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Gambas Pil Pil

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Most Spanish food isn’t spicy. Gambas pil pil is a tasty exception.

Gambas pil pil can be mild or spicy depending on your preference. I travelled for three weeks around Spain looking for deliciously spiced dishes and this gambas pil pil ticked all the boxes.

Not only is it really easy to make but it can also be prepared from start to finish in about 15 minutes.

Gambas pil pil

Delicious served with crusty bread. Make this today!

Why Spanish gambas pil pil food on a curry blog?

Long story short… I’m writing a new cookbook, my 8th! It will be out at the end of 2023.

My books and blog have always focussed on curries but this book will be different. I’m not only going back to my California roots and including loads of spicy dishes that aren’t curries, I’m also including loads of spicy recipes from around the world.


There was no way I couldn’t include a few recipes from the country responsible for introducing chillies to Europe. 

Be sure to use this gambas pil pil recipe as a guide!

All of the recipes in my cookbooks and blog should be used as guides and this gambas pil pil is no exception. Add the garlic, chillies, spicy or sweet smoked paprika, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

I usually throw in a lot more chillies but then I like my dishes spicy hot. 

Be sure to cook over a low to medium flame…

We’re using olive oil here and it has a lower smoking point than other oils. I use a light olive oil which makes things easier.

You could also use extra virgin but be sure to keep the heat low to medium so that it doesn’t smoke and become bitter. This is also the best way to cook and infuse the garlic into the oil. 

Which papika?

If you can source it, it’s not difficult these day, use Spanish smoked paprika. You can use picante or mild. 

Although Hungarian paprika is very good, it usually isn’t smoked like Spanish paprika and I personally think the smoky flavour adds a lot to the flavour. 

Which prawns…

You can use whatever sized prawns you like. This time I used small prawns a lots of them. Large jumbo prawns are equally as good. 

Step by step photos…

Ingredients for gambas pil pil

Get all your ingredients together before starting. This makes things a lot easier when you go to cook.

Frying garlic

Fry the chopped garlic in the olive oil over low to medium heat until soft and lightly browned.

Adding the prawns to gambas pil pil

Add the prawns and chillies and stir them around in the hot oil. Cook until pink and almost cooked through.

Frying all the pil pil ingredients

Next stir in the paprika, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

gambas pil pil

Cook for an additional couple of minutes and then serve hot with a crusty loaf of bread.

Finished gambas pil pil

This popular tapas can be served with other tapas too.

Gambas pil pil

Dig in!

Yield: 4

Gambas Pil Pil

Gambas pil pil
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 8 tablespoons light olive oil
  • (600g/1 ½ lbs) peeled prawns
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 – 2 red bird’s eye chillies, cut into thin rings
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sweet or hot paprika
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Pour the oil into a frying pan over medium heat and add the chopped garlic. You can add the garlic when the oil is still cool as it will infuse its flavour into the oil as it heats up.
  2. When bubbles begin to form around the garlic, stir in the chillies and prawns and fry until the prawns are pink on the exterior and just cooked through. This should only take a couple of minutes. Be sure to stir regularly so that you don’t burn the garlic.
  3. When the prawns are cooked, stir in the smoked paprika and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. You could eat this as it is but I like to serve gambas pil pil with a loaf of hot sour dough, perfect for dipping and soaking up that amazing flavour.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 170Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 107mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g

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Gambas pil pil

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