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What can I eat in the Basque Country?


Two varieties, two worlds. On the one hand Jambon de Bayonne (Bayonne Ham) and the more delicate Ibaiama ham, both typical of the French Basque Country, which provides a tremendously interesting local gastronomic experience, and on the other hand, the Jamón Ibérico (Iberian Ham), deservedly world-famous, which is without a doubt an extraordinary sensory experience.


Basque paté, is typical of the French Basque region, of which exist numerous varieties, although the most traditional is the version seasoned with the emblematic Espelette pepper and its characteristic spicy flavor.


Txistorra is a Basque term that means sausage. It is a kind of stuffed pork meat, with garlic, salt and quite a lot of pimentón, a red pepper spice that gives the txistorra its characteristic red colour. It can be cooked either fried or roasted. Traditionally, locals eat txistorra on the 21st of December, when Santo Tomás Day is celebrated, although it can be found
throughout the year.


A great tradition accompanies the Basque people in collecting and tasting mushrooms, which - whether grilled or scrambled with eggs - will delight anyone who has the pleasure to taste them.


Best eaten at the beginning or middle of summer, fried or pickled. They have a mild flavor and a delightful shine. If you want to avoid potentially spicy ones, choose the ones that are thin and not too big.


Quite spicy, it has traditionally replaced pepper, over which it has the advantage of aromatic quality. Product well-known throughout France and widely sold, can be found in the form of powders, pickled or in olive oil, salts, pâté, chocolate…


This is a local variety of pepper which is usually prepared grilled, baked or pan-fried with olive oil and garlic.



Tear peas are considered as a "vegetable caviar" in the coastal area of Guipúzcoa, though today they can also be found in Biscaye and Navarre areas. Best places for tear peas to grow are the coastal areas, where the climate is fresh, wet and mild. For this reason, they are characterized by an intense sweet and salted flavor. Tear peas are not properly a variety of peas, they refer to their size, as they are harvested when they are maximun 5 milimeters of diameter. They constitute a culinary delicacy, they are sweet, fresh and very tasty. Harvest time is very narrow, lasting one or two months, starting from the end of March.


Marmitako is a traditional dish in the Basque Country, which once made up part of of the Basque fishermen’s menu, today, part of the exquisite popular Basque gastronomy. It’s a stew of tuna and potatoes seasoned with tomatoes, peppers, and onion, basically. In the past it was cooked in a metal stockpot or “marmita” - hence its name.

Ttoro is a typical dish of Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Ciboure, two lovely fishermen villages located in the French side of the Basque Country. It is a soup that was traditionnally prepared in the boat with the leftover fishes of the fishing net. Generally it contains hake, conger, scorpion fish and shellfish.


This is a typical dish of the French Basque Country region, a stew of meat (usually beef), red pepper, green onion and seasoned with traditional Espelette pepper.


Dish of the interior, from agricultural areas par excellence. In the past this was an everyday dish, but these days has become a gourmet experience based on the popular taste. Black beans tend to be accompanied by cabbage and blood sausage. One of the most recommendable places to taste them is Restaurante Frontón de Tolosa (photo Rest. Frontón).


Traditional dish of great prestige, that today, because of their scarcity and high price, is only enjoyed on very special occasions.

Elvers (tiny eels) are caught in Basque rivers and served in a clay pot with garlic, olive oil and chilli pepper.


Txangurro is the Basque word for spider crab, prepared with shredded meat of the crustacean.
The traditional recipe is Txangurro a la Donostiarra, which involves removing the meat from the shell after cooking and mixing with sautéed onion, leeks, tomato and brandy, according to variations on the recipe.
Traditionally it is presented in the shell of the crab and cooked au gratin in the oven


Txipiron, meaning cuttlefish in Basque, is a traditional recipe in the Basque Country. Due to its originality, this culinary dish leaves nobody indifferent. It is characterized by the deep black color of the sauce, which is cooked with the txipiron's own ink. Although it might look a little bit surprising, the flavor is excellent and it constitutes one of the classical dishes of the Basque cuisine.


