This easy, flavorful easy seafood paella recipe is packed with succulent shrimp, mussels, chicken, and chorizo in a saffron broth. Perfect excuse to throw a paella party!
If you're looking for the perfect dinner party dish, this classic seafood paella is almost guaranteed to be a hit. Every time!
I love paella. Whether it's simple shrimp paella, vegetarian paella, or this seafood and meat lover's paella, I can't get enough. There's something about the way smoky saffron infuses the broth, rice, seafood, and meat with bold, sexy flavors.
What is paella?
If you're not familiar with paella, you are in for an absolutely delicious treat!
Paella is a Spanish rice dish that originally comes from Valencia, Spain. The word "paella" means frying pan in Valencian. The dish is named after the large specific pan that it is traditionally made in.
Paella valenciana is the most traditional paella. It usually consists of a base of olive oil and saffron, with round grain rice, varieties of green beans, rabbit, chicken, sometimes duck, and sometimes snails.
What are the main ingredients in seafood paella?
Classic Seafood Paella is a similar version made typically on the Mediterranean coast. This paella usually includes a variety of fresh seafood, omits the green beans. Seafood Paella recipes also use different meat such as chorizo instead of rabbit, duck or snails; chicken is still used in this paella.
Of all the paellas I have tried, seafood paella is my absolutely favorite. It's no contest!
Quality ingredients = best tasting paella
You need two main ingredients to really make the best seafood paella: fresh, high quality seafood and saffron.
When you skimp on the quality of seafood in this dish, it shows. Also, you want to be sure you're getting the freshest mussels from a food safety perspective.
I prefer to buy my seafood at Whole Foods Market or New Seasons Market, a Pacific Northwest store. Both have high standards in their meat and seafood, and both have transparent labeling.
Why is saffron so expensive?
Saffron is one of the most expensive spices on the planet. This is because it's one of the most labor-intensive spices. It takes nearly 75,000 saffron flowers just to produce one pound of the spice. That's A LOT of work for a small amount.
But, it's totally worth it. Saffron is truly what makes this paella recipe sing. Thankfully, you don't need a lot of saffron to add that deep, rich, smoky saffron flavor to any dish. One little jar lasts quite a while!
If you absolutely cannot get your hands on some saffron, you can substitute turmeric powder. Turmeric will not give you the same flavor, but it will be close.
Invest in a paella pan
Okay, let's start cooking!
The first thing you will need is a paella pan. I use an 18" paella pan, but you can use a 15" in a pinch. You can find good quality paella pans usually for between $15 and $40. Don't feel like you have to break the bank to get a good one!
What can I use instead of a paella pan?
If you don't have a paella pan, you can also try using an aluminum skillet or a stainless steel skillet. Normally, I love cooking with cast iron, but do NOT attempt to cook this paella recipe in a cast iron skillet.
Tips for Making Seafood Paella
The first thing you want to do is to marinate the chicken in spices in a medium bowl. Mix the olive oil, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper, then stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
In a 15-inch or 18-inch paella pan, heat olive oil and cook the chicken and chorizo over moderate heat. Break up chorizo with a spoon, until some of the fat is rendered.
Move the chicken and chorizo to one side of the pan. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil, plus the red pepper, onion and garlic to the other side of the pan. Stir the veggies together cook over low heat, until the garlic and onions are soft.
Stir in the tomatoes, rice, saffron and the 1 ½ cups of chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, without stirring, until the rice is al dente and the liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes.
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Turn down the heat on the pan, then add the dry white wine, lemon juice, shrimp, and mussels to the pan, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes or so, just until the mussels open up.
Garnish with parsley and lemon, drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and serve.
Paella is the Perfect Party Dish!
I can't tell you how much I LOVE this easy seafood paella recipe. It's one of my Go To recipes to make when we have friends over. It takes some time and love, but really is SO much easier than you think. I hope you love it as much as we do!
Paella is perfect to serve at small dinner parties. This recipe makes enough to serve 6-8 adults.
More Seafood Recipes
- Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta
- Sheet Pan Salmon with Vegetables
- Seared Scallops and Pasta with Creamy Lemon Garlic Sauce (Dairy Free)
- Easy Shrimp Lo Mein
- The BEST Seafood Chowder Recipe
Easy Seafood Paella Recipe
- 2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 ounces fresh chorizo casings removed
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 small onion thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
- ½ cup canned diced tomatoes
- 1 cup arborio rice
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound large shrimp shelled and deveined
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ pound mussels scrubbed and debearded
- Optional garnish: 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 sliced lemon
- In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- In a 15-inch or 18-inch paella pan, heat olive oil and cook the chicken and chorizo over moderate heat. Break up chorizo with a spoon, until some of the fat is rendered and the chorizo is browned, 4 minutes.
- Move the chicken and chorizo to one side of the pan. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil, plus the red pepper, onion and garlic to the other side of the pan and stir together cook over low heat, stirring, until the garlic and onions are softened and just beginning to brown, 5-6 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, rice, saffron and the 1 ½ cups of chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, without stirring, until the rice is al dente and the liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes.
- Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Turn down the heat on the pan, then add the dry white wine, lemon juice, shrimp, and mussels to the pan, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes or so, just until the mussels open up.
- Garnish with parsley and lemon, drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and serve.