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14 Most Popular Easter foods in Spain and Portugal

Since food is such a vital part of the Easter festivities, we wanted to highlight some of the most popular Spanish and Portuguese Easter foods that can be seen on the dinner table during this time. No matter if you call it Pascua, Páscoa, Easter, or something else, these dishes are sure to pique your interest.

By Valeska Idarraga

Easter food traditions 

Easter is one of the most important holidays in the Ibero-American community, including Spain and Portugal. These two countries celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with lively festivals, family get-togethers, and a traditional Easter dinner. 

In Spain, the week leading up to Easter is called Semana Santa (“Holy Week”), which is marked by elaborate processions across cities like Cádiz, Murcia, Málaga, Seville, Zamora, and many others. It is common to see the procession of “pasos”, which are lifelike sculptures of the events in the final days of Jesus. In Portugal, these “passos” are filled with flowers and lights and are carried by men in tunics and with torches in their hands. 

Since food is such a vital part of the Easter festivities, we wanted to highlight some of the most popular Spanish and Portuguese Easter foods that can be seen on the dinner table during this time. No matter if you call it Pascua, Páscoa, Easter, or something else, these dishes are sure to pique your interest.

SPAIN

1. Mona de Pascua

Perhaps Spain’s most famous Easter dish, the Mona de Pascua can be seen on every table during this holiday. It is a spongy cake, either round or doughnut-shaped, and is topped with boiled or chocolate eggs as well as colorful decorations. In Spain, it is a tradition for godparents to give this type of cake to their godchildren on Easter Monday. In fact, the word ‘Mona’ is an old Moroccan word that means ‘gift,’ and the number of eggs on top of the cake corresponds to the age of the godchild. In This cake is especially popular in Catalonia, Valencia, and Murcia.

Easter cake in Spain, one of the most popular Easter foods, CÚRATE Trips

2. Hornazo

Hornazo reminds us that not all pies need to be sweet. In western Spain, especially in Salamanca and Ávila, locals indulge in hornazo, which is a delicious and hearty meat pie filled with boiled eggs, pork, and chorizo sausage. This dish is traditionally eaten on Easter Monday at a festival known as ‘Lunes de Aguas’ (‘Monday of the Waters’). For those that have a sweet tooth, hornazo comes in a non-savory version that substitutes sugar, almonds, and aniseed instead.

Hornazo, one of the most popular Easter foods, CÚRATE Trips

3. Sopa de ajo (garlic soup)

If you need a break from all of the rich Spanish Easter dishes, try a bowl of Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup). Besides its namesake garlic, the soup is also made of smoked pepper (paprika), chicken stock, and with a hard boiled egg in the center. To add more flavor, some chefs even use a few tablespoons of sherry wine or add a pickled green pepper.

Garlic soup. one of the most popular Easter foods, CÚRATE Trips

4. Flores fritas

This unique dessert, which translates to ‘fried flowers,’ is delicate with a sweet and crunchy texture. These cookies can be seen across bakeries in Spain and are usually molded by hand – some come out so beautifully that you feel bad for eating them! 

Traditional Spanish Easter dish, CÚRATE Trips

5. Borrachuelos

This dish has a bit of a funny name, as the word “borracho” means ‘drunk’ in Spanish. This is because pieces of dough are soaked in wine or brandy during the cooking process and then dusted with powdered sugar. Since this dish originates from Malaga, you might even see it called “Borrachuelo Malagueño” (drunk Malagan).

one of the most popular Easter foods, CÚRATE Trips

6. Bacalao al pil-pil

The story of Bacalao al pil-pil (Cod in Pil-Pil Sauce) goes all the way back to the medieval ages. This dish was particularly popular during Lent, since fish was the only “meat” that people were allowed to eat. The secret to this delicious dish is in the sauce: a staple of Basque cuisine, Pil-pil sauce is created when the natural gelatine from the fish is released and then whisked with olive oil and vinegar to form a rich thick sauce with a mayo look.

Bacalao al pil-pil, traditional Easter dish in Spain and Basque Country

7. Torrijas

If you like French toast, you’ll fall in love with torrijas! This delicious dessert is a favorite during Semana Santa and can be seen all over Spain. The preparation is very similar to its French counterpart, but there are a few key differences: instead of vanilla, some Spanish households substitute lemon or orange zest; instead of butter, oil is used to fry the bread; and in some cases, chefs will even dip the slices of bread in wine, resulting in torrijas al vino!

Torrijas, popular Spanish Easter dessert

8. Buñuelos

Buñuelos are small pieces of fried dough that are piped with filling. There are many variations, including buñuelos de crema (baker’s custard), de nata (cream), de viento (‘wind’, with no filling and very airy) and borrachos (‘drunk,’ with anis).

Buñuelos, famous Spanish Easter dessert

PORTUGAL

9. Cabrito (goat)

The cabrito, which is roasted goat kid, is a staple at the traditional Portuguese Easter dinner table. Different regions of Portugal have different ways of preparing this dish. For example, in the countryside you’ll often see cabrito being cooked in the traditional way in a wood oven. The result is a delicious and meaty texture with rich and intense flavor. Across the country, cabrito is usually seasoned with garlic, bay leaves, and garnished with a side of potatoes and vegetables.

Goat, traditional dish for Easter in Portugal, CÚRATE Trips

10. Bacalhau

Similar in idea to Spain’s Bacalao al Pil-Pil, the Portuguese also turn to cod dishes for Good Friday because the Catholic tradition doesn’t allow people to eat meat. It is said that the Portuguese have more than 1,000 recipes for cod, which means a lot of variety around the Easter dinner table!

Cod fish, great Easter specialty in Spain and Portugal for Easter

11. Presunto e Queijo (ham and cheese)

Besides the main dishes and the desserts, the Portuguese like to assemble a dish of cut appetizers. The most famous is a mix of Presunto (Portuguese dry-cured ham) and cheese, being Queijo Serra da Estrela, a cured cheese created in the Star Mountain Range near Eastern Portugal a star.

Ham and cheese during Portuguese Easter!

12. Pão de Ló

If Spain’s most popular Easter “cake” is the Mona de Pascua, then Portugal’s counterpart is the Pão de Ló. A soft and fluffy sponge cake, this “Portugese Easter cake” has three main ingredients — sugar, flour, and eggs  — and can be seen on virtually every Easter table. According to tradition, you should not cut pão-de-ló with a knife, but instead use your hand to grab a piece!

Pão de Ló, traditional dessert in Portugal during Easter

13. Folar da Páscoa

The Folar da Páscoa, which translates to Easter bread, is a sweet or savory bread that comes with a boiled egg baked into the middle. The tradition of adding the eggs comes from the Pagan festival Oestre (“egg”), where eggs were used to symbolize the rebirth of Christ, and thus became a traditional Easter dish in Portugal.

Folar, typical Easter dessert in Portugal, CÚRATE Trips

14. Salame de chocolate

Our final dish is the Portuguese Chocolate Salami, the ubiquitous Portugese-Italian dessert that can be found during every major celebration, including Easter. Despite having the word ‘salami’ in its name, the Salame de Chocolate does not contain any meat. The name comes from the fact that little pieces of biscuits are rolled together and set in chocolate to give it the marbled effect of real salami.

Salame de Chocolate, popular Portuguese Easter dessert

Which of these dishes would you like to try the most? There is an easy Easter dinner option for everybody, pick yours!

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