanilla and cinnamon help layer the sweetness, and in some Spanish recipes, raisins are used to add a touch of sweet tanginess.
This recipe is a simple way to feed your kids, friends, or loved ones a simple, wholesome dessert that will leave them longing for more.
4 – Tarta de Santiago
For those who love nutty flavors in their desserts, this recipe for a classic tarta de Santiago is ideal for serving at celebrations, holidays, and large gatherings with friends and loved ones.
Meaning ‘Cake of St. James,’ tarta de Santiago is a truly satisfying almond cake, dating back to Middle Ages Galacia, in modern-day northern Spain.
Through generations, recipes have been adapted to bake the cake both with and without a buttery pastry base, depending on preference.
Finished with a Cross of St. James imprint created by a generous dusting of powdered sugar, this is a cake packed with flavor.
The sharpness of lemon, the pure sweetness of almond, and the bitter sweetness of wine or brandy all come through in each and every bite. Utterly divine.
5 – Natillas de Leche
Spanish custard is a recipe wildly popular throughout the Spanish-speaking regions of the world. It is breathtakingly simple, and generously sweet.
Texturally, natillas de leche is closer to a flan than, say, French custard. It is thinner, but the use of vanilla and cinnamon gives it a rich, indulgent flavor.
Defined by its deep yellow color, this creamy custard is an ideal dessert to serve to large gatherings of people. It is served chilled and dusted with cinnamon.
6 – Turron
If your palate often steers you toward nuttier flavors, Spanish turron is a dessert that will have to make an appearance in your home kitchen at some point.
A chewy nougat or various nuts, commonly almonds, turron is one of the country’s most beloved candies. You’ll find it packaged in bars and sold in shops and supermarkets throughout Spain. You can also buy it on Amazon around the world.
Homemade turron promises an afternoon of fun and experimentation. Traditionally, it is a mixture of eggs, honey, and sugar. The mixture is cooked, then cooled until the honey caramelizes.
While almonds are traditionally added to the mixture, Spanish chefs have developed a glorious array of different flavors, both hard and soft. Coconut, hazelnut, and even chocolate recipes have all come to fruition in the last few years.
7 – Churros
Churros instantly bring back fond childhood memories and nostalgia for so many Spaniards and Portuguese. These fried dough twists are a beloved sweet snack, ideal for all occasions.
Defined by their ridged, winding shape, churros are commonly eaten at breakfast. Spaniards love to dip them in hot chocolate, dulce de leche, or other sweet, delicious treats.
Our simple featured recipe gives you everything you need to swiftly whip up a batch of sweet, wholesome churros. Just watch your kids’, friends’, or partners’ eyes light up when you serve them these rich, fried treats with a side of thick hot chocolate!
8 – Flan
Just the mere sight of the smooth, glistening yellow edge, curving up to a flat rich, golden top, is enough to get the mouth salivating, and many Spaniards will agree.
Spanish flan is a dessert that has stood the test of time. Wonderfully simple, each slice treats you to a light, egg custard texture, as a thick caramel sauce oozes from within and spreads sweetness across the tongue.
With custard or jelly-like consistency, and a rich, sweet taste that is laced with undertones of vanilla, flan is a Spanish dessert that prides itself on drawing out your inner indulgence and never letting go.
Utilizing very few ingredients, our featured recipe will help you bring this classic Spanish dish into your home kitchen in a fun, enjoyable way.
9 – Buñuelos
Looking for a Spanish-inspired dessert to feed the masses at a festival, celebration, or dinner party? Buñuelos are the perfect dessert to pile up on a plate and serve to a large gathering of people.
A staple of Mediterranean cuisine, buñuelos are wildly popular across Europe, Africa, and Asia. These fried dough delights, with our featured recipe, are straightforward to make and incredibly diverse.
The beauty of buñuelos is in their toppings and fillings. Similarly to doughnuts, the world is your oyster when it comes to the gooey filling, stuffed into the center of the fluffy, soft dough.
Buñuelos can be both sweet and savory, and they come in many shapes and sizes. Whether you want to stay true to tradition or experiment with your own toppings and flavors, there’s so much fun and flavor to be had with this dessert.
10 – Polvorones
One of Andalusia’s most celebrated gifts to the world, polvorones are delightfully soft shortbread cakes, traditionally prepared and enjoyed during the holiday season.
As with many Spanish recipes, almonds provide the sweet, nutty notes that help elevate the flavor of these crumbly, wholesome cakes.
Throughout Spain, you’ll find polvorones in many bakeries topped with a generous dusting of sugar and wrapped in decorative wrappings.
This recipe will go down a storm with anyone who loves comforting cakes and biscuits, with a milder flavor profile that doesn’t overwhelm with too much tartness or sweetness.
