Spanish Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)


Gambas al ajillo are on every Spanish restaurant menu — for good reason! It's a dish of shrimp cloaked in garlic-infused olive oil with smoky hints of paprika and a touch of sweetness from sherry. Make sure you have all your ingredients together before you head to the stove since, start to finish, this cooks in mere minutes. It's great for a tapas party since you can prep everything ahead of time. Just spoon the shrimp and sauce over toasted bread and sprinkle more cayenne and parsley on top to enjoy.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
20 mins


  • 1 pound frozen large shrimp (21-25 count) - thawed, peeled, and deveined

  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika (Optional)

  • kosher salt to taste

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry

  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley


  1. Place shrimp in a large bowl and season with paprika and kosher salt; mix well to coat.

  2. Slice garlic into thin slices. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat; add garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and increase heat to high. Toss and turn shrimp with tongs until starting to curl but still undercooked, about 2 minutes. Pour in sherry. Cook, stirring continuously, until sauce comes up to a boil and shrimp is cooked through, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley.

    close up view of Spanish Garlic Shrimp in a bowl
    Chef John

Chef's Notes:

Unless you live in a few choice locations, it's rare to find true fresh shrimp at the market. All they do is thaw some frozen and put it in the case, where it sits until you buy it, which is why it really makes a lot more sense to purchase frozen. To thaw, run cold water into the bowl of frozen shrimp and let it sit for about 10 minutes before draining. Repeat once more.

Feel free to substitute sherry with white wine plus a pinch of sugar.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

227 Calories
15g Fat
3g Carbs
19g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 227
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 173mg 58%
Sodium 344mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 5mg 23%
Calcium 43mg 3%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 196mg 4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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