This traditional Spanish paella recipe is filled with spices, chicken, chorizo & peppers to create an incredibly flavorful meal that’s surprisingly easy to make in just one pan!

Authentic paella from Spain usually includes seafood, but in this recipe, we’re trading in the shrimp and clams for chicken thighs and Spanish Chorizo. I promise, you won’t miss the seafood in this wonderfully flavorful dish. But just in case you do, I’ve included instructions for how and when to add your favorite seafood to the recipe!

Overhead image of paella in skillet topped with sliced peppers and lemon wedges

It’s the year 2020 and life is…. well pretty weird. There’s been a lot of time at home and a lot of time spent perfecting some of my favorite classic recipes. One of these recipes is Spanish paella.

While I’ve been making paella for years, it wasn’t until quarantine 2020 that I decided to really get serious about making the perfect paella recipe. I knew that I wanted to include authentic ingredients and traditional techniques.

And after a lot of research, I’m excited to share my perfect authentic paella recipe with you today! It’s exploding with flavor and surprisingly, actually really easy to make. Yes, it will take a few more ingredients than most recipes and yes, it will take about an hour to make, but it really just comes down to adding ingredients to a pan!

And speaking of pans, don’t worry, you don’t need a special paella pan. I actually recommend against it! In my research for this article, I found that it’s not recommend to use a paella pan at home if you’re a paella beginner.

Because a paella pan is so thin, it’s easier to burn the paella, so it really should only be used by experienced paella-makers. Lucky for you, that means, you don’t need a fancy new pan, any large non-stick skillet will work just fine!

overhead image of ingredients for chicken paella

What You’ll Need

  • Lemon Juice – this is used both to flavor the paella and to soak the saffron threads. Please use fresh squeezed whenever possible!
  • Saffron Threads – yes, they’re expensive, but good news is, you only need a very small amount! I ordered the saffron pictured in these photos on Amazon for $11.99. It contains enough for two pans of paella. You can also find affordable saffron threads at Trader Joe’s if you’re lucky enough to have one in your area!
  • Olive Oil
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs – chicken breasts can be used in place of the thighs, if you prefer.
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Onion
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Spanish Chorizo – you’ll want to use a fully-cooked, cured Spanish-style Chorizo sausage. You might be able to find this in some major grocery stores, but I ordered the chorizo you see pictured in this recipe on Amazon.
  • Tomato – this should be a medium to large sized tomato, equaling approximately 1 cup of diced tomatoes.
  • Paprika
  • Red Pepper Flakes or cayenne pepper – use your preference to spice up the dish!
  • Medium Grain White Rice – the most important part of the paella is the rice. Be sure to use a medium-grain white rice. Traditional Spanish paella uses Bomba Rice, which is what you see pictured in these photos. I purchased the Bomba Rice on Amazon. If you’d like to purchase something at your local grocery store, calrose rice is another medium grain white rice that can be used in place on the bomba rice.
  • Chicken Broth
  • Frozen Peas
  • Piquillo Peppers – traditionally grown in northern Spain, these peppers are found in authentic Spanish paella recipes. Trader Joe’s used to sell them in jars, but like many things we love at Trader Joe’s, they’re now gone! I found a case of 4 cans of piquillo peppers on Amazon. If you prefer not to order the peppers online, you can replace them with a jar of roasted red peppers, easily found at your local grocery store.
  • Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Whole Lemon – sliced into wedges for serving with the paella.

I know that this sounds like a lot, but I promise, every little ingredient adds so much flavor to this dish and that’s what makes it so delicious!

If you want to put together at Amazon order, I recommend ordering the Saffron Threads, Spanish Chorizo, Bomba Rice and Piquillo Peppers online.

If you want to avoid ordering ingredients online, look for saffron threads in the spice aisle at your local grocery store. Check out the deli section for the Spanish chorizo. Replace the bomba rice with calrose rice and replace the piquillo peppers with roasted red peppers.

saffron threads soaking in lemon juice in bowl

Prepare the Saffron

The first step of this recipe is to soak the saffron threads in lemon juice. Saffron needs moisture to release it’s flavor and color, which is why this step is important.

The flavor will continue to release in the warm liquid in the paella, but given that the ingredient is so precious (and expensive!!) , we want to make sure we’re pulling out as much flavor as possible from our little saffron threads!

