Steps by steps making Gambas al Ajillo

On one of my journeys, this time to the vibrant coasts of Spain, a culinary treasure known as “Gambas al Ajillo” found its way to my table. This simple yet elegant dish features succulent prawns bathed in a fragrant, sizzling olive oil infused with generous amounts of garlic and sprinkled with fresh parsley, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that speaks to the soul of Spanish cuisine. The sweetness of the prawns, combined with the aromatic garlic and the fresh, green notes of parsley, creates an unforgettable taste experience that is both bold and refreshing.

Inspired by this discovery, I was driven to replicate this delightful dish in my own kitchen. Through patience and a bit of culinary magic, I succeeded in capturing the essence of that memorable meal. The key to this recipe lies in the quality of the prawns, the golden garlic, and the vibrantly fresh parsley, each playing their parts to perfection.

Now, it’s my joy to share this “Gambas al Ajillo” recipe with you. Whether you’re reminiscing about a trip to Spain or exploring its flavors for the first time, this dish offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Spanish cooking and brings a piece of Spain’s sun-drenched beaches and lively gatherings right to your dining table. Let us dive into this culinary adventure together, celebrating the simple pleasures that cooking can bring into our lives.

Gambas al Ajillo

During a mesmerizing journey to the vibrant coasts of Spain, I was fortunate enough to indulge in "Gambas al Ajillo," a quintessential Spanish dish that left an indelible mark on my culinary consciousness. This simple but profoundly flavorful dish consists of succulent prawns sautéed in a fragrant olive oil that's heavily infused with garlic and garnished with fresh parsley, creating a medley of flavors that truly embodies the essence of Spanish cuisine. The sweetness of the prawns juxtaposed with the aromatic punch of garlic and the freshness of parsley culminates in an unforgettable taste experience. Motivated by this discovery, I embarked on a mission to replicate the magic of this dish in my own kitchen. Through trial and refinement, I succeeded in capturing the spirit of that memorable meal. With great enthusiasm, I now share the essence of "Gambas al Ajillo" with you, inviting you to partake in the rich tapestry of Spanish cooking and bring a piece of Spain's culinary tradition into your home.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Spanish
Servings 12 people
Calories 869 kcal


  • 1 small bowl
  • 1 deep fryer


  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 400 g pack large prawn
  • a small slice of day-old bread
  • 8 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 blanched almonds
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 large ripe tomato
  • 10 shelled hazelnuts
  • 3 fat garlic cloves
  • 1 fresh red chili
  • 1 red pepper


  • Proceed to grill the jalapeno, chili, and clove for another 4-5 minutes, just until the skins of the paprika and chili have browned, and the garlic has softened.
  • Distribute the nuts out on the foil and roast them on the grill.
  • In a mixing bowl, thinly slice the nuts and basil.
  • Place in a small bowl.
  • In a deep fryer, warm 3 tablespoons of oil, add the onion, garlic, chili, and cook for three minutes.
  • Mix the walnuts and basil into the sauce the next day.
  • Serve with the shelled prawns in a shallow dish on a platter.
Keyword large prawn, red chili, wine vinegar

Cooking tips about Gambas al Ajillo

Spanish Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

  • Quality Ingredients: Start with high-quality, fresh prawns or shrimps. The size and freshness of your seafood will notably impact the dish’s flavor and texture. Large, juicy prawns are preferable for their succulent flesh.
  • The Right Olive Oil: Opt for a good quality extra virgin olive oil as it forms the base of the garlic-infused sauce. The choice of oil can make a significant difference in taste, providing a rich backdrop that complements the prawns.
  • Golden Garlic: Slice the garlic thinly and allow it to infuse the olive oil without burning. The key is to cook it just until it turns golden—burnt garlic will impart a bitter taste, detracting from the dish’s overall flavor.
  • Controlled Heat: Maintain a moderate heat throughout the cooking process. This ensures the olive oil is hot enough to cook the prawns while allowing the flavors of garlic and prawns to meld together without either ingredient overcooking.
  • Chilli Flakes or Fresh Pepper: Depending on your preference for spice, you can add a pinch of chili flakes or finely chopped fresh chili to the oil along with the garlic. This introduces a gentle heat that elevates the prawns without overshadowing their natural flavor.
  • Don’t Overcook the Prawns: Prawns cook quickly, and overcooking them can result in a rubbery texture. They should be cooked just until they turn pink and opaque. This usually takes only a couple of minutes on each side.
  • Parsley for Freshness: Add chopped fresh parsley towards the end of cooking. It offers a burst of color and a fresh, herby contrast to the richness of the olive oil and the robustness of the garlic.
  • Serving Suggestions: Serve Gambas al Ajillo sizzling straight from the pan, ideally in a terracotta dish if available. Accompany with crusty bread to soak up the delicious garlic-infused olive oil, turning the dish into a delightful communal experience.
  • Final Touches: A squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the prawns just before serving can add a vibrant tang, enhancing the dish’s flavors and providing a refreshing balance to the fatty richness of the olive oil.
  • Pairing: Consider pairing Gambas al Ajillo with a crisp, dry Spanish white wine such as Albariño. The wine’s acidity and fruitiness can complement the richness of the prawns and the pungency of the garlic beautifully.

