A meat-eater’s guide to a Spanish menu

Here on the Costa Blanca, paella, fish and seafood get top billing in most seafront restaurants. But meat eaters, worry not; there’s plenty of variety on offer, especially as you travel further inland.

Here’s a handy translation of most of the dishes you’ll find in the carnes (meat) section of the menu.

I’ve included separate section for steak and also for the different cuts of meat you’ll find in Spain. In the UK, we tend to turn our noses up at offal. Not here, where even the humblest cut (think pig’s trotters, oxtail, beef cheeks) can be transformed into something delicious. See the section on casquería below.


  • Angus Black or Black Angus: beef from an Aberdeen Angus, a famous Scottish breed, well known in Spain.
  • Buey: bull
  • Cabra/cabrito: goat/kid
  • Carne de vacuno: a general term for beef
  • Cerdo: pork. Almost every bit of the pig features somewhere in Spanish cuisine. For more on different cuts of pork, see Styles/Cuts of Meat later in this post.
  • Cochinillo: suckling pig. Often cooked whole in the oven. A speciality from Segovia, an hour’s drive north-west of Madrid.

    Cochinillo (suckling pig) asado, cooked till the skin is crisp.
  • Conejo: rabbit. Great in stews. Try conejo en salmorejo (a vinegar/pimentón sauce typical of the Canary Islands)
  • Cordero: lamb. In the UK, lamb is defined as under one year old and anything older is mutton. Spain has more detailed definitions, but you don’t often see them on menus.
  • Cordero lechal, unweaned, up to 25 days old, 8 kg. See also lechazo.
  • Cordero recental or ternasco: up to 4 months old, less than 13kg.
  • Cordero pascual: slaughtered between 4-12 months.
  • Ovino mayor/carnero: sheep over one year old, mostly found in the north of Spain.
  • Cordoníz: quail
  • Faisán: pheasant
  • Jabalí: wild boar
  • Lechazo: lamb (unweaned, under 35 days old)
  • Novillo: beef from a steer or bullock, aged 2-4 years. Supposed to have more flavour and a deeper red colour than ‘ternera‘ which is the usual word for beef on a Spanish menu.
  • Pato: duck

    Casa Elordi
    Magret de pato (duck), here with medlars and beetroot slices
  • Pavo: turkey
  • Pollo: chicken
  • Perdiz: partridge
  • Ternera: beef. Can also mean veal (e.g. escalope de ternera)
  • Vaca: cow
  • Venado: venison


  • Ahumado: smoked
  • A la brasa: charcoal grilled
  • A la parrilla: grilled
  • A la plancha: cooked on a hot plate
  • Al horno: cooked in the oven 
  • Barbacoa/parillada: barbecue
  • Estofado: stewed
  • Guisado: stewed/casseroled
  • Horno de leña: wood oven
  • Relleno: stuffed


  • Bistec: rump steak
  • Chuletón: T-bone steak          
  • Entrecote: entrecote
  • Filete: fillet
  • Solomillo: sirloin


  • Poco hecho: rare
  • Al punto: rare
  • Medio hecho: medium
  • Bien hecho: well done
Spanish cuts of beef
A guide to cuts of beef in Spain; more detailed than in the UK


  • Alas de (pollo):  wings (chicken)
  • Albondigas: meatballs
  • Carilladas de cerdo: pig cheeks (also known as mejillas, carrilleras). Try carrilleras en Pedro Ximénez, cooked slowly in sweet, intensely flavoured Pedro Ximénez dessert sherry. My personal signature dish!
  • Chuleta: chop
  • Chuletón: T-bone steak. A speciality of Ávila, north west of Madrid

    Chuletón de Avila
    Chuletón (T-bone steak), a speciality of Ávila. A serious amount of meat; ask to share (compartir)
  • Costillas: ribs/spare ribs
  • Escalope: escalope (of veal)
  • Filete: fillet steak (usually beef)
  • Higado: liver
  • Lengua: tongue
  • Lomo: loin, tenderloin pork
  • Manitas de cerdo: pig trotters (see also patas de cerdo)
  • Mejillas de cerdo: pig cheeks
  • Molida: minced meat (carne de molida). See also picada
  • Muslo de: thigh. Muslo de pollo – chicken drumstick
  • Paleta: shoulder
  • Panceta de cerdo: belly of pork
  • Patas de cerdo: pigs’ trotters
  • Picada: minced meat (carne picada)
  • Pierna: leg (usually lamb – e.g. pierna de cordero lechazo: leg of lamb)
  • Pinchos: pork kebab marinated in spicy sauce and served on skewers (pinchos morunos are a typical tapa)
  • Pechuga: breast
  • Pluma: (literally feather) a really tender cut of pork from the neck of an ibérico pig
  • Poco hecho – rare. Al punto – rare. Medio hecho – medium. Bien hecho – well done
  • Rabo de toro: ox tail. Slowly stewed in a rich sauce with plenty of red wine (in the sauce, not the chef!)
  • Riñones: kidneys. Try riñones al jerez (in sherry sauce). Delicious!
  • Secreto: a cut of pork with amazing flavour from the shoulder/loin area of an Ibérico pig


  • Callos: tripe. Callos a la Madrileña is a typical dish from Madrid, a stew with tripe, black pudding, chorizo and vegetables
  • Carilladas de cerdo: pig cheeks (aka mejillas, carrilleras). Needs braising for a few hours, but the flavour is great. 
  • Higado: liver
  • Lengua: tongue
  • Mejillas de cerdo: pig cheeks
Rabo de Toro
Oxtail (rabo de toro), a Spanish favourite. It needs to be braised slowly until the meat is falling away from the bone.
Pigs trotters (manitas de cerdo)
Pigs trotters, usually braised in a stew. The Spanish can create a dish with every part of the pig and the trotters are no exception.
  • Manitas de cerdo: pigs trotters
  • Patas de cerdo: pigs trotters
  • Rabo de toro: ox tail (see pic)
  • Riñones: kidneys. See riñones al jeréz above
  • Sesos: brains
  • Tripas: tripe

Try these blog posts:

© Guy Pelham 2019

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.