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Ultimate Seafood Paella Recipe for Home Cooks

seafood paella recipe

Greetings, fellow food enthusiasts! Today, I want to share with you an incredible recipe that will transport your taste buds straight to the heart of Spain. Get ready to impress your family and friends with an authentic seafood paella that is surprisingly easy to make in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Seafood paella is the crown jewel of Spanish cuisine, a beloved dish that showcases the vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean. With just a handful of simple ingredients like rice, saffron, vegetables, chicken, and of course, an array of succulent seafood, you can create a memorable culinary experience that will have everyone begging for seconds.

This recipe has been meticulously tested and perfected to ensure that even novice home cooks can achieve a delicious and truly authentic result. No need for a special paella pan or any fancy equipment – just your trusty skillet and a passion for great food.

Key Takeaways:

  • Seafood paella is a classic Spanish dish that combines rice, saffron, vegetables, chicken, and various seafood.
  • This recipe provides a step-by-step guide to create an authentic paella in your own kitchen, without the need for specialized equipment.
  • The key ingredients for this easy seafood paella recipe include onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, frozen peas, bay leaf, paprika, saffron, salt, pepper, jumbo shrimp, mussels, calamari, chicken thighs, olive oil, white wine, Spanish rice, and chicken broth.
  • Spanish rice, also known as “bomba” or “calasparra” rice, is recommended for the best texture, but substitutions can be made if necessary.
  • While a traditional paella pan is ideal, a regular large skillet can be used to achieve excellent results.

What is Paella?

Paella is a classic Spanish rice dish cooked and served in one pan. It is recognized as the national food of Spain and comes in various types, such as chicken paella, seafood paella, or mixed paella. While paella originates from Valencia, it has gained popularity worldwide for its savory flavors and vibrant presentation.

The main ingredients in paella include rice, saffron, vegetables, chicken, and seafood. The combination of these flavors creates a delightful and satisfying meal that can be enjoyed by everyone. Homemade seafood paella, made with fresh shrimp, mussels, and calamari, is considered one of the best versions of this traditional dish. The rich and aromatic flavors of the seafood blend beautifully with the other ingredients, resulting in a dish that is both visually appealing and delicious.

Types of Paella

Paella comes in different variations, each highlighting different flavors and ingredients. Some popular types of paella include:

  • Seafood paella: Made primarily with various types of seafood such as shrimp, mussels, calamari, and fish.
  • Chicken paella: Prepared with chicken, vegetables, and a variety of spices.
  • Mixed paella: A combination of seafood, chicken, and sometimes even pork or rabbit.

No matter the type, paella is a dish that brings people together and celebrates the vibrant flavors of Spanish cuisine. Cooking paella at home allows you to create a homemade seafood paella that is not only delicious but also made with fresh ingredients and tailored to your taste.

Stay tuned for the next section as we delve into the essential ingredients required to make the best seafood paella!


To prepare a delicious seafood paella, you will need the following ingredients:

Ingredients Quantity
Onion 1 medium, finely chopped
Bell pepper 1 medium, diced
Garlic 3 cloves, minced
Tomatoes 2 medium, diced
Parsley 2 tablespoons, chopped
Frozen peas 1 cup
Bay leaf 1
Paprika 1 teaspoon
Saffron 1/4 teaspoon
Salt To taste
Pepper To taste
Jumbo shrimp 8-10, peeled and deveined
Mussels 1/2 pound, cleaned and debearded
Calamari 1/2 pound, cleaned and sliced
Chicken thighs 2, boneless and skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces
Olive oil 2 tablespoons
White wine 1/4 cup
Spanish rice 1 1/2 cups
Chicken broth 3 cups

Saffron is a crucial ingredient for the authentic flavor of the paella, and Spanish rice is recommended for the best texture. However, substitutions can be made if necessary.

I recommend using Mahatma brand Spanish rice, available in most grocery stores or online, for an authentic taste and texture.

