Food Quiz

Easy Paella Recipe for a Delicious Dinner


Mussels and rice on a plate with a bottle of wine.
Easy Paella Recipe for a Delicious Dinner
Easy Paella Recipe for a Delicious Dinner


Paella? Yes! A Spanish dish. Rice plus ingredients? Yes! Such as meat, seafood and vegetables. What do you need for a delicious paella? The right combination!

To make a classic one, you need:

  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Saffron
  • Paprika
  • Chicken
  • Shrimp
  • Mussels

Let’s get into the details! What else do you need?


For a tasty paella, it’s important to use the right type of rice. Arroz bomba (often called “bomba rice“) and calasparra are commonly used. Short grain rice absorbs more liquid, resulting in grains that are held together with flavorful broth. Spanish varieties are best. For each person, use 1.5 cups of rice.

Rinse the rice in cold water until the water is clear. This helps the grains cook evenly and prevents clumping in the dish.


Saffron is a must-have for any paella. It adds a delicate flavor and gives the dish its classic yellow-orange hue. It comes from the Crocus sativus flower, native to Asia and parts of the Mediterranean.

To make the most of saffron, toast the strands before use. Sprinkle them in the dish while still warm to let the flavors spread throughout. When buying saffron, opt for threads rather than powder so you can control the flavor.

Olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is a must-have in any kitchen! It gives food an incredible flavor and can make yummy dishes like Paella. It’s the least processed type of olive oil and has the richest taste. Plus, it contains good fats and antioxidants which are great for your health.

For this recipe, use two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to lightly sauté the onions, garlic, pepper flakes and paprika. Don’t use too much heat when cooking with extra-virgin olive oil – it will break down its flavor and nutrients.


Onion is a must-have for any paella recipe. It complements the other ingredients and makes the dish unforgettable! Start by adding chopped onion to hot oil. Make sure they are finely chopped and cooked until they become transparent. Sweet onions or yellow onions work great. Cut them into small pieces for full flavor.

Onion can also be added as a garnish. Slice thinly and fry until golden brown for extra taste. Without onion, paella wouldn’t be complete!


Garlic is essential for paella! It adds flavor and brings out the other ingredients’ tastes. Get fresh garlic, not pre-minced or frozen. Pre-minced garlic can be bitter and lacks that strong flavor. Chop the garlic by hand and add it first to the hot pan. This allows its aroma to spread into all the ingredients, making the finished dish yummy!


Tomatoes are a must for a delicious paella. Pick ripe, bright ones for the best results. If you’re in a rush, use canned tomato puree. Some recipes use fresh-cut tomatoes, while others prefer canned diced tomatoes or sauce. It’s all up to you! Here are some types of tomatoes to consider:

  • Roma: Thick flesh, low moisture, deep red.
  • Oroma: Sweet and large, orange/yellow.
  • Yellow Pear: Sweet and tangy, light yellow.
  • San Marzano: Easy to peel, sweet taste.
  • On the Vine Tomatoes (aka “Beefsteak”): Juicy, meaty, red skin.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: Sweet and juicy when ripe, red skin.


Paprika is a common ingredient for an easy paella dinner. It’s ground spice made from dried peppers, mostly sweet. It adds flavor and aroma to dishes like paella; giving them mild spiciness too. Paprika keeps its red color when cooked; a great contrast against other ingredients.

Buy traditionally smoked paprika for a full bodied flavor. Usually paella calls for sweet paprika. But why not experiment with smoked, hot chilli or smoked garlic paprika?


Salt is a must-have for recipes, including paella. It brings out all the flavors in the dish. For saffron-paella, salt shouldn’t exceed one teaspoon per cup of uncooked rice.

High quality sea salt has more flavor and texture. Taste test before adding more. High sodium levels reduce cooking time, so consider that too. With all ingredients, moderation and small adjustments make a difference.

Preparing the ingredients

Paella – a yummy Spanish dish! You can make it with different ingredients, depending on the type. For this simple recipe, get everything ready before you start cooking. Chop, marinate, and season all the ingredients. Here’s what you need:

  • Ingredients and instructions for prepping your paella for the stove.

Rinse the rice

Rice is the key to paella. Use good quality ingredients. Rinse it in a strainer with cold water for 30 seconds. Drain and put in pan or pot. Toast for a few minutes, stirring all the time. The rice will turn golden-brown. This adds nutty flavor and absorbs stock better. Add saffron for extra flavour before toasting.

Prep the onion and garlic

Before you get to the paella, ensure your ingredients are ready. Start by prepping the onion and garlic.

  • Onion: Cut the onion in half lengthwise, then slice thin.
  • Garlic: Use a sharp knife or garlic press to chop it into very small pieces. This will make the flavor more robust.

Now you’re ready to cook!

Chop the tomatoes

Start creating a yummy paella!

  • Chop tomatoes. Always use fresh and ripe ones, not canned. Peeling and deseeding isn’t needed, but can be done to reduce acidity and make them easier to chop. Cut into small cubes. Around 1 cm in size. Too large chunks make the paella watery. Too small and they may dissolve when cooked. Don’t over-chop or mash. This will result in little tomato flavor in the finished dish.
  • Set aside for later use.

Cooking the Paella

Paella – a traditional Spanish delight! Get the required ingredients and set up the cooking space. Ready? Let’s cook!

