Gambas Pil Pil is our favourite Spanish Prawns recipe traditionally served at tapas restaurants throughout Spain.
The quick and easy seafood starter features plump prawns cooked in a sizzling hot sauce made of olive oil, garlic, red chilli and paprika.
We love to serve this traditional Gambas Pil Pil recipe at Spanish themed dinner parties or as a shareable appetizer at special celebrations. Mop up the delicious sauce with slices of fresh crusty bread and a glass of fine red wine.
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What Is Gambas Pil Pil?
Gambas Pil Pil is a traditional tapas recipe also known as Spanish Garlic Prawns.
‘Pil pil’ is a word used in Spanish and Basque cuisines that describes a sauce made with garlic, chilli and paprika that is infused in piping hot olive oil. Some say pil pil is the sound of popping garlic as it cooks in the hot oil.
Gambas translates to prawns in English, so this Gambas Pil Pil recipe is a tapas dish featuring sizzling shrimp served in a spicy olive oil, chilli and garlic sauce.
Easy and quick to cook at home in a skillet or frying pan, these Spanish Prawns are classically served in a hot earthenware tapas dish at restaurants throughout Spain.
The tasty tapas is the perfect dinner party starter, best served with a loaf of crusty sourdough bread and red wine. Your guests are sure to mop up the tasty sauce, every last drop!
Travel to Spain by Cooking Pil Pil Prawns at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey, France, Malta and Italy.
As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in Europe, from traditional markets to award winning restaurants.
What I love most about traveling to Spain is the opportunity to sample unique dishes in each region and city. The Spanish dishes in Madrid and Barcelona are unique to what you might find on restaurant menus in Salamanca, Toledo, Valencia, Mallorca, Ibiza, Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga.
Once back home from a tapas tour you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Spain and can impress friends and family by making our authentic Spanish Garlic Prawns!
Where To Eat Garlic Prawns Tapas
Haven’t traveled to Spain before? It may be helpful to first sample sizzling Spanish Prawns at a local restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You’ll get an idea for the ideal size of prawns to purchase, desired spicy heat level of the sauce and other tapas to serve at the table.
My Family Loves Gambas Pil Pil
Spain was one of the first countries I visited when backpacking through Europe in my third year of university.
I flew into Barcelona and traveled on a shoestring to Madrid, Salamanca and Toledo. It wasn’t until years later as a food and travel journalist that I had the opportunity to revisit Spain and experience it’s celebrated fine dining culture.
It was on a trip to Andalusia on the southern coast of Spain where I enjoyed a sublime taste of Gambas Pil Pil, which looked like a piece of art on a plate.
I knew my family would enjoy this Spanish Prawns recipe because they love dishes packed with garlic flavour, plump shrimp and quick & easy appetizers.
We enjoyed the dish as a midafternoon lunch with a glass of red wine alongside a few slices of crusty bread. A sublime summer snack for those looking to enjoy a spicy sensory escape to Spain!
Gambas Pil Pil Recipe Cooking Tips
If it’s your first time preparing Spanish Garlic Prawns at home here are some helpful cooking tips.
- Cook Gambas Pil Pil in a large nonstick skillet to avoid the shrimp from sticking to the pan.
- The dish can be prepared with shrimp or prawns. We often purchase shrimp with the shells and tails removed to avoid a mess but if you’re looking to offer a more dramatic presentation to dinner guests whole prawns are eye-popping and fun to eat. Ensure to have an empty bowl at the table for people to discard the shells and tails.
- We suggest using an affordable olive oil when cooking Spanish Prawns. Reserve your more expensive extra virgin olive oil for raw preparations like salads.
- We’ve used 6 garlic cloves in this dish, which cook up until browned and crispy in hot olive oil. If you like very garlic-forward food feel free to add additional garlic cloves to suit your tastes.
- We’ve used 2 red chillies in this recipe and typically remove the seeds so the dish isn’t too spicy. If you like hot food feel free to add the seeds or additional chilies to your liking.
