Tapas Potluck – A Spanish Twist on an American Classic

Tapas, small plate dishes made for sharing, are a Spanish tradition gaining popularity with foodies everywhere. Tapas can be as simple as marinated olives served cold on a decorative plate or as complicated as Spanish paella served steaming hot in an earthenware vessel. In Spain, tapas enthusiasts go from bar to bar, sampling little bits of what each place has to offer, while also enjoying a glass of wine or a local beer. Part of the mystique of tapas is being able to sample a wide variety of sumptuous offerings and sharing that experience with friends. So why not host a tapas potluck that brings friends and family together while at the same time allowing them all to show off their culinary chops?


Tapas, small plate dishes made for sharing, are a Spanish culinary tradition. Image credit: Elemaki

Tapas Potluck Invitations

As hostess, you’ll be responsible for sending out the invites and making sure everyone understands the concept. Your tapas potluck will differ from traditional gatherings in that portions are small and variety is large. With that in mind, instead of bringing one dish to share, each guest might bring two or three of smaller quantity.

Tapas Potluck Set Up

Since more variety means more counter space will be needed, you’ll need to set up adequate display space to showcase everyone’s tapas offerings. Small, round tables that only accommodate one or two dishes are best, as they invite guests to gather round while sampling the same thing. To make sure you don’t lose that tapas feel, each offering should be served on or in its own stylish serving plate or vessel. Ask for the names of their tapas dishes from your guests in advance, so you can identify what each is on a decorative card placed on the table by each dish.


Tapas can be hot or cold, simple or complex. Image credit: Varsital Cop

Tapas Potluck Décor

This is a festive occasion and begs for lots of vibrant colors. Use brightly-colored tablecloths, napkins, serving dishes and plates. This is not the time for those single-use aluminum pans so often seen at church socials and family reunions. Break out your colorful, hand-painted treasures and invite your guests to bring theirs as well. Tapas is as much an attitude as it is the food itself, so to do it well you have to do it right.


In Spain, tapas enthusiasts go from bar to bar, sampling little bits of what each place has to offer. Image credit: smalljude

Tapas Potluck Drinks

Although non-alcoholic drinks should be available as well, tapas go great with sangria or Spanish table wine. You might even set up a mix-your-own sangria station with a few table wines, fruit juices, fruit pieces and festive garnishes. No cans or bottles, though. A Tapas potluck calls for pitchers and carafes’ to emphasize the occasion.

The wonderful thing about a tapas potluck is that it’s perfect for any occasion, any time of year. Your guests will not only appreciate the delicious food and great company, they’ll secretly revel in being able to show off their cooking prowess as well!