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Garlic Shrimp Tapa Recipe - Gambas al Ajillo

User Rating 5 Star Rating (8 Reviews)


Gambas al Ajillo
Stuart_spivek/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the most common tapas of Spain, gambas al ajillo is quick, easy and FULL of garlic flavor. It's truly a classic tapa. Fresh shrimp, sauteed in olive oil and lots of garlic, with a touch of Spanish paprika and a splash of brandy all combine to create one of the most popular tapas. A pinch of red pepper flakes gives the sauce a slight bite.

Your guests will be asking for the recipe after the first shrimp, and only you will know how simple it was to prepare. This shrimp dish is always on the menu when we invite friends over, and there are never leftovers.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 Servings


  • 1 lb shrimp, 25 count to a pound
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 oz (60-89 ml) cognac (or substitute dry sherry)
  • 4 oz (125 ml) virgin olive oil
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon for juice
  • 1 fresh baguette, sliced


This recipe makes 4 servings as an appetizer. If preparing for a main course, double the recipe.

In a sauté pan or heavy frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for about one minute or until they just begin to brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic!

Raise the heat to high and immediately add the shrimp, lemon juice, sherry or cognac and paprika. Stir well, then sauté, stirring briskly until the shrimp turn pink and curl – about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer shrimp with oil and sauce to a warm plate or serve right from the pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with fresh bread.

Notes on Shrimp:

  • This recipe is prepared in Spain with the shells on or off, depending on the cook. So, if you prefer, peel the shrimp before cooking.
  • If you like larger shrimp, purchase shrimp with fewer count to a pound. However, 25 to a pound are a good size for this tapa.
  • If using frozen shrimp, rinse under cold water and pat dry. Allow for a longer cooking time for shrimp that are not completely thawed, and be sure to cook thoroughly.
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
Wow OMG, Member jr9090

I actually tried this first in Portugal and i tried to mimic the recepe before reading it on the internet i was surprise that i managed to do it exactly like described. What i add is that the plate of serving need to be bedded with parsley or corriander leaves. I also add a little honey right before i remove it from heat and some Italian herbs. Yes you can finish an amount for 4 persons alone and you do not have to be depressed to do it...

5 out of 6 people found this helpful.

See all 8 reviews

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