Spanish Grilled Shrimp Tapas (Gambas a la Plancha)

Spanish Grilled Shrimp Tapas
Neil Mersh/Getty Images
Prep: 2 mins
Cook: 7 mins
Total: 9 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
201 Calories
9g Fat
4g Carbs
26g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 201
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 239mg 80%
Sodium 1220mg 53%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 26g
Vitamin C 11mg 56%
Calcium 109mg 8%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 222mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Gambas a la plancha, or grilled shrimp, is a classic Spanish tapa recipe. Whole, unpeeled shrimp are salted, then cooked quickly on a flat-iron grill. These shrimp and other forms of tapa dishes are served all over Spain, from stalls on the street, tapas bars, and restaurants. 

Tapas originated in Spain and are simply snacks and appetizers and could consist of breads, meats, sauteed veggies, olives, potatoes, and more. These have become popular all over the world. When going out to eat, order two to three different tapas for each person; that should be plenty, and depending on how big they are, there might be enough to share! Tapas are typically served with beer, wine, or sherry.

During and after cooking, lemon juice can be squeezed on the shrimp, giving them even more flavor. It is such a pure, simple, and delicious dish you'll find yourself making it over and over again. Enjoy these shrimp in whatever way you'd like—as an appetizer before dinner, a snack, or with other favorite tapas. You can also throw a tapas party for your family and friends.


  • 1 pound shrimp, 20 to 25 count, heads on

  • 1 large lemon

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Rinse shrimp and drain. Cut the lemon in half.

  3. Heat grill or cast-iron frying pan until very hot. Pour in 2 tablespoons olive oil and cover the cooking surface evenly with the oil.

  4. Place shrimp on the grill or in the pan, sprinkle liberally with salt. Squeeze lemon juice directly over shrimp. Turn shrimp over and sprinkle more salt and lemon juice.

  5. Shrimp should turn pink and shells should “brown” slightly when cooked. As soon as they are cooked, remove and place on serving platter. Garnish with lemon.

  6. Enjoy!


  • Because the shrimp will be cooked at high heat, do not use a nonstick surface. Use a flat-iron grill or a large cast-iron frying pan for best results.

Selecting Shrimp for Spanish Grilled Tapas

The shrimp you use for this recipe should still have their shells and heads on them. When buying fresh shrimp, it should be firm and translucent in color. It should have a mild smell but no strong ammonia smell. You can buy fresh shrimp for this recipe or use frozen shrimp, as long as they are the entire shrimp with the heads and shells still on.