Spanish Paella Recipe – Authentic

spanish paella recipe

This authentic Spanish paella recipe is packed with flavor and guaranteed to wow anyone gathering at your table. Authentic Spanish Paella sounds daunting, but it’s easier to make than you think!

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If you’ve never tasted or heard of paella, then you’re in for a treat with this authentic Spanish paella recipe .  Paella is considered the quintessential Spanish dish.  This rice-based dish is flavor-packed with bright spices like saffron and paprika, and whatever meat and fish your heart desires. There’s a great debate among paella enthusiasts about whether or not traditional paella should include chorizo- I stand firmly in ‘team chorizo’. This traditional Spanish sausage imparts a spicy, smoky flavor that, when combined with the aromatic spices, immediacy transports me back to my first Spanish paella on the Mediterranean.

I developed a shellfish allergy in my twenties, which meant that for many years I couldn’t partake in this amazing dish.  My family and I played with a number of different options, before I developed this beauty of a recipe.  In lieu of shrimp, I’ve opted for calamari to provide a similar shellfish consistency and flavor, in addition to the mussels and clams.  You can use calamari tubes cut into rings, or the tentacles… my children love the tentacles and love that they are ‘creepy’- use what works best for you and yours!

A few key notes about this Spanish Paella recipe before we begin:

  1. Yes, you do need a paella pan. Here’s what we use: paella pan
  2. Once the recipe says not to stir, DO NOT STIR! A successful paella will have a soccarat, or slightly browned, crunchy bottom. This is formed by the rice caramelizing as the dish cooks undisturbed
  3. If possible, use paella rice.  Many recipes call for Arborio, or suggest that you can replace with Arborio rice. But the truth is that they are different and aroborio will create a starchier dish than a proper paella.  Gourmet grocery stores often carry paella rice, but you can also find it on amazon here: paella rice
  4. Wine Pairing: a robust red with light tannins, like this merlot from Gundlach Bundschu is a perfect pairing with the saffron in this dish.

Serves: 6

Spanish Paella Recipe Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 1-15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup frozen green peas
  • 4 ½ cups of broth (chicken or seafood, just check the label to ensure that it is free of shellfish)
  • 1/3 cup+ 1 tbsp of white wine, divided
  • 2 cups paella rice
  • 6 oz of roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 1 pound bone-in chicken thighs, cut in half (this is important to ensure that they cook properly. You can have the butcher chop for you)
  • 1 pound Spanish chorizo (for the most authentic flavor, try to get the sausage from the butcher, not a pre-packaged sausage)
  • pound mussels, properly cleaned
  • ½ pound calamari- tubes cut in rings, tentacles or a combination of both
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Lemon sliced for garnish


  1. Warm broth in a separate pot and leave on low. Combine saffron and tablespoon of white wine and set aside.
  2. Warm the paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl pan to coat. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides, remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Add chorizo, onion and garlic to the pan and saute, stirring often to crumble the sausage. When sausage is fully cooked, add chicken back to the pan.
  4. Throw in tomatoes, paprika, bay leaf and saffron, stirring to combine. Pour in white wine and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  6. Add the broth and stir for 1 minute, bring to a boil. After 1 minute, DO NOT STIR!
  7. Allow the paella to simmer undisturbed for 15-20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Pay close attention, you will want a medium simmer- too high and the bottom of the paella will burn, too low and you won’t achieve the soccarat. 
  8. Add the peas, if no legume allergy (see below for allergy modification). Add the mussels and calamari, burrowing into the rice to help them cook. Cook for 5 minutes.
  9. Taste the rice. If it is still crunchy add more broth ½ cup at a time. You shouldn’t need more than ½-1 cup.
  10. Once mussels and calamari are cooked, top with bottled red pepper slices and remove from heat. Rest for 5-10 minutes.

Recipe Modifications & Allergy Tips:

  • SOY & LEGUME: cook peas separately in microwave and do not add in step 8.  Garnish over top of each serving as appropriate.

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