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Get ready for a mouthwatering culinary adventure with my vibrant and scrumptious Paella Recipe! This Spanish delight, loaded with succulent chicken, smoky chorizo, and a medley of fresh seafood, is the ultimate crowd-pleaser that will have your taste buds dancing with joy.
The Best Paella Recipe
Gather around, my fellow food lovers, as I introduce you to the ultimate one-pan wonder that’s perfect for any occasion – my irresistibly delicious Paella recipe! This Spanish masterpiece is bursting with bold and exotic flavors that will transport you straight to the sunny shores of Valencia. I’ve combined tender chicken, spicy chorizo, and a heavenly mix of shrimp, mussels, and scallops to create a true feast for the senses. But what really sets this dish apart is the magical duo of smoked paprika and saffron, infusing every bite with an unparalleled depth of flavor.
Now, I know some of you might be a bit intimidated by the thought of making Paella at home, but fear not! I’ve designed this recipe to be approachable for cooks of all levels, guiding you through each step to create an unforgettable meal. The secret lies in using Arborio rice, which not only absorbs all the delicious flavors from the ingredients but also gives you that classic, slightly crispy bottom layer that Paella enthusiasts rave about. So, grab your paella pan (or a large skillet), gather your loved ones, and let’s embark on this exciting culinary journey together. Trust me, once you’ve experienced the symphony of flavors in this Paella, you’ll be dreaming of seconds (and maybe even thirds)!
Why You’ll Love This Paella Recipe
- Quick and Easy! You can make this amazing paella in under an hour! It doesn’t require any special cooking skills and if you don’t have a paella pan a large skillet will work.
- Classic Spanish Flavor! With spices like smoked paprika and saffron threads along with some rice, meat, and fresh seafood this tasty dish will take your taste buds to Spain.
- Crowd Pleaser! This wonderful recipe is a fantastic option for a laid back dinner party, family gathering, or even potluck. It presents beautifully and is super fun to serve.
- Olive oil – The base for cooking our chicken, sausage, and veggies, olive oil adds a lovely, rich flavor. You could also use avocado oil or any other cooking oil with a high smoke point if you prefer.
- Chicken thighs – I love using boneless, skinless chicken thighs for their tenderness and juiciness. If you’d like, you could swap them out for chicken breast, but keep in mind that it may be a bit drier.
- Chorizo sausages – These spicy sausages add a bold, smoky flavor to the dish. I’ve suggested using Italian sausages as a substitute, but you could also try andouille or any other flavorful sausage you enjoy.
- Salt & pepper – Essential seasonings to enhance the flavors of all the ingredients. Adjust them according to your taste preferences.
- Onion – A key aromatic that adds a subtle sweetness and depth to the dish. Yellow or white onions work best, but you could use red onions or even shallots in a pinch.
- Garlic – The fragrant backbone of the recipe, garlic adds a wonderful pungency and warmth.
- Arborio rice – This short-grain rice is perfect for Paella because it absorbs flavors well and gives us that slightly crispy bottom layer. You can substitute it with other short-grain rice varieties like Bomba or Calasparra rice, which are traditionally used in Paella.
- Fire-roasted tomatoes – These smoky, slightly charred tomatoes add an extra layer of flavor. If you can’t find them, use regular diced tomatoes and add a touch of smoked paprika to mimic the smoky taste.
- Vegetable broth – This liquid base helps cook the rice and meld the flavors. You can use low-sodium chicken broth instead for a richer taste.
- Hot sauce – This optional ingredient brings some heat to the dish. You can use Tabasco, Sriracha, or your favorite hot sauce – or simply leave it out if you prefer milder flavors.
- Smoked paprika – Imparts a warm, smoky taste that truly defines Paella. If you can’t find smoked paprika, you can use regular paprika and increase the amount of fire-roasted tomatoes or hot sauce for smokiness.
- Saffron – This luxurious spice provides an earthy, floral aroma and gives Paella its iconic golden hue. While pricey, it’s worth the investment. However, if you need a substitute, try using a pinch of turmeric for color and a little extra smoked paprika for flavor.
- Shrimp: Plump and succulent, shrimp brings a delightful seafood flair to the dish. You can use fresh or frozen shrimp, just make sure to thaw them first if using frozen.
