Sizzling garlic shrimp is a dish you can find all over Spain, but legend says it was invented in landlocked Madrid!

That's right—Madrid has some of the freshest seafood in the country. Seafood caught around Spain is taken to Madrid's fish market (the second-largest in the world!) and then sent out to the rest of the country. Gambas al ajillo was invented at La Casa del Abuelo, and it's one of the tapas you must try on any trip to Madrid.

Far from Spain? Never fear! You can make your own garlic shrimp at home with this gambas al ajillo recipe.
Gambas al ajillo are a classic Spanish tapa that you can make at home with this gambas al ajillo recipe

Gambas al Ajillo Recipe

AuthorLauren AloiseYields4 ServingsPrep Time10 minsCook Time10 minsTotal Time20 minsCategory

Simple but packed with flavor, sizzling garlic shrimp are one of the classic Spanish tapas. This gambas al ajillo recipe has a few innovations (a splash of sherry and a touch of butter), but trust us—they only make a good thing better!

 ½ kg raw, shelled shrimp
 4 tbsp minced garlic
 4-8 small cayenne pepper pods (1-2 pods per serving)
 extra virgin olive oil
 splash of dry sherry
 a touch of butter to finish off each serving
 sea salt for seasoning
1

Completely cover the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil, and slowly heat along with the garlic and cayenne pepper pods.

2

When garlic begins to sizzle, add the shrimp and sauté a moment.

3

Once everything starts to sizzle again, add a splash of sherry and a sprinkle of salt.

4

Simmer for about a minute until the shrimp are cooked through; add a touch of butter and give it a quick stir.

5

Remove from the heat and divide into four servings.

Making your own garlic shrimp with this gambas al ajillo recipe is surprisingly quick! Just 20 minutes with some garlic and olive oil, and you have your own Spanish tapa at home.

There's more where that came from—check out 50+ of our favorite European recipes in our new cookbook!

Ingredients

 ½ kg raw, shelled shrimp
 4 tbsp minced garlic
 4-8 small cayenne pepper pods (1-2 pods per serving)
 extra virgin olive oil
 splash of dry sherry
 a touch of butter to finish off each serving
 sea salt for seasoning

Directions

1

Completely cover the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil, and slowly heat along with the garlic and cayenne pepper pods.

2

When garlic begins to sizzle, add the shrimp and sauté a moment.

3

Once everything starts to sizzle again, add a splash of sherry and a sprinkle of salt.

4

Simmer for about a minute until the shrimp are cooked through; add a touch of butter and give it a quick stir.

5

Remove from the heat and divide into four servings.

Spanish Tapas at Home: Gambas al Ajillo Recipe

2 Responses

  1. Actually shelling the shrimp/prawns is a modern concession. When I used to go to Abuelos in the 60s, they were picked out of the oil, the head pulled off and sucked out and the tail chewed whole. One then spat the shell on the floor! The floor was a debris of shells and flimsy paper napkins. One did not wear sandles! We now live in tidier times.

    1. That’s so interesting—Spanish bar floors can still be quite messy, but definitely not to that extent! Thanks for sharing, David!

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