Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)

March 26, 2014 (Last Updated: June 29, 2020)
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One of the most popular Spanish tapas dishes, Gambas al Ajillo or Garlic Shrimp, is as easy to make as it is delicious. Serve it with crusty bread to soak up the garlic infused oil!

A platter of Spanish garlic shrimp with sliced garlic and parsley

Garlic is a very common ingredient in Spanish cooking. Spaniards even have their own garlic mayonnaise called allioli, which they put on many popular dishes including one of my favorites, patatas bravas. They rub garlic on bread before topping with tomato. They also cook their Spanish garlic shrimp with lots and lots of garlic.

When I visited Spain I sampled a few different versions of this classic tapas dish, but my favorite was the technique using large shrimp, sliced garlic, and chopped parsley. It honestly reminds me a bit of Spanish shrimp scampi. The other variation was made with tiny shrimps swimming in garlic butter. Love the garlic butter for dipping my bread, but it felt really heavy in comparison. I prefer the large, juicy shrimp!

Closeup of a platter of garlic shrimp with parsley

How to make Gambas al Ajillo

Although you can purchase EZ peel shrimp which is already deveined, I typically prefer to peel and devein the shrimp myself. It takes a little extra time to do it yourself, but I like saving the shrimp shells to cook into shrimp stock. Whether you opt for convenience or do it yourself, the rest of the recipe is smooth sailing.

Heat a generous amount of extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Then add a big handful of thinly sliced garlic, and cook slowly until fragrant and golden. Be careful not to burn the garlic! Adjust the heat as necessary. Add the shrimp and cook until mostly pink, a few minutes. Finish off the dish with chopped parsley, dry sherry, lemon zest, chili flakes and salt! When the shrimp is completely pink and your kitchen smells AMAZING, you’ll know it’s done!

A plate of tapas including pan con tomate, mushrooms, shrimp, roasted vegetables, ham, and potato balls

Other Spanish tapas recipes you may like

Garlic is one of my favorite ingredients! As an Armenian, we use it in a lot of recipes. I love discovering other cultures that use garlic prominently in many of their classics. What are your favorite dishes using garlic? Let me know in the comments!

A platter of garlic shrimp with parsley

Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)

One of the most popular Spanish tapas dishes, Gambas al Ajillo or Garlic Shrimp, is as easy to make as it is delicious. Serve it with crusty bread to soak up the garlic infused oil!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Tapas
Cuisine Spanish
Servings 6 servings
Calories 281 kcal


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic
  • 2 pounds large shrimp peeled and deveined, tails left on
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Chili flakes to taste
  • Kosher salt


  • Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large non-stick or cast iron pan, and add the garlic. Gently cook the garlic, stirring regularly to allow it to infuse the oil and become fragrant and golden. About 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the shrimp and continue to cook, stirring to ensure it cooks evenly, until shrimp is mostly pink throughout, another 5 minutes or so. Add the parsley, sherry, lemon zest, chili flakes, and salt to taste. Cook another few minutes to absorb flavors and finish cooking the shrimp. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Notes & Nutrition

Servings 6.0 * calories 281 * Total Fat 20 g * Saturated Fat 3 g * Monounsaturated Fat 13 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 220 mg * Sodium 855 mg * Potassium 29 mg * Total Carbohydrate 4 g * Dietary Fiber 0 g * Sugars 0 g * Protein 20 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*

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A platter of Spanish garlic shrimp with sliced garlic and parsley

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  • Reply
    Mary Kabakian
    February 20, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    5 stars
    OMG, I want some right now! Sooooo delicious!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    5 stars
    OMG! This shrimp meal looks and sounds delicious! I cannot wait to give a try!

    • Reply
      May 15, 2020 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks, Irina!! It’s crazy easy to make too 😀

  • Reply
    May 16, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    We love dipping fries into garlic mayo (just store-bought mayonnaise plus a bunch of minced garlic), and we love garlic shrimp too! This recipe looks fantastic!

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