These quick and easy Spanish garlic prawns are sauteed in olive oil with fresh sliced garlic and chili flakes. Finish off with a squeeze of lemon and some fresh parsley for the perfect Spanish tapas.
Prawns are a tender and juicy shellfish with a mild flavor, which means they lend themselves to very quick cooking methods like pan searing and sauteeing. They're amazing in this shortcut paella, Spanish prawns with rice.
Spanish garlic prawns are often called gambas al ajillo, or pil pil. Serve these traditional tapas prawns with lots of bread, wine and fresh lemons.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It only takes minutes to make.
- You can use frozen or fresh prawns.
- All you need are a handful of basic ingredients you probably already have.
- tiger prawns- fresh or frozen
- fresh garlic
- lemons for juice and for serving
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh parsley
- crushed red pepper flakes
- smoked paprika
See the recipe card for quantities.
Step By Step Instructions
- Heat a cast-iron skillet or a high-sided frying pan over high heat.
- Add the olive oil and leave for about 2 minutes until the oil is hot.
- Add the garlic and prawns and saute for 3-5 minutes until the prawns have turned pink and are cooked through.
- Remove from the pan from the heat and squeeze lemon over the prawns. Sprinkle with some chili flakes, the smoked paprika and fresh parsley.
- Serve with crusty bread and extra lemon.
You can get prawns that have already been peeled and prepared for cooking, of you can get prawns with the shell on and prepare them yourself.
It's very easy to shell prawns yourself. This quick video is great if you're not sure where to start.
The texture will become a little bit rubbery. But no one wants to throw away leftover prawns. The best way to use up leftovers is to add them to another like creamy pasta and let them heat up in the sauce (a very gentle form of reheating) rather than directly reheating them.
The best away to thaw frozen prawns is to leave them in the for a few hours or to use cold water. Either place them in a bowl with cold water or under a cold running tap. The cold water method should only take about 15 minutes.
For this recipe they are interchangeable and often people use the words interchangeably. So people may refer to this Spanish tapas recipe as garlic shrimp. Either way, they just need to be a decent size so as not to overcook them. Taste-wise they are very similar but they do have fundamental differences. Read about the difference between prawns and shrimp, if you would like to know more.
- cast iron frying pan- I love these pans because they preseasoned and conduct and hold their heat so well making them perfect for cooking Spanish garlic prawns, but you can use a regular frying pan if that's what you have.
- Sharp knife- perfect for cutting the garlic and chopping parsley.
- Wood cutting board- much better for your knives than glass and nicer to use than plastic.
- Fridge- Ideally you would eat these at the time they're made. However, I have kept these garlic prawns in the fridge for the next day and they have been fine. If you have leftovers and want to save them, be sure to use them up in something like this prawn pasta or prawn curry.
- Freezer- Definitely not suitable for freezing. It would ruin the texture of the prawns completely.
Share something here that you think is key to making this recipe well, such as: Don't overcook the burgers! Sear the outside and cook to a minimum internal temperature, but they should still be juicy for best results.
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Easy Spanish Garlic Prawns
- 350 g peeled prawns, frozen and thawed or fresh
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 175 ml extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Heat the oil in a cast iron or non stick frying pan until it’s very hot, but not quite smoking.
- Add the garlic, and prawns to the pan and cook until the prawns are pink and cooked through. This will only take about 5 minutes.
- Toss the prawns with the crushed chilli flakes and sprinkle in the smoked paprika.
- Squeeze the lemon juice over the cooked prawns and sprinkle with fresh parsley and some salt and pepper.
- Serve with white wine and crusty bread.