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papas bravas

What are Papas Bravas? How to Make Papas Bravas

Papas Bravas is a popular Spanish dish consisting of crispy fried potatoes served with a spicy tomato-based sauce, often accompanied by a garlic aioli or mayonnaise-based sauce. The dish is known for its combination of textures and flavors.

Texture-wise, Papas Bravas typically features cubed or wedge-cut potatoes that are first parboiled or steamed until partially cooked. Then, they are fried until crispy on the outside while maintaining a soft and fluffy texture inside. This dual texture, crispy exterior, and tender interior, offers a satisfying contrast.

The spicy tomato sauce served with Papas Bravas adds a flavorful and slightly tangy element to the dish. The sauce is often made with tomatoes, paprika, garlic, vinegar, and sometimes chili or hot sauce, providing a spicy kick that complements the mildness of the potatoes.

Additionally, it is common to serve Papas Bravas with a garlic aioli or a spicy mayonnaise-based sauce called “salsa brava,” which adds creaminess and extra flavor to the dish. These sauces offer a contrasting texture and richness that complements the crispy potatoes and spicy tomato sauce.

The dish is typically prepared by frying the parboiled potatoes until golden and crispy, then tossing them in the spicy tomato sauce before serving. The aioli or salsa brava is often drizzled on top or served on the side as a dipping sauce.

Papas Bravas are a popular tapas dish in Spain, served in bars and restaurants as a flavorful and satisfying appetizer or snack. The combination of textures—crispy potatoes with a spicy and tangy sauce, along with a creamy aioli—makes it a beloved and iconic part of Spanish cuisine.

Key Takeaways

  • Who this dish appeals to: Potato enthusiasts, those craving bold and spicy flavors, anyone seeking a taste of Spanish tapas.
  • Estimated duration: A flavorful creation ready in approximately 45 minutes, perfect for a lively and satisfying appetizer or side dish.
  • Nutrition facts: A crispy and indulgent treat with a kick of spice.

About this Recipe

Papas Bravas, or “brave potatoes,” are a popular Spanish tapas dish celebrated for their crispy exterior and bold sauces. This recipe guides you through the process of creating these zesty potato bites, ensuring a perfect combination of textures and flavors.

Equipment Required

  • Baking sheet
  • Mixing bowls
  • Saucepan
  • Blender or food processor


Crispy Potatoes:

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Spicy Aioli:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (adjust to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Crispy Potatoes:

  1. Preheat the oven: Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. Prepare potatoes: In a bowl, toss the potato cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper until well coated.
  3. Bake potatoes: Spread the potatoes evenly on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and crispy, turning them halfway through for even cooking.

Tomato Sauce:

  1. Prepare the sauce: In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes: Pour in the crushed tomatoes, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens.

Spicy Aioli:

  1. Make aioli: In a blender or food processor, combine mayonnaise, minced garlic, smoked paprika, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy.


  1. Serve potatoes: Arrange the crispy potatoes on a serving platter.
  2. Drizzle with tomato sauce: Pour the tomato sauce generously over the potatoes.
  3. Finish with aioli: Drizzle the spicy aioli on top of the potatoes, creating a zigzag pattern for a decorative touch.

Side Suggestions

  • Fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish
  • Sliced green onions for added freshness
  • Lemon wedges for a citrusy kick

Storage Options

Papas Bravas are best enjoyed fresh and crispy. If you have leftover sauce or aioli, store them separately in the refrigerator. Reheat the potatoes in the oven for a few minutes to restore their crispiness.

Ingredient Substitutes

  • Potatoes: Experiment with sweet potatoes or a mix of different potato varieties.
  • Hot sauce: Customize the aioli by using your favorite hot sauce or omitting it for a milder version.

Alternatives to this Dish

Transform your Papas Bravas into a hearty meal by serving them alongside grilled meats or as a side to your favorite Spanish-inspired main course.


Papas Bravas bring the bold and spicy flavors of Spanish tapas to your table, offering a delightful and crispy potato experience. Whether shared with friends or enjoyed as a solo treat, this recipe promises a taste of the vibrant and diverse world of Spanish cuisine. ¡Buen provecho!