Dive Into The World of Shrimp al Ajillo

Would you like to add the power of the Mediterranean diet to your cooking repertoire that is quick and easy?

Of course you do. And I have the perfect recipe.

Shrimp al Ajillo.

It’s a dish that has charmed palates around the world with its simplicity and robust flavor.

This classic Spanish tapa, one of my favorites, features succulent shrimp cooked in olive oil, garlic, and chili peppers.

Did I mention garlic, my favorite allium vegetable? Oh yes, I did.


The Tapas Tradition

Tapas, small plates of food served with drinks, are a beloved Spanish tradition.

The word “tapas” is a derivative of the the Spanish verb “taper” meaning “to cover”. Historically, plates with slices of bread or ham were used to cover drinks in Spanish bars preventing flies from getting in. Over time these dishes, or “covers”, evolved into small, flavorful shareable plates we now know as tapas.


The Garlic Factor

Shrimp al Ajillo is one of my favorite tapas.

Why?  Because of my favorite vegetable of all time – garlic.

The name “al ajillo” translates to “with garlic” and garlic is indeed the co-star of this dish, so don’t skimp on it.

Garlic is a medicinal wonder that has been used for years and it’s beloved for its culinary versatility.

Garlic imparts a distinctive, robust flavor, pungent when raw, sweet when cooked, that transforms any dish graced with its presence.

And I love it.


Shrimp al Ajillo: A Flavorful Spanish Delight

Shrimp and garlic are the perfect pair in this easy to make dish.

Use 16/20 shrimp for this dish; the numbers simply mean there are 16-20 shrimp in a pound.

This large size is substantial enough to stand up to the bold flavors of garlic without being overwhelmed.

And there’s less risk for overcooking large shrimp because of their size.

The delightful kick of garlic is the perfect pairing for the natural sweetness of the shrimp.

Add to this olive oil, a bit of white wine, fresh parsley, and a bit of heat from red pepper flakes.

Can you say, “Tastebuds happy dance!”?

Once prepped this dish takes less than 10 minutes to cook.


How to Tell When You’re Shrimp are Perfectly Cooked

Shrimp are quick-cooking seafood delights. Here are four indicators that your shrimp are perfectly cooked:

  1. The shrimp are firm to the touch, but still springy, not mushy.
  2. The shrimp are opaque in color with a pink or orange tint, depending on the variety of the shrimp.
  3. Once cooked, shrimp should be juicy and succulent, not dry or rubbery.

Grab your apron and bring the Mediterranean to your table.


Other shrimp dishes you may be interested in trying:

Cajun Shrimp and Grits


Shrimp Creole


You can book a Shrimp al Ajillo happy hour class. More details here:

Shrimp al Ajillo and Sangria Virtual Cooking Class



Shrimp al Ajillo

Life At The Table Shrimp al Ajillo. Shrimp al ajillo on a white plate garnished with parsley sitting on a wooden table with a red napkin beside it.

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This simple Spanish tapa packs a ton of flavor with the oh, so tasty, humble star of the garden, garlic, paired with sweet, succulent shrimp.

  • Author: Chef Sandra Lewis
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 lb 16/20 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 lemon for juicing
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • kosher salt


  1. Heat a skillet large enough to hold the shrimp in one layer over medium-high heat.
  2. When the skillet is hot, add the olive oil and sliced garlic. Season with a pinch of kosher salt.
  3. Reduce the heat and gently sauté the garlic for about a minute.
  4. Add the shrimp to the skillet in one layer; season the shrimp with kosher salt.
  5. Add the white wine.
  6. As the shrimp begin to pink up on the bottom side (about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes), flip to the other side and cook just until the shrimp are cooked through.
  7. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and pour the olive oil and white wine mixture over the top.
  8. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top of the shrimp.
  9. Garnish with the garlic, red pepper flakes, and parsley or cilantro.


  1. You’re going to want to have some hot, crusty bread on hand to soak up all the deliciousness from the olive oil, garlic, white wine, and lemon juice.
  2. If you have more shrimp than will fit in a single layer, cook the shrimp in batches adding the white wine in with the last batch of shrimp.
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