The gastronomic delights of the Basque Country, local products and regional specialties

Bayonne
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The Basque Country is a fertile territory, between the valleys of Lower Navarre and the pastures of the Soule mountains . Its agriculture and breeding provide many local products . It is also a frontage on the Atlantic and the ocean offers its fabulous seafood . The country is recognized for the authentic character of its inhabitants, its anchored culture and its ancestral traditions. Suffice to say that his cuisine is colorful, generous and fragrant , just like his peppers! We take you for a gastronomic getaway , to taste Basque specialties .

Opening photo credit: Lesley Williamson

Savory Basque delicacies


The Basque Country has a renowned gastronomy, but we often only know its stars! In order not to miss any of its gourmet treasures , we take a look at its local dishes , on the salty side.

  • Espelette Pepper : This is one of its flagship products that you will find in all Basque kitchens and recipes . It is emblematic of the country and recognized by a “ Protected Designation of Origin ”. This spicy little vegetable unleashes many passions and has fervent supporters. To meet passionate pepper producers , visit the Bipertegia boutique .
    Here is our list of other chilli producers . And to get to know it, taste it and combine it, do not miss the Pepper Festival , in the village of Espelette , in October.
    Espelette pepper
    Espelette Pepper, in full preparation for drying. Photo credit: Lesley Williamson

  • Basque charcuterie : Impossible not to think of the famous Bayonne ham . Prepared in the Adour valley since at least the 12th century, it is used for a long time on larger tables, such as "Gargantua" and the court "Albret". It is part of Basque culture, has been engraved on the pediments of churches, and to pay homage to it there is the Bayonne Ham Fair , but also its Museum . On the other hand, do you know the Chorizo des Aldudes ? It is a traditional sausage delicately flavored with sweet pepper. As an aperitif, just sliced with a small glass of white wine, it's a treat. It also goes well with fish or mussels, for a surprising and subtle “ land and sea ”. You are looking for a charcutier, it's here .
    Ham
    Ham full of taste and character

  • The seafood and fish from the coast are the basis of many dishes, sometimes with Espelette pepper or associated with chorizo.

  • River fish : They are mainly caught in the Nive and Nivelle . Trout, wild salmon, carp, pike, perch ... you have the choice, for leisure but also on the plate.

  • Basque sheep cheeses : You will find them under many names. Each valley has its own cheeses, from the Pyrenean mountains of Soule . Some come directly from these “ summer pastures ”, the summer pastures. You will be able to discover this art of living in transhumance, in the shepherd's huts , traditional certainly but modernized to welcome you. The Ossau Iraty is the star. Recognized as " Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée " and " Appellation d'Origine Protégée " at European level, it is a blend of milk from sheep from the Ossau valley in the Basque Country and Iraty in Béarn . This page references production farms and cheese factories .
    Cheese
    L'Ossau-Iraty always accompanies a good Basque meal, a plate of cold meats or a gourmet aperitif. Photo credit: Fromagerie des Aldudes

  • The Kintoa pig : It is an Iberian species, called " Black piebald pig ", in reference to its black head and butt on a white body. Its meat is exceptional, with a nutty flavor.

  • Cod : Dried then cooked, as an omelet or fried, it is often associated with the tradition of " Txotx ", with a good cider ...
    Cod omelet
    photo: cod omelette: Cod omelette, a delicious classic with cider…

  • Axoa : Veal, onions, garlic, mild green peppers, and especially Espelette pepper of course! Depending on the recipe, you will also find Bayonne ham there. But in any case, it is THE typical Basque dish . To find a beef or veal producer, see our page .

  • Blood sausage : It is a classic black sausage, but made from Kintoa pork and spiced up with Espelette pepper. It is a product of character, which can be consumed hot or cold, with a good glass of Irouleguy wine.

  • Preserves: “ Cassoulet à la basquaise ”, “ Axoa ”, “ Confit de canard ”… There is something for all tastes and all sauces… To take home a little of the Basque Country and to please! The list of canneries is here .
    Cannery
    Basque canneries, the kingdom of gourmands. Here at Etxe Peio Espelette.  

Basque sweets, the sweet side


After the savory, we move on to dessert ... Here again, the Basque Country has no shortage of assets and sweet treats to discover.

Aperitifs, digestives and local wines ...


To appreciate and spice up all these sweets, we offer you some typically Basque drinks .

  • Irouleguy wine : It is the only Basque wine which benefits from the “ Appellations d'Origine Contrôlée et Protégée ”. Its vineyard is the smallest in France, but at the foot of the Pyrenees , it is very characteristic. Between the cherry and the chilli pepper, it is not surprising that we define this spicy red wine, with a very pronounced taste of red fruits. Its rosé is fruity and its white is more floral, with a slight flavor of exotic fruits. On our page you will find many producers of Irouleguy . Our blogger takes you to discover this wine in the Irouleguy cellar .

  • Cider : It's hard to talk about Basque cider , without telling you about the tradition that goes with it, the “ Txotx ”. Originally, it was the small piece of wood that closed the barrel. The cork is no longer there, but the term has stuck and refers to this opening ceremony of the " Cider season ". It is in fact consumed all year round, but the period refers rather to the first tastings of the cider of the year, which is enjoyed during a traditional meal. It begins at the end of fermentation. The owner opens the barrel and launches this famous season by serving the first glass!
    We make you taste the traditional Sagarnoa in Eztigar .
    To discover Txotx, in the Cidrerie du Fronton, it's here!
    Finally, here is our selection of cider houses .
    Txotx
    The tradition of txotx, we serve ourselves directly from the barrel!

  • Basque beer: the Basque country also has several craft breweries. They all have their little peculiarities, taste them! Click to see our selection of breweries in the Basque Country

  • L ' Izarra : It is a liqueur , created in Hendaye, based on prunes and walnut stain, with armagnac and flavored with plants and spices.

  • Patxaran : This is a liqueur made in Navarre , made from plums, macerated in an aniseed alcohol.

  • La Manzana : Meaning " Apple " in Spanish, it is a liqueur made from green apples . It comes from the distillation of apples, from this traditional culture of the Basque country, especially Spanish.

  • Sangria : Here is another product that comes to us from Spain and which is widely consumed in the Basque Country. It is made from Irouléguy red wine, sparkling water, fruits and spices, especially Espelette pepper.

To learn, taste and appreciate these many liqueurs, the distilleries welcome you .

Izarra
Izarra, a spicy liqueur, perfect as a digestif.

Discover the Basque Country, through its delicacies


The gastronomy of a country reflects its culture, its land and its history . It is part of his identity. Discovering its territories, through its regional specialties , is a good way to immerse yourself in Basque culture, to meet its producers and to find good local products . On its coast or in the heart of its hinterland, we take you on a trip on the Basque roads ...

Here is this discovery of the specialties of the Basque Country which ends here, but which will continue on site with a tasting ... We hope to have made you hungry and want to taste Basque gastronomy , during a gourmet getaway .

Did you like our article? Find more on our Blog . Follow us on Did you like our article? Find more on our Blog . Follow us on the Guide du Pays Basque Facebook page and on Instagram @guidedupaysbasque.

Article written by Stéphanie Tempier for the Guide du Pays Basque.


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