Top 5 Spanish Christmas Sweets and Where to Find Them in Madrid

This blog post was originally posted on December 4, 2012 and was updated on November 13, 2017.

It is officially Christmastime in Spain!

Walk through any market or peer into any bakery, and you’ll find a special variety of treats that Spaniards crave during the holidays. We can’t live without these top Spanish Christmas sweets—and we bet you’ll love them too!

Spain is rich in gastronomic wealth and that couldn’t be truer than at Christmas time. If you’re visiting Madrid at Christmas time, you’re sure to notice the elaborate light displays and the traditional Belenes (Nativity scenes) adorning shop windows. Arguably just as important, there are also many traditional festive candies and desserts to enjoy. With so much variety to choose from, why not give in to your sweet tooth and try out these delicious options? Here are just a few of our favorite Spanish Christmas sweets!

 

Chocolate marzipan? Yes please! That's just one of the many delicious Spanish Christmas sweets you'll find in Madrid this time of year!

Photo Credit: Kristin Kokkersvold, Text Overlay: Devour Madrid Food Tours

1. Turrón

This delicious candy bar of Moorish origin has been popular for centuries. There are many different kinds of turrón that occupy entire walls in any Spanish supermarket in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.

Don’t miss out on the Jijona (Xixona) or Alicante varieties. Hard Alicante (or turrón duro) is a thick, brittle mass of eggs, honey, sugar and almonds, that miraculously come together to create a crunchy almond nougat candy.

Jijona (or turrón blando) is a ground almond paste. The addition of olive oil softens it so it has a smooth consistency similar to taffy. Other varieties include chocolate, raisins with rum, whiskey, truffles, coffee, fruits, etc. Turrón really is one of the essential Spanish Christmas sweets.

Where to buy: Casa Mira (San Jerónimo, 30)

Turrón is one of the most delicious Spanish Christmas sweets!
A selection of turrones, one of the most traditional Spanish Christmas sweets.

2. Polvorón

Polvorones are shortbread cookies famous for their crumbly consistency. Spaniards traditionally make them with flour, sugar, milk and nuts. They are also found in a variety of flavors (vanilla, cinnamon, lemon, etc).

They have a subtle, distinct melt-in-your-mouth texture, hence their Spanish name of “powdery cake.” You can find the best polvorones in Spain’s southern region of Andalusia. One bite and you’ll realize why the recipe hasn’t changed for centuries!

Where to buy: La Duquesita (Calle Fernando VI, 2)

Polvorones are some of the most essential Spanish Christmas sweets!
Christmastime in Spain means one thing: polvorones! Photo credit: Jorge Díaz

3. Mantecados

Similar to polvorones, these light and crumbly cookies are made from manteca (pig lard) and lots of sugar! They come in many flavors but the most typical are cinnamon and aniseed.

Two towns in Andalusia, Antequera and Estepa, both lay claim to first producing these delightful delicacies. You can spot them wrapped in brightly colored cellophane in the Spanish dessert boxes at Christmas—you can’t miss them!

Where to buy: El Horno de San Onofre (Calle de de San Onofre, 3)

Yummy Spanish Christmas sweets are among our favorite Christmas traditions in Madrid!
We sure could go for some of these delicious Spanish Christmas sweets right now! Photo credit: Javier Lastras

4. Marzipan

Toledo is only a short day trip from Madrid and is the Spanish capital of mazapán (Marzipan sweets). A pasty blend of almonds, egg yolk and sugar, Marzipan is always one of the most popular Spanish Christmas sweets at the table.

Madrid shows off its homemade marzipan in creative shapes and figurines in its store windows. They make such beautiful decorations that you almost hesitate to eat them!

Where to buy: La Antigua Pastelería del Pozo (Calle Pozo, 8)

Marzipan in Madrid: one of the best Spanish Christmas sweets!
Sweet homemade marzipan.

5. Pestiños

Typical of Andalusia, pestiños are a traditional Spanish Christmas sweet popular this time of year. The dough is usually flavored with aniseed or sesame seed and fried in olive oil. Depending on your region and family tradition you might drench the crunchy cookies in local honey, or cover them in sugar. Regardless of their preparation, they are sure to be irresistible.

Where to buy: Nunos (Calle Narváez, 63)

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15 Comment

  1. December 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I’m not a big fan of Spanish Christmas treats, despite having a sweet tooth! I only like marzipan in small quantities – I’ll stick to peppermint ice cream and Mexican Wedding Balls!

    And how curious that pestinos are eaten at Xmas when they’re typical here in Andalusia during Semana Santa!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Aloise says
      December 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Hi Cat! Mmm peppermint ice cream… I like all Spanish Christmas sweets in small quantities– they pack a lot of sugar! But the Marzipan from Toledo is soooo good. Pestiños are typical in Andalusia for both holidays, in Cadiz Ale’s mom and her sister always make them for Christmas!

      Reply
  2. December 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Great read, Lauren. We love turrón on the Canary Islands. In fact, anything with almonds in. There are even fiestas held in the likes of Valsequillo and Tejdeda to commemorate the tree flowering.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Aloise says
      December 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Yes another reason I need to get to the Canaries asap!

      Reply
    2. December 6, 2012 at 10:23 am

      There’s another almond blossom fiesta at Puntagorda on La Palma. Unless we’re unlucky with the weather, the whole hillside goes pink. And we have lots of sugary treats which are great in small quantities. The ones from the local convent ate divine!

      Reply
  3. December 5, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    We get Turrón every year… and also take it as presents for family in the UK when we visit. I like the coconut flavoured ones the best.

    Lovely article – off to share xx

    Reply
    1. Lauren Aloise says
      December 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Coconut flavored?! Where have I been all this time– never tried them (and love coconut!)

      Reply
  4. Steve Hall says
    December 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    They all are WONDERFUL and just another reason to love Madrid …… forgetting the weather in December!

    Reply
  5. Maya says
    December 5, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    No one told me at first you had to squish a polvorone together in your hand before unwrapping it… What a mess!

    Reply
  6. liz says
    December 6, 2012 at 1:20 am

    These have got my mouth watering! Send me turrón please???

    Reply
  7. Cassandra says
    December 7, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Yummm, turrón de Jijona and flavored turrón!

    Having a love of chocolate, it took me a while to warm up to turrón and polvorones. This year I came across these awesome chocolate-covered almonds called “BomBonias de almendra marcona” by the 1880 brand. Have you tried them? They were soooo good, perfect for a chocolate lover.

    Reply
  8. Lorne Marr says
    December 14, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    My mother used to make small flowers like roses or tulips from marzipan or marzipan dumplings with baked base, filled with chocholate cream, covered in white marzipan with lines of chocholate topping., but these marzipan cakes on the photo look like small works of art. It would be a shame to eat it. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Sean says
    October 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Hey Kay. It’s 17:00 here, I’m really hungry and then I come across this post. I’ve never seen or heard of Turron before but I know I’ll be eating some (o.k. a lot) the next time I’m in Madrid! The Pestino’s remind me of dim sum, have to go, kitchen is calling me! 🙂

    Reply
  10. Maria says
    November 26, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    what about the lemon olive oil cake?

    Reply
    1. Devour Tours says
      November 27, 2018 at 3:19 pm

      Our co-founder Lauren makes a great one! http://spanishsabores.com/2015/09/08/spanish-olive-oil-cake-with-lemon-and-almonds/

      Reply

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