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Calories in Spanish Food - Healthy Spanish Cuisine Guide and Tips

Updated on November 15, 2016
janderson99 profile image

John uses research skills in Biochemistry & Physiology (PhD) to develop authoritative reviews of calories in foods, calorie counting, diets

Depending on your location, your local Spanish restaurant will serve a range of dishes of European origin, but may also include cuisine from the Caribbean and South America. There are also a wide variety of Spanish-style dishes you can make yourself at home.

But how healthy are Spanish foods and dishes?

Generally Spanish food, like most Mediterranean food is quite healthy with staples of rice, potatoes and beans, often flavored with fresh tomatoes and tomato based sauces, served with vegetables.

Keeping the calorie count down essentially involves keeping the portion sizes small, and avoiding the high fat items, especially sausages and fatty pork and other meats.

Most Spanish restaurants serve a wide variety of delicious and wholesome dishes from which to choose. The variety includes, fish, shrimp and other seafood dishes, paellas, and steaks, roasts, grills and rice dishes.

A good way to start watching calories and fat is to choose a vegetable or low-fat protein based appetizer (grilled or baked; not fried) and a main course of seafood. Choosing smaller servings of the delicious range of rice dishes helps keep calories under control. Many of the poultry, beef and pork dishes can be served with small portion sizes and sauces on the side.

If you want to be more adventurous at restaurants, or with home cooked Spanish meals, this article will help as it includes a listing the calories and major nutrients in a variety of Spanish foods.

This article also includes lists of foods to choose and foods to avoid as well as a range of tips for making healthy food choices.

Seafood Paella - A healthy dish, but keep the potions size under control as it is rich in calories (high rice content)
Seafood Paella - A healthy dish, but keep the potions size under control as it is rich in calories (high rice content) | Source

Rice dishes such as paella and bean dishes such as 'arroz con gandules' are good choices provided you ask for entire size or small servings. Look for dishes that have plenty of vegetables as well and seafood is a better choice than red meat.

Most of the tomato based dishes are an excellent choice, but be careful of the high salt content in many of the tomato sauces. Shrimp dishes can also have a lot of sodium. Caribbean Spanish pork dishes such 'chuletas' and 'pernil' are fine in moderation, but avoid the fried dishes.

Tips for Making Healthy Choices for Home Cooking and Restaurant Spanish Food

  • Ask for all sauces and dressings on the side so that you can add just the amount you want.
  • Choose protein dished based on seafood and poultry, grilled and roasted, rather than fried or choose small portion sizes of beef or pork.
  • Avoid all fried dishes (entrees and main meals) or anything labelled as crispy( frita or frito).
  • Choose water as your main drink. Many of the alcohol based and other drinks have very high calories.
  • Keep your portion sizes under control - always.
  • Fill up on salads (without dressings) and vegetables (without sauces)
  • Try to avoid having any dessert apart from fresh fruit. Just about all desserts are laden with calories and fat.

Spanish Dishes to Choose

  • Salmon or dorado dishes
  • Small Serving of Roasted meat such as Cochinillo Segovian (roast suckling pig) - ask for a small portion with the fat removed
  • Most Chicken and Fish Dishes made with tomato and served with vegetables
    Grilled meat and vegetables ("a la plancha"), such as Camarones a la Plancha (grilled shrimp), Champinones a la Plancha (grilled mushrooms), Calamares ala Plancha (grilled squid)
  • Gazpacho (cold soup made with tomatoes and vegetables)
  • Roasted meat and vegetable dishes
  • Ensaladas (various salads - request dressing on the side

Spanish Dishes to Avoid

  • Dishes made from fatty meats (for example Cortes Grasos del Filete)
  • Large dishes with copious amounts of rice such Arroz con Pollo (chicken with rice) or Paella [You can ask for a small serving]
  • Heavy meat stew dishes laden with lots of potatoes and with thick slices of sausages
  • Roast Suckling Pig - Cochinillo Segoviano (there is a lot of fat under the skin)
  • Dishes cooked with copious quantities oil (look for "al ajillo" or "al aceite"), for example Gambas al Ajillo (This is prawns cooked in oil with parsleyand garlic)
  • Any Deep-fried dishes ( "frito" or "fritura" on the menu), especially Fritura Mixta de Pescado (dish with mixed fish deep-fried fish)
  • Cheese dishes with more than a 20z (57g) portion (Manchego, Cabrales)
  • All Sausage Dishes - Chorizo Cantimpalo (Spanish-style sausage), Morcilla (blood sausage)

Calories and Nutrients in Spanish Foods

The table below lists the calories in common Spanish foods and dishes, both home made and restaurant style meals. The foods are listed from smallest to highest calorie. This will depend on the serving size. The table can be reorder alphabetically to find details about a particular dish.

