Garlic and Chilli Prawns, known in Spain as Gambas Pil Pil, is a classic tapas dish served in tapas bars, loved by all.
Made with fresh prawns cooked in oil infused with garlic and chilli and served with bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
If you're looking for a tasty, easy tapas dish to impress your friends, then look no further than Gambas Pil Pil!
How to make Gambas Pil Pil?
Take a look at the video below to see how simple it is to prepare this Spanish prawn tapas recipe. in
Read the history and get substitution advice and ideas about serving in this post.
Or use the jump button below to make this spicy king prawn recipe now!Jump to Gambas Pil Pil Recipe
The history of Gambas Pil Pil is a little unclear, but it originates in either the Basque Country, Andalusia or Galicia.
We know for sure that this dish has been around for centuries and is still just as popular today as it was back then.
What does Gambas pil pil mean in Spanish?
'Gambas' is the Spanish word for prawns.
'Pil pil' is a word used in Spanish and Basque cuisines that describes a sauce made with garlic and chilli infused in hot olive oil. Some say 'pil pil' is the sound of popping garlic as it cooks in the hot oil.
So, gambas pil pil, translated to English, is prawns in garlic and chilli oil.
Ingredients for Garlic and Chilli Prawns
Only a handful of ingredients are needed to make this delicious pil pil prawn tapas dish. We also give you some possible substitutes.
Use olive oil, not extra virgin, with a lower smoke point; it can ruin the taste when cooked at high heat.
It is best to use fresh raw and peeled prawns for this dish. I like to use jumbo king prawns for a bit of a luxury, but any size prawns will work.
Make sure to thaw frozen prawns before use.
Alternatively, use pre-cooked prawns. Simply add the garlic and chilli over medium heat in the oil before you add the prawns and fry to warm through.
Finely chopped fresh garlic is best for this dish; it is a key ingredient and gives such a wonderful flavour to the oil. We use four cloves of garlic; adjust to your taste.
If you don't have any, you can use garlic powder or garlic salt.
I like to use fresh red chillies in this tapas recipe, but you could use dried chilli flakes instead. Adjust the amount of chilli or type of chilli used to your heat tolerance.
Paprika is a lovely addition to this gambas pil pil; it gives a beautiful orange colour and a slight smokiness. Depending on your preference, you can use sweet paprika, smoked paprika or hot paprika.
Parsley is a herb that goes well with garlic and chilli; it gives the dish freshness and colour. Fresh herbs are best, but you could use a sprinkle of dried parsley instead.
You could also use coriander (cilantro) instead of parsley to add a sweet citrus taste.
Use a large frying pan over medium-high heat to cook the gambas pil pil.
If serving up in an earthenware tapas dish, warm it up in the oven before you start cooking, ready to transfer from the pan into the tapas dish.
Gambas Pil Pil Serving Ideas
Serve the Gambas Pil Pil with some fresh homemade bread on the side for dunking into that delicious garlic chilli oil sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
Some of my favourite additions to serve with are serrano ham, Iberian cheese, padron peppers, cream cheese stuffed piquante peppers, olives, marinated anchovies and potato bravas.
We will be adding more tapas recipes to our blog soon - watch this space.
📖 Step by Step Recipe
Gambas Pil Pil - Garlic and Chilli Prawns
- 180 grams King Prawns Raw peeled
- 90 ml Olive Oil
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 1 Chilli Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- Salt and Black Pepper
- Chopped Parsley
- In a pan, heat oil over high heat.90 ml Olive Oil
- Add the prawns and cook on one side for 2 minutes180 grams King Prawns
- Add garlic, chilli and paprika stir in to the oil4 cloves Garlic, 1 Chilli Pepper, ½ teaspoon Paprika
- Flip all prawns then cook for 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a warm tapas or serving dish, with the garlic and chilli oil.
- Season with parsley, salt and pepper.Salt and Black Pepper, Chopped Parsley
If you have leftovers, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days and reheated in a pan until warmed through.
More Prawn Recipes
Looking for more prawn recipes, we have plenty for you to choose from all over the world!
Another sauce to serve with prawns is our marie rose sauce.
Gambas Pil Pil is commonly found served in tapas bars. Read more about what tapas are here.
We hope you liked this Spanish Tapas garlic prawns recipe! Please leave a comment below to tell us how it went for you.