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!
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)Bring the flavors of Spain into your home this holiday season with our new digital cookbook, Spanish Feasts from the Devour Tours Kitchen. (It makes a great gift, too!)