Most authentic Spanish chicken recipes you must try
THESE ARE THE BEST TRADITIONAL SPAIN CHICKEN RECIPES
You love chicken and want to give a Spanish touch to your family menus. Or maybe are traveling soon to Spain and want to know what Spanish chicken dishes you shouldn’t miss. But then you go online and the search results are disappointing, confusing or even… wrong! Why are so many bloggers listing recipes that aren’t authentic at all? Tell a Spaniard you are planning to add chorizo to a paella (chicken paella or not) and you’ll see what happens… Jamie Oliver did and he got called many names, even the worst thing a (bad) paella can be called: “that’s not paella, it’s rice with things”.
Also, Spaniards don’t get why people throw in olives on tray bakes… In Spain, olives go on salads, maybe on pasta, and served as appetizers, but they are rarely a part of a cooked recipe. Chicken Marbella? Don’t get fooled by its name coming from a famous beach town near Malaga: This recipe was made up in New York City in the 1980’s. And don’t get me started on using brava sauce over chicken… A Spanish abuela would tell you that’s a “marranada” (gross): salsa brava goes only over potatoes.
So enough ranting! Let me share with you what I as a local consider the top 15 traditional Spanish chicken recipes that Spaniards grow up with and continue to cook for their families and to order when they eat out. I hope you enjoy them!
Pollo al chilindron, an authentic chicken dish from the North of Spain
In Aragon there's a cards game called "chilindron", and apparently in the old times the winner chose who of the other players paid for everyone's meal, "paid the chilindrón". So eventually the name started being used to call the typical way of making chicken in Aragon, La Rioja and the Basque Country. The recipe main ingredients are sundried sweet red chilies, that give it its characteristic red color, garlic and onion, and often some tomato sauce or dices of Spanish ham.
Pollo al ajillo, the most traditional spanish chicken recipe with garlic
Croquetas de pollo, a popular spanish chicken tapa
Croquettes are one of my favorite tapas. Creamy and crunchy at the same time, the bechamel base allows for infinite flavorings and of course chicken is one of the most popular. Who in Spain doesn't have memories of grandma or mom reusing chicken leftovers to make thick croquettes for dinner? And now that people don't have much time to cook, we keep buying them frozen to whip up a quick comforting meal. And we keep ordering in bars, as it's one of the easiest croquette types to find in restaurant menus.
Paella de pollo, the real spanish chicken with rice
Pollo en salsa, Spanish chicken with wine sauce
This old way of cooking chicken is found all over Europe with small variations. It's basically a base of sauté onion and garlic, to which is added white wine, bay leaf and Mediterranean herbs (rosemary, time, sage, a bouquet of Provençal herbs or whatever is available), optional saffron for color. The seared chicken is cooked on it, sometimes adding broth depending on the desired thickness. The sauce is blended before finishing to cook the chicken on it. This pollo en salsa recipe makes an easy dinner.
Pollo en pepitoria, Spanish chicken with almonds and saffran
Milanesa de pollo, a Spanish chicken recipe kids love
In Germany they call it schnitzel. In France it's escalope. In Spain, battered chicken is a milanesa and it's a children's favorite. Apparently, the origins of this dish date back from the defeat of Napoleon in the North of Italy (hence the name "milanesa", from Milano). BTW, unlike in South America, in Spain milanesas don't come topped with tomato sauce, ham or cheese. We do sometimes use ham or cheese to stuff the meat, and then we call it sanjacobo, or "llibrets" in Catalonia, or "cachopos" in Asturias (although cachopos are usually served in very large portions to share)
Sopa de fideos con pollo, a winter Spanish chicken recipe
Pollastre amb escamarlans, the Spanish version of surf and turf
Catalonia, the region around Barcelona, is famous for its reach traditional cuisine, and dishes mixing seafood and meat are quite common. Surf and turf would be the closest translation to English - in Catalan we call these dishes "mar i muntanya", sea and mountain. Spanish chicken with scampi is an elegant and now festive chicken dish, that started as a way to reuse chicken left overs with whatever crustaceous fishermen had caught that day. Chicken and scampi are goldened separately on the same pan, then the oil is reused to caramelize onion with some garlic, tomato and white wine.
After that, the chicken goes back to the pan to finish cooking in broth. On the last 10 minutes de scampi is added back to the pan, together with a “picada”, a traditional Catalan thick sauce made of minced garlic, ground almonds, parsley, a carquinyoli (the Catalan version of biscotti) and a piece of black chocolate.
This English recipe of Spanish chicken with scampi is close enough to the traditional recipe (not sure about the Pernod part, though, but you can skip it or use a Spanish anisette). I couldn’t find an English video of this Catalan dish, but you can check this video in Catalan that is quite easy to follow.
Pollo en escabeche, Spanish chicken in vinegar marinade
The veggies are sautéed before adding the herbs and spices, while the chicken is fried separately. After adding the chicken to the vegetables, some white wine and sherry are poured into the pan and once they have reduced, we add vinegar and water, enough so the chicken cooks in the liquid. This Spanish chicken dish can be served warm or at room temperature.
This is a quite accurate and authentic Spanish chicken in escabeche recipe.
Pollo a la vasca con crestas de gallo, Spanish chicken for adventurous eaters
Ok, I admit it: this Spanish chicken recipe doesn't compulsorily require chicken combs but... it makes it more interesting! What defines this Vasque recipe, though, is the use of peppers. Try it with green peppers, bell peppers or other sweet peppers. The chicken is first goldened on a pan with olive oil, then reserved so in the same oil can be caramelized some garlic and onions, and the peppers. For more flavor intensity, try roasting the peppers first. Then the chicken is added and covred with broth and tomato paste until it finishes cooking.
Pollo a la jardinera, Spanish chicken with veggies
Rostit de Nadal, the Christmas Spanish chicken dish from Barcelona
Turkey is not as popular in Spain as it is in the US. So chickens, roosters and fattened breeds such as poularde and capon, become the main dish of Christmas meals. In the area of Catalonia it's very common to serve the chicken roasted and stuffed with prunes, raisins, sundried apricots, pine nuts, almonds, chestnuts... As well as a variety of sausages and meatballs. Caramelized onions swimming on olive oil and chicken juices complete the picture. The stuffing is so rich, it's hard to decide if you prefer the chicken over it or the other way around! Sometimes it is also made as a chicken roll.
Pollo con tomate, an easy Spanish chicken meal
You can’t go wrong with this Spanish chicken with tomato recipe.
Pollo con champiñones, chicken with mushrooms makes a lovely dinner
Can you name your favorite Spanish chicken dishes?
Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.
RESEARCHING FOR A TRIP IS TIME-CONSUMING...
Need more inspiration?
Our 100% FREE Barcelona Collection will give you everything you need to organize the trip of your lifetime to Barcelona.
BEST INSIDER TIPS FROM THE PROS!