How to Cook Paella: Mastering the Spanish Rice Dish with Seafood and Meat

How to Cook Paella: Mastering the Spanish Rice Dish with Seafood and Meat

Paella is a traditional Spanish dish that originated in Valencia. It is a rice-based dish that is usually cooked with seafood, chicken, and vegetables. Paella is one of the most popular dishes in Spain and is enjoyed by people all over the world. Cooking paella can be a bit intimidating, especially if you’re not familiar with Spanish cuisine. However, with the right ingredients and cooking techniques, you can easily master this delicious dish.


The ingredients you need for paella vary depending on the type of paella you are making. The most common type of paella is seafood paella, which includes ingredients such as shrimp, mussels, clams, and squid. Other types of paella include chicken and chorizo paella, vegetarian paella, and mixed paella, which includes a combination of seafood, meat, and vegetables.

Here are some of the basic ingredients you will need for a seafood paella:

  • 1 1/2 cups of Spanish rice
  • 1/2 pound of shrimp
  • 1/2 pound of mussels
  • 1/2 pound of clams
  • 1/2 pound of squid
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon of saffron
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Techniques

One of the most important things to remember when cooking paella is to use a wide and shallow pan, known as a paellera. This allows the rice to cook evenly and absorb all the flavors of the other ingredients. It is also important to move the pan around the heat source to ensure even cooking.

One of the key ingredients in paella is saffron, which gives the dish its distinct yellow color and flavor. To get the most flavor out of your saffron, you should soak it in hot water for about 10 minutes before adding it to the dish.

Another important technique when cooking paella is to let the rice sit for a few minutes after it is done cooking. This allows the rice to absorb any remaining liquid and become fluffy.


Cooking paella is a fun and rewarding experience that allows you to explore the flavors of Spanish cuisine. With the right ingredients and cooking techniques, you can easily master this delicious dish and impress your friends and family with your culinary skills.

Ingredients for the Stock

To make a flavorful paella, you need to start with a rich and savory stock. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

Ingredients Amount
Water 8 cups
Chicken broth 2 cups
Dry white wine 1 cup
Saffron threads 1 tsp
Bay leaves 2
Garlic cloves, crushed 2
Onion, chopped 1
Tomato, chopped 1

In a large pot, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least 30 minutes. Strain the stock and discard the solids. Keep the stock warm while you prepare the paella.

Ingredients for the Paella

Now that you have your stock ready, it’s time to gather the ingredients for the paella. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients Amount
Extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 cup
Chorizo sausage, sliced 8 oz
Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless 4
Salt 1 tsp
Black pepper 1/2 tsp
Onion, chopped 1
Garlic cloves, minced 3
Arborio rice 2 cups
Paprika 1 tsp
Tomato, chopped 1
Chicken stock 4 cups
Saffron threads 1 tsp
Shrimp, peeled and deveined 1 lb
Mussels, scrubbed and debearded 1 lb
Peas 1 cup
Lemon wedges For serving

In a large paella pan or a wide and shallow skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove chorizo from the pan and set aside.

Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to the same pan. Cook until browned on both sides, about 6-7 minutes per side. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add onion and garlic to the same pan and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add rice and paprika and stir to coat the rice with oil and spices.

Add chopped tomato, chicken stock, saffron threads, and reserved chorizo
paella stock

Preparing the Stock

One of the key components of a delicious paella is a flavorful stock that infuses the rice with a rich taste. Here’s how to prepare the perfect stock for your paella:

Step 1: Boil the Water

Start by boiling 6 cups of water in a large pot. You can use either tap water or filtered water, but make sure it’s clean and free of impurities. The amount of water you use may vary depending on the size of your paella pan, but a good rule of thumb is to use twice as much water as rice.

Step 2: Add the Ingredients

Once the water is boiling, add the following ingredients to the pot:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste

These ingredients will add depth and complexity to the stock, giving your paella a delicious flavor. Stir everything together and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Step 3: Let the Stock Simmer

After the vegetables have cooked for 30 minutes, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and discard them. The remaining liquid is your stock. Let it simmer on low heat while you prepare the rest of the ingredients for your paella.

Remember, the key to a great paella is a flavorful stock, so take the time to prepare it properly. You can also make the stock in advance and keep it in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use it. This will save you time on the day you plan to cook your paella.

cooked paella

Cooking the Paella

Cooking paella requires a bit of patience and skill, but once you master the technique, you’ll be able to create a delicious dish that will impress your guests. Follow these simple steps to cook a perfect paella:

Step 1: Heat the pan

Start by heating the paella pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil and swirl it around to coat the pan evenly.

Step 2: Add the meat

Add the meat to the pan and cook it until it’s browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside.

Step 3: Add the sofrito

Add the sofrito to the pan and cook it for a few minutes until it’s fragrant. The sofrito should be a mixture of diced onions, garlic, and tomatoes.

Step 4: Add the rice and spread it out

Add the rice to the pan and spread it out evenly. Use a spoon or spatula to make sure the rice is evenly distributed in the pan.

Step 5: Add the stock and let it simmer

Pour the stock over the rice and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Don’t stir the rice during this time, as it can cause it to become mushy.

Step 6: Add the seafood

Add the seafood to the pan and cook it for a few minutes until it’s cooked through. You can use a variety of seafood, such as shrimp, clams, mussels, and squid.

Step 7: Let it rest

Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest for a few minutes. This will allow the rice to absorb any remaining liquid and will give the dish a chance to settle.

Once the paella has rested, it’s ready to serve. Garnish it with fresh herbs and lemon wedges for a burst of flavor. Enjoy!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top