A complete framework of chronostratigraphic, petrographic, geochemical and thermobarometric data allows a reinterpretation of the evolution of the Plio-Quaternary volcanism in Gran Canaria. Bulk-rock and mineral chemistry has been used to define P–T crystallization paths, based on clinopyroxene–melt thermobarometry. Mafic magmas mainly crystallized at mantle depths (17–22 km) with secondary fractionation at crustal levels (1.5–8.0 km), suggesting multistage magma ascent. Crystallization of evolved magmas took place at crustal depths (3–15 km). The complexity of the magmatic plumbing system increased in the last 1 Ma, as shown by the presence of reverse zoned clinopyroxenes in the lavas, with green diopside–hedenbergite cores surrounded by brown diopsidic rims. Petrographic and chemical features of such clinopyroxenes support a xenocrystic origin of the green cores, related to magma mixing or mingling processes between pre-existing colder evolved magmas and new batches of hot basic magmas. The evolution of the magmatic feeding system beneath Gran Canaria was affected by the long-term uplift of the island as a result of lithospheric flexure caused by loading of the neighbouring island of Tenerife. This uplift favoured the generation of giant landslides and nesting of the recent volcanic activity (the last 1 Ma) within landslide basins. The association of rifts, giant landslides and nested volcanism with a higher degree of magmatic differentiation is proposed to constrain the plumbing system model.