Pil Pil Prawns

Pil Pil Prawns on a blue and white plate.

Served with plenty of crusty bread for mopping up all of those delicious pan juices, these Spanish-style Pil Pil Prawns are the perfect light summer lunch or starter (or dinner with something like my Moroccan-style Roasted Veg perhaps with a green salad on the side?) Whilst Pil Pil Prawns – a popular tapas dish – is usually made with shelled prawns, here I’ve made it suitable for summer by switching them out for jumbo shell on prawns perfect for pulling apart at the table between sips of ice cold white Tempranillo.

A plateful of shell on prawns you can get messy with is one of my all time favourite summer eats, especially if you’ve taken the time to get them from a good fishmonger to guarantee that they’re full of flavour. When I’m making this just for family I just provide plenty of kitchen paper along with bowls for the empty shells to wipe our hands before going to wash them right after we’ve finished, but a finger bowl of warm water with a slice of lemon to help cut through the oil may be a nice touch if you’re serving these to guests.

Prawns in chilli and garlic oil on a white and blue plate.
Close up of king prawns cooked in garlic, chilli and parsley.

What sort of prawns should I use?

You can use uncooked or cooked shell on prawns here – I’ve given weight measurements too in case your fishmonger does not have jumbo prawns like mine does. For raw prawns, cook them until they’ve turned from grey to pink, for already cooked ones just heat them through.

You can of course opt to go for shell off prawns for a more traditional Pil Pil Prawns experience – you’ll only want to use the raw kind here, and the rule about they’re ready when they’ve turned from grey to pink still applies.

Pil Pil Prawns on a blue and white plate with lemon wedges on the side for serving.

A few more recipes you might enjoy

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Pil Pil Prawns on a blue and white plate with lemon wedges on the side for serving.

Pil Pil Prawns

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 1
  • Cuisine: Spanish


This Spanish-inspired recipe for Pil Pil Prawns gives uses jumbo, shell on prawns cooked in garlic, chilli and lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil for a summertime take on the classic tapas dish. Serve with a couple of glasses of chilled white Tempranillo and lots of crusty bread for mopping up those cooking juices!


  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 6 jumbo shell on king prawns (approx. 200g / 7 oz)
  • generous pinch sea salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon, plus extra wedges to serve
  • small handful flat leaf parsley
  • crusty bread, to serve


  1. Add the olive oil and the garlic, peeled and finely chopped to the bottom of a large frying pan. Set over a medium-high heat and let the garlic slowly warm up in the oil.
  2. Once the garlic starts to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium low and stir in the chilli flakes and the paprika before adding the prawns. Cook until they’ve turned from grey to pink (or if you’re using cooked prawns until they’re heated through), tossing occasionally.
  3. Season with salt, and stir in the lemon juice and the parsley, roughly chopped, just before serving.


I’ve written this recipe to serve one so it can be easily scaled up for as many people you need to feed or for as many prawns as you can fit in your biggest pan!