Kokotxa is the fleshy tissue located in the lower part of hake's jaw, which has a very jelly texture and is much appreciated. It is one of the infgredient stars in Basque cuisine. Kokotxas have not always been of culinary interest. Years ago, precisely because of their jelly texture, they where considered as a secondary product together with guts and fish eggs. 

Most popular culinary preparations are pil pil (garlic and pepper), fried, grilled, in green sauce or cooked with clams.

Cod kokotxas are also much appreciated, they have a more jelly texture and thus they are cooked with a sauce, but they are less tasty than hake ones.


Hake in green sauce is a typical dish of Basque cuisine whose main ingredient is hake, accompanied by a parsley green sauce and clams; occasionally boiled egg is added.


Grilled beef steak is typical of these lands and especially appreciated is meat considered “de viejo,” which is to say, from more mature cattle and with a more pronounced flavor. One of the gastronomic temples of this specialty is Casa Julián de Tolosa.


It is a colorful dish typical from the French basque Country, made of onions, red pepper, green pepper, scrambled eggs, Bayonne ham and of course seasoned with Espelette pepper.


Idiazabal cheese is from local sheep and is made without any mixing and unpasteurized, with a minimum curing of two months, which gives it unique and appealing nuances.

Ossau-Iraty cheese: on the one hand, the Ossaus, stronger and fruitier, on the other, the Iraty cheeses, softer and with light notes of hazelnut. The flavor is delicate and very pleasant, less intense than that of Idiazabal. Eaten with black cherry jam from Itxassou. Both the Idiazabal and the Ossau-Iraty are deserving recipients of many international awards.


The Basque dessert par excellence is a lesson in simplicity itself. Mamia, known in Spanish as cuajada, and lait caillé in French, and in English as 'Basque sheep's curd dessert', is nothing more and nothing less than sheep's milk, heated and curdled with rennet, then served with the local bounty of the earth: honey and walnuts. Ingredients all found in your surrounding hills.  Traditionally made in the ancient receptacle, the kaiku, it used to have a burned wood taste to it. Nowadays, that taste is often chemically added if you purchase the more industrial versions of mamia.


The Basque cake, or gâteau basque, is a sweet traditional of the French Basque region, but also on the other side of the border. It consists of a shortbread dough, and has a filling of black cherry jam, typical of the valleys of the village of Itxassou, or even with a bitter almond cream and scented with the traditional liqueur of Izarra . Often, it is decorated on top with the lauburu (literally “four heads”), symbol of unity of the Basque provinces.


Pronounced “go-shoo-a,” this Basque word literally means “sweet” and it’s a perfect description of one of the most typical desserts from the Southern Basque Country. The origins of this darling dish can be traced to a small, family-owned pastry shop in Vitoria-Gasteiz where the dish is known simply as Postre Vasco or Basque Dessert. Traditionally, this is a multi-layered dessert that begins with a base of whipped cream, followed by a layer of airy sponge cake which is finally topped off with a dollop of caramelized custard. Uniquely, this dessert is served in small clay bowls. But don’t be fooled by the rustic presentation—this little treat is sure to please!


A typical dessert in the Southern Basque Country, this light tart has a flaky puff-pastry crust filled with a thick custard cream. Crowned with crushed almonds and a dusting of powdered sugar, this dish is a real crowd-pleaser! 


Literally meaning “nut sauce” in the Basque language, this dessert has been around for more than 150 years. Served on Christmas Eve in Basque farmhouses, this creamy pudding-like dessert is made with only four ingredients: walnuts, milk, cinnamon and sugar. Authentically Basque, this dish is exclusive and hard to find.


Part of the gastronomic culture of Bilbao, you’ll love this crispy treat! Generally, buttery puff-pastry is rolled out nice and thin. Then, it is wrapped around metal cylinders and deep fried to a golden brown. Finally, the crispy shells are filled with pastry cream and dusted with sugar. When served warm with chocolate sauce for dipping, it’s hard to eat just one!


Pronounced "moo-shoo", muxu in Basque languade means "kiss", and it is the basque style macaron cookie that you will find in the French side of the Basque Country.


This is a typical product, a corn cake whose dough is pan-fried. It was often used as bread in Basque farmhouses and in the evening was taken with milk. Today it is consumed on special occasions, usually involving txistorra (a type of of narrow, fresh sausage).




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