Five Essential Items for Every Spanish Kitchen

This blog post was originally posted on March 5, 2015, and was updated on October 11, 2017.

Dreaming of that perfect Spanish kitchen? Make sure you stock it with the essentials!

Spanish cuisine is based on simple, fresh ingredients, some of its best signature dishes employing something as basic as an egg and making a culinary masterpiece out of it. But of course, no Spanish cocina would be complete without some staple kitchenware items, from traditional utensils that pass through the generations to modern appliances that have become a must while cooking.

Prepare your Spanish kitchen with these 5 essential Spanish cooking utensils!

Mortar and Pestle

One of the most rudimentary utensils out there, the mortar and pestle hold an important place in the Spanish kitchen. So many dishes start here, and it’s really where the flavor begins. Known as the almirez or mortero in Spanish, it can come in many shapes and sizes and made with different materials, from olive wood to brass.

Different regions use it for different things, such as romesco sauce in Catalonia or ajo blanco in Andalusia. Even today, despite the presence of electric mixers and the like, most would agree that nothing can get the job done quite like the mortar and pestle.

Check out these must-haves to create your Spanish kitchen!
The classic mortar and pestle! Photo Credit: William Worby 

Immersion Blender

Everyone in Spain has one of these, therefore, so should every Spanish kitchen! How else are you going to make a mess-free gazpacho on a daily basis during the summer? Furthermore, even those who don’t have the first notion about cooking have one of these guys in their kitchen.

Terracotta Ramekins

Cazuelas, the terracotta ramekins so typical of Spain, could, by and large, be the most versatile piece of equipment in your kitchen. Use them in the oven, directly on the gas burner, or even on the barbecue. We use them to make anything from chili garlic gambas to a heavenly dessert of crema catalana

The earthenware holds a slow and steady heat, allowing food to cook thoroughly and evenly. They come in a variety of sizes but will always be shallow. They also have that rustic look of unglazed, porous clay on the outside. Stack them up and use them often!

We have all the Spanish kitchen cooking utensils now all we need is the recipe for this delicious dish!
Delicious crema catalana in a terracotta ramekin.

Paellera

Did you know that the famous rice dish of Spain is actually named after the recipient in which it’s made, the paella? In Catalan, the word paella literally means frying pan? Many Spanish kitchens will have various sized paelleras hanging up and oiled, ready for their next use. Because there are so many different rice dishes in Spain, unless it’s made in a paellera, it’s not actually a paella!

Check out these Spanish kitchen essentials to recreate the delicious flavors of our country!
The classic paella pan!

Pressure Cooker

What kitchen, no matter the nationality, doesn’t have a pressure cooker? This is one of man’s greatest modern inventions, speaking in culinary terms at least! In Spain, the pressure cooker gets a good amount of use for anything from traditional stews to Spanish lentejas. 

Hey foodies! Visiting Barcelona? Why not join us on a food or wine tour of Barcelona? It’s a fun and delicious way to get to know Barcelona! Don’t wait too long—tours book up fast!

12 Comment

  1. Andreu says: Reply

    I’ m not sure I understand this thing about the paella. Paella is the Catalan for (frying) pan. If I understood correctly you say that you must have a (frying) pan to cook paella. Well, I think a (frying) pan is handy to have in the Catalan countries, in Spain or in Scandinavia.

    1. Renée Christensen says: Reply

      Hi Andreu! Thanks for your comment. You’re right–I should have written “paellera”, and have made the correction (as far as I know, the word in Spanish only refers to this special pan used to make paella or fideua). Either way, I’d say most people in other countries don’t always have a “paellera”, which for people not from Catalonia or Spain, is a Spanish-specific pan!

      1. Andreu says: Reply

        Thanks for your kind reply.

        I guess if you translate a translation it does get confusing. Paella is the Catalan for frying pan, which I’m sure is not something invented in the Catalan speaking countries.

        I think in Spanish it basically describes the rice dish, and from that, a rather large frying pan you would use if you were cooking for many people.

        In fact, the Spanish official dictionary defines “paella” firstly as the dish typical of the Valencian country, and secondly as the pan in which you would cook it (“2. f. Sartén en que se hace.”) without indicating if it is big or small, with one or two handles… I don’t have a rice frying pan. My grandma had a rather big frying pan, but it was not just for rice, it was for whatever she was cooking whenever she’d have more than five or six guests.

        Thanks for your article, it made me thing a little.

        P.s. Did you think of the items to turn the omelettes? In Barcelona we call them “Tomba truites”, omelette turners. They’re not necessary to cook a nice omelette, but they can be handy to have and some of them are kind of cute.

        1. Renée Christensen says: Reply

          Hi Andreu, thanks for yours! Yes, when we get into the technicalities of words and translations, it can be a bit confusing! But for the purposes of this post, I think most people understand what we mean 🙂 In either case, a lot of people just love those two-handled shallow pans used for paella because they make great kitchen decor! Haha. Anyway, I had never heard of the tomba truites and had to look it up on google images. What a novel concept! At home we use a plate and I will say that it can get quite messy. Thanks for the suggestion!

          1. Miriam says:

            I live in Barcelona and I do have a paella (2 handled pan) at home, and is not for decoration purpouse! Also does my mum and mother-in-law. Good restaurants also cook the rice with paellas for best quality.

  2. I didn’t know that kitchens stilled used mortar and pestle. It seems like an interesting way to prepare a dish. In Taiwan I once went to a restaurant where you would make your own sauce using a mortar and pestle. It felt like an uncommon thing to do. I enjoyed going there just for that reason.

  3. […] one of these awesome Spanish cooking blogs! There’s enough material to keep you busy in the kitchen for months! What’s your favorite Spanish dish to […]

  4. Amanda says: Reply

    These are great! I had NO idea you could use cazuelas directly on the stove. You just increased their use in our house ten fold! 🙂

  5. Belen says: Reply

    As far as I know, the dish where the paella is cooked is also called paella. Many people call it paellera, but the proper word is paella. This is why the dish is also called paella. It takes it from the pan where it´s cooked.

    1. Renée Christensen says: Reply

      Thanks for the comment Belen! This seems to be something people can’t agree on! We will take your advice though 🙂

  6. […] If you’re trying to recreate a Barcelona kitchen at home, there are certain utensils that no Spanish kitchen could stand without: […]

  7. […] generally find many of the same tools and utensils in all Spanish kitchens (minus the paellera.) What makes a Seville kitchen unique is the ingredients you might […]

Leave a Reply