In this delicious Spanish Garlic Prawns tapas dish (AKA Gambas Al Ajillo), prawns are sautéed in oil infused with garlic and chilli, then finished with a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkled with paprika and parsley. It’s so good, I could happily eat a whole bowlful of Gambas al Ajillo all on my own! And the best thing is there’s always loads of delicious garlic and chilli infused oil left to dip your bread into, even after you’ve finished the prawns.
Why I love tapas…
I love eating out in restaurants, but I hate deciding what to have! Usually there are 3 or 4 things that I would like to eat and I can never decide what to go for. And whatever I choose, I always find myself wishing I had gone for something else.
Consequently, I love eating in tapas restaurants! I don’t have to decide… I can try a little bit of everything! And all the dishes are so delicious: Patas Bravas, Spanish Tortilla, Chorizo al Vino, Manchego cheese… but my favourite is always Gambas al Ajillo.
What is Gambas al Ajillo?
Gambas al Ajillo – otherwise known as Spanish Garlic Prawns – is a classic Spanish tapas dish where prawns are sautéed in oil infused with garlic and chilli, then finished with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of paprika and parsley.
An easy recipe for Spanish Garlic Prawns
You might think Gambas al Ajillo is a difficult dish to make, but not at all! It’s actually very easy – and takes less than 10 minutes.
All you have to do is place olive oil, sliced garlic and chilli flakes in a pan, bring it up to a gentle sizzle and cook for 1 minute (taking care not to burn the garlic). Then you add raw prawns and cook for a further 3 minutes, before finishing with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Finally you sprinkle over a little paprika and finely chopped parsley and serve. Super easy, super delicious!
The key to perfect Spanish Garlic Prawns
The key to perfect Gambas al Ajillo is undoubtedly lots of good quality olive oil. Don’t skimp on the quality or quantity of olive oil! Personally I like to use Spanish extra virgin olive oil for added authenticity, but extra virgin olive oil from Italy or Greece would work just as well.
What to serve with Spanish Garlic Prawns?
For a simple but impressive dinner party starter (or even a quick and easy meal in it’s own right!) serve Spanish Garlic Prawns with crusty bread and a simple side salad.
Alternatively, serve as part of a selection of tapas, such as: Patas Bravas, Spanish Tortilla, Chorizo al Vino, Spanish cured meats (e.g. Jamón Ibérico), olives and Manchego cheese.
This recipe serves 2 as a starter / light meal or 4 as part of a selection of other tapas.
What to drink with Spanish Garlic Prawns?
The best partner for Spanish Garlic Prawns is, of course, a glass of Fino Sherry. But if Sherry is not your thing, good alternatives include Sauvignon Blanc, Rioja Bianco, English Bacchus and Spanish Garnacha Rosado.
Can you reheat leftover Spanish Garlic Prawns…
I would not advise this as reheating cooked prawns is likely to lead them to becoming overcooked and tough. This is most definitely a dish best eaten when freshly made.
Can you freeze Spanish Garlic Prawns?
Again I would not advise this, as this is a dish best eaten when freshly made.
If you like this recipe…
…you might also like:
Spanish Garlic Prawns (Gambas al Ajillo)
- 4 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil (Spanish olive oil, if possible)
- 4 cloves garlic finely sliced
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
- 200 g raw prawns
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Juice of half a lemon (plus 2 lemon quarters for garnish)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon parsley finely chopped
- Put the olive oil into a cold frying pan and add the sliced garlic and chilli flakes. Place the pan over a medium heat and allow the oil to gently heat up until it’s sizzling. Once the oil is sizzling, cook the garlic for 1 more minute. (Take care, as garlic can easily burn if cooked too long!)
- Add the prawns, bring back to sizzling and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring a few times, until the prawns are pink all over and starting to curl.
- Season with salt and pepper and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon. Stir the prawns one last time and then turn the heat off.
- Sprinkle with the paprika and parsley and serve immediately, while still sizzling.
- Serve with crusty bread and Fino Sherry for a delicious and impressive starter, or as part of a selection of tapas.
- Not suitable for freezing.
- Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
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