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Traditional dishes from Mallorca, Ibiza, and Menorca – The Definitive Guide

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Traditional Dishes from Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca

Traditional Dishes from Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca, otherwise known as the Balearic Islands takes cues from Catalonian and Valencian cuisine. Balearic cuisine is as traditionally Mediterranean as it gets. This Mediterranean archipelago has been conquered several times during its history by the Moors, French and English, all of which have left their mark on the local cuisine. In fact, you can even differentiate between cuisine from Mallorca and cuisine from Menorcan cuisine since the two islands have had different cultural influences.

The first written reference to Balearic gastronomy appeared in the 15th century. Archduke Luis Salvador of Austria, wrote extensively about his culinary experiences during his visits to the island in his book Die Balearen. 

In the book, Luis Salvador differentiates between rural cuisine (more primitive, based on bread, vegetables and fruits), farmers cusine )that consisted of soups with fried eggs, sobrasada, xulla and Sundays everyone ate rice with saffron) and city cuisine (more variety in meat and fish, white bread, little milk, and a lot of chocolate served with pastries like ensaimadas).

Table of Contents

Common Dishes

Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera, the main islands of the Balearic archipelago, are not only brimming with amazing landscapes, spectacular beaches, and laid-back vibes the Balearic islands offer a wide variety of delicious local dishes. The local gastronomy is the reflection of centuries of tradition that has mostly remained almost intact over time. Let us first go over the most famous dishes and delicacies from the islands:  

The Ensaimada from Mallorca
The Ensaimada is the ubiquitous Balearic food. The Ensaimada has been part of the gastronomy of the Balearic Islands for centuries. In fact, there are records that indicate that since the seventeenth century they have been a staple of parties and celebrations on the islands.

It is an iconic sweet baked good made with flour, water, eggs, sugar, sourdough, and lard (or saïm as it is known on the islands), which is where its name comes from (en-saim-ada – roughly translated means made with lard).

The Ensaimada is the nº1 souvenir that tourists pick up as they head back home. The ensaimada is actually protected by the Government of the Balearic Islands, believe it or not. 

Another ubiquitous Balearic delicacy. It is a raw cured sausage that contains pork, black pepper, and paprika, which is believed to be originated in Sicily, Italy.

In Sicily there was a sausage-making technique known as “sopressa”, which consisted of mincing the meat until it formed a paste. Maritime trade between Italy and Spain allowed it to reach the Balearic Islands, where its consumption became popular, especially in Mallorca during the 16th century.

There is an official recipe for Balearic sobrasada, but it is very common for families to have their own particular recipe to make it. Regarding the presentations, perhaps the best known is the longaniza, but it can also be consumed in a wide variety of sausage styles. 

Caldereta de Langosta (lobster stew)

Not surprisingly, there is a lobster dish on this list. There are few places you can get fresher lobster than the Balearic Islands.

It is a rather modern dish in comparison to the other dishes in this article. La Caldereta showed up at the beginning of the 20th century. It started out, as so many classic dishes, as a workers man dish. Fishermen would get to enjoy a Calderete on a daily basis, and although now it can only be eaten from April to August, the ingredients remain the same.

It is made with a base of tomato sauce, parsley, onion, peppers, and garlic to which water and salt are added, and at the very end, the chopped lobster is added. The original Caldereta originated in the bay of Fornells.

Frito Mallorquín
Although the origin of this dish is murky, everything seems to indicate that Mallorcan fried food may have its origin in Sephardic cuisine.

Frito Mallorquin is a symphony of olive-oile fried goodies including meat, potatoes, onion, and pepper, seasoned with bay leaves, cloves, chilli, cinnamon, salt, garlic and pepper. It is one of the emblematic dishes of the gastronomy of the Balearic Islands.

Pastissets of Menorca
These sweet treats are shaped like a flower and are typical of the island of Menorca and used to be taken during Christmas parties and family events.

Today they are found in almost any bakery and are made with non-fermented dough and filled with pumpkin jam. The recipe includes the use of anise, egg and mistela or muscatel.

Brut rice
Brut rice is a tremendously traditional dish from the Islands, almost primitive. There is no one agreed-upon ingredient list, especially because it changes depending on whatever is in season.

Arros Brut is a is a soupy rice dish into which fresh game and garden ingredients are added. It is a dish of rural origins. In general ingredients include vegetables and mushrooms, various types of meats, such as rabbit or hare, pigeon, pork, duck or chicken, as well as various spices (pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon) and sobrasada. 

