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Grilled Prawns with Garlic Olive Oil

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Adjust Servings:
300g King Prawns
Rock salt
0.5 Lemon Juice
For brushing Olive Oil
Garlic Olive Oil
100ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic
2 tbsp Parsley finely chopped

Grilled Prawns with Garlic Olive Oil


    A Spanish-Style Grilled Prawn Recipe for the BBQ

    • 11
    • Serves 4
    • Medium


    • Garlic Olive Oil



    For this Grilled Prawn recipe, I’m drawing some inspiration from the Spanish tapas dish ‘Gambas a la Plancha’. Gambas a la Plancha, is a dry, cripsy and salty way of preparing whole head-on king prawns. The ‘a la plancha’ literally translates to ‘on the iron’; the iron being a griddle. I hope to do a more authentic take on the recipe on a campfire in the near future. But for now I’m showing you a BBQ version of preparing your grilled prawns.

    The Prawns

    If you’re new to buying prawns, BBC Good Food has a pretty good guide. The important thing is they should smell fresh and of the sea, and look bright and moist. Freshness is important, so for that reason choose local prawns where possible. This grilled prawn recipe is very simple, there is nowhere to hide if the prawns you choose aren’t the best quality.

    I’m easy-going with the prawns I use, they should be fresh and for this recipe, have at least the shell, if not the head. This will take some of the harsh heat and save the juicy tail inside. Strictly speaking, gambas a la plancha is made with whole prawns. That’s the first difference here, I’m using king prawns which have had the heads removed. This will reduce the flavour somewhat, as you won’t get the punchy juices from the head. For that reason, I’m serving these grilled prawns with a flavourful garlic olive oil for dipping (which isn’t very authentic in Spanish cuisine either). You could also try making your own garlic and parsley butter. See my easy guide to flavoured butters here.

    The Iron

    The second key difference for these grilled prawns is the ‘iron’ that the prawns are cooked on. I’m cooking my prawns on a hot BBQ to try to replicate the high smokey heat of a griddle iron.

    Whichever iron you choose to cook your ‘gambas’ on, it’s this simple: Cook your grilled prawns fast and hot to get a bit of a crisp on, drizzle with a little lemon and use salt liberally. Enjoy!

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    Set the BBQ up for hot direct heat. While that's getting ready, you can prepare your dipping oil. Peel 2 cloves of garlic and cut into large chunks. Gently crush them with the flat of your knife to get the juices going. In a sauce pan, heat the oil and garlic for around 5 minutes. Don't let the garlic burn or it will ruin the whole batch of oil. Remove the garlic from the oil (or it will continue to cook) and slice it. When the oil has cooled, season, add the garlic again and about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley.


    Brush your prawns with olive oil and sprinkle with half the lemon juice and the rock salt. Get your prawns on the BBQ. A tip is to work from left to right when putting them down, then left to right when turning them and then again when taking them off the heat. This ensured they all get the same time on each side on the grill.


    When the shell is starting to crispen up, flip over to the other side. Squeeze on the remaining lemon juice and salt this side liberally too. Cook for another few minutes until this side of the shell is starting to brown a little. The prawn tail should be pink throughout. If they fall in, just hoke them out again! They'll be fine.


    Serve these Spanish-style grilled prawns with wedges of lemon for more squeezing and the garlic olive oil.

    Not sure how to eat shell-on prawns? Hold it so you're looking at its belly, pull the shell open along its length working the top towards the tailend. Prise it open and pull the juicy tail out. Is there a black line running along its back? Use a knife or fork to remove this, it's called 'deveining'. It's fine to eat if you miss it but it can make the prawns taste a bit gritty.

    Mark T

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