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Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp in Garlic Sauce) Recipe

Gambas al Ajillo also known as Spanish garlic shrimp is one of the more popular tapas in Spain and abroad and also one of the easiest to make. With its complex taste and rich garlic flavor this dish is perfect for entertaining along with other tapas dishes.

Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp in Garlic Sauce) Recipe

What Does Gambas al Ajillo Mean & How is it Pronounced?

Gambas al Ajillo, pronounced gahm- bahs-ahl-ah- hee-yoh, translates to “shrimp with garlic sauce” or “garlic shrimp.”

Gambas is actually Spanish for “prawn” and camarones means “shrimp”. This tapas dish often uses medium to large shrimp because of availability and price of prawns. It has become acceptable to refer to the dish as Gambas al Ajillo when served with prawns or shrimp. Al Ajillo refers to the garlic sauce.

Gambas al Ajillo Ingredients

Just a few simple ingredients for this easy dish!

  • Large shrimp: Tapas should be easy to eat so I recommend removing the head, peeling and deveining the shrimp. Shrimp cook quickly, so watch for an opaque, pink color. You can also keep the shell, tail or head on, if you prefer. Keeping the head on may change the taste and intensity of the dish.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (EEVO): This recipe uses few ingredients so use EEVO for the best flavor.
  • Chipotle & Ancho chili powder: The chili powders add just the right amount of spiciness.
  • Garlic cloves: Minced garlic releases an aromatic flavor into the olive oil.
  • Kosher Salt

If you prefer, double the recipe, except the shrimp, for extra Al Ajillo sauce so you have even more for dipping.

(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.)

How to Make Gambas al Ajillo

Making this famous tapas dish couldn’t be easier. Simply sautée in olive oil, garlic, salt and chili powder to give the sauce a little kick (scroll to bottom for full recipe.)

Easy Shrimp al Ajillo Recipe

What Kind of Shrimp (or prawn) to Use?

Large jumbo shrimp or prawns work best with Gambas al Ajillo but smaller shrimp will do as well. Frozen shrimp (or prawns) are more than fine since most shrimp is frozen and then thawed before being sold anyway. The shrimp can be quickly defrosted in cold tap water or even more quickly in running water with a slow, steady stream.

What to Serve with Gambas al Ajillo?

All you need is a loaf of good crusty bread to sop in the garlic sauce. Either slice or lightly toast the bread or break apart the loaf into big chunks. Crostini or any crunchy bread also works.

See our tasty list of tapas dishes for other small plates to serve with this dish.

How to Freeze Gambas al Ajillo

Once the dish has cooled put the shrimp and Al Ajillo sauce into an airtight container to prevent freezer burn. Keep frozen for up to three months.

Gambas al Ajillo Tapas Dish

Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp in Garlic Sauce)

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Making this famous Gambas al Ajillo recipe couldn’t be easier With its complex taste and rich garlic flavor this dish is perfect for entertaining along with other tapas dishes.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add shrimp to pan and cook, turning once, until shrimp are just cooked through (about 4-5 minutes depending on size of shrimp).
  4. Alternatively, you can also put shrimp on skewers and toss them on the grill.


If you prefer, double the recipe, except the shrimp, for extra al ajillo sauce so you have even more for dipping.

Get creative and mix in other seafood like calamari or squid.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 207Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 239mgSodium: 1341mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 26g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

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Kristy Bernardo
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