Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

PUBLISHED ON: 08.10.2022

Spanish cuisine is focused on creating dishes that use fresh ingredients reflective of the region it is produced or grown. Spanish olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, eggs, and the smoky spice of paprika are commonly shared ingredients you will find in many Spanish dishes.

There is an intrinsic understanding that what grows together, goes together in Spanish food and because most food is local, you can experience this magic while traveling in Spain.

We spent time in Northern Spain in the Galicia Region, a coastal region with the Atlantic coast to the west and the Galician Massif Mountain range to the east, which is also known as “Green Spain.” Fishing is the major industry and fresh seafood is abundant in this part of Spain.

Galicia, Spain. Rías Baixas Wine Region. View of the Atlantic Coast.

Atlantic Coastline-Galicia, Spain

A dish we enjoyed is an easy to prepare shrimp dish rich in garlic, olive oil and smoky paprika. We have made this recipe numerous times at home and it remains one of our favorite classic Spanish dishes. The dish is versatile. Perfect for entertaining or a great weeknight family meal.

Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)


1lb. Large raw shrimp
1/4 cup good quality olive oil (preferably Spanish)
1/4 cup unsalted butter (4 Tablespoons)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4-6 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Optional: crusty bread slices for soaking up the flavors.

In a large heavy skillet, at medium heat, add the butter, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for about 1-2 minutes or just until garlic becomes fragrant (careful not too overcook the garlic).
Add the paprika, lemon juice and shrimp and sauté for another 2-3 minutes, until shrimp are pink.
Season with salt and pepper.
Ready to serve in individual bowls or a large serving bowl.
Garnish with parsley.


Wine Pairing Suggestion:

Tucked in the northwest corner of Galicia and nestled among vineyards stretched along the wild Atlantic coastline is the Rias Baxias wine region. This region produces elegant white wines which includes their famous resident grape Albariño. A natural high-acidity, light-bodied wine with notes of stone fruit, citrus, and a tasting of sea spray. These affordable wines make a beautiful perfect pairing with seafood.

La Val Albariño wine
  • When I read the ingredients, and I have most of them already in the cupboard, I get excited to try it. All I need to get is the shrimp. I’m guessing I could make this without the shrimp, but it may not be the same, right? 🙂

  • This looks terrific! Shrimp and garlic (and olive oil!) are wonderful together. Love easy and extremely tasty dishes like this. Thanks!

  • I’m going to try this recipe over the weekend. I have all ingredients; minus Spanish olive oil, but I’m assuming I can pull it off with a good quality EVOO!!!

    I’m also interested in making this recipe with shell-on shrimp. I love peeling and eating shrimp with my hands/fingers.

  • I am loving the sound of garlic oil and smoked paprika in this dish.

  • This sounds amazing and so simple. Where do you find Spanish Olive oil in this country, or did you have it shipped to you? I usually keep Greek olive oil and Tuscan olive oil, is there a huge difference in olive oil from Spain? I suspect there is based on what my daughter has told me about food in Spain. She absolutely loved the food in Spain, and she has done a lot of European travel. She will be going to Greece in Oct.


  • They look so very flavourful. I always love to add lots of garlic in prawns and this is for sure a perfect dish for me.

  • i love all these flavours. and i love prawns (shrimp). sounds so delicious.

  • I absolutely concur, what grows together, goes together. And it can be applied the other way around for gardening tips. I think prawns (as we call them here) will be on the menu this weekend. They look fantastic.

  • Beautiful recipe and I also concur with what grows together…

  • I’ve always wanted to visit Galicia! Those photos are gorgeous, and this shrimp sounds fantastic. I’m putting this one on the list of recipes to make soon – it sounds delicious!

  • One of Spain’s classic tapas and along with some crusty bread and a glass of Albariño makes a meal for me. Your photo is great, it looks like I could reach out and get one right now.

  • Shirley McFadden

    Looks fabulous. I have made a similar dish and it was great.

  • Spanish smoked paprika that sounds amazing!

  • Garlic shrimps are my favorite! Have to try this at home

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