Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love

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As you might expect, there is plenty of great food in Spain for kids. Eating in Spain is something that everyone should experience for themselves, and there are many things to try. Here is our (growing) list of recommended Spanish foods that every kid should try.

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love ham & cheese

Food in Spain for Kids

If you’re looking for Spanish food that your kids will like, you’re in luck. There is plenty of food in Spain for kids who might be picky eaters.

To be clear: the below list of Spanish foods is not comprehensive. In fact, I left out many common Spanish foods, including a lot of my own favorites. Why? Because many kids (including mine) don’t like them. Rather, this list is to help you understand some of the most accessible food in Spain for kids. Therefore, I left out tasty items like anchovies, morcilla (blood sausage), stinky cheeses, and the wide variety of olives (stuffed with octopus, for example). Another day, another post.

If your kids have a Western palate, then don’t worry. They’ll find plenty to eat. You can find many of their favorite foods in any major Spanish city. Pizza, pasta, and burger shops are everywhere. So are kebabs (“gyros” for my American countrymen).

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Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love PIN 1

Where to Find Spanish Food for Kids

It’s not hard finding delicious food in Spain for kids, but here are a few of the easiest things to fill growling bellies. Sandwiches are common throughout Europe. That said, the Spanish definition of sandwich might be slightly different. When you see “sandwich” written on a menu, it often means something small and simple on 2 slices of loaf bread.

Instead, look for boccadillos. These are sandwiches made from a hard baguette cut lengthwise, and they are often much more substantial. The most common sandwich varieties involve jamon (Spanish ham), cheese, and tomatoes. Tuna fish is also common, too, but FYI: tuna is often mixed with olives. Sausage or fried squid (calamari) sandwiches are also easy to find.

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love bocadillo

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love tapas

A pintxo bar in San Sebastian

Tapas bars specialize in serving small plates that you eat communally. This may be a great way for picky eaters to try several things without committing to any of them. Our favorite version of tapas is pintxos. Originating in the Basque Region of Northern Spain, most pintxos are slices of baguette served with varied toppings held onto the bread with a toothpick. Pintxo restaurants are usually self-serve, and you often pay at the end after the waiter counts your toothpicks.

Another common style of restaurant in Spain is the cervezeria. Yes, they serve cerveza (beer), but they’re usually much more than a bar. Instead, think of it more as a sandwich shop or bar & grill. Look for these to find cheaper menus than you’ll find in white-tablecloth restaurants.

Spanish Bakeries

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love bakery

Satisfying a sweet tooth in Spanish bakeries

Bread is a staple across Spain. Most towns have at least one bakery, but cities like Barcelona and Valencia may seem to have a pasteleria (cake shop) or pasticceria (confectionary) on every corner.

Most of these shops will have cakes, cookies, and pastries on offer, as well as croissants and small sandwiches. Empanadas are common as well (more on them below).

More Food in Spain for Kids

Okay, now that we’ve got those out of the way, let’s get to a full-on list of kid-friendly foods in Spain. But first, one last thing. We’ve talked about where to get Spanish food, and soon we’ll talk about what Spanish foods to try, but I should also mention when to eat in Spain. Spanish mealtimes are not the same as in most of the world. I’ve written more about Spanish meal times in another post.

Now, onto the food! These are some of the most common Spanish foods that kids will love.

Paella

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love paella with Jen & David

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love paella over coal

What’s more Spanish than this amazing rice dish? Traditional paella uses chicken and rabbit, but there are many paella varieties across the country. Two other common paella dishes are seafood paella and squid paella cooked in the squid’s ink.

Paella originated in Valencia. Since moving to Valencia in 2015, we’ve discovered that people here are quite particular about their national dish. “Seafood paella isn’t really paella,” a local friend once told me dismissively, “that’s just fish and rice.” That may or may not be true, but they’re all delicious and often a loved by kids.

Empanadas

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love empanadas

You’ll find these little pockets of goodness in both high-end restaurants and street-side stands. Common varieties are jamon y queso (ham & cheese) and atun (tuna). Another favorite empanada kids love is pisto, which is a stew similar to ratatouille: red bell peppers & eggplant in a tomato sauce). Pisto a common empanada filling. We eat a lot of pisto empanadas.

Albondigas

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love meatballs

These are Spanish-style meatballs. Smaller than golf balls, albodigas are menu staples at cervezerias and tapas restaurants. They are commonly served in a tomato or mushroom sauce, or on their own.

Chorizo and other sausages

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love crema chorizo

Finding sausages and other cured meats is not hard in Spain. Like bakeries, you’ll find butchers and charcuterias all over Spain. The most common Spanish sausage is the chorizo. If that flavor is too bold, look for salchichón and fuet. There’s also sobrasada, which is like a sausage spread that’s delicious on crusty bread. It’s a very common Spanish snack for kids.

Jamon

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love jamon bread tomato

Spain loves its pork products, don’t they? Spanish ham is delicious and ubiquitous. If you eat pork, make sure to try it at several places and at varying quality levels. One way to do this is to head into a place like the Mercado Central in Valencia and or La Boqueria in Barcelona. Many of the vendors here hand out samples.

Patatas Bravas

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love patatas bravas

This is Spain’s version of french fries. Chunks of deep-fried potato are usually served with mayo and/or a slightly spicy red sauce.

Tortilla Patata

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love vert tortilla patata

Yes, this tortilla patata sandwich is as big as it looks

A classic Spanish food for kids and everyone else. This potato omelet is deceivingly simple but very satisfying and a hit with the finickiest of eaters. Usually served alone, it is also a common filling in boccadillo-style sandwiches.

