Perfect Boiled Shrimp Recipe (Gambas Cocidas) - Spanish Sabores

Perfect Boiled Shrimp Recipe (Gambas Cocidas)

One of my favorite recipes for warm weather is this simple boiled shrimp recipe; it’s fast (ready in only FIVE minutes!), easy, and absolutely delicious.

boiled shrimp recipe
Delicious boiled shrimp.

Spring is in the air and that means I’m in the mood to cook! The local markets are starting to fill up with new goodies (think strawberries, asparagus, peas, and the very first cherries– my favorite!) and the longer days mean I have more energy to start making dinner at 8 pm (such is Spain!). 

Most Spaniards adore boiled shrimp/prawns (as an American I call them shrimp) and there are plenty of delicious varieties to be found throughout Spain (try the gambas rojas de Huelva— incredible).

Depending on which you buy, the cooking time may vary slightly, but the technique is the same. The trick is to boil the shrimp until they are just cooked, and place them immediately in ice-cold water so that the shell will pop off but the meat remains super tender.

If you follow my boiled shrimp recipe and make sure to use plenty of boiling water and plenty of ice water, you’ll end up with the most perfectly tender shrimp you’ve ever tried! I highly recommend using great quality raw shrimp of course (if you happen to be in Spain this should be easy!). Frozen shrimp will never be the same and if using they must be completely defrosted first.

More Spanish Seafood Tapas

Since these are so quick to prepare you have plenty of time for a few more tapas!

  • Fried Anchovies: Delicious whole anchovies are simply breaded and fried in olive oil. Serve with a wedge of lemon and a cold beer!
  • Easy Fried Calamari: These are some of the most popular fried seafood tapas in Spain and with good reason! You can even use them to make a calamari sandwich.
  • Clams with Chorizo: Surf and turf combine in this delicious steamed clams recipe.
Heaping plate of boiled shrimp with lemon

Perfect Boiled Shrimp (Gambas Cocidas)

I learned this easy boiled shrimp recipe from my mother in law, and it makes the most delicious and tender shrimp I've ever tried!
5 from 6 votes
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Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Spanish
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 226.8kcal


  • About 2 pounds 1 kilo of raw shrimp (prawns), in Spain both gambas and langostinos (shrimp and gumbo shrimp) will do!
  • Water pay attention to the amounts below, it's important!
  • Plenty of ice at least 2 cups
  • 4 tablespoons sea salt
  • Slotted spoon


  • First prepare the water bath-- put about 4 quarts of cold water into a big bowl and add ice and sea salt. Stir the mixture until the water is ice cold and some of the salt has disolved.
  • Add another 4-5 quarts of water to a large pot and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Add all the shrimp at once and give a slight stir.
  • Adding the shrimp will stop the boil for about a minute or so, when the water starts to boil again and the shrimp change color and start to float to the top, take them out right away-- don't overcook!
  • Remove as fast as possible with a slotted spoon and add them directly into the cold water bowl. The water should still be cold even when all the hot shrimp are added-- if not, add more ice!
  • After 15 minutes drain the shrimp and serve, or put in the fridge covered with a moist paper towel for up to one day.
  • In Spain we serve as is, sometimes with sliced lemon. People peel them with their hands and don't worry about deveining. If you prefer to shell and devein before serving you certainly can, but it's really not necessary!


Calories: 226.8kcal | Protein: 46.31g | Fat: 3.08g | Saturated Fat: 0.43g | Cholesterol: 571.53mg | Sodium: 8738.65mg | Potassium: 181.44mg | Vitamin C: 9.3mg | Calcium: 333.18mg | Iron: 4.89mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @spanishsabores on IG and hashtag it #spanishsabores!

I adore the simplicity of these perfectly boiled shrimp and could snack on them with beer or manzanilla (dry sherry) all day long! If you try them, leave a comment below!


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