Spanish Romesco Sauce

Classic Spanish Romesco sauce, made with roasted red peppers, almonds, garlic and tomatoes.

how to make Spanish Romesco Sauce
Elise Bauer

Okay, so I'm sort of old for this acronym, but OMG OMG OMG! Have you ever had Romesco sauce?

When I had it for the first time I nearly fell off my chair. Where had this sauce been my whole life?

It's a Spanish sauce, and sort of like pesto, but made with tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, garlic, and nuts. You can serve it over practically anything, from shrimp to chicken to vegetables.

I've been making it just to eat plain, like a dip with crackers. Or I put a dollop over baby potatoes. Or I just sneak a spoonful out of the refrigerator for a snack.

Trust me. This one is good.

Like so many regional dishes, Romesco has a gazillion varieties. Our version incorporates smoked paprika, to give a slight smokiness to the flavor of the sauce. Smoked paprika, also known as pimenton, is becoming more and more available in supermarkets, but if you can't find any, just use regular paprika.

Romesco Sauce in a bowl
Elise Bauer

Spanish Romesco Sauce

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Yield 1 1/2 cups


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1-inch thick slice of crusty bread, torn into pieces
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped or slivered (can substitute hazelnuts, peeled)
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, or canned whole tomatoes (including the juice) that have been de-seeded, or 1 pound fresh tomatoes that have been par-boiled, skins removed, and de-seeded
  • 1 8-ounce jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (preferred) or sweet paprika
  • 2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar


  1. Sauté torn bread and almonds:

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the bread and almonds, stirring often, until they just begin to brown.

    Add the garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, stirring once or twice.

  2. Process with remaining ingredients:

    Place the contents of the sauté pan into a food processor with the remaining ingredients—salt, tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, smoked paprika, vinegar. Purée until smooth.

  3. Bake:

    Spread the sauce out on a rimmed sheet pan and bake in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges begin to caramelize.

    Allow to cool and scrape into a container to store.

    To use romesco sauce, mix with pasta, shrimp, chicken or vegetables either before or after they are cooked, much like you would a pesto.

    Kept in a sealed container, Romesco sauce will last for a week or more in the fridge. It freezes well, too.


Romesco Potatoes - from Smitten Kitchen

Salmon with Basil Romesco - from The Nourishing Gourmet

Romesco Sauce from Kim O'Donnel out of her The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour

pink shrimp with spanish romesco sauce
Little pink shrimp with Romesco sauce and chopped fresh parsley. Elise Bauer