5 from 6 votes

The Best Garlic Prawns (Spanish Chilli and Garlic Prawns)

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These Spanish-style garlic prawns are superb, made with red chili pepper and a garlic and lemon butter sauce. This easy and quick dish comes with tips!
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
£1.41
Makes: 3
mains
Spanish

Next time you feel like enjoying a sizzling tapas dish, try these garlic prawns topped with finely chopped fresh parsley! They include delicious garlic and lemon butter with a kick of heat from the chilis, making them decadent and flavourful. This quick and easy recipe will have you feeling like you’re eating at a tapas restaurant in no time.

King prawns in a sauce with lemon wedges, fresh parsley and red chillies in a large stainless steel frying pan.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Versatile:  The best part about cooked prawn recipes like this one is you can use them as an appetizer, in pasta or in a salad. I’ve tossed them into my Nando’s Spicy Rice recipe and they were SO good.

Super fast: These tasty garlic prawns are ready in less than 10 minutes!

Bright, Bold Flavors: Made with lemon juice, garlic, chillies, and parsley, these cooked prawns are delicious, bright, and bold.

Only a few ingredients: You only need six ingredients for this garlic prawn recipe (not including pantry staples!).

Here are some other yummy prawn/shrimp dishes to try this week: Creamy Shrimp and Corn Pasta, Simple Red Thai Prawn Curry, or Prawn Rice.

Cooking with Prawns

How do you choose the right prawns? Color, texture, smell, shell on? Picking the right raw prawns for garlic prawns is essential, as they’re the star of the show. Ensure the prawns are translucent, glossy, and without black spots. They should not have a strong smell. I recommend finding prawns (fresh or frozen) uncooked as buying pre-cooked prawns often leads to overcooking them (they cook soo quickly).

Should you peel and devein prawns? How to? Yes, but only if you need to. If your prawns are unpeeled then I recommend peeling and deveining prawns before diving into garlic prawn recipes like this one. Remove the head and shell of the prawns first (they should already be thawed). Then, use a knife to slice along the dark line (vein) on the back of the prawns. Either use your fingers or the knife to devein the shrimp.

How do you know when prawns are finished cooking? The easiest way to tell if prawns are cooked is by looking at the colour. They should be pink and no longer be see-through. They will also no longer have a fleshy feel when touched.

Ingredients

Ingredients to make garlic prawns laid out on a plae blue background and labelled.

King Prawns
I recommend using king prawns since they’re large and meaty when making this garlic prawns. However, you can craft these Spanish garlic prawns with other varieties, like tiger prawns.

Chillies
Fresh chillies are best for creating heat in this dish. Though, you can also substitute them for cayenne powder if necessary. However, the dish won’t look quite as nice without the chilli pieces.

See the recipe card for full information on all ingredients and quantities.

Variations/ Adaptations

Here are a few ways to alter garlic prawns to meet your taste preferences.

Use frozen prawns: There’s no harm in making this Spanish-style garlic prawns with frozen prawns instead of fresh. They will also offer a delicious, fresh flavour in the recipe. They’re more budget friendly so I often buy frozen over fresh!

Change out the spice: Instead of regular paprika, you can use smoked paprika for a yummy smoky flavour.

Use red pepper flakes instead of peppers: Skip the peppers and use red chilli flakes for a slightly less spicy flavour and a more budget-friendly option.

Add white wine at the end of cooking: Elevate this dish even more by adding white wine to the recipe. This ingredient provides a more complex taste to the recipe.

Swap the lemon for lime: If you only have limes on hand, feel free to use them in this garlic prawn recipe. It won’t change the flavour drastically, and most won’t be able to tell you used limes instead of lemons.

Add cream and parmesan for a creamy garlic prawns dish: You can turn this Mediterranean gambas al ajillo dish into a meal by mixing it with cream and parmesan. Then, add it to pasta. Or, simply enjoy the updated creamy sauce version as an appetizer.

How to make the best garlic prawns

Note: the amount of lemon juice is down to your preference – I think this dish can handle a lot, so I use the juice of a whole lemon! 

  1. Start by chopping the parsley and garlic and finely slicing the red chillies (Image 1).
  2. Then add butter into a large frying pan over a medium heat (Image 2).
2 step by step photos, the first with finely sliced garlic, chillies and parsley on chopping a board and the second with 2 pieces of  butter in a pan.

3. Once melted, add the extra virgin olive oil, garlic and chillies (Image 3).

4. Fry for just 2 two minutes and stir continuously (Image 4).

2 step by step photos, the first with a pan with finely sliced garlic, and chillies in butter and the second with this frying and stirred with a wooden spoon.

5. Then add the raw prawns and distribute evenly across the pan (Image 5).

6. Increase the heat to high and cook the prawns for 2 minutes on the first side, then rotate and cook for 1 more minute (Image 6).

2 step by step photos, the first with a pan with large prawns with garlic and chillies and the second with the prawn cooking in the pan.

7. Add the paprika for this remaining minute if you’re using it (Image 7). 

8. Kill the heat, then add the lemon juice and stir to coat all of the prawns. Season generously with salt and pepper (Image 8).

Top with fresh parsley when serving. 