This dish has been on the islands since medieval times. It is a sweet or a salty pocket of dough popular in Mallorca and Menorca.

It is made with are flour, eggs, butter, and oil and typical fillings include cottage cheese and jam, vegetables, stir-fry or fish. It is usually served during the Easter holidays and is one of the traditional aperitifs of the festivals and celebrations.


Mayonaise or Mahonesa in Spanish actually originated on the island of Menorca, specifically in the bay of Mahón (Maho-nesa). During the 7 Years’ War (1750), the French attacked the English fortress of Saint Philip, in the port of Mahón, capital of the island of Menorca.

The operation was executed by the Duke of Richelieu and the attack was carried out by Colonel Rochambeau. To celebrate the huge victory Richelieu held a banquet in his honor. The chef tried to make a cream and egg-based sauce but there was no cream available. He, therefore, made the concoction with olive oil and egg, thus creating a new delicious sauce. In honor of the victory in the port of Mahón, it was called “Mahonnaise”, and later changed to “Mayonnaise” and in Spanish, it remained as Mahonesa.


Another ancient dish common on the islands. The coca dates back to 800 AC. According to food historian Eliana Thibaut i Comalada, the coca was invented to use-up bread dough that had not raised. Instead of discarding this dough, housewives cooked it flat, sweetening it regularly and serving it for dessert.

Cocas nowadays come in both sweet and savory varieties. The savory varieties resemble pizza and are sometimes referred to as Mallorcan pizza.  

Mallorcan hare
Black paella

Gastronomic history of the Balearic Islands

The Church historically imposed many days of fasting, which meant that meat was consumed sparingly and considered to be festive and “reserved for the elite”. Fish, however, was evidently a staple of the Balearic diet.

Meat preparations

The consumption of game and poultry on the island is very common, especially in the form of broths and stews.

Hens, chickens, turkeys and pigeons are mostly eaten roasted and stuffed. Archduke Luís Salvador describes three typically Mallorcan dishes: the escaldums, the bonnet à la rei En Jaume and the giblet frit.

Partridges, quail, and thrushes are reserved for stews, along with hares, rabbits and hedgehogs, as odd as that sound, and served along with rice. In fact, if the rabbit’s blood is mixed in the rice, we have one of the star dishes of Mallorcan gastronomy: arròs brut.

Lamb, pork and veal are also commonly found on the islands. A peculiarity of Balearic cuisine is the use of lard instead of olive oil in the preparations of dishes. Common dishes are:

– Giblets or offal cooked with onions, green beans, peppers, and aromatic herbs.

– Greixoneres, greixeres, stews, empanadas and meatballs (pilotes).

– Roast porcella (suckling pig). The preparation of a suckling pig was more of a ritual than a meal. It is the typical dish served at Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties.

– Sausages and preserved meats: butifarrones, camaiot, butifarra, sobrasada, longaniza, salted ham, and salted bones.

Fish preparations 

There are more than 60 varieties of native fish dishes. Of the dishes that you have to try are: Mallorcan and Menorcan soup, the spinagada coca, the spinach coca with herring or gerret, and fish empanadas.

Vegetable preparations

Archduke Luis Salvador mentions 22 varieties of vegetables grown on the islands: broad beans, beans, peas, cauliflowers, cabbage, joint, lettuce, endive, spinach, chard, artichoke, parsley, carrot, radish, potato, sweet potato, onion, garlic, tomato, eggplant, pepper, and pumpkin. The vegetables are used to prepare the “trempats”, a fresh summer dish, stuffed eggplants, and the offegades or “drowned” carrots.

Rice and wheat are also an essential part of the local gastronomy. Popular rice dishes are arroz de liebre (rice with wild hare), arròs brut, arroz con erizos (with hedge hog), arroz de langosta (with lobster). But the most traditional use of rice is in the local soups: : sopa torrada, sopa con sofrito, sopa de pan, sopas con espinacas y pan, sopas con col…

Sweets and baked goods 

Whe you are talking about sweet dough goods there are two main preparations:

– Fried: buñuelos; potato lesques; robiols (dumplings stuffed with angel hair, cottage cheese or jam) and flaó or formatjada (cooked in the oven filled with cottage cheese).

– Baked: Rooms, coixins, madritxos and concos. More elaborate and festive we have the ensaimadas, known nationally and internationally, made with fine flour and lard and powdered sugar. Another very well regarded local desert is the royal cake (or drum), with almonds, and doublegats


A tray with cocas in a market in Mallorca
Artisanal balearic bread

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