Serving suggestions about Gambas al Ajillo

Gambas al Ajillo

  • As a Tapas Dish: True to its Spanish origins, serving Gambas al Ajillo as a tapas dish invites guests to dive into the communal spirit of Spanish dining. Present the prawns sizzling in a terracotta dish or a small skillet alongside other tapas for a varied and interactive meal.
  • With Crusty Bread: The rich, garlicky oil that accompanies the prawns is as much a star of the dish as the prawns themselves. Offering slices of warm, crusty bread to soak up this delicious oil makes for a simple yet satisfying pairing.
  • Over Pasta or Rice: For a more substantial meal, Gambas al Ajillo can be beautifully served over a bed of lightly seasoned pasta or fluffy rice. This not only adds volume but also allows the vibrant flavors of the garlic and prawns to infuse into the entire dish.
  • Alongside a Simple Salad: Serving this garlic shrimp dish with a simple salad dressed in a light vinaigrette balances the richness and provides a fresh contrast to the bold flavors of the prawns.
  • With a Glass of Spanish Wine: To elevate the dining experience further, pair Gambas al Ajillo with a crisp, dry Spanish white wine, such as Albariño or Verdejo. The acidity and fruit notes of the wine complement the richness of the prawns and the pungency of the garlic splendidly.
  • As Part of a Seafood Feast: Incorporate Gambas al Ajillo into a larger seafood spread, featuring dishes like paella, grilled octopus, or mussels in a tomato-based sauce. This not only showcases a variety of seafood preparations but also turns the meal into a festive occasion.
  • Garnished with Fresh Herbs: A final sprinkle of finely chopped fresh parsley or a hint of chili flakes before serving can add color, freshness, and a slight kick to the dish, enhancing its visual appeal and adding depth to its flavor profile.

Top 5 FAQs about Gambas al Ajillo

Easy Gambas al Ajillo (Spanish Garlic Shrimp) - Posh Journal

  • What are the key ingredients in Gambas al Ajillo? The essential ingredients of Gambas al Ajillo include succulent prawns or shrimps, high-quality extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic slices, and fresh parsley for garnishing. These components combine to create a dish that is rich in flavors, embodying the essence of Spanish culinary tradition.
  • How should I choose the prawns for Gambas al Ajillo? Selecting high-quality, fresh prawns is crucial for this dish. Large, juicy prawns are preferred for their succulent flesh. Ensure they are properly cleaned and deveined before cooking to achieve the best flavor and texture.
  • What is the best way to cook the garlic for this dish? The garlic should be sliced thinly and sautéed in olive oil just until it turns golden. It’s important to avoid burning the garlic as burnt garlic will impart a bitter taste, detracting from the overall flavor of the dish. The goal is to infuse the oil with the aromatic flavors of the garlic without overwhelming the prawns.
  • Can Gambas al Ajillo be made spicy, and if so, how? Yes, you can add heat to Gambas al Ajillo according to your preference. A pinch of chili flakes or finely chopped fresh chili can be added to the oil along with the garlic. This introduces a subtle heat that complements the dish without overpowering the natural flavors of the prawns.
  • What are some serving suggestions for Gambas al Ajillo? Gambas al Ajillo can be served as a tapas dish, straight from the skillet or in a terracotta dish, accompanied by crusty bread to mop up the delicious garlic-infused olive oil. It pairs wonderfully with a crisp, dry Spanish white wine such as Albariño. For an elongated meal, it can also be served over lightly seasoned pasta or rice, transforming it into a more substantial dish while retaining its characteristic flavors.

Reflecting on the journey of discovering and mastering the iconic “Gambas al Ajillo,” it’s clear this dish is far more than a mere assembly of ingredients; it’s a vibrant celebration of Spanish culinary heritage that captures the imagination and tantalizes the taste buds. From the sun-kissed coasts of Spain to my own kitchen, the process of bringing this dish to life has been both a culinary adventure and a deeply fulfilling personal experience.


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