Spanish Paella Recipe

Serena De Mir
July 08, 2023
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Spain is renowned worldwide for its culturally rich and diverse gastronomy, with Paella standing at the heart of this delicious heritage. This vibrant, colorful dish hails from Valencia, on the eastern coast of Spain, and it's named after the wide, shallow pan it's cooked in - 'la paella'.

The origins of Paella trace back to the 15th century when it was a meal of the fields, prepared by farmers and herders using rice, vegetables, and the available meats, often rabbit or duck. Seafood was added later, as the recipe spread to coastal areas, creating what we commonly know as Seafood Paella.

Over time, Paella has become a symbol of Spanish cuisine and a dish that incites passion and tradition, often enjoyed during gatherings and celebrations. Our recipe brings you the authentic taste of Spanish Paella, combining arborio rice with a flavorful blend of meats, seafood, and vegetables.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Serves: 6


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 2 chicken thighs, bone-in
  • 8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb mussels, cleaned
  • 1/2 lb clams, cleaned
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish
  • Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large paella pan or wide shallow skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken thighs, season with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper, sautéing until the onion is translucent.
  3. Stir in the rice and cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to turn golden.
  4. Add the saffron and its soaking liquid, stirring it through the rice.
  5. Pour in the white wine, allowing it to simmer until the alcohol has evaporated.
  6. Gradually add the chicken broth, tomatoes, and green peas, stirring well.
  7. Return the chicken to the pan, arranging it evenly.
  8. Let the paella simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Do not stir - allowing a crust to form at the bottom is traditional.
  9. Add the shrimp, mussels, and clams, pushing them into the rice.
  10. Continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes until the seafood is cooked, and the mussels and clams have opened.
  11. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid or foil, and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  12. Serve the paella garnished with freshly chopped parsley and lemon wedges.


Q: Can I use a different type of rice?

A: Arborio rice is commonly used in paella, but you can also use other types of short-grain rice like Bomba or Calasparra. Long-grain rice is not recommended as it doesn't absorb liquid and flavor the same way.

Q: What can I substitute for saffron?

A: Saffron gives the dish a distinct flavor and color, but if you can't find it or find it too expensive, you can use turmeric or a bit of paprika as a substitute.

Q: Can I add different proteins?

A: Yes! The beauty of paella is its versatility. You can use rabbit, duck, or different types of seafood. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Q: What should I serve with paella?

A: Paella is a hearty, one-pot meal that doesn't necessarily require any sides. However, it goes well with a simple green salad or crusty bread.

Q: I have a shellfish allergy. Can I still make paella?

A: Absolutely! You can substitute the seafood with other types of meat or even make a vegetarian version with a variety of vegetables.

Q: How do I store leftover paella?

A: Leftover paella can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, place it in a pan over medium heat until it's heated through.

Q: Can I freeze paella?

A: Yes, you can freeze paella. However, be aware that the texture of the rice may change slightly when thawed and reheated.

Q: What is the 'socarrat' I hear mentioned with paella?

A: Socarrat refers to the delicious, slightly caramelized crust of rice that forms at the bottom of the pan when cooking paella. It's a sought-after part of the dish! To achieve this, avoid stirring the paella once the broth has been added.

Q: Is there a vegetarian version of paella?

A: Absolutely. For a vegetarian paella, you can use a variety of vegetables such as artichokes, bell peppers, zucchini, and beans. You can also add tofu or tempeh for protein.

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