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Close up of a cast iron skillet with 8 spicy garlic shrimp

Gambas al ajillo (Spicy garlic shrimp)

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5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Lisa
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 servings 1x


If you love shrimp and garlic, this dish is THE BEST. A favorite Spanish tapas dish that's easy to make at home.

Recipe compliments of Deborah Hansen, chef/owner of Taberno De Haro.


  • 10 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined (The best-tasting ones are the ones you buy still in the shell. The pre-shelled shrimp often smell bleach-y and lack texture. Frozen is fine, just defrost in cold water first).
  • 1/3 cup Spanish extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced crosswise into uniform 1/8-inch slices
  • 2 small dried red peppers, broken in half  (We use chile de arbol) or 1/4 teaspoon of hot crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Place all your prepared ingredients right in front of you. Dry the shrimp.
  2. Heat the a 6-inch cast iron shallow pan for 30 seconds over a high flame. Pour in the oil. Wait 10 seconds, then add the garlic and the peppers, and sauté until the garlic is golden brown. Add all 10 the shrimp quickly. Let sauté 1 minute and then turn with tongs. Salt. Let sauté one more minute, stir, and then serve immediately while they are still sizzling in the pan (with a plate underneath). High and fast is the name of the game here.
  3. Serve with bread, and savor how the oil changes in flavor as the shrimp release their juices!


Don't have a cast iron pan? If you use a metal frying pan, make sure it is small, 8-inches or less, and diminish the cooking time of the shrimp to 20 seconds on each side.

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 5 min
  • Category: Appetizer, Tapas
  • Method: Sauté
  • Cuisine: Spanish