Here’s an image of some of the key ingredients:

How to Make Spanish Paella

Making a one-pot seafood paella is easier than you think. Follow these simple steps to create a delicious Spanish rice dish that will transport your taste buds to the sunny beaches of Valencia.


  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tomatoes
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 cup of Spanish rice
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 6 jumbo shrimp
  • 12 mussels
  • 6 ounces of calamari
  • 1 cup of frozen peas

Start by sautéing the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and tomatoes in a large, deep skillet. Once the vegetables are tender, add the saffron and white wine, allowing the flavors to meld together.

Next, add the chicken thighs and cook them until they are browned on both sides. Then, stir in the Spanish rice, making sure it is well-coated with the remaining ingredients in the pan.

Pour in the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Avoid stirring the rice, as it can cause it to become sticky.

After the rice is nearly tender, it’s time to add the seafood. Gently nestle the shrimp, mussels, calamari, and peas into the rice and continue simmering for another 5-7 minutes, or until the seafood is cooked through.

Ingredients Quantity
Onion 1
Bell pepper 1
Garlic cloves 2
Tomatoes 2
Saffron (pinch)
White wine 1 cup
Chicken thighs 4
Spanish rice 1 cup
Chicken broth 2 cups
Jumbo shrimp 6
Mussels 12
Calamari (ounces) 6
Frozen peas 1 cup

Once everything is cooked to perfection, remove the pan from the heat and cover it with a lid or aluminum foil. Let it rest for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld together and the rice to absorb any remaining liquid.

Serve the paella hot, garnished with fresh parsley and lemon wedges. This one-pot seafood paella is a delightful combination of savory flavors from the chicken, seafood, and aromatic spices. Enjoy the medley of textures from the tender rice, juicy shrimp, and briny mussels for a truly satisfying meal.

Try your hand at making this Spanish classic and savor the taste of authentic seafood paella, with the perfect balance of Spanish rice and flavorful ingredients. Your dinner guests will be impressed with this exquisite dish that captures the essence of Mediterranean cuisine.

Rice for Paella

When it comes to making the perfect homemade seafood paella or traditional seafood paella, choosing the right rice is crucial. The recommended rice for paella is Spanish rice, also known as “bomba” rice, “calasparra” rice, or “arroz redonda”. This short-grain rice has the ideal texture and ability to absorb more liquid without becoming mushy, resulting in a flavorful and well-cooked dish. Spanish rice can be found in specialty stores or purchased online, ensuring you have the authentic ingredients for an exceptional paella experience.

If Spanish rice is not readily available, you can use medium-grain rice like Calrose rice as a substitute. However, keep in mind that adjustments may be needed in the amount of liquid used, as medium-grain rice may absorb liquid differently. To achieve the desired crispy and caramelized layer at the bottom of the paella, known as the socarrat, it is essential to avoid stirring the rice during cooking.

homemade seafood paella

Comparison Table: Spanish Rice vs. Calrose Rice

Criteria Spanish Rice Calrose Rice
Grain Type Short-grain Medium-grain
Texture Sticky and chewy Soft and slightly sticky
Absorption Capacity High Lower than Spanish rice
Socarrat Formation Forms a distinct, crispy layer Slightly different texture, may not achieve the same level of socarrat
Availability Common in specialty stores and online Widely available in most grocery stores

While both Spanish rice and Calrose rice can be used for paella, Spanish rice provides the most authentic results. However, as paella is a versatile dish, feel free to experiment and adapt the recipe according to your preferences and the ingredients available to you.

Seafood for Paella

When it comes to a delicious seafood paella recipe, the key is to use the freshest ingredients available. In this recipe, we will be using jumbo shrimp, mussels, and calamari to create a mouthwatering seafood medley.

If fresh seafood is not readily available, don’t worry! Frozen seafood can be a great alternative without compromising the taste. Just make sure to properly thaw and drain the frozen seafood before adding it to the paella.

