Gambas pil pil is a Spanish dish of shrimp cooked in a spicy chili garlic oil. It is a quick and easy weeknight dinner or a simple appetizer for a party.

Gambas Pil Pil on a fork


We fell in love with gambas pil pil, otherwise known as shrimp pil pil, or chili garlic shrimp, on our girls’ trip to Aruba many years ago. It was just a few pieces of shrimp in a small ramekin of hot chili garlic oil and it packed just the right punch of delicious garlic and heat.

This simple dish only takes about 5 minutes to make (not counting prepping your shrimp!) so it makes a great a spicy appetizer for a party or a quick and easy, flavor packed weeknight dinner.

If you’ve just gone low carb or keto this is a simple keto dinner recipe that will keep you within your macros!

We’re all about shrimp and a little spice. If you like this then you have to give our shrimp salad made with Old Bay seasoning, and our shrimp ceviche which skips the spice but packs a punch with it’s bright, zesty citrus flavor.

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ingredients for Gambas Pil Pil

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here’s what you’ll need and what you can sub in if needed or wanted:

  • Large shrimp – The traditional recipe calls for prawns, but you will probably have a hard time finding them, so we use large shrimp instead.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil – You could use another light tasting oil if you prefer.
  • Garlic – We use freshly minced or crushed.
  • Sweet Spanish paprika – Our favorite brand is La Dalia Sweet Smoked Paprika or you could use regular paprika.
  • Red pepper flakes – Traditional recipes call for red chili peppers, we sub in red pepper flakes for heat, or you can omit them for a milder flavor.
  • Fresh parsley – Parsley adds freshness to the dish.
Gambas Pil Pil in a chili garlic oil in a skillet


Step 1 – Prepare the shrimp. Clean your shrimp and remove any shell if you did not buy them with shell and tail removed. Lightly pat dry with a paper towel and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Step 2 – Heat the oil and spices. Pour the olive oil into a medium-sized skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil gets hot, add in the  garlic, paprika, and red pepper flakes and then cook for 1 minute.

Step 3 – Cook the shrimp. Carefully add the shrimp to the pan and allow it to cook for about 1 minute per side or until cooked through.

Step 4 – Serve. To serve, place in ramekins or on small plates (tapas) as an appetizer, or simply plate them up with your favorite veggies and enjoy as a meal.

Gambas Pil Pil on a fork with squeezed lemon

What Does Pil Pil Mean in English?  

Pil Pil is a Spanish chili garlic sauce made with olive oil and hot peppers. It originates in the Basque region of Spain. 

The garlic, peppers, and olive oil come together to form a salty, spicy sauce. If you follow a Keto diet, it is the perfect blend of fat and protein. And if you don’t follow Keto, you will find dipping a crusty piece of bread into the sauce worth every bite.

How to Serve It

Traditionally, gambas pil pil is what is known as a tapa or “small plate” that people typically serve in these terra cotta dishes called cazela. It’s a great individual appetizer that you can serve with some crusty bread to soak up all of the amazing chili oil. 

Of course, if you love it as much as we do, you may just want to whip it up for a quick, easy dinner. In that case you can serve it on a plate. When dishing it out, you can use a slotted spoon to drain a little bit of the oil.

You can serve with crusty bread and rice OR skip the bread and serve with veggies for a great keto friendly dinner.

Gambas Pil Pil in a chili garlic oil in a skillet with lemon

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Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Gambas Pil Pil (Chili Garlic Shrimp)

Gambas pil pil is a Spanish dish of shrimp cooked in a spicy chili garlic oil. It is an easy weeknight dinner or appetizer for a party.
Gambas Pil Pil in a chili garlic oil with lemon
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote


  • 1 pound Large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon Sweet Spanish paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoon Finely chopped fresh parsley


  • Lightly pat shrimp dry with a paper towel. Season raw shrimp with salt and pepper.
  • Pour olive oil into a medium-sized skillet and then heat over medium high heat.
  • Once hot add the garlic, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Carefully add the shrimp to the oil letting it cook for approximately 1 minute on each side or until cooked through.
  • Serve immediately in ramekins as a small plate (tapas) or appetizer, or simply plate them up and enjoy as a meal.


Serving: 0.25pound, Calories: 131kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Sodium: 297mg, Potassium: 41mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 490IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 11mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimer: We are not certified nutritionists. Nutrition facts are an estimate and are provided as a courtesy. They are generated by an online API which recognizes ingredient names and amounts and makes calculations based on the serving size. Results may vary.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Portuguese
Handwritten signature for Kat & Melinda