Croquetas

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love croquetas

You may know these as croquettes. Common fillings for these deep-fried goodies are Spanish ham, potatoes, and cod.

Calamares Romana

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love calamares romana

What you know as fried calamari is known in Spain as Calamares Romana (“Roman-style Squid”). It’s basically the same dish and is often served with mayonnaise and a lemon wedge.

Shrimp and other seafood

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love gambas shrimp prawns

Calling all pescatarians! Spain consumes a lot of seafood, including clams, mussels, octopus, and a wide variety of fish and shrimp. Coming from Japan, our family absolutely loves this. There are dozens of sushi restaurants in every major town, as well. We’re snobs, though — we just save our money to eat at the Tsukiji Fish market again. If your kids like shrimp, it will be easy to locate.

Spanish Fruit & Produce to Try

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love fruit

Fruit for sale in Valencia’s Mercado Central

One of the best things about living in Valencia for us is the beautiful and plentiful produce. Mounds of fresh fruit and vegetables cover large swaths of every supermarket, and small mom-& pop vendors are common on the side streets.

If you like tomatoes, you’ll love eating in Spain. There are at least a half-dozen varieties at most grocery stores. Our favorites are the tomate negro, also called a kumato — sometimes they’re dark green, while other times a deep chocolate brown. Another favorite in our house are the huge, thick red bell peppers we get here. I’ve always lived in countries where the red ones were sometimes double the price of green ones. In Valencia, the price difference is negligible. We eat tons of them.

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love spanish fruits and vegetables komato tomate negro granada pomegranate fig melon

Left to right: Tomate Negro (kumato), Granada (pomegranate), figs, and the Santa Claus melon

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love orange

Spanish Fruit

As for fruit, there is much to choose from, as well. Figs and pomegranates are special treats for us. We also discovered a variety of melon we’d never tried before. Called “piel de sapo” (toad skin) for it’s rough, green exterior, the whitish flesh inside is mellow and sweet. If “toad skin” sounds unappealing, go with the English name: the “Santa Claus” melon.

For something more exotic, try a cherimoya, a fruit Mark Twain once said was “the most delicious fruit known to men.” We ate our share of cherimoya in Taiwan and Vietnam, and they’re just as good here.

Aren’t we forgetting something here? Duh….the Valencia oranges. If you’re wondering, yes, they are that good. However, keep in mind that they are seasonal, and best tasted in the winter. You will see bags of oranges out of season, as well, and they’re often marked “jugo.” This means “for juicing.”

Orange trees line many of the sidewalks in Valencia, and they’re often heaving with oranges. Same in the parks. However, these must be a decorative type of orange, because they are not delicious like the ones you buy in the market. Just sayin’.

Desserts in Spain for Kids

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love desserts

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love spanish desserts arroz con lecha flan gelato crema de catalana

Left to right: Arroz con leche, flan, gelato and crema de Catalana

Man-o-man, the Spanish have a serious sweet tooth! This was good news for our daughter…and possibly for her future dentist. Here are a few Spanish desserts you should try.

Some of the most common Spanish desserts fit in the custard family. There is flan, of course. Then there is natilla, which strikes our palates as a liquid version of flan (often served with a cookie on top). Crema Catalana is the Spanish version of crème brûlée: sweet custard with a crispy top layer of burned sugar. The difference here is a slight flavor or orange zest.

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love horchata fartons

Wash down your fartons with a glass of horchata…and stop giggling

Another major dessert category for Spain are the churros. A common sight at Spain’s amazing festivals, churro stands serve up hot, crispy goodness with a cup of Spanish hot chocolate. Be warned: Spanish hot chocolate is a dipping sauce, not a drink. It’s so thick that a plastic spoon can stand straight up in it.

On the other hand, want something cold instead? You’ll find ice cream and gelato everywhere.

Another common dessert and snack we see in Valencia is the (unfortunately named) farton. These are simple pastry sticks sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with coffee or horchata.

What is your recommended food in Spain for kids?

This list barely scratches the surface of delicious Spanish foods to try. For the purposes of this post, however, I wanted to keep it simple, and only for finicky eaters. Is there other food in Spain for kids that should be on this list? Tell me in the comments, or contact me directly.

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love santander dinner paella

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love fruit cups

Ready-to-eat fruit at the Mercado Central

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love PIN 2

Food in Spain for Kids — Spanish Dishes Your Kids will Love PIN 3

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel.

Image credits: #3, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #14, #15, #19, #20, 22, #24, #26, #28

Comments

  1. Did you taste the horchata?

    • We sure did. Our son loves it, while our daughter does not. Wife and I like it too — reminds us of soy milk in Taiwan. I should write more about horchata here, huh? We’re now in Mexico and the boy ordered a glass just the other day. 🙂

      • I recently found that a Valencian trademark horchata, “Panach” was sold in a shop at Puerto Rico, and it was very like the one tasted in Valencia. Did you learn to cook paella?

        By the way, now that you’re in Mexico, have you writen a compartive between living in Spain and living in Mexico? Are these countries similar, different…? (If you did, I haven’t found it).

        I love your blog.

        • we cooked a simple version at home sometimes, but never the entire process with the big pan. we did have a good friend who made it often, so we helped with that, but I regret not taking a class together with the kids. Re: Mexico/Spain, YES, there are significant differences in the cost of living. It may surprise you that we’ve found living a similar standard here in Mexico is much more expensive than Valencia, but there are a lot of factors, and I’m sure that the cities we chose play a part. I haven’t written about it yet, but maybe I should.

          Thank you for your kind words!

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