Spanish Style, Octopus Tapa

Our local Spanish restaurant, Jaleo, has a great octopus tapa. It is octopus with olive oil and smoked paprika. I have managed to create a version of it that might not be quite as good, but is still darn tasty. My version is shockingly easy (and cheap!). The secret to my version is that it uses canned octopus. Fresh octopus is great when you can get it, but I haven’t seen it available anywhere.


Octopus is not usually a “go-to” side dish, but using canned octopus makes it really easy. With whole octopus, fresh or frozen, you have to give it a long boil. With the canned variety, however, it just needs a quick fry on the stove. I am not sure if it is the way it is prepared or the canning process, but the texture also ends up great. It is firm, without being chewy or stringy.


I have only tried Goya Octopus (pulpo) in Olive Oil, but I am sure there are other varieties out there. I used smoked paprika as a flavoring, but you could use powdered garlic or some other dried herbs like oregano or rosemary instead. Serve with some crusty bread and put out some tooth picks for picking up the octopus.

Spanish Style, Octopus Tapa


1 can octopus in olive oil

1/4 tsp smoked paprika


  1. Empty entire can, octopus and oil, into a small frying pan.
  2. Heat the pan over a medium heat, it should be hot enough to sizzle and foam but turn the heat down if it starts to splatter.
  3. Stir occasionally, cooking for 10-15 minutes until the skin and small tentacles look crispy.
  4. Towards the end, sprinkle in the paprika or other flavorings and stir.
  5. Transfer to a pretty dish.


23 thoughts on “Spanish Style, Octopus Tapa

  1. I made this using the octopus in oil with garlic, I added some red pepper flakes, paprika, cilantro and some fresh garlic and finished it with a squeeze of lemon juice. winderful! A little spicy & that lemon juice is so nice and bright and cuts through the oil.

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  3. you can get fresh and frozen from M Market off Little River turnpike and 395. It is cheap and easy to prepare and trust me once you try fresh you will not go back to canned. Only the most expensive canned ones taste nearly as good. I cooke 4lb for about 60 minutes until fork tender, then I put on a VERY HOT grill and cook long enough to crisp the outside only 2 minutes max. Cut sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with garlic infused olive oil. and bread to sop up the juices.

  4. I am cooking a can right now, and it looks like it will turn out great. Can you somehow turn regular paprika into smoked paprika (easily), or do you have to buy smoked paprika separate?

    • Unfortunately I don’t think there is any easy way to smoke the paprika once it has been turned into a powder. Feel free to try some other flavors though! Garlic and lemon always work.

    • Regular paprika can work, but if you really want that smoke flavor, add just a little chipotle powder to give it a nice smokey kick. not too much as paprika has kinda weak flavor depending on where its from.

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  6. This recipe came out great- The only thing I did different was I put the contents of the can in a bowl (oil and all) and chopped up a clove of garlic and let it sit like that in the fridge overnight. But when you put everything in the frying pan, make sure to strain the oil because the garlic chunks will burn in the frying pan! Add them back in at near the end if you really want to use them :)

  7. I have had a can of octopus in the cupboard since Christmas and wondered what to do with it. Well, after reading all these positive comments (except poor old Jonas – always easy to be rude anonymosly behind a computer LOL) I’m trying this out tonight. Thanks for the good idea :-)

  8. This is a cool recipe… Canned Octopus from Goya (and other companies) can come with garlic oil, tomato-infused, and also cuttlefish (small squid) in their own ink, which is actually really great with some whole wheat angel-hair pasta….

    This is also really great as not many places have fresh octopus!

    Good recipe!!!

  9. my 7 year old son has been begging for me to make octopus for him and really didn’t know how to prepare octopus but thanks for this easy dish. he really loves it!

    • What a fool, probably never tried it. I prefer my octopus in a can as much as I prefer my caviar from a jar. It’s saves time, tastes as good and is easy to use, doesn’t stink up house. Recipe is basically same as I have used for years, except I use fermented Black Garlic to kick up the flavor. A very interesting tasty tapas.

  10. I love this dish in Spain. For many, octopus seems like an acquired taste, but it’s so meaty, I really think anyone can dig it. Jose Andres is my favorite… I have a strange crush on him. The only thing I’m wondering about this recipe is the ‘juice’ around the octopus in this dish. It’s hard to tell but I assume it’s the olive oil from the can? Many times in Spain the dish is just a simple grilled/ala plancha octopus sprinkled with paprika. YUM.

    I made octopus once and Pablo is right, it’s often either difficult to get or a bit expensive and cooking it takes awhile. I actually have a can of Goya octopus in my cabinet right now and was figuring out what to do with this. You’ve made me think that maybe me wants THIS.

    Lovely blog.

    Amy @

  11. I´m a Spanish guy and I know how fresh octopus tastes. But I find this remix great, because it´s just not easy (or affordable) to find fresh octopus in a lot of countries. Anyway: try to find the frozen one first.

  12. Wow… that is sort of harsh. Honestly I haven’t seen frozen octopus around anywhere, let alone fresh. I am definitely game for fresh octopus, it is just not that easy to come by.

  13. You can transfer that to any assortment of pretty dishes and it’ll still look like crap. C’mon, it doesn’t take much to buy some fresh octopus and make any number of fine dishes.

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