Spanish Banderillas are a type of tapas that feature different pieces of food on a toothpick or skewer. They’re usually a mixture of flavors, like something sour, slightly spicy, and sweet. Think mini charcuterie board on a stick. The aim is to make them colorful and tasty, without needing to do any heavy cooking, and many do not require any cooking at all.
From the famous ‘Gilda’ to many other creative and tasty creations, we’ve taste-tested a bunch of flavor combinations and found the best ones. Let’s explore the delicious world of Spanish Banderillas, one morsel at a time!
The Famous “Gilda”
The Gilda is one of the most famous banderillas and usually consists of an anchovy fillet, green olive, and pickled green pepper. This particular banderilla came out of San Sebastián in The Basque Country, as do so many incredible Spanish recipes. In The Basque Country, The Gilda will usually be served alongside a drink. It’s a flavor explosion and utterly delicious.
In some parts of Spain, the Gilda often comes in a glass of vermouth if you order it out, which gives the sweet drink a lovely kick and helps offset the sweetness. Although, vermouth is sometimes served with orange slices, depending on where you are in Spain and on the bar — or sometimes served with both.
Vermouth in Spain is typically sweet and red and served as an aperitif. It usually comes in a little tumbler with plenty of ice. You’ll find vermouth all over Spain but it’s hugely popular in Madrid and Barcelona. If you head to Madrid, you’ll usually get free tapas with your drinks too, whether it’s olives or something more substantial.
Want to explore the capital of Spanish cuisine? Check out this handy guide: 4 Free Madrid Tapas Walking Tours
How to Make Banderillas at Home
Since there are so many different types of banderillas on offer, we’re going to give you some options of what to include. The beauty about making these at home is you can make these to suit your taste. Don’t like olives? Add a pickle instead. The main point of these is to make them interesting, fun, tasty, and colorful.
Another key point is that most of the ingredients will come from a tin or a jar. There are a few advantages here, especially if you need nibbles to feed many — they’re easy, quick, and require minimal cooking. You can also make different ingredient combinations to suit vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians, and meat eaters.
We’ll break down some ingredient suggestions for you into vegan, vegetarian, seafood, and meat, but if you eat everything, mix and match for sure.
- Guindilla peppers – A type of chili pepper from The Basque Country that is pickled in vinegar. They are much milder than most chilis so fine for most people to eat alone, as long as you like a little spice.
- Pickled red peppers – Sweeter than their green counterparts, pickled red peppers in a jar or tin work great with banderillas since they’re colorful and flavorful.
- Capers – Capers are unopened flower buds that come from the caper bush. They are usually pickled and very salty so they can really add something to your flavor combo.
- Olives – Green olives are more typical when it comes to banderillas but you can use black olives too, if they work better with the other ingredients or you like the color combo.
- Cocktail onions – These small pickled onions are another favorite addition.
- Pickles (gherkins) – These small pickled cucumbers work very well and often find their way onto a banderilla.
- Cherry tomatoes – Not typical with banderillas in Spain, but a common ingredient used in other recipes, and these work really well with many other ingredients.
Everything in the vegan list works here too, plus you can use:
- Hard cheese – A tasty cheese like Manchego (a type of Spanish cheese), which is a hard sheep cheese. You could also use a strong cheddar, goat’s cheese, or any of your favorite cheeses you think would work.
- Egg – Hard-boiled eggs can work a treat as they can be paired with many other ingredients, and can make your little nibbles more filling.
- Anchovies – Use anchovy fillets from a tin or jar and these will add a whole lot of flavor and nutrients as they’re full of Omega-3 fatty acids. Just be careful as they’re usually very salty so you might need or want to use them sparingly.
- Shrimp – Cooked shrimps or prawns are a sweeter seafood option and you can use any size you like depending on whether you’re using toothpicks or larger skewers.
- Smoked salmon – Smoked food is always full of flavor, and smoked salmon is no exception. It’s also easy to cut into small pieces or roll it up and skewer it.
- Spanish ham – Try including different types of Spanish ham like Jamón Ibérico, Jamón Serrano. Since you don’t need much, splurging on a quality cured ham can make all the difference.
- Chorizo – Cured Spanish chorizo is already incredible on its own and can be a great addition to pickled condiments like peppers.
How to Assemble Banderillas
Creating your own banderillas at home is very easy. Simply choose your ingredients, cut them to size (if need be), then add them to a toothpick or skewer. You can just lay them on a plate, which is the typical way you’ll see them in Spanish bars.
If you want to make them more filling for guests and try a different style of presentation you can cut small pieces of baguette and stick each banderilla into a piece so that they’re standing up. This isn’t traditional in Spain as this is more commonly seen with pintxos which are slightly more hearty than a banderilla. But, it’s a good way to keep them separate and your friends can easily choose their favorite.
If you want cute or fancy skewers to use, you’ll find a whole range of different skewers online. Check out these eco-friendly bamboo skewers available in a pack of 100.
Looking for More Tapas Recipes?
Whether you’re having a tapas party for one or 100, here are some easy Spanish tapas recipes to try at home: