Banderillas - a Spanish Tapas bar classic

by Neil Morris


Region: The Basque County, Asturias, Cantabria, Navarra

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking time: no cooking

Oven temp: no cooking

Difficulty: easy

Serves: 4+


Banderillas take their name from the decorative barbed spears traditionally used by toreros in Spanish bullfighting rituals. They are often served with a beer and are presented on a toothpick which is a common way to serve pintxos in the north of Spain.

These are so easy to prepare as there is no cooking involved, in fact they are more of an arrangement than a recipe! The ingredients can be varied depending on your taste but this version uses the classic combination of oni0n, chilli pepper, olive, anchovy and gherkin.

Great on their own as a snack or as part of a tapas spread, these colourful little spears provide wonderful bursts of flavour.

Shopping list

  • pitted green olives (aceitunas verdes sin hueso)
  • pickled baby onions (cebollitas)
  • pickled red chillies (chiles en vinagre rojo)
  • pickled gherkins (pepinillos en vinagre)
  • tinned anchovies (anchoas en conserva)
  • sticks for piercing (palillos)


Wrap the anchovy fillets around a piece of gherkin and pierce with a toothpick/cocktail stick. Repeat the spearing process with the chili, onion and olive and serve with cold beer or wine.

Note: The sticks used for piercing pintxos or tapas are often made from bamboo and referred to as palillos. This is also the name given to chopsticks.

Alternatively, use ingredients of your choice such as pickled artichoke hearts, quails eggs, cheese, cornichons, capers, cherry tomatoes etc.

You can make them in advance and store them in a jar of distilled malt/spirit vinegar (you could use the jar of vinegar that the onions came in).

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