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!
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!
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!
Other Spanish tapas recipes you may like
- Tuna-Stuffed Piquillo Peppers
- Warm Stuffed Piquillo Pepper Bruschetta with Goat Cheese
- Barceloneta Potato Bombas
- Escalivada (Catalan Roasted Vegetables)
- Patatas Bravas (Fierce Potatoes)
- Spanish Potato Salad (Ensaladilla Rusa)
- Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese
- Browse all Spanish Recipes
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!
Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup thinly sliced garlic
- 2 pounds large shrimp peeled and deveined, tails left on
- ¼ 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.