How to Make Gambas a la Plancha: A Delicious Spanish Dish

Gambas a la plancha is a popular Spanish dish that features succulent grilled prawns. This simple yet flavorful dish is a staple in Spanish cuisine and is loved by seafood enthusiasts around the world. In this article, we will explore the traditional method of making gambas a la plancha, along with some variations and tips to enhance the flavors. So, let’s dive in and discover the secrets to creating this mouthwatering dish!

The Origins of Gambas a la Plancha

Gambas a la plancha, which translates to “grilled prawns” in English, is a classic Spanish dish that originated in the coastal regions of Spain. The dish is believed to have its roots in the Basque Country, where fresh seafood is abundant. Over time, it has become a beloved dish throughout Spain and is often enjoyed as a tapa or a main course.

Ingredients for Gambas a la Plancha

Before we delve into the cooking process, let’s take a look at the essential ingredients needed to make gambas a la plancha:

  • 1 pound of fresh prawns
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Parsley for garnish

The Cooking Process

Now that we have gathered all the necessary ingredients, let’s move on to the step-by-step process of making gambas a la plancha:

Step 1: Preparing the Prawns

Start by cleaning the prawns. Remove the heads and shells, leaving the tails intact. Devein the prawns by making a shallow incision along the back and removing the dark vein. Rinse the prawns under cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel.

Step 2: Seasoning the Prawns

In a bowl, combine the minced garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well to create a marinade. Add the prawns to the marinade and toss them gently to ensure they are evenly coated. Allow the prawns to marinate for at least 15 minutes to absorb the flavors.

Step 3: Grilling the Prawns

Heat a grill pan or a skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the marinated prawns in a single layer. Cook the prawns for about 2-3 minutes on each side until they turn pink and slightly charred. Be careful not to overcook them, as they can become rubbery.

Step 4: Serving the Gambas a la Plancha

Once the prawns are cooked, transfer them to a serving plate. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the prawns and garnish with chopped parsley. Gambas a la plancha is traditionally served hot as a tapa or as a main course with crusty bread and a side salad.

Variations and Tips

While the traditional recipe for gambas a la plancha is delicious on its own, you can experiment with different flavors and ingredients to create your own unique twist. Here are some variations and tips to enhance the flavors of this classic dish:

1. Spicy Gambas a la Plancha

If you enjoy a bit of heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the marinade. This will give your gambas a la plancha a spicy kick that pairs well with the sweetness of the prawns.

2. Garlic Butter Gambas a la Plancha

For a richer flavor, melt some butter in a pan and sauté the minced garlic until fragrant. Toss the cooked prawns in the garlic butter before serving. The combination of garlic and butter adds a luxurious touch to the dish.

3. Lemon and Herb Gambas a la Plancha

If you prefer a lighter and fresher taste, add some lemon zest and a sprinkle of your favorite herbs, such as thyme or oregano, to the marinade. The citrusy aroma and herbal notes will complement the prawns beautifully.

4. Pairing with Wine

Gambas a la plancha pairs wonderfully with a variety of wines. For a crisp and refreshing option, try a Spanish Albariño or a Sauvignon Blanc. If you prefer a red wine, go for a light-bodied and fruity Rioja or a Pinot Noir.


Q1: Can I use frozen prawns for gambas a la plancha?

A1: While fresh prawns are preferred for the best flavor and texture, you can use frozen prawns if fresh ones are not available. Make sure to thaw the prawns thoroughly and pat them dry before marinating and grilling.

Q2: Can I use a regular frying pan instead of a grill pan?

A2: Yes, you can use a regular frying pan if you don’t have a grill pan. However, a grill pan will give the prawns those beautiful grill marks and a slightly smoky flavor.

Q3: How do I know when the prawns are cooked?

A3: Prawns cook quickly, and overcooking can result in a rubbery texture. Look for the prawns to turn pink and slightly charred on the outside. They should be opaque and firm to the touch. Remove them from the heat as soon as they reach this stage.

Q4: Can I use other types of seafood for this dish?

A4: While gambas a la plancha traditionally uses prawns, you can certainly experiment with other types of seafood, such as scallops or squid. Adjust the cooking time accordingly to ensure they are cooked through.

Q5: Can I make gambas a la plancha in advance?

A5: Gambas a la plancha is best enjoyed immediately after cooking. However, you can marinate the prawns in advance and keep them refrigerated until you are ready to cook. This way, you can save time and have the dish ready to grill whenever you want.


Gambas a la plancha is a delightful Spanish dish that showcases the natural flavors of fresh prawns. By following the simple steps outlined in this article, you can create a delicious and satisfying meal that will transport you to the sunny shores of Spain. Whether

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