How to Make Seafood Paella

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Paella is a traditional Spanish dish that includes chicken, chorizo, shrimp, mussels, and/or clams slow-cooked with rice. This meaty rice mixture is served in tapas restaurants all over the U.S. and can be made with many variations. Although the recipe requires a great deal of ingredients and requires about 1 to 2 hours of time to prepare, the actual preparation is straight-forward and pretty simple. Make paella at home and throw your own tapas party!


Image Credit: Julia Mueller

Things You'll Need

  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 4 chicken thighs, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1½ cups Arborio rice

  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • Small pinch saffron threads, optional

  • 1 pound chorizo links, sliced

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, to taste

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed

  • Fresh parsley for serving

  • Lemon wedges for serving


Any of the meats can be omitted depending on personal taste. You can also add seared scallops, clams, or white fish to the recipe.

Step 1: Sauté the Onion

Heat the oil in a large paella pan (or wok or skillet) to medium-high. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.


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Image Credit: Julia Mueller


While a large paella pan is recommended for this recipe, you can also use a large wok, Dutch oven, or skillet if you don't have a paella pan.

Step 2: Brown the Chicken Thighs

Add the chopped chicken thighs to the skillet with the onion, along with the minced garlic. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes until the chicken is browned, but not cooked through.


Image Credit: Julia Mueller

Step 3: Add the Rice and Chorizo

Add the rice, diced tomatoes, turmeric, and saffron, and stir to combine, cooking about 2 minutes.


Image Credit: Julia Mueller


Arborio rice yields the creamiest and most tender rice, but brown, basmati, or white rice can be used as a substitute.

Step 4: Allow the Rice to Cook

Add the chicken broth, sea salt, and bay leaf, and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until much of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 to 40 minutes.


Image Credit: Julia Mueller


Water or vegetable broth can be used instead of chicken broth.

Step 5: Add the Seafood

Remove the cover from the pan and arrange the raw shrimp and mussels in the paella mixture. Replace the cover and cook until shrimp has turned plump and pink and mussels have opened, about 15 to 20 minutes.


Image Credit: Julia Mueller

Step 6: Serve!

Give the paella a big stir and taste for flavor. If necessary, continue cooking the paella if the rice isn't fully cooked. Add sea salt and seasonings to taste. Serve with freshly chopped parsley, lemon wedges and hot sauce.


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