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The Best Tapas Dishes from Around the World

Undeniably delicious, tapas snacks and canapés are fun, and considered to originate in Spain. Going out for tapas is such a huge part of the country’s culture, but what other finger foods are there from around the world that you can recreate at home? Check out these fantastic finger foods that originate from various countries across the globe, including India, China, Italy and more.

Prawn Cocktail (UK) 

This British favourite was a big hit in the 1960s and 1970s but has made a comeback. Easy and quick to make, this appetiser uses prawns and shrimp while the sauce is made of ketchup, mayonnaise and horseradish. Prawns are then laid out on a bed of crispy lettuce with the sauce.

Prawn Cocktail
Prawn Cocktail

Patatas Bravas (Spain) 

If you walk into a Spanish tavern, you’ll likely stumble across Spain’s ubiquitous crispy fried potatoes, packed with local flavours and seasoned with garlic, paprika and salt. A much-loved appetiser in Spanish tapas bars, patatas bravas are usually garnished with mayonnaise and a fiery tomato sauce. You don’t have to go the whole hog when it comes to making this iconic Spanish dish, as you can serve up McCain potato wedges instead and top them with a zesty tomato sauce. There are loads of flavours in the range, including Cajun-spiced sweet potato wedges, smoky flavoured paprika cut wedges and lightly spiced wedges. 

Vol-au-vent (France) 

Vol-au-vent literally means ‘waft of wind’ in English, which is a very fitting way to describe these super-light canapés. With their French heritage, these finger foods are made from crumbly, hollow-shaped pieces of puff pastry and are bursting with a flavoursome, saucy fillings of vegetables, fish or meat.


Bruschetta (Italy) 

This age-old nibble is made from a treasure trove of fresh ingredients, with minimal prep. The delicious antipasto is traditionally made up of grilled bread slices which are garnished with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and a topping of fresh tomatoes and basil. You can use a selection, including mussels, prosciutto or tuna. 

Dolmades (Greece) 

Otherwise known as stuffed vine leaves, this Greek meze dish is usually found in restaurants and in almost every home across the country. First, you steam vine leaves in water and lemon juice, then wrap the softened leaves around a filling of rice, minced lamb, onions, garlic and herbs (dill or parsley).


Falafel (Middle East) 

Did you know that the history of the humble falafel goes all the way back to ancient Egypt and the time of the pharaohs? Falafels are a combination of mashed chickpeas, fava beans or both, which are moulded into round balls then deep fried. The treat has become incredibly popular across the Middle East, particularly Israel where it’s deemed the nation’s most popular street food. 

Samosas (India) 

Made by stuffing a triangle-shaped pastry with a mixture of potatoes, peas, onions, meat and lentils, samosas are a coveted finger food in India. The savoury, spicy treats are designed to be eaten using your hands and boast a history that goes all the way back to the 11th century.


Steamed Bao (China) 

Dim sum lovers everywhere will adore bao, otherwise known as a steamed pork bun. This tasty snack consists of pillowy-soft buns wrapped around pieces of pork in a sweet and savoury sauce. Chinese bao are just like the ones you snatch off the dim sum trolleys and will certainly impress. 

Baba Ganoush (Turkey) 

This classic aubergine dip is smoky, rich, smooth, and an unbelievably popular tapas dish across the Mediterranean and Middle East. Typically, it’s served with chunks of pitta bread. This tasty dip has a rich smoky taste thanks to the aubergines being seared over a gas flame or on the grill, then rolled in a salad spinner to get rid of moisture from the flesh.

Steamed Bao
Steamed Bao

Elote (Mexico) 

One of the most traditional forms of Mexican street food is grilled corn on the cob, either skewered on a stick or served with the husk as a stick. The corn is topped in a garlic, chilli and coriander cream sauce, with a scattering of cotija cheese on the top. 

Buffalo Wings (USA) 

This classic dish involves deep-fried chicken wings smothered in spicy sauce. The quintessential American appetiser was created in a tavern in Buffalo, New York, and is undoubtedly one of America’s most popular tapas foods, often served as a bar snack or light meal.

Buffalo Wings
Buffalo Wings

Not only are these bite-size foods fun, they’re also indisputably delicious. Spanish tapas food may tickle your finger-food fancy, but there’s a whole world full of hand-held appetisers that go beyond croquettes and calamari. Try these scrumptious bites from around the world to see for yourself.


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