Spanish Gambas Pil Pil - Shrimp with Garlic Chilli Oil is a popular and simple tapas recipe for plump and juicy Garlic and Chilli Prawns. What’s more? It is absolutely delicious and ready to eat in a matter of minutes!
gambas al pil pil - what are pil pil prawns
Pil pil is a traditional Spanish dish originating from the Basque Country.
Usually made with seafood such as Prawns/Shrimp or Salt Fish/Salt cod.
This dish is served as part of Spanish tapas (small plates) or an appetiser/starter alongside a main meal.
This recipe is made with Fresh Prawns, Olive Oil, Garlic, Red Chillies, Smoked Paprika and Parsley.
The prawns are cooked very quickly and are served sizzling in a hot oil that usually in an earthenware dish/clay pot or ramekin as tapas starter with crusty bread.
The oil absorbs all the flavour of the ingredients and becomes the most flavourful and succulent dipping oil. Perfect to dip some crusty garlic bread into!
what is Shrimp pil pil in spanish?
‘Pil Pil’ refers to the sound of the oil bubbling once it gets hot.
how to clean shell on prawns
After you have rinsed the prawns, the easiest way to clean them is to hold the prawn with one hand and firmly pull the head off, then gently lift the shell off.
It may break but just repeat until the shell is removed. Devein, then pull the tails off if you want to.
If you prefer, you can use pre shelled and deveined prawns but shell on prawns always taste better even if that shell is removed just before cooking.
pil pil ingredients
There are very few ingredients in this recipe so try to use the best that you can. You need five main ingredients:
A light olive oil is best. Steer clear of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Light Olive Oil is refined and has a higher smoke point then most Olive Oils.
Fresh plump Jumbo King Prawns/Fresh Shrimp that are peeled are great to use in this recipe because they are full of flavour and take on flavour well too.
I also like to use Prawns in their shell sometimes and either remove the shell or keep it on. Both work great.
Sliced Garlic adds so much flavour in this recipe. It is best to not slice the fresh garlic too fine as it can burn. We use lots of Garlic in this recipe!
smoked paprika powder
This adds a smoky flavour as well as colour.
Chopped red chillies or dried chilli flakes can be used in this recipe. For best flavour I would opt for the fresh chilli.
dry and fresh parsley
Parsley is a gentle citrusy herb that compliments this dish perfectly. I use both fresh and dry herbs but you can use either or both like I do.
I like to add a squeeze of Lemon before serving.
how to make gambas pil pil
Here is how to make this easy tapas recipe:
Once you have peeled the prawns, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat Olive Oil until lightly bubbling.
Once hot, add the sliced cloves of Garlic and chopped Red Chillies.
Add Prawns in a single layer and cook for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes before flipping or as soon as they change colour and the sauce turns a light golden brown and the prawns turn pink.
Add Smoked Paprika and Dry Parsley and stir in.
Sprinkle over fresh chopped parsley.
Serve with a sprinkle of Lemon Juice.
what to serve with gambas pil pil
It is best served with bread - fresh bread, crusty bread, garlic bread. Any bread that you can dip into the delicious pil pil sauce.
It is better to slice the Garlic for this recipe. If you slice it too finely it may burn.
Grating it can make it bitter. So the best option in this recipe is to slice it to a medium thickness.
Each medium piece of Garlic should give you around 7 - 8 slices.
The quantity of oil here may seem excessive but this creates the delicious sauce which will be mopped up before you know it.
Any remaining garlic-infused oil can be used to flavour other dishes throughout the week.
This keeps well in the fridge in an airtight container or cling filmed dish for up to 3 days but in my experience it doesn't last longer then 3 minutes.
I don’t often recommend freezing prawns because reheating them makes them rubbery but because these are barely cooked, they are actually fine to be frozen.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
To reheat, bring to room temperature and cook for 1 - 2 minutes on the hob.
more prawn recipes:
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Spanish Gambas Pil Pil - Shrimp with Garlic Chilli Oil
- 240 g Raw King Prawns Shelled and Deveined
- Flaky Salt and Course Pepper
- 75 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 7 medium cloves Garlic Sliced to medium thickness
- 2 Red Chillies Sliced finely
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
- ½ tsp Dry Parsley
- Few Leaves Fresh Parsley Chopped finely
- 2 tbsp Lemon To serve, optional
- Season prawns with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Heat Olive Oil in a deep pan.
- Once hot, add Garlic and chopped Red Chillies.
- Once they sizzle, add Prawns and cook for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes before flipping. Or just flip as soon as they change colour.
- Add Smoked Paprika and Dry Parsley. Cook for a further 1 1/2 minute.
- Sprinkle over fresh chopped parsley. Serve with a wedge of Lemon.