The saffron will only need to soak in the lemon juice for 20-30 minutes. So as long as you soak it before starting the remainder of the recipe, it should be good to go when you’re ready to add it to the paella!

collage of images showing how to make spanish paella

How To Make Paella

  1. Add olive oil to a large skillet on the stove over medium high heat. I used a 12″ skillet for this recipe. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs and season with salt and pepper.
  2. After the chicken has cooked for 3-4 minutes, add diced onions, bell peppers and crushed garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add sliced Spanish chorizo to the skillet, cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, paprika, red pepper flakes and the saffron threads in lemon juice to the pan. Stir to combine.
  5. Add the bomba rice to the pan.
  6. Add the chicken broth and frozen green peas to the pan. Mix until all of the ingredients are well combined and the rice is fully covered in the broth.
  7. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat on the stove to medium low and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Once the liquid has cooked down into the paella, place strips of piquillo peppers on top of the paella.
  9. Cover, remove from the heat and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  10. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and lemon wedges for juicing over the paella.
Overhead image of paella in skillet with wooden serving spoon

Want to add seafood?

No problem! Raw, peeled and deveined shrimp should be added at the same time as the piquillo peppers. Gently press the shrimp into the paella before placing the piquillo strips on top of the paella.

Cover the paella, remove it from the heat and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. The heat from the paella will cook the shrimp in the skillet while it rests.

What to serve with Spanish Paella

Spain is one of my favorite European countries. The food, the wine, the culture, it really can’t be beat! In addition to Paella, Spain is known for their tapas. Tapas are an appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine and can be served hot or cold.

If you want to create a Spanish feast, try pairing this Paella with one, two or ten of these delicious Spanish tapas!

  1. Bacon Wrapped Dates – from me!
  2. Pan Con Tomate (Bread with Tomatoes) – from Caroline’s Cooking
  3. Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs) – from Where Is My Spoon
  4. Patatas Bravas – from Fox & Briar
  5. Spanish Tortilla (Omelette) – from RecipeTin Eats
  6. Spanish Padron Peppers – from Spanish Sabores
  7. Mediterranean Olive Bread – from Foodness Gracious
  8. Spanish Charcuterie Board – from My Kitchen Love
  9. Gambas Al Ajillo (Spanish Garlic Shrimp) – from Gimme Some Oven
  10. Ham Croquettes – from Fox & Briar
Pan of spanish paella topped with lemon wedges

Looking for more delicious rice dishes from around the globe? Try these tasty rice recipes!

Overhead image of spanish paella in skillet with lemon wedges on top
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Spanish Chorizo Chicken Paella

This traditional Spanish paella recipe is filled with spices, chicken, chorizo & peppers to create an incredibly flavorful meal that's surprisingly easy to make in just one pan!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs , cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 8 ounces spanish chorizo, sliced
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (approximately 1 cup chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups medium grain white rice, preferably bomba rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup piquillo peppers, sliced into strips
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges for serving with the paella

Instructions

  • Combine the lemon juice and saffron threads in a small bowl, set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (preferably a 12 inch skillet) over medium-high heat.
  • Add the chicken thighs, season with the salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the diced onion, bell pepper and crushed garlic, saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the sliced chorizo, cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the chopped tomato, paprika, red pepper flakes and the saffron threads in lemon juice.
  • Add the rice, chicken broth and peas, mix until all of the ingredients are well combined and the rice is completely covered in the broth.
  • Bring the paella to a boil, then reduce the heat on the stove to medium low and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked and the liquid has cooked into the paella.
  • Place the strips of piquillo peppers on top of the paella.
  • Cover the skillet, remove the paella from the heat and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Garnish with the fresh chopped parsley.
  • Serve with lemon wedges on the paella, or on the side, for juicing over the paella.

Notes

  • Ingredient Substitutions –
    • Roasted red peppers can be used instead of piquillo peppers.
    • Medium grain calrose rice can be used in place of Spanish bomba rice.
  • Ingredient Additions –
    • If you’d like to add shrimp to the dish, add it at the same time as the piquillo peppers. Approximately 1/2 pound of raw, peeled and deveined, shrimp should be gently pressed into the paella before adding the piquillo pepper strips. After adding the shrimp and peppers, cover the skillet and remove it from the heat to rest for 10 minutes. The heat from the paella will cook the shrimp in the pan.
  • Paella Pan – a special paella pan does not need to be used for this recipe. A 12 inch non-stick skillet will work just fine!

Nutrition Facts

Serving 4gCalories 502kcal (25%)Carbohydrates 61g (20%)Protein 28g (56%)Fat 15g (23%)Saturated Fat 5g (25%)Cholesterol 95mg (32%)Sodium 1546mg (64%)Potassium 605mg (17%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 4g (4%)Vitamin A 1971mg (39%)Vitamin C 71mg (86%)Calcium 57mg (6%)Iron 3mg (17%)
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