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Pil Pil Sauce

5 from 1 vote

If you love garlic then you need to try this Basque classic!

Written By Brad Archer


Serves 4

25 Minutes




  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp parsley chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Step 1: Get Prepared

Begin by finely slicing the garlic. Measure out your red chilli flakes, sweet paprika, tomato paste, lemon juice, and parsley. Having everything pre-measured makes the cooking process smoother.

Preparing ingredients for making Pil Pil sauce

Step 2: Cook Garlic and Chilli

Pour the olive oil into a medium-sized pan and heat it over medium heat. Watch for the oil to shimmer slightly. Add the sliced garlic and red chilli flakes to the oil. Stir frequently and cook gently until the garlic softens and becomes golden, avoiding burning.

Cooking garlic and chilli flakes in oil

Step 3: Add Paprika and Tomato Paste

Sprinkle the sweet paprika into the pan quickly to prevent burning, then add the tomato paste. Stir well to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes until the tomato paste darkens slightly.

Stirring paprika and tomato paste into Pil Pil sauce

Step 4: Loosen With Water

Add a small amount of water (about 2-3 tablespoons) and let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should start to thicken to a spreadable consistency. Adjust with more water if needed.

Loosening sauce with a splash of water
  • The amount of water you add comes down to personal preference. 2-3 tablespoons will give you quite a thick sauce.

Step 5: Add Acid and Freshness

Once the sauce has thickened, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and the chopped parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper according to your preference.

Stir parlsey and seasoning into Pil Pil sauce


  • Make it Smooth If you’d prefer a silky smooth sauce then blitz this up in a blender before passing through a fine-meshed sieve
  • Tweak the Herbs Parsley is a good allrounder when it comes to herbs but you could replace this with coriander or oregano
  • Up the Heat If you prefer things on the hotter side, include a finely diced fresh red chilli with the garlic.


  • In the Fridge Pop the sauce into an airtight container and then seal once cooled before storing it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
  • In the Freezer Pil Pil sauce can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months when stored in an airtight freezer-safe container with room for expansion. Fully thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

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Pil Pil Sauce Recipe

Pil Pil Sauce Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Course: SidesCuisine: SpanishDifficulty: Easy


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If you love garlic then you need to try this Basque classic!


  • 4 tbsp 4 Olive Oil

  • 4 4 Garlic Cloves

  • 1 tsp 1 Red Chilli Flakes

  • 1 tsp 1 Sweet Paprika

  • 2 tbsp 2 Tomato Paste

  • 1 tbsp 1 Lemon Juice

  • 1 tbsp 1 Parsley

  • Salt and Pepper


  • Finely slice garlic and measure red chilli flakes, sweet paprika, tomato paste, lemon juice, and parsley.
  • Heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat until it shimmers.
  • Add garlic and chilli flakes to the oil, stirring often, and cook until garlic is golden and soft.
  • Quickly add sweet paprika, then tomato paste. Stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes until the paste darkens.
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons of water and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens. Add more water if needed for consistency.
  • Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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