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This simple, flavorful Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (aka Gambas al Ajillo) will have your taste buds dancing!

Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

Our son, Tim, came to visit us a few weekends ago. It has been a while since we saw him, and his wife, Danielle, was busy studying for a college exam – , so he came for a quick, impromptu visit.

Tim talked about his plans to pick-up some takeout tapas on the way back home for dinner – explaining that ever since their recent vacation in Spain, Tim and Danielle have both been hooked on Spanish cuisine!


Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo) - A Family Feast

Tapas is a small plate of food – either a snack or an appetizer – and in Spain, it’s not uncommon that people will order a variety of different tapas dishes (plus drinks) to create a meal.

Today’s recipe – this wonderful Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp – also known as Gambas al Ajillo is a traditional tapas snack, as well as a fantastic flavorful meal.

Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

It couldn’t be any easier to make: Basically, olive oil is infused with a generous amount of garlic, plus red pepper flakes – then that oil is used to cook the shrimp. A splash of cognac, lemon zest and fresh, chopped parsley are added at the end. Then, this Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp is served with crusty, toasted bread to sop up the delicious juices and oil.

This Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp is decadent and delicious and completely satisfying! (I can totally understand why Tim and Danielle are obsessed with Spanish tapas!)


Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

You may also like these other appetizers:

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2-4 servings
  • Category: appetizer
  • Method: saute
  • Cuisine: Spanish


Crusty sliced bread, such Italian or French bread

Extra virgin olive oil, to brush on bread

1 pound large, uncooked shrimp (1620 per pound)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup fresh garlic sliced thin (68 good sized cloves)

Good pinch red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicier)

2 tablespoons cognac

1 teaspoon fine, fresh lemon zest

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, minced and divided


Brush the crusty bread slices with oil and either cook on a ribbed grill pan or broil for a few minutes to brown. Set aside.

Peel the shrimp, leaving on the tail piece and lay out on a plate.

Sprinkle the salt over the shrimp and let the shrimp sit for ten minutes, then sprinkle on the paprika.

Heat a cast iron skillet to low and add the olive oil. Let the oil heat up then add the garlic and red pepper flakes.

Cook this on low for about ten minutes or just before the garlic starts to turn brown.

Add the shrimp in a single layer and increase the heat just slightly hotter than low. Cook, turning once, for about 6-8 minutes. They should have started to turn pink but not be fully cooked yet.

Keep the burner on and add the cognac, lemon zest, pepper and all but a tablespoon of the minced parsley. Heat for one minute then turn off burner and let shrimp sit in this mixture for up to five more minutes or until cooked through.

Remove shrimp to a serving bowl, pour over the oil mixture from the pan and sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top. Serve with the crusty bread to soak up the liquid.

Keywords: shrimp, garlic




Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

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  • Linda R wrote:

    Good Morning Martha,
    I now know what I’ll be cooking this weekend. Shrimp and stuffed peppers!!! When I see a recipe I want to to make, the first thing I do is check my freezer,produce drawer and pantry. I found Gulf caught shrimp, the only kind I ever use, and three peppers(red,yellow and orange). No market trip for ingredients….makes me happy.
    I appreciate that your recipes are usually easily halved for 2 servings, and sometimes 1 or 2 servings for the freezer.
    Have a wonderful weekend

    • Martha wrote:

      We hope you enjoy the recipes Linda! (And I totally agree – it’s always nice when you already have all of the ingredients to make a recipe…) Have a great weekend too! Martha

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