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Gambas al Ajillo (Spanish Garlic Shrimp)

This dish presents fresh seafood lightly dressed in garlic and olive oil. Gambas al ajillo originates in Spain, where it is commonly served as tapas—small dishes that serve as appetizers. Gambas is Spanish for prawns. The dish is popular in US coastal regions including Florida, where Spanish culinary influence is strong. Various recipes exist; in Spain, dried chili flakes are included, whereas in America, paprika is used.

Recipe Servings: 3

Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Total Time
20 minutes
Gluten Free
Dairy Free


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 20 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 lbs large shrimp, heads and shells on, shells split along back
  • ¼ cup paprika
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped 
  • 2 lemons, sliced


  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large cast-iron skillet.
  2. Fry the sliced baguette briefly in the hot oil, flipping to toast both sides. Set aside.
  3. Add butter to heated skillet and allow to lightly brown, then add the garlic, paprika, and sherry. Cook, uncovered, about 10 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by two-thirds.
  4. Add shrimp and toss to coat well with the sauce.
  5. Cook for 4–5 minutes, until shrimp become pink.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish individual servings with parsley and lemon slices.
  7. Serve with toasted bread for dipping.

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