Skip to Content

Gambas al Ajillo Recipe (Spanish Garlic Shrimps) with Butter & Sherry

Learn how to prepare mouth-watering Spanish Garlic Shrimps (Gambas al Ajillo) with Butter & Sherry to impress your guests with delicious Spanish Tapas.

Gambas al Ajillo or Spanish Garlic Shrimps is one of the most popular Spanish Tapas Foods.

So, it is not surprising that there are many different recipes.

Some of them use, for example, red pepper and parsley, while others add lemon zest, squeeze in lemon juice or add other seafood like squids or calamari.

Today I will share a Gambas al Ajillo Recipe recipe with you that uses butter and dry sherry.

Ready cooked Spanish Garlic Shrimps


What is Gambas al Ajillo?

The Spanish word gambas mean shrimp in English, and ajillo translates to garlic. It is as straightforward as it can get – gambas al ajillo means shrimp with garlic. It is also called camarones al ajillo.

You have juicy, well-cooked shrimp smothered in a generous amount of garlic and extra virgin olive oil. It is easy yet tasteful. In fact, you can create this dish in a matter of ten minutes!

Mince and fry a lot of garlic with cayenne, add in your shrimps and let them cook through, and at this point, you have the basic foundation of a classic gambas al ajillo.

Personally, I like to level things up and add butter and dry sherry to the mix. These make this simple dish extra special.

Where is Gambas al Ajillo from?

During your visit to Spain, you will see that many Spanish restaurants and Spanish tapas bars carry a classic or leveled-up version of las gambas al ajillo. It is served mostly as an appetizer but also as a main dish.

No one can truly tell where gambas al ajillo originated, but it is most common in the central and southern regions of Spain.

Tips in cooking gambas al ajillo

  • Choose large shrimps for a juicier and tastier tapas. While you can still use small shrimps, they tend to shrink once subjected to heat, thus becoming even smaller in your pan.
  • Should you leave the shell on or not while cooking? It is entirely up to you! As for me, I prefer to peel the shell off so I can eat my gambas al ajillo with ease. Also, if I leave the shell on, much of the sauce ends up in the shell – which will just be discarded upon eating.
  • If you are using frozen shrimps, rinse them first in cold water and then pat dry with a paper towel. Allow to thaw completely.
  • Be very generous with the garlic! This is not the time to skimp. Same goes for the extra virgin olive oil, because you would want to have some dipping sauce later on.
  • Do not overfry your garlic. It will leave a bitter taste in the end.
  • Do not overcook your gambas. Know when to take it off the heat, and from experience it is when the shrimps turn completely pink.
  • Be creative with the sauce. This particular recipe calls for butter and dry sherry for extra flavor, but you can add your own flair, too!
  • For added depth and color, garnish your Spanish garlic shrimps with fresh chopped parsley and a lemon wedge.

What to serve with gambas al ajillo

Serve your gambas al ajillo with plenty of plain toasted or garlic bread. Baguette and any other crusty bread also work well with this dish. Pair with a glass of white wine.

If you are serving your Spanish garlic shrimp as the main course, rice will be a good accompaniment to this dish.

Step-by-step instructions on how to cook Gambas al Ajillo

1. Prepare your shrimp by removing the shell and deveining them. Drain well. Mince a generous amount of garlic.

2. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan or skillet. Stir the minced garlic together with the cayenne peppers on low heat. Continue until the garlic turns slightly brown. This will take about eight minutes.

3. Add in the shrimps when the garlic starts to sizzle. Stir the shrimp continuously for about three minutes.

4. Once the shrimps turn from transparent to pinkish, add one tablespoon of dry sherry. Sprinkle some sea salt.

5. Wait until the shrimps are almost cooked through, as the shrimps will continue to cook in the hot oil after being removed from the heat.

6. Remove the pan from the heat and divide the shrimps into small serving bowls. Distribute the garlic oil evenly.

7. Add a bit of butter to each bowl and stir slightly. 

8. Enjoy your home-made Gambas al Ajillo. Serve it along with toasted bread (as a tapas) or steamed rice (as a main dish.) Pair with white wine.

Yield: 4

Gambas al Ajillo Recipe (Spanish Garlic Shrimps)

Gambas al Ajillo in a small bowl.

Learn how to prepare mouth-watering Spanish Garlic Shrimps (Gambas al Ajillo) to impress your guests with delicious Spanish Tapas.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 1 pound or 1/2 kg small, raw shrimps
  • Minced garlic (around 6 cloves)
  • Sea salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 - 8 Cayenne Peppers
  • Butter
  • 1 tablespoon of dry Sherry (fino or manzanilla) or alternatively White Wine


  1. Remove the shell of the shrimps and mince the garlic (around 6 cloves).
  2. Heat up the olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic & the cayenne peppers.
  3. Add the shrimps when the garlic starts to sizzle.
  4. Add one tablespoon of dry sherry and sea salt when the shrimps are almost done.
  5. Cook until the shrimps are cooked through.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and divide the shrimps in (4) small bowls.
  7. Add a bit of butter to each bowl and stir slightly.
  8. Enjoy your home-made Gambas al Ajillo (Tip: Serve with toasted bread and a glass of white wine)

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 80Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 177mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

Publish a photo on instagram and tag @spanishfoodguide

Gambas al Ajillo Recipe Spanish Garlic Shrimps with Butter and Sherry

16 Tasty Foods To Eat in Spain – World Travel Blogger

Friday 2nd of April 2021

[…] ยป Try making it at home with this Gambas al Ajillo recipe! […]

Skip to Recipe