2 step by step photos, the first with a pan with large prawns with garlic and chillies cooking and the second with the prawn cooked and with a wooden spoon in the pan.

Tips for the best result

By adding the extra virgin olive oil to the butter, we prevent the butter from burning
This is one prawn recipe you do not want to skimp on the butter or oil. Be generous with both so you can have leftover garlic sauce for dipping crusty bread.

Place the prawns in a flat layer in the pan
Ensure you’re laying the prawns in a single layer in the pan when making garlic prawns. This allows the prawns to cook evenly, preventing under/overcooked prawns.

Do not overcook the prawns
The key to this recipe is watching the prawns to ensure they don’t overcook. If you cook prawns for too long, they get rubbery and are tough to eat. So, don’t walk away from the stove as they’re cooking.

Garlic is such a versatile ingredient! Here are a few recipe ideas to use leftover garlic cloves: Cavolo Nero with Garlic & Lemon, Garlic Butter Chicken, or Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese.

Close up with large King prawns in a sauce with lemon wedges, fresh parsley and red chillies in a large stainless steel frying pan.

What to serve with Garlic Prawns

If you’re unsure of what to serve with garlic prawns, here are a few ideas!

Other great appetizers like cured meats and cheeses – Think charcuterie board. This option works well with many prawn recipes.

Crusty bread – What better way to enjoy butter garlic prawns than with crusty bread? That way, you can soak up all the leftover buttery garlic goodness.

Salad – Easy prawn recipes like this one also work with salads. You can use the prawns as a flavourful topper for the salad.

Garlic Prawns Storage tips

  1. Keep leftovers in an airtight container. If you have leftover garlic prawns, keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.
  2. Eat the shrimp within 2-3 days. Do not consume cooked shrimp that has been in the fridge longer than three days. Try to eat the shrimp as quickly as possible.
  3. Gently fry to reheat. While I don’t recommend reheating prawns, the best method to reheat them is by steaming. This will help keep your prawns tender and flavourful. Since these prawns have a sauce on them though- gently heat them in a pan over a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Microwaving will dry them out big time.
Close up with 2 large King prawns on a spoon over a pan with the prawns in a sauce with lemon wedges, fresh parsley and red chillies.

FAQs

Should you keep leftovers?

Yes, keep the leftover garlic prawns. You can use them for tasty recipes like salads.

Can you reheat shrimp?

You can reheat shrimp. Though, I don’t recommend it as it can cause the shrimp to be tough/chewy.

Can you freeze leftovers?

I don’t recommend freezing leftover cooked shrimp. Instead, use it in other recipes within 3 days or half the recipe to prevent leftovers.

Can you make garlic prawns ahead of time?

Yes, you can use frozen shrimp or prawns. Simply ensure they are defrosted, deshelled, and deveined before you cook them.

What is the difference between shrimp and prawns?

While they look similar, these are two different species. Often, prawns are bigger than shrimp and have a different, sweeter taste.
 
I love serving these garlic prawns with a yummy salad. Try these salad pairings when making this recipe: Halloumi Caesar Salad, Panzanella Salad with Halloumi, or Pesto Pasta Salad.

If you tried this Garlic Prawn recipe, it would be mean so much to me if you could leave a review & a star rating to let me know how you found it! I love hearing about your experiences – it motivates me to keep creating more and more recipes for you guys 💛 Let’s get cooking! – Mimi x

The Best Garlic Prawns (Spanish Chilli and Garlic Prawns)

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5 from 6 votes
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
£1.41
mains
Spanish
Servings: 3
These Spanish-style garlic prawns are superb, made with red chili pepper and a garlic and lemon butter sauce. This easy and quick dish comes with tips!

Ingredients

  • 60 g butter (£1.69/4)=(£0.42)
  • 200 g raw & peeled uncooked king prawns, defrosted at room temp (£1.99)
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (£0.39)
  • 1-2 fresh chillies, deseeded & finely chopped (£0.55)
  • Juice of ½ -1 lemon £0.30
  • Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped (£0.60)

Cupboard Essentials

  • ½ tsp paprika optional
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Method

Note: the amount of lemon juice is down to your preference - I think this dish can handle a lot, so I use the juice of a whole lemon!

  • Start by adding butter into a large frying pan over a medium heat. Once melted, add the extra virgin olive oil, garlic and chillies.
  • Fry for two minutes, then add the prawns and distribute evenly across the pan. Increase the heat to high and cook the prawns for 2 minutes on the first side, then rotate and cook for 1 more minute. Add the paprika for this remaining minute if you’re using it.
  • Kill the heat, then add the lemon juice and stir to coat all of the prawns. Season generously with salt and pepper and top with fresh parsley.

Notes

  • Prevent the butter from burning by adding extra virgin olive oil, ensuring optimal flavor in the prawn recipe.
  • Achieve even cooking by placing prawns in a flat, single layer in the pan, promoting consistent doneness and preventing under/overcooked prawns.
  • Keep close eye on the prawns to prevent overcooking, as prolonged cooking can result in a rubbery texture; stay attentive to ensure a perfect garlic prawn dish.

Nutrition

Servings: 3 servings
Fat: 22g
Calories: 268kcal
Carbohydrates: 4g
Protein: 16g

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