  • Mix ‘n’ match the delicious flavors to make it tasty.
  • Enjoy the yummy paella!

Heat the olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large, flat-bottomed pan. Use a high-heat oil that can handle high temperatures. Make sure the pan is big enough for all ingredients – overcrowding will cause uneven cooking.

Over medium-high heat, fry diced pork and cut chicken until lightly golden. Add vegetables like garlic, onion, green pepper and chorizo sausage. Sauté until fragrant and lightly browned.

Add fresh seafood like mussels and clams (scrubbed and rinsed first). Add shrimp last – cooks quickly. Deglaze the pan with wine. Stir in tomatoes or tomato sauce, with seasonings like basil, oregano and parsley. Cook for five minutes until combined.

Stir in raw rice grains – between 1-2 cups. Make sure each grain is coated with the liquid mixture. This will ensure a fluffy result that isn’t overcooked or crunchy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the onion and garlic

Heat a tbsp of oil in a large paella pan or skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and garlic, stirring occasionally. Cook until softened and just starting to brown (3-4 minutes). Salt and pepper the vegetables.

Add diced/chopped tomatoes and juices. Stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Add seasonings, e.g. smoked paprika and saffron threads/powder. Cook over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes until thickened.

Stir in the tomatoes

Once you’ve added the ingredients, stir in the tomatoes. Use chopped or cherry canned tomatoes if you prefer. Break them up with a wooden spoon as they cook. Cook until they start to soften and release juice. The garlic, pepper and tomato combination is the basis of the sofrito that gives Paella its flavour. Don’t overcook canned tomatoes for more than a minute. Stirring often helps prevent burning.

Add the rice and saffron

Once the chopped veggies and meat are cooked, add the rice. Saffron is key for a traditional paella flavor, so add two tablespoons for every two cups of dry rice. If you don’t have saffron, safflower can be used instead. Stir the contents to spread them around the pan.

Bring to heat then add fish stock or broth until it reaches the level of the rice. Add some extra salt and stir. Simmer over medium heat until the stock is absorbed. This might take up to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally and check if it’s ready.

Increase heat to help toast the top slightly. This should be done for two minutes max – don’t let it burn! When done correctly, your paella should have a creamy texture and a flavourful savoury taste. Enjoy!

Add the paprika and salt

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced sausage and diced red pepper. Fry for several minutes. Then, add garlic. Sauté for 2 mins until fragrant. Stir in paprika until combined. Season with salt.

The paprika will determine how flavorful your paella is. Depending on your taste, you might want more or less of the ancient spice from La Mancha. Be careful not to over-salt. You can always add more later if needed.

Add the broth and bring to a boil

Once the veggies and spices are browned, it’s time to add liquid to your paella. Measure 6 cups of veggie or chicken broth and pour it in the pot. Increase the heat slightly and bring it to a rapid boil. This will let the broth mix with the ingredients and give the dish a subtle flavor. As it boils, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. If you need to slow the cooking time, lower the heat even further to let the ingredients blend together for richer flavor.

Reduce the heat and simmer

Lower the heat to low once all ingredients are in the pan. Stir occasionally. It takes 10-15 minutes for proteins to be cooked. If needed, add more broth or wine. Make sure longer-cooking veggies, like artichoke hearts, are fully cooked before adding any shellfish or seafood.

The paella should be steaming hot, not overly wet. If there’s too much leftover liquid, increase the heat a bit to evaporate it.

Serving the Paella

Ready to serve? Your Paella is cooked! Time to garnish that dish. Chop up some parsley, add some saffron threads, and maybe a few lemon wedges. Customize your Paella with whatever ingredients you wish. This will give your Paella a special touch and make it look even more delicious.

But how do you serve it? Let’s find out!

Garnish with parsley

Once the paella is done, garnish with fresh parsley. It’ll give the colors a boost and add great flavor. Use fresh parsley, not dried. If you want, you can add a few lemon wedges or herbs like mint or cilantro. These ingredients will make your paella even tastier and look even more appealing!

Serve with lemon wedges

Once your paella is done cooking, let it rest a few minutes. This helps the flavors and lets the rice absorb any leftover broth.

Scoop large portions onto plates with a spoon or spatula. Add saffron and herbs for garnish, if desired.

Lemon wedges add an aesthetically pleasing touch. Squeeze these onto the cooked paella to enhance the flavors and aromas, giving each bite a special contrast of taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

What ingredients do I need for a basic paella recipe?

To make a basic paella recipe, you will need 2 cups of long grain white rice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 small onion (chopped), 1 red bell pepper (chopped), 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 2 cups of chicken broth, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 pound of cooked shrimp, 1/2 pound of cooked chicken, 1/2 pound of cooked chorizo sausage, 1/2 cup of frozen peas, 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

How long does it take to make paella?

It usually takes about 45 minutes to make a basic paella recipe.

How do I know when the paella is done?

It usually takes about 45 minutes to make a basic paella recipe.

How do I know when the paella is done?

The paella is done when the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Ethan Walker
Ethan Walker

Hey there! I'm Ethan, an adventurous restaurant critic and culinary travel writer with a taste for global flavors. When not wine tasting or getting lost in historical fiction, I'm scouring the world for hidden gem eateries and authentic street food experiences. Join me on a thrilling journey to uncover culinary treasures!