Gambas Al Ajillo {Garlic Shrimp}

Garlic Shrimp {Gambas Al Ajillo}

This is a dish I used to always order whenever I came across it at a Spanish or tapas restaurant. Under those circumstances, the shrimp come swimming in a fragrant garlic olive oil, which serves as a sauce for dipping pieces of bread into along with the shrimp. Obviously, the bread is out. But the sauce? That I wanted to preserve, but I also didn’t want to cook (and therefore oxidize) olive oil. So instead, I sautéed the shrimp in oil better suited for high heat – in this case, duck fat – and then drizzled them at the end with plenty of extra virgin olive oil. The oil absorbs the garlicy goodness and becomes a versatile way of adding extra flavor to a whole host of other things. You can use it in place of salad dressing or pour it over some roasted vegetables. Or, really, pour it over anything at all. It’s delicious!

Now before you garlic-phobes start freaking out on me, this dish tastes nothing like you might expect it would . As the garlic is minced finely and then toasted in the oil, it mellows out and becomes a much smoother flavor, similar to whole roasted garlic cloves. It also produces little crispy-crunchy pieces of garlic, too, which contrasts gorgeously with the shrimp. So don’t fear the garlic! It wants to be your friend. Speaking of which, you should probably eat this dish with friends. That way, you all have the garlic breath together! Don’t be tempted to skip the smoked paprika: it really makes the dish! You can serve these as an appetizer. In fact, if you use smaller shrimp than the 18 / lb that I used here, you could turn these into canapes! Equally delicious is using these (and that flavored oil) to to top off a salad. Or if you’re more in the mood for comfort food, throw these over a bed of mashed cauliflower or parsnips. Oh, it also takes 15 minutes or less to make. Bonus.


Gambas Al Ajillo {Garlic Shrimp}

The classic tapas dish, Gambas Al Ajillo, tweaked just a tiny bit to make it Paleo. These are extremely flavorful, quick and versatile!

  • Author: Rachael Bryant / Meatified
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x




  1. Lay the shrimp out on some paper towel to absorb any excess moisture.
  2. Over a low-medium heat warm the duck fat or coconut oil and minced garlic for a minute, until it just begins to brown at the edges.
  3. Add the lemon juice, smoked paprika and any additional seasonings: be careful as the oil will spit when you add the lemon juice.
  4. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook for a minute or two (depending on the size of the shrimp) on each side, until fully cooked.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat. Drizzle with additional extra virgin olive oil to taste and garnish with the chopped cilantro.
  6. Serve as an appetizer, add to salads or pour over mashed root vegetables – make sure to use the flavored oil!


    1. I’ve only recently been able to get my hands on duck fat and I’m LOVING it. Especially how it helps crisp things up so beautifully when you fry with it 🙂
      I use coconut oil for most of my day to day cooking and don’t really find that it lends much of a coconut flavor at all, although it certainly smells coconutty when you heat it. Thank you for stopping by, I love your blog & recipes!

  1. These look WONDERFUL! And I juswt roasted up a duck this week and have some duck fat in the freezer. I’ll be trying these out soon! Thanks for sharing on Chowstalker.

    1. Thank you so much! I admit I’m jealous of your duck, I would love to get my hands on a whole one! 🙂

  2. Intrigued with the duck fat – never saw a recipe using it. Just ordered some and getting some shrimp to try this on Thursday when it comes. Thanks for the recipe

    1. It’s got a slight almost smoky flavor that I really like and it’s easy to scoop straight out of the fridge. I like to add a little to burgers, too, for extra juiciness 🙂

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