- Mussels: These briny little gems add a fantastic taste of the sea. Rinse and soak them well before using. If you’re not a fan, you can leave them out or replace them with more clams or scallops.
- Scallops: These sweet and tender additions perfectly complement the other seafood elements in the dish. You can use either bay or sea scallops, or replace them with more shrimp, mussels, or clams if you’d like.
This popular classic paella is impressive, but really easy to make! As long as you follow a few simple steps your paella will turn out perfectly every time!
Before you start adding the other ingredients like the rice you need to sear the meat first. So to begin, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large paella pan. Then once the oil is hot add the chicken and sausage to the pan, sprinkle them both with some salt and pepper, and then cook them together for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink.
After the chicken and sausage have been browned, move them both to one side of the pan. Next, add the chopped onion to the other side of the pan, season it with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and then cook it for 2 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Finally, add the minced garlic and cook it together with the onion for another minute.
Now, add the uncooked arborio rice and canned diced roasted tomatoes with their juice to the pan and stir them together with the meat and vegetables. Next, let the rice boil a bit in the liquid of the tomatoes for about 5 minutes. It should begin to brown on the bottom a bit and you want this to happen.
Then add the broth, hot sauce, smoked paprika, and saffron to the pan with more salt and pepper if needed. Now, stir everything together once more and cover the pan with a lid. Then simmer the paella for 15 minutes or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Note, the rice will not be cooked through at this point and this is normal.
Once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, turn the heat down to medium-low. Then place the shrimp, scallops, and mussels over the rice in a single layer. Now, cover the pan again with the lid and let the seafood cook for 10 minutes or until the shells of the mussels have opened up.
When the paella is ready, immediately turn off the heat. Next, garnish it with some fresh chopped parsley and lemon wedges. Finally, stir everything together to blend all the flavors and then serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Paella?
Paella is a beloved Spanish dish that hails from the region of Valencia. It’s a scrumptious, one-pan meal featuring rice, a medley of proteins like chicken, sausage, and seafood, and a symphony of flavors from ingredients like saffron, smoked paprika, and garlic. The dish is traditionally cooked outdoors over an open flame, but my recipe makes it easy to enjoy this culinary masterpiece right in your own kitchen!
Can I make Paella without a Paella pan?
Absolutely! While a traditional Paella pan is great to have, you can easily use a large, deep skillet or a wide, shallow Dutch oven instead. Just make sure the pan you choose has a large surface area so that the rice can cook evenly and develop that lovely, slightly crispy bottom layer.
Can I make this Paella vegetarian or vegan?
Of course! To make a vegetarian or vegan version of this Paella, simply replace the chicken, sausage, and seafood with a variety of your favorite veggies like bell peppers, artichokes, and peas. For extra protein, you can add chickpeas or cubed tofu. And don’t forget to use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth.
What’s the best rice to use?
Paella is made with paella rice known as bomba rice which is a short grain rice. The closest substitute and easiest to find is arborio rice because it has similar consistency as bomba rice. Do not use brown rice since it takes too long to cook, or basmati since it’s too firm and jasmine is too mushy. You should be able to find arborio rice in most grocery stores.
How to serve Paella?
Paella is one of those dishes that you eat straight from the pan. Just take it from the stovetop and place it directly on the table, pass out some forks and dig right in. However, before you start eating, make to to mix it all up to make sure all of the ingredients marry together for ultimate flavors.
- Use the right rice: Choosing the right rice is crucial for achieving the ideal texture in Paella. Arborio rice, which is commonly used in risotto, works well for this recipe because it absorbs flavors nicely and helps create that slightly crispy bottom layer. Traditional Spanish short-grain rice varieties like Bomba or Calasparra can also be used for an authentic touch.
- Bloom the saffron: To get the most out of your saffron, bloom it before adding it to your Paella. Simply steep the saffron threads in a few tablespoons of warm broth for about 5 minutes, then add the mixture to the dish. This process will release the full depth of flavor and color from the saffron, giving your Paella that distinctive taste and appearance.
