You may be surprised to know that you don't need a lot of time or a special pan to make delicious Spanish Paella. Here's a terrific easy paella recipe with chicken, shrimp and sausage, that cooks in one pan and is ready in an hour.
I always thought of paella as an exotic, difficult-to-make dish because my mother-in-law was my role model. She made paella that was so impressive I was in awe. She had the special special paella pan and her paella came out of the oven enormous, colorful, and bursting with chicken, lobster, shrimp, sausage, and mussels. I have her recipe, and I promise to share it at some point in the future.
For now, life feels pretty hectic, so I am happy to announce that paella doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming, and you don't need a special pan.
Before we talk about how to make this easy paella, I want to share some fascinating facts about paella that will give you a better appreciation of what this dish is all about.
What is Paella?
- Paella is a Spanish dish of rice, saffron, aromatics, and any combination of chicken, seafood, sausages or other proteins, cooked and served in a large shallow paella pan or in a skillet.
- Paella isn't defined by the seafood and meats it contains. In fact when Paella was created in the mid nineteenth century, by workers in the fields of Valencia, Spain, it contained whatever local ingredients were available - usually snails and rabbit.
- Saffron-infused short-grain rice and aromatic vegetables are what make paella paella. It's up to the chef to decide which types of meat, poultry, seafood or vegetables to include.
- In Spain, where paella originated, it is a common weeknight dinner.
- Paella was originally cooked over an open fire, imparting a nice smokiness to the dish. Smoked chorizo sausage and woody, smoky spices like paprika and rosemary make up for the lack of a wood fire.
Now that we know what paella is, let's get down to the business of cooking it!
To make this paella, you'll need these basic ingredients: chicken, chorizo sausage, shrimp, arborio rice, chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes, yellow onions, garlic, rosemary, jarred roasted peppers or pimientos, saffron, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
For best results, have all the paella ingredients sliced, diced and set out before you start sautéing because once you start cooking, this recipe moves fast. Here's an overview of how to cook this paella. See the recipe card below for exact amounts and precise directions.
How To Make Easy Spanish Paella
This easy paella recipe is cooked in two stages. The first stage involves sautéing and is cooked on the stovetop. Then the paella is finished in the oven.
- First sauté the sausages and then the chicken strips, and set them aside on a plate.
- Next, use the same pan to sauté the onions, garlic and rosemary for a few minutes, and then add the raw rice, spices, tomatoes and broth to the skillet, and stir to combine.
- Arrange the chicken strips and sausages evenly in the pan, in a decorative pattern (see the photo below right).
- Bring the mixture to a boil on the stovetop and then pop the pan into the oven to partially cook the paella, for just eight minutes.
- Pull the pan out of the oven and add the red pepper strips and raw shrimp, and then return the pan to the oven for a final 8-10 minutes.
What kind of chicken is best for paella?
I tested this recipe with bone-in thighs and with boneless skinless breasts. Both are delicious though I have a slight preference for thighs, while my kids prefer the boneless breasts. It's a matter of personal taste, so I included both options in the recipe directions.
How to serve it
I love making this easy Spanish Paella recipe for a weeknight dinner. It all happens in one skillet. It can, and should, be eaten family style. The pot comes out of the oven looking really good! All you need to do is set it in the middle of the table on a trivet with a large serving spoon, and let everyone dig in.
A green salad is the perfect accompaniment for paella. If you want to make a multi-course Spanish meal or have a paella party, start with a refreshing bowl of gazpacho and serve the paella with salad, crusty bread and wine or sangria.
If you like this type of tasty one-pan chicken and rice dinner, don't miss out on these other delicious Panning The Globe recipes:
- Indian Chicken Biryani
- Jollof Rice with Chicken
- Tachin Joojeh: Persian Layered Chicken and Rice
- Chicken Plov
- Arroz Con Pollo
Here's the easy Spanish paella recipe. If you try this recipe I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think.Print
[Published May 2013. Updated May 18, 2022 with a video and new photos. The same delicious recipe!]