Succulent Garlic Shrimp Recipe Made Easy

The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe!  Chef Jean-Pierre Hello friends! I’m thrilled to share with you a phenomenal, really quick and delicious Garlic Shrimp recipe, also known as Gambas Al Ajillo. It’s a dish that brings together the simplicity of garlic, the richness of butter, and a kick of Chili Pepper and even white vermouth, creating a beautiful butter sauce that’s simply irresistible.

This Garlic Shrimp Recipe holds a special place in my heart; I first made it 17 years ago when my hair was a whole lot darker – boy time flies! I’m bringing it back today because it’s just that good.

You can serve Garlic Shrimp up in a little ramekin or lay them on a plate with garlicky crostini – the versatility is endless! It’s all about simplicity and flavor here, with a little bit of garlic olive oil magic and the perfect balance of butter.

The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe! Gambas Al Ajillo -serve with crostini The key to this Garlic Shrimp recipe is in the timing – cooking the shrimp just right, adding the garlic without burning it, and finishing with a splash of lemon juice and white vermouth for that exquisite touch.

The lemon not only adds zest but balances the richness of the butter beautifully. What you get is a plate of garlic shrimp that’s not just food, but a masterpiece of taste.

Pro Tip: Quality of Your Ingredients

The secret to this dish lies in the quality of your ingredients. Opt for the freshest shrimp you can find – the size and quality do make a difference. Black tiger shrimp are my go-to for their texture and size.

Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with the heat level. Scotch bonnet peppers are great for a fiery kick, but you can always tone it down with a milder chili pepper. The beauty of this dish is its flexibility to suit your taste.

Bonus Pro Tip: Hot Foamy Butter

The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe! Another crucial aspect of this Garlic Shrimp recipe is the cooking technique. The hot butter should be just foamy and not browned to keep the flavor delicate. Cook the shrimp quickly and at the right temperature to ensure they are succulent and not overcooked.

And remember, the lemon juice and white vermouth are not just ingredients; they’re essential elements that bring balance and brightness to the dish. Add them and watch the magic happen in your skillet!

So, if your ready, let’s get cooking!

The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe

The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe - "Gambas Al Ajillo": Simply Amazing!

chef jean pierre 200x200 2Chef Jean-Pierre
Gambas Al Ajillo, or Garlic Shrimp, is a delightful and quick-to-prepare dish that bursts with the flavors of garlic, butter, and a touch of chili pepper. This Spanish tapas classic is perfect as an appetizer or a main course.
The succulent shrimp are cooked to perfection and served in a luscious garlic and butter sauce with a hint of lemon and chili for a touch of heat. Get ready to devour this iconic Spanish dish!
So what are we waiting for? Let's get cooking!
5 from 9 votes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Spanish
Servings 4 servings

Recipe Video

Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 pound Large Black Tiger Shrimp (U15), tails left on
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • Salt and freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ of a Scotch Bonnet Pepper (or Red Chili Pepper, finely chopped (adjust to your preferred level of heat)
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 tablespoons White Vermouth (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped

Recipe Instructions

Step 1. Prepare the Shrimp:

  • Start by cleaning the shrimp. Peel and devein them, leaving the tails intact.  
  • Pat them dry with a paper towel to ensure they are completely dry.
    The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe! Black Tiger Shrimp

Step 2. Begin Cooking:

  • In a large skillet or fry pan, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat until the butter is foamy.  
    The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe! Gambas Al Ajillo - until the butter is foamy
  • Add the shrimp to the hot pan, and season them with salt and pepper to taste.  
    The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe! Gambas Al Ajillo - Add the shrimp
  • Cook the shrimp on one side for about 1-2 minutes until they turn pink and opaque.

Step 3. Add Flavorings:

  • Flip the shrimp over onto the other side and add the garlic and Scotch bonnet pepper (or red chili pepper).
    The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe! Gambas Al Ajillo - add the garlic and Scotch bonnet pepper
  • Sauté them for about 1 or 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic. 
  • Pour in the fresh lemon juice and white vermouth (if using). 
    The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe! Gambas Al Ajillo - Pour in the fresh lemon juice

Step 4. Finish with the Butter Sauce:

  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan, swirling it into the sauce until fully melted.
    The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe! Gambas Al Ajillo - add butter to the pan, swirling it into the sauce
  • Sprinkle the chopped fresh parsley over the shrimp and sauce, giving it a quick toss to combine.
    The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe! Gambas Al Ajillo - Sprinkle the chopped fresh parsley


  • Transfer the Gambas Al Ajillo to a serving dish or individual ramekins. Optionally, serve with crostini or crusty bread to soak up the flavorful sauce.
    The Best Garlic Shrimp Recipe! Gambas Al Ajillo -serve with crostini
  • Time to devour your amazing Garlic Shrimp!



