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Gambas Pil Pil – traditional Spanish tapas prawns in a garlic and chilli oil – is simple perfection for me.

Juicy, flavour-filled prawns in a quick and easy sauce is the epitome of a sunshine recipe I can’t get enough of. Throw them together for guests as part of a buffet or for yourself on a wet Tuesday… just because.

Pil Pil Prawn Shrimp with Garlic and Chilli.

I’ve realised it’s the simplest things in life that make us happy. And this simple little dish definitely makes me happy.

It reminds me of a certain holiday to Spain. I went away on a last minute break with a friend. There was sunshine and Sangria and laughter and a lot of these spicy Gambas Pil Pil garlic and chilli prawns.

I’m not sure if this Pil Pil Prawns recipe is in any way authentic, but it’s how I’ve enjoyed it in Spain, so I hope it’s a suitable tribute.

And even if not, it’s still bloomin’ delicious, super quick and a little treat we can give ourselves for no reason whatsoever other than we deserve it, OK?! 😃 (And did I mention there’s dunking? Obviously totally the best bit…)

Why you’ll love this Gambas Pil Pil recipe

⭐️ A total treat, ready in 10

⭐️ Tastes like summer

⭐️ Perfect as part of a bigger banquet or on their own

Pil Pil Prawns with Chilli and Garlic.

What is Gambas Pil Pil {Garlic Chilli Prawns}?

It is a traditional Spanish dish. ‘Gambas’ is the Spanish word for prawns, and ‘Pil Pil’ refers to that unmistaken sauce made up of olive oil infused with chilli and garlic, showing us once again why Mediterranean cuisine is so special – that simple, unflashy but high quality ingredients produce the most delicious, unpretentious and delicate flavours.

In Spain, this dish is served as tapas, so part of a larger meal filled with small dishes. (Take me there now…) I like to eat it with crusty bread dunked in to get all those amazing flavours mopped up.

I love that I can whip this up in about 10 minutes with very little effort but it feels like I’ve produced something special!

Ingredients for easy Prawns Pil Pil

  • Raw king prawns
  • Olive oil – NOT extra virgin as we need to get the oil hot
  • Red chilli – With seeds if you like the heat
  • Fresh garlic
  • Salt 
  • Flat leaf parsley

How to make Gambas Pil Pil

  1. Heat your oil in a small frying pan until it’s almost smoking.
  2. Chop your chilli and garlic, then add them to the pan with the prawns.
  3. Cook until the prawns are pink all over, moving the pan around so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and parsley to serve.

Other delicious prawn recipes

What to serve with Gambas Pil Pil Prawns

Top tip for making Gambas Pil Pil

Cooking the prawns

It’s obviously important to make sure the prawns are cooked through, but make sure you don’t overdo it as the prawns will lose their tender, juicy wonderfulness and can end up tough and rubbery if overcooked. Just a few minutes should do it.

Gambas Pil Pil FAQs

Can I use frozen prawns for this recipe?

Yes, you can but I recommend defrosting them before you start to cook them. Prawns don’t take long to defrost.

Can I reheat any leftover prawns?

You can reheat them as long as they’re piping hot, have been stored correctly in the fridge for no longer than 3 days and if they haven’t previously been heated up (apart from the initial cook).

You can also eat them cold as long as they’ve been refrigerated properly.

For more details, read this Food Standards Agency advice on foods you need to take extra care with, as shellfish is one of them.

Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.

Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).

4.58 from 76 votes

Gambas Pil Pil {Prawns with Garlic and Chilli}

This easy Pil Pil Prawns recipe is super quick and simple but totally delicious. A perfect Spanish supper dish and sunshine treat.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2


  • 300 g Raw king prawns
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil, NOT extra virgin
  • 1 Red chilli, Chopped. Leave the seeds in if you like it hot.
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled and chopped
  • Salt and chopped flat leaf parsley to serve


  • In a small frying pan, heat your oil until it’s almost smoking.
  • Add your chilli, garlic and prawns.
  • Cook until the prawns are pink all over, moving the pan around so that the garlic doesn’t burn.
  • Sprinkle with salt and parsley.


Calories: 137kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 1gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gSodium: 3mgPotassium: 85mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 214IUVitamin C: 33mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Family Food, Mediterranean
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Sarah Rossi founder of and author of 'What's for Dinner?' books.


Hi, I'm Sarah. I help busy people decide 'What's for Dinner?' Find hundreds of recipes here, and also in my bestselling recipe book. Hope my recipes make your life easier ❤️

4.58 from 76 votes (69 ratings without comment)

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  1. Am so looking forward to making this it looks delicious. I love your recipes made gammon joint with apple juice and cider it was delicious

  2. 5 stars
    I have been introducing this little but Amazing dish for 10 years! I love it.
    Tapas is my thing! Pill pill is one of the best dishes i have ever had

  3. 5 stars
    Pil Pil prawns, I have done this recipe several times, it’s my go to recipe. Easy peasy, you even cook the prawns from frozen. The best.

  4. Wow! Sarah these prawns look amazing. I feel like I’m in Spain just looking at them. Beautiful pics too.