Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Coconut Rice

Camarones al Ajillo garlic shrimp recipe. Garlic and jalapeno marinated shrimp sauteed in coconut milk and served on a bed of coconut white rice.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Throughout the coastal areas of Latin America, you’ll find local variations of “Camarones al Ajillo”, freshly caught shrimp, fried quickly in olive oil with garlic and chiles.

My friend Arturo grew up near the beaches of Acapulco and learned a way of preparing the garlic shrimp classic with jalapeños and coconut milk.

The layers of flavor in this dish are fabulous – chile, shrimp, coconut, lemon grass (or lime). If you get the timing right, this dish cooks up quite fast.

You can use either peeled or unpeeled shrimp. The peeled is easier to eat, but the unpeeled absorbs flavor from the shells while cooking.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Coconut Rice Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4.


  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 pound, about 20 large jumbo shrimp (peeled with tail on or unpeeled, but veins removed)
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • Salt
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, de-ribbed, julienned
  • Juice of one lime (or 2 inches of white tender end of lemongrass, finely sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small cans (5.6 ounces) coconut milk
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of red chili powder or red chili sauce (to taste)
  • Cilantro for garnish (optional)


1 Start cooking rice, following package instructions.


2 Pulse garlic, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender, just a few pulses, so you can still see chunks of garlic. Pour over shrimp to marinate. Marinate for 10 minutes.

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3 Strain the water from the shrimp and garlic mixture. Add the lime juice (or finely sliced lemongrass), jalapeño, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the shrimp mixture.

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4 Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in high heat in large sauté pan. Add shrimp. Cook one minute. Add 1 small can of coconut milk. Cook 30 seconds more. Mix in a teaspoon red chili powder or sauce.

5 Put rice into a large bowl. Mix in the second 5.6 ounce can of coconut milk to the cooked rice.

Serve shrimp on rice. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro (optional).

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Many thanks to my friend Arturo Vargas of Taste for the Senses for sharing his "Camarones al Ajillo" recipe with us.

Showing 4 of 30 Comments

  • Leah

    Limey, garlicky, I added a whole whopping heap of the chili paste at the end for perfect amount of spice. I haven’t cooked shrimp in a long time but I was craving it and this recipe hit the spot, amazing! Used coconut oil instead of olive oil and accidentally bought coconut cream instead of coconut milk, but I’m obssessed. Happy and full :)

  • Lisa

    We were out of chili powder so we used smoked paprika instead- yum!!!!!!!

  • Shelley

    Thank you so much for your wonderful site!! Tonight I cooked this for my family and everyone LOVED it. The only thing I did differently was served it with Jasmine rice. It was soooooo awesome!

  • Myrna Carmona

    Again, my husband was so happy! I didn’t have rice, so I made pasta – thin spaghetti – and it was perfect. Next time I’ll do the rice, and I can’t wait to try with the rice. Thanks again!

  • Karin Jung

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this dish! It was perfect and satisfied this need for coconut and lime that I had been craving for months. The jalapeno was perfect but I backed off on the cayenne a little because of my toddler. He loved it and he probably would have eaten it with the full amount of spice. Also, once the shrimp was cooked I removed it from the coconut mixture, (so it wouldn’t overcook) and added chopped asparagus so I had a veggie. The asparagus really worked well with the flavors.

    My rice was delicious but I did add maybe a 1/2 teaspoon of salt as it was cooking. A little bit of salt makes sweets taste sweeter.
    Thanks Elise, (& Arturo!) for another perfect dinner.

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Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Coconut Rice