- As soon as the Spanish prawns are finished cooking immediately transfer them to a serving bowl. Quickly garnish with chopped parsley and a spritz of lemon. Serve immediately so guests can enjoy the sizzle and pop of the hot prawns.
Spanish Prawns Recipe Health Benefits
Our authentic Gambas Pil Pil recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
A rich source of phytochemicals and vitamin C, lemons help boost your immune system and neutralize free radicals that cause disease and skin aging. Lemons also protect against heart disease and help improve blood flow to the brain.
Olive Oil is ranked as one of the healthiest fats and is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. It contains vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants.
Seafood is a high-protein food that is low in calories, total fat, and saturated fat. High in vitamins and minerals, seafood has been shown to have numerous health benefits including decreasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity, and hypertension.
An excellent source of vitamin K, as well as vitamin C, folate, and iron, parsley helps keep your bones and blood healthy, and protects your skin from damage by free radicals.
Chili has been proven to help reduce the duration of sickness, prevent heart disease, and promote weight loss.
Paprika is rich in vitamin A, capsaicin, and carotenoid antioxidants. These substances may help prevent inflammation and improve your cholesterol, eye health and blood sugar levels.
What To Serve With Spanish Garlic Prawns
We love serving this easy Gambas Pil Pil recipe as a shared appetizer at Spanish dinner parties.
Transfer the Spanish Garlic Prawns to a bowl when they are sizzling hot then at the table serve slices of sourdough bread to sop up the mouth-watering sauce. The dish is best enjoyed with a glass of red wine.
If you’re hosting a Spanish or Mediterranean themed dinner party you might also like to make:
- Albondigas Spanish Meatballs
- Berenjenas con Miel Spanish Fried Eggplant
- Sopa de Ajo
- Baked Mediterranean Chicken Thighs
- Bolo de Caco Madeira Sweet Potato Portuguese Rolls
- Portuguese Bean Soup
- Roasted Garlic Gruyere French Tomato Tart
- Garides Saganaki
- Oven Baked Halloumi
- Melitzanosalata Greek Eggplant Dip
- Arugula Fig Burrata and Prosciutto Salad
- Traditional Tagliatelle alla Bolognese Pasta
- Ndunderi Amalfi Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi
- Sartu Di Riso Italian Baked Risotto
Other Prawn Recipes You Might Enjoy…
- Thai Tamarind Prawn Curry
- Kanom Jeeb Thai Steamed Dumplings
- Creamy Thai Prawn Panang Curry
- Crispy Thai Prawn Omelette
- Yum Woon Sen Thai Glass Noodle Salad
- Singapore Chow Mei Fun Noodles
- Khao Pad Sapparod Thai Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice
- Garides Saganaki Sizzling Greek Feta Shrimp
- Cilantro Ginger Lime Cajun Shrimp Salad
- Thai Red Curry Prawn Burger
- Chingri Malai Prawn Curry
- Penang Prawn Noodle Soup Hokkien Mee
- Seafood Laksa Singaporean Shrimp & Fish Soup
- Cajun Louisiana Cream of Shrimp Soup
- Goi Xoai Vietnamese Mango Salad
- Barbecued Thai Red Prawn Curry
- Shrimp & Pork Vietnamese Egg Rolls
- Vietnamese Crepe Bánh Xèo
How To Make Gambas Pil Pil Garlic Spanish Prawns
Gambas Pil Pil Garlic Spanish Prawns
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Mixing bowls
- French knife
- 300 g Raw Shrimp Prawns shelled and deveined
- Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 6 Garlic Cloves sliced
- 2 Red Chilies sliced
- 1 tsp Sweet Paprika
- Lemon Wedge garnish
- Parsley finely chopped
- Season raw prawns with salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Add garlic and sliced red chili.
- Once sizzling, add the prawns and cook for 1-2 minutes before flipping.
- Add paprika and cook for another minute.
- Serve sprinkled with finely chopped parsley and a wedge of lemon.
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