Calories in Various Spanish Food and Dishes

(click column header to sort results)
Dish and Food Item  
Calories - see Serving Size  
Nutrition Data  
Stuffed Spanish Olives
Serving Size: 0.5 oz, Calories: 15, Fat: 1.5g, Carbs: 1g, Protein: 1g
Spanish Queen Olives
Serving Size: 2 olives, Calories: 15, Fat: 1.5g, Carbs: 1g, Protein: 0g
Spanish Olives -Sliced Manzanilla
Serving Size: 2 tbsp, Calories: 20, Fat: 2g, Carbs: 0g, Protein: 0g
Spanish Margarilla Olives
Serving Size: 5 olives, Calories: 25, Fat: 2.5g, Carbs: 0g, Protein: 0g
Spanish Olives Stuffed Queen Pimento
Serving Size: 2 olives, Calories: 25, Fat: 2g, Carbs: 1g, Protein: 0g
Manzanilla Stuffed Spanish Olives
Serving Size: 5 olives (15g), Calories: 25, Fat: 2.5g, Carbs: 1g, Protein: 0g
Shrimp With Tomato Sauce and Peas 1 cup
Spanish Chickpea Casserole
Serving Size: 1/2 tin, Calories: 100, Fat: 8g, Carbs: 6g, Protein: 1.4g
Spanish Rice
Serving Size: 1/2 cup, Calories: 110, Fat: 1.5g, Carbs: 47g, Protein: 5g
Baccala 1 cup
Serving Size: 1 halve, Calories: 130, Fat: 0g, Carbs: 0g, Protein: 0g
Hot Spanish Chorizo
Serving Size: 28 g, Calories: 145, Fat: 13g, Carbs: 0g, Protein: 7g
Red Sangria 1 drink
Spanish Rice
Serving Size: 2/3 cup, Calories: 156, Fat: 1g, Carbs: 32g, Protein: 4g
Spanish Style Rice 1 cup
Spanish Pilaf Mix 1/4 cup dry
Spanish Rice Pilaf 45 g
Spanish Tortilla W/ Roasted Peppers & Spinach
Serving Size: 1/12 pie, Calories: 160, Fat: 8g, Carbs: 17g, Protein: 7g
Spanish Brown Rice
Serving Size: 6 oz, Calories: 172, Fat: 2g, Carbs: 34g, Protein: 4g
Spanish Marcona Almonds 1/4 cup
Spanish Style Rice & Vermicelli
Serving Size: 2 oz, Calories: 190, Fat: 1g, Carbs: 41g, Protein: 6g
Spanish Tofu Small
Serving Size: 1 entrée, Calories: 190, Fat: 6g, Carbs: 28g, Protein: 6g
Rice With Pegeon Peas 1/2 cup
Huevos Rellenos (Deviled Eggs)
Serving Size: 3 halves, Calories: 210, Fat: 0g, Carbs: 0g, Protein: 0g
Spanish Rice
Serving Size: 1 Cup, Calories: 211, Fat: 3.6g, Carbs: 40.7g, Protein: 4.7g
Spanish Potatoes
Serving Size: 1 serving, Calories: 217, Fat: 6g, Carbs: 37g, Protein: 5g
Spanish Tortilla With Bell Pepper
Serving Size: 1/4 slice, Calories: 234, Fat: 11g, Carbs: 25.1g, Protein: 13.2g
Rice and Vermicelli Mix- Spanish Style
Serving Size: 1 cup prepared with tomatoes, Calories: 240, Fat: 60g, Carbs: 30g, Protein: 4g
Spanish Fish
Serving Size: 1 fish, Calories: 251, Fat: 9g, Carbs: 11g, Protein: 29g
Spanish Tortilla With Bell Pepper 1/4 dish
Rice Medley - Spanish Rice
Serving Size: 1 cup (as prepared), Calories: 280, Fat: 0g, Carbs: 41g, Protein: 5g
Spanish Rice 1 cup
Spanish Tofu
Serving Size: 1 Medium, Calories: 300, Fat: 9g, Carbs: 44g, Protein: 10g
Spanish Braised Chicken
Serving Size: 1 portion, Calories: 310, Fat: 5g, Carbs: 0g, Protein: 43g
Gambas Al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp) 137g
Spanish Chicken and Beans
Serving Size: 1 Packaged Meal, Calories: 316, Fat: 4.5g, Carbs: 36g, Protein: 33g
Spanish Rice & Prawn One-Pot
Serving Size: 1 plate, Calories: 356, Fat: 7g, Carbs: 59g, Protein: 0g
Spanish Rice and Prawn One-Pot (Good Food Recipe)
Serving Size: 1 plate, Calories: 356, Fat: 7g, Carbs: 59g, Protein: 19g
Spanish Meatballs 1 serve
Ensalada De Bacalao 1/2 cup
One-Pan Spanish Fish Stew
Serving Size: 1 bowl, Calories: 382, Fat: 11g, Carbs: 33g, Protein: 39g
Spanish Chicken Pie
Serving Size: 1 serving, Calories: 421, Fat: 10g, Carbs: 57g, Protein: 30g
Spanish Bean Stew 1 serve
Pernil 1/6 cup
Spaghetti With Spanish Flavours
Serving Size: 1 portion, Calories: 444, Fat: 22g, Carbs: 46g, Protein: 18g
Spanish Chicken & Potatoes
Serving Size: 1 serving, Calories: 452, Fat: 14g, Carbs: 41g, Protein: 39g
Spanish Chicken and Potato Roast
Serving Size: 1 serving, Calories: 452, Fat: 14g, Carbs: 41g, Protein: 39g
Casserole - Spanish Chicken and Rice Bake
Serving Size: 1 (404 g), Calories: 439.8, Fat: 12.8g, Carbs: 45g, Protein: 35.6g
Prawn and Chorizo Spanish Rice 2 cups
Spanish Chicken 1 bowl
Serving Size: 1 Bowl, Calories: 701, Fat: 51g, Carbs: 9g, Protein: 53g

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment
  • Spanish Food profile image

    Lena Durante 

    2 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

    One of the reasons I love tapas so much is because you can pick and choose what to eat, and the portion sizes are small so you can just stop ordering as soon as you're satiated.

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 

    6 years ago from Arizona

    Though it has been many years we spent some time in Spain. I do remember the wonderful food. Lots of meat, fish and fresh vegetables. Thanks for sharing all this great information..I am now inspired to try some Spanish dishes.


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