Spanish fresh fruit and vegetable market

Gambos al ajillo - Garlic Prawns

One of the most common "tapas" of Spain, "gambas al ajillo" is quick, easy and FULL of garlic flavor, its also known as Pil Pil, because the prawns arrive at the table, “pil-pileando”, a word that sounds like spluttering oil. It is traditionally made in individual earthenware ramekins, cazuelitas, and topped with chunks of bread for sopping up the savory juices.

This recipe is taken from Janet Mendels most well known cook book “Cooking in Spain” the 2nd edition also published by Santana books and will be in or online store shortly. Her recipe is the classic tapas bar version for a single serving, so multiply it depending on your guest size. For a recent tapas party I used 1 kg of green prawns and made up her recipe in two of our 20cm cazuelas. There was about 20 guests at the party and this was a perfect amount. I cooked them to about ¾ cooked before the party started and then gave them an extra 5 mins on the stove top at the party so they would arrive hot and sizzling to the table.

Serves: Recipe is per single Serving (see note in last paragraph above)


3 tablespoons of olive oil 
one chopped clove of garlic
one minced piece of dry red chilli pepper
pinch of paprika


Put three table spoons of olive oil, one chopped clove of garlic, once minced piece of dry red chili pepper and a pinch of paprika into an earthenware ramekin or cazuela. Put it on the heat until the oil is quite hot. Add 10 pealed prawns and cook only until they turn pink and curl slightly. A few drops of water will start the oil sizzling, but do take care when you do this. Serve immediately accompanied by a chunk of crusty bread.


  • The tails of the prawns are peeled to for easy eating.
  • You can also make it in a frying pan. It won’t quite have the sizzle of a cazuela or a ceramic ramekin but it still tastes great. 

Red Wine Sangria - Fried Almonds - Marinated Olives - Garlic Mayonnaise - Tomato Sauce -Potato Tortilla - Fried Potatoes with Garlic Mayonnaise - Fried Squid Rings - Garlic Prawns -Stuffed Mussels - Chorizo in Cider

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