- You’ll notice a crispy layer of rice at the bottom of the pan, that is what you’re looking for. This is why it’s important to not stir the rice as it cooks. We are not looking for creamy rice. That golden crust at the bottom is the best part of the paella.
- If on a budget and can’t afford all the seafood required for this dish, I recommend to at least go with the mussels, since they add so much seafood flavor to the paella.
- Let the Paella rest: Before serving, give your Paella a little time to rest (about 5 minutes) off the heat, covered. This allows the flavors to meld and the residual heat to finish cooking the rice, resulting in a more cohesive and delicious dish.
To store leftover Paella, simply transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, you can use a microwave or warm it up on the stovetop over low heat, adding a little bit of broth or water if needed to prevent the rice from drying out.
Once it has cooled completely, place it in an airtight, freezer-safe container or a heavy-duty freezer bag. Be sure to label it with the date and contents, and it should keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw the Paella in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop as you would with refrigerated leftovers.
I made this recipe and by far it’s my favorite paella recipe. It’s easy to make and the flavors are wonderful. I think the fire roasted tomatoes put it over the top. I didn’t have the smoked paprika but substituted it with a turmeric and smidgen of liquid smoke. This will definitely be my go-to paella recipe. Thanks for sharing.
More Delicious Recipes To Try
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- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 chicken thighs (boneless and skinless cut into 1 inch pieces)
- 2 chorizo sausages (cut into 1 inch pieces)
- ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 6 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1½ cups arborio rice (*)
- 14 ounces diced fire roasted tomatoes (1 can)
- 4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth , low sodium)
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Sriracha, optional)
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon saffron
- 1 pound large shrimp (shelled and deveined but keep tails on)
- 1 pound mussels (scrubbed and soaked)
- 1 pound scallops (or clams)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
- 1 lemon (cut into wedges)
Before You Begin! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.
- In a large paella pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and sausage, season with salt and pepper, then cook for about 5 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink.
- Move the chicken and sausage to one side of the pan, then add the onion to the other half, season with a bit of salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the arborio and fire roasted tomatoes to the pan and stir well. Let the rice cook in the sauce from the tomatoes for about 5 minutes, you will notice it will start to brown on the bottom, which is what you're looking for.
- Add the broth, hot sauce, smoked paprika, saffron and season with salt and pepper if needed. Stir everything together and cover with a large lid. Cook for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, without stirring. The rice will not be cooked through at this time.
- Turn down the heat to medium-low. Arrange the shrimp, mussels and clams over the rice, cover with a lid again and cook for another 10 minutes or until the mussels and clams open up.
- Turn off the heat and garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. Before serving, stir everything together to allow all the ingredients to marry each other for the best flavors.
- *Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice.
- I used vegetable broth here, that’s why the color of the broth is so rich and dark, if you use chicken broth it will be a lot lighter in color.
- I strongly recommend using a Paella pan because it has a wider surface and the secret of paella is cooking everything evenly in a single layer and as it cooks the rice gets toasty and crispy at the bottom and that’s what you want in a good paella.
- Don’t be afraid to use more oil as needed, this will keep your rice grains from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Use a high quality saffron. I know it’s quite expensive but that’s because it’s the most precious spice in the world but it is a star ingredient in most paella dishes. A good quality saffron will be the most flavorful, and a just a pinch will do.
- You’ll notice a crispy layer of rice at the bottom of the pan, that is what you’re looking for, it’s loaded with flavor. This is why it’s important to not stir the rice as it cooks. We are not looking for creamy rice. That golden crust at the bottom is the best part of the paella.
- If on a budget and can’t afford all the seafood required for this dish, I recommend to at least go with the mussels, since they add so much seafood flavor to the paella as it cooks.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.
Made this a week ago. best ever, came out perfect.
Hi Jo! Quick question regarding saffron. I have never used it before and all I can find in the stores are saffron threads. How many threads do you use to get 1 tsp? TIA 🙂
Ha, can’t say I ever counted them, but that’s what they are is tiny threads, so just use a teaspoon to measure it out.
What a beautiful paella!! I have made many different versions of paella but love this the best! I use linguica sausage or a smoked sausage, Bomba rice and all the seafood. The cold leftover is drizzled with lemon and olive oil for a delicious paella salad to be enjoy on a hot summer day!!Thank you for sharing!