11 – Tarta de Queso (Basque Cheesecake)
One for dessert lovers who yearn for savory, mature flavors, Basque cheesecake is beautiful to lay eyes on and is magnificently airy, creamy, and heavenly.
Also known as ‘burnt’ Basque cheesecake, tarta de queso is relatively new to Spanish cuisine. It was developed in the early 1990s, inspired by American cheesecake recipes.
Beyond the caramelized, cracked surface, defined by its dark brown ridges, you’re treated to a creamy, melt-in-mouth filling, that offsets the ‘burnt’ texture of the crust so effortlessly.
Basque cheesecake is so simple to make. Traditionally, it was made from a mixture of eggs, flour, heavy cream, sugar, and cream cheese.
Through the years, various ingredients have been added to enhance the flavor profile. From vanilla to lemon, there are so many ways to create this beloved cheesecake to suit both sweet and savory palates, depending on your guests.
12 – Miguelitos
Gorgeous to behold, creamy and fluffy miguelitos have been lining bakery windows and counters throughout Spain since the 1960s.
Miguelitos are the perfect dessert for anyone who loves a broad range of textures in every bite. This dish is made from puff pastry, which gives the cake a flaky, light, and buttery bite once baked.
Beyond the pastry, your tastebuds will be treated to a thick, oozing cream filling, that blissfully seeps beyond the flaky pastry with each and every bite.
This recipe gives you everything you need to make this angelic Spanish pastry, which you can then adapt to your own tastes. Bakeries across Spain have filled these delightful pastries with an incredible array of fillings, from rich milk chocolate to sweet custard.
13 – Panellets
Utterly sumptuous, and ideal for gorging on at dinner parties and celebrations, panellets are the perfect sweet treat to bring a taste of traditional Catalonia into your home kitchen.
These delightful balls of marzipan, made from sugar and almonds, traditionally were served to celebrate All Saints Day, along with sweet potatoes, roasted nuts, and sweet dessert wines.
The traditional recipe rolls them in pine nuts, but today you can find panellets in many different shapes and toppings. Spanish bakeries serve them by the truckload.
This simple recipe will have you serving a decadent tower of those beautiful orbs of marzipan and nutty goodness in no time at all.
14 – Torrijas
Torrijas are a glorious French toast-influenced Spanish dish, traditionally made by soaking leftover bread in rich wines or milk, soaking it in egg, and then finally frying it in oil.
A dish as indulgent as it is resourceful, frying the bread gives it a doughnut-like fried outer casing, while the center remains wonderfully soft.
Honey used at the soaking stage, and a dusting of cinnamon at the end gives this wholesome dish a delightful sweetness with every bite.
If you’re preparing a romantic brunch, or want to feed the family a Spanish-inspired yummy snack, you can’t go far wrong with torrijas.
Most Popular Spanish Desserts Summary
Eager to try something new? Spanish desserts are the perfect go-to for anyone looking to dazzle and dine dinner guests with exciting, delicious dishes, without having to tackle complex recipes.
Some of the country’s most popular desserts are a testament to the resourcefulness of generations of Spaniards. The country’s cuisine is rife with great foods, that are simple to make.
Be it for romantic evenings, important holidays, or for entertaining guests, few, if any, will be disappointed with these Spanish dishes on the menu. They are great to make at home and can leave a lasting impression.
Before we leave Spain, one final time, here is the full list of popular Spanish desserts we looked at in this article, for reference:
- Crema Catalana
- Leche Frita
- Arroz con Leche
- Tarta de Santiago
- Natillas de Leche
- Tarta de Queso (Basque Cheesecake)
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Save and Pin for Later
Excited to try some of these beautiful and delicious Spanish desserts at home? Keep this article for a later date by saving it to one of your international recipes Pinterest boards, ready for your next dinner party or holiday celebration.
Author: Dale Johnson is a content writer and strategist, who is passionate about foodie travel. Through the years, he has spent plenty of time in Spain, in Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, among other places, trying various foods and dishes.
Christine L Rogers
Saturday 10th of April 2021
I am of Spanish descent from way back. Many of these desserts, such as Arozz con leche, polvorones, and rocoes I learned how to make from my grandmother. However, I've never made Buñuelos before. Would love to try this holiday special one day.
Tuesday 6th of April 2021
I identify as Spanish :) Both parents and and as far up as I can trace are Spanish. Nice list, although I don't consider some as dessert... See below.
Crema Catalana - yup Leche Frita - yup Arroz con Leche - yup Tarta de Santiago - yup Natillas de Leche - yup Turron - only at xmas Churros - only at breakfast (or after partying at clubs :)) Flan - yup Buñuelos - yup Polvorones - only at xmas Tarta de Queso (Basque Cheesecake) - yup Miguelitos - yup Panellets - yup Torrijas - only at Easter