Frequently Asked Questions About a Garlic Shrimp Recipe (Gambas Al Ajillo)



1. What is Gambas Al Ajillo?

Gambas Al Ajillo translates from Spanish as “shrimp with garlic.” It is a classic Spanish tapa dish, characterized by succulent shrimp sautéed in olive oil infused with lots of garlic, often with added chili or paprika for a little heat.


2. Where did Gambas Al Ajillo originate?

Gambas Al Ajillo originated in Spain. It’s a popular dish in tapas bars, especially in the southern regions like Andalucía.


3. What are some different ways to serve Garlic Shrimp?

Garlic Shrimp are incredibly versatile and can be served in a multitude of ways. You are only limited by your imagination! Here are just a few variations:

1. Garlic Shrimp on Toasted Crostini
2. Garlic Shrimp Pasta
3. Garlic Shrimp Tacos
4. Garlic Shrimp Salad
5. Garlic Shrimp Skewers
6. Creamy Garlic Shrimp Over Couscous
7. Garlic Shrimp and Vegetable Stir-fry
8. Garlic Shrimp Stuffed Bell Peppers
9. Garlic Shrimp Bruschetta
10. Garlic Shrimp Pizza


4. Can this Garlic Shrimp Recipe be prepared in advance?

Yes, portions of the Garlic Shrimp recipe can be prepared ahead of time to streamline the cooking process. For instance, you can peel, devein, and marinate the shrimp a few hours before cooking.

Additionally, you can prepare the garlic-infused oil by lightly sautéing garlic slices in olive oil until they are just golden, then remove them from the heat and let them sit.

When you’re ready to serve, you can quickly sauté the shrimp in this aromatic oil. Pre-preparation ensures that when it’s time to eat, the shrimp will be freshly cooked and at their peak in flavor and texture.


5. Can you freeze Garlic Shrimp?

Freezing Garlic Shrimp is a feasible option, especially when you want to preserve the freshness of any leftovers or if you’ve prepared a large batch. When freezing, ensure the shrimp has cooled completely.

Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze until solid, and then transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. This prevents them from clumping together and allows for easier portioning when you decide to reheat.


6. How long can Garlic Shrimp be kept frozen?

Garlic Shrimp can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months without a significant decline in quality. While they may remain safe to eat after this period, their flavor, texture, and overall quality can deteriorate.

Labeling the container with the date of freezing can be helpful in tracking how long they’ve been stored.


7. What’s the best way to store leftover Garlic Shrimp?

To maintain the quality of leftover Garlic Shrimp, promptly refrigerate them within two hours of cooking. Use shallow, airtight containers to minimize exposure to air, which can dry out the shrimp.

If the garlic-infused oil was particularly plentiful, it’s a good idea to store the shrimp in it, as the oil acts as a protective layer and can enhance flavor upon reheating.


8. How can you best reheat Garlic Shrimp?

The key to reheating Garlic Shrimp is to do so gently to prevent them from becoming overcooked and rubbery. If frozen, thaw the shrimp in the refrigerator overnight.

For reheating, use a skillet over medium-low heat, adding a touch of olive oil or the saved garlic-infused oil. Place the shrimp in the skillet, turning occasionally, just until they are warmed through. Avoid microwaving as it can cook them unevenly and alter their texture.


9. What sides pair well with this Garlic Shrimp recipe?

Garlic Shrimp is a versatile dish that pairs well with a variety of sides. A fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette complements the richness of the shrimp. Crusty bread is perfect for soaking up the flavorful garlic-infused oil.

For a heartier meal, steamed or sautéed vegetables like asparagus, green beans, or bell peppers work well. Garlic Shrimp also pairs beautifully with starches such as steamed rice, light pasta like spaghetti aglio e olio, or even couscous for a Mediterranean touch.


10. What wines go well with Garlic Shrimp?

When pairing wine with Garlic Shrimp, opt for white wines that complement the dish’s robust garlic flavors and the delicacy of the shrimp.

Albariño, a Spanish white wine, offers crisp and aromatic notes, making it a fitting choice.

Verdejo provides hints of herbs, citrus, and stone fruit which can harmonize with the shrimp.

A Sauvignon Blanc, with its high acidity and citrus profile, can also be an excellent choice, cutting through the richness and balancing the dish.


11. Which main dishes complement Garlic Shrimp as a side?

While Garlic Shrimp is a star on its own, it can also play a supporting role alongside other dishes. Grilled meats, especially lean cuts like steak or chicken breast, can benefit from the shrimp’s richness.

Seafood paella, being a traditional Spanish dish, complements the flavors of Gambas Al Ajillo. Other seafood dishes, such as mussels in white wine sauce or calamari, can also create a delightful seafood medley when served with Garlic Shrimp.

Additionally, the dish can also accentuate pasta dishes, especially those with light olive oil or tomato-based sauces.

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