My pleasure, so glad you like it!
I used this as a starting point and other than cutting back on the shellfish quantity, and substituting Italian sausage for the chorizo followed the recipe. It has become a staple in our home, and my brother who is a very good cook, said it’s the best! I used 1 pound of raw prawns and either halve the clams and mussels or eliminate them. We don’t miss them at all.
Amazing – this is my new favorite paella recipe!
I’m so glad to hear it!
I learned how to make paella from a Spanish friend from Madrid, but it had been years since I made it so I looked for a recipe to spark my memory, and this is the one that came closest, and it did not disappoint!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Delicious! Very simple recipe and turned out great even with a few adjustments. I omitted the chicken because I didn’t have any on hand. Also used long grain white rice and adjusted the liquid to a 2:1 ratio. So for 1-1/2 cup long rain rice I used 3 cups of broth. Cook time instructions worked the same with this type of rice. Also substituted turmeric for the saffron. Added a 16oz bag of thawed mixed seafood at the end, cooked for the 10 mins and mixed it all together. Smelled amazing and tasted even better. Another keeper from Jo!
I tried cooking paella for the first time. Turned out so tasty. I omitted the mussel and didn’t use the whole lemon. A keeper for sure. Thanks for sharing!
My pleasure, so glad you like it.
Jo -I wanted to tell you I love your recipes. They are interesting and I appreciate
the time you take to add the nutritional facts. I pre-ordered your newest cookbook to show my appreciation. Thank you.
Thank you, Debbie! I appreciate your support!
I may have already commented on this recipe, but it’s so amazing, I’m going to comment again.. So easy and amazing flavor! I do throw in a cup of fresh peas at the end. We used arborio rice and it was wonderful – perfectly cooked. Everything was perfectly cooked and seasoned.
Thanks, Ann!! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
I am loving your recipes.. what makes it so much better, is that you are local. I live in NE Calgary.. never checked Langdon out though I drive fairly close.. going from Calgary to Carsland to board my dogs. It is always great to find a local poster/blogger. PS we dispatch Langdon Fire too 😁
Thanks, Maggie! Langdon is really cool, a small hamlet, but everyone is so friendly. 🙂
This is our favorite paella recipe, and we’ve tried a lot! We use chicken chorizo and change up the seafood every time for some variety-last night we used scallops, shrimp, clams and lobster tails. YUM! The flavor is outstanding and cooks to perfection! Highly recommend!
I’m so excited to try this recipe when my paella pan arrives! Jo, I have been baking a storm on my end and following all your recipes! Thanks so much!! Ive been doing some research and I’ve noticed that a lot of paella contain wine, just wanted to know if you can replace 1 cup of stock with 1 cup of wine?? Thanks!
Absolutely you can! If you don’t want to use the wine, chicken stock is the perfect option!
Jo this recipe was amazing! I finally got the try it! I wanted to ask, what do you use to measure the rice? Is it a jasmine rice cup or a baking measuring cup?
I also made it over a gas element and it burnt on the bottom at the necessary heat temperature! Just wondering if you can give me a suggestion on how to prevent this next time?
I’m not sure what a jasmine rice cup is, but you use just a regular measuring cup. Keep in mind that the bottom of the rice should be crispy/crunchy for a paella. If it’s too burnt I would simply turn down the heat a bit.
Omg!!! I’ve never made paella before, but you explained it so simply that I worked up the courage to give it a shot. Well I ROCKED!! 😂🤣 This recipe is so easy, I made it in 20 minutes. I bought the tiny, cheap, frozen, seafood bag in case I ruined it, it wouldn’t hurt me as much🤦🏻♀️ This was delish!! I wish I could show u a pic of how beautiful it turned out. THANK YOU!
** btw I didn’t have saffron, so I substituted with turmeric AMAZING!!
So glad you liked the recipe!
My first attempt at a Paella and the family loved it, thank you, great recipe.
Absolutely delicious! I had made paella only once many years ago. This recipe is better, so flavorful. I used shrimp and scallops for the seafood and also used the chicken thighs. I don’t like the seafood so I ate just the chicken. My husband is crazy about seafood and really enjoyed this.