Tapas Tuesday: Roscón de Reyes, or the Spanish Twist on King’s Cake

The Epiphany is one of my most beloved Spanish Christmas traditions. Not only does it extend my holidays by a few days, but the Cabalgata parade means that candy literally rains down the streets of San Jacinto. Spanish children await their gifts from three wise men who travel on camels, distributing gifts (or coal) much like the Magi did when they traveled to see the Messiah. Santa Claus is making waves in Spain, but Gaspar, Melchor and Baltazar are three of the most recognizable faces for a Spanish child.

Apart from collecting hard candies that will serve as bribes for my students until June, people also gobble up the Roscón de Reyes, a sweet cake filled with cream or truffle fluff that’s traditionally served during the afternoon of January 6th.

Roscon de Reyes

What it is: A panettone-like cake made from flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk and yeast, plus a few spices. Sliced open in the middle, the cake also has cream in the middle and is decorated with sugar-dipped fruits and sliced almonds. It’s essentially the first cousin of a King’s Cake, traditionally eaten in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday.

Where it’s from: Roscón – and its variants – have long been served in Spain on the Epiphany. The tradition actually began in Rome, when cakes commemorating the Three Wise Men’s search for Christ were served first to the poor and then divvied up for soldiers on the 12th night after Christmas. He who found the lima bean within the cake was exempt from work that day.

Nowadays, the person who finds a small plastic baby is the King or Queen of the afternoon, whereas the unlucky recipient of the bean must often pay for the cake the following year!

Goes great with: Coffee – it helps cut down on all the sugar you just consumed.

Where to find it in Seville: Roscón is one of those dishes that you’re better off buying – without a Thermomix, it’s pretty laborious! Head to any confitería and reserve one (I prefer Filella and Lola in Triana), or even pick one up in a supermarket if you’re in a pinch – a cake for 8 people will run you about 20€.


The Three Kings have a completely new significance for me – my son was born on January 4th and received a visit from Gaspar, Melchor and Balthasar before leaving the hospital. In fact, we were released from the hospital on the Epiphany, only to be told that the Cabalgata was passing right in front of the hospital. My first food at home after his birth was Roscón, and the small toy tiger my fatherin-in-law bit into that night will forever be treasured.

If you like the Three Kings Cake, try some other convent sweets like Huesos de Santos, Yemas de San Lorenzo or Roscas de Vino.

Have you ever tried Roscón de Reyes?

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. Looks so delicious – and interesting, to hear the story behind it.

  2. you are right that Santa Claus is making waves…it’s got to do with the film and TV industry coming from USA…..back in the middle of the 80’s when i was a little boy we would not get any present on the 25th or 26th…the 6th of January was our only day at Christmas, believe me.

    20 euros for a Roscon? that is normal, and quite expensive, if you go to a family-owned confitería, but at supermarkets chains like Lidl you may buy it at 6 euros or so.

    happy new year Cat!

    • I know from my husband, and even my eight years in Spain, that Santa is a newcomer. I love the idea of the three kings, but not that kids get their gifts and promptly must return to school! We’ll see what happens when we have kids of our own..!

      Are the supermarket brands any good? It wasn’t worth me picking one up because no onw would have eaten it but me!

      • honestly the supermarket brands do not taste really good, you know, they are “industrial” as we say….the one that i bought at Lidl did taste like “cartón” and said nothing to me.

  3. Roscon De Reyes sounds delicious! In the U.S., we often hear about New Orleans’ French connection. It’s nice to learn more about the Spanish connection and the original King Cake.
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  4. Drooling all over the screen. This looks SO GOOD!
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  5. Barbara Hoffman says:

    Living in south Louisiana, we enjoy eating King Cake from Epiphany to Mardi Gras. But having lived in Sevilla several different times, we count ourselves lucky if we are there at the time Sevillanos celebrate with Roscos de los Reyes. In fact, we prefer the Spanish version, with the variety of candied fruit, to Louisiana King Cake which is covered with frosting and colored sugar sprinkles.

  6. Great post Cat, thanks for loving our gastronomy as much as we do!


  1. […] the Cabalgata was passing through. Sevilla. We returned home to a house full of people and a large roscón de reyes. I ate as if I hadn’t consumed anything since that bocadillo de jamón, gulping down water […]

  2. […] 6th so we just celebrated with a trip out to a cafe for tea and cake There is a traditional Three Kings Cake that can be bought at the supermarket (or made of course!) but noone fancied […]

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