10 Popular Spanish Breakfast Foods

Breakfast, or desayuno in Spanish, happens twice in Spain. The first breakfast occurs in the early morning hours when children are getting ready for school and adults are headed to work. Second breakfast occurs later in the morning, around 10 or 11, and serves to tide appetites until the 2 p.m. dinner. Spanish breakfasts consist of small portions designed to wake up the metabolism and curb hunger in preparation for the later, larger meal. Light nibbles including magdalenas, churros and tostadas are popular options, often consumed alongside a strong cup of café.

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Sweet Eats


Magdalenas are a type of breakfast cake made of flour, eggs, sugar and olive oil spiced with cloves and lemon or orange zest. These simple pastries range from light and fluffy, like a sponge cake, to dense and heavy, like pound cake.


A light, sugary stick-shaped pastry, churros are made by frying dough until it is golden brown and crispy on the outside. While churros are still hot they are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and served with a rich, chocolate dipping sauce.

Bica Gallega

A spongy cake made rich with the use of clarified butter, bica gallega is a sweet pastry with a crunchy sugary crust.

Tortas de Aceite

A type of sweet biscuit made with olive oil that is readily available pre-packaged, tortas de aceite are crisp and flaky and have a subtle anise flavor.

Savory Snacks


A small sandwich made of a split bread roll, bocadillos offer a more substantial snack typically consumed during second breakfast by those who have more labor-intensive jobs. Bocadillos may contain ham and cheese, sausage, canned tuna or half of a potato omelet.

Tortilla de Patata

A tortilla de patata is a simple potato omelet made with thinly sliced fried potatoes and eggs. Typically the tortilla de patata is seasoned simply with salt and pepper, though variations on the omelet sometimes include sauteed onions.

Tostadas, Three Ways

A tostada is a thin slice of grill-toasted bread that is typically accompanied with a variety of toppings.

  • A _pan con tamate_ tostada is topped with fresh, ripe **tomatoes**, drizzled with **extra-virgin olive oil** and seasoned with **salt and pepper**, sometimes garlic.
  • Tostadas are sometimes layered with meats and cheeses such as **queso manchengo**, a soft cheese made of sheep’s milk, thinly sliced **cured ham** and _**sobrasada**_, which is a kind of spreadable chorizo. A tostada with meats and cheeses offers a more filling breakfast option.
  • Tostadas are also consumed simply with a smear of _**mantequilla**,_ or **butter**, or sweetened up with **fruit jams** including **orange**, **strawberry**, **apricot** and **quince**.


Perhaps more important than any breakfast food, _café,_ or coffee, is a hugely popular breakfast beverage in Spain. Served in small, potent portions that Americans know as espresso, _café_ is often served with steamed milk -- _café_ con leche -- especially early in the morning. C_afé_ solo -- black espresso -- and _caf_é cortada -- espresso with a splash of milk -- are also widely consumed.


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