Properly cleaning and preparing the seafood is essential before adding it to the paella. For the jumbo shrimp, remove the shells and devein them. Rinse the shrimp under cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel. For the mussels, scrub them with a brush under cold water to remove any dirt or sand. Discard any mussels that are cracked or do not close when tapped. For the calamari, clean and slice it into rings.

If seafood is not your preference, feel free to omit it from the recipe and replace it with more chicken and vegetables. Alternatively, you can also experiment with other favorite seafood options like clams, scallops, or chopped fish to create a unique twist on the traditional seafood paella.

Seafood Quantity
Jumbo shrimp 1 pound
Mussels 1 pound
Calamari 1/2 pound

Do I Need a Paella Pan?

While a traditional paella is cooked in a large paella pan, you can still make a delicious homemade seafood paella using a regular large skillet. The wide surface area of the pan allows for even cooking and the formation of the traditional crispy layer at the bottom called the socarrat. This ensures that every bite of your homemade seafood paella is full of flavor and texture.

However, if you have a paella pan available, using it can enhance the authenticity of your dish. A paella pan provides an even heat distribution and allows for an evenly distributed layer of rice. It also adds to the presentation of the dish, giving it an unmistakable visual appeal.

Whether you choose to use a regular skillet or a paella pan, the most important thing is to enjoy the process of making and savoring the flavors of traditional seafood paella. The choice of pan should not deter you from embarking on this culinary adventure in your own kitchen.

homemade seafood paella

Tips for Cooking Paella

  • Ensure that the pan or skillet you use is wide enough to accommodate all the ingredients in a single layer.
  • Use medium heat to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Resist the temptation to stir the paella once the rice is added to allow the socarrat to form.
  • Let the paella rest for a few minutes after cooking to allow the flavors to meld together.


The recipe for seafood paella is highly adaptable, allowing you to put your own twist on this traditional dish. Here are some ideas for variations:

1. Different Types of Rice

While Spanish rice is recommended for its authentic flavor and texture, you can experiment with other types of rice to suit your taste. Some options include:

  • Arborio rice
  • Basmati rice
  • Jasmine rice

2. Substituting Meats

Instead of chicken, you can use other meats to add variety to your paella. Consider these alternatives:

“I love making paella with tender pork pieces. It adds a delicious richness to the dish.”

– Maria Rodriguez

  • Pork
  • Turkey
  • Rabbit

3. Add Chorizo

To enhance the flavors of your seafood paella, try adding chorizo. This Spanish cured sausage adds a smoky and spicy kick to the dish.

“Chorizo gives my paella a burst of flavor that my family loves. It adds depth and a hint of spice.”

– Antonio Gomez

4. Vegetarian Version

If you prefer a vegetarian option, you can omit the meat and seafood entirely or replace them with plant-based alternatives. Consider adding more vegetables to create a hearty and flavorful vegetarian paella.

  • Extra bell peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Artichokes

5. Personalize Your Paella

Feel free to add your favorite ingredients and flavors to make the paella uniquely yours. Whether it’s adding spice with chili flakes or incorporating your favorite herbs and spices, the possibilities are endless.

Remember, the joy of making paella lies in the creative freedom it offers. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make it your own!

Adaptation Description
Different Types of Rice Experiment with different rice varieties to customize the texture and taste of your paella.
Substituting Meats Swap chicken for alternative meats like pork, turkey, or rabbit to create unique flavor profiles.
Add Chorizo Enhance the flavors of your paella by adding smoky and spicy chorizo.
Vegetarian Version Modify the recipe to make a vegetarian paella by omitting the meat and seafood and adding more vegetables.
Personalize Your Paella Add your favorite ingredients and flavors to make the paella uniquely yours.


Making seafood paella at home is a fantastic way to savor the authentic flavors of Spain without the need to travel. This one-pot dish is a culinary delight that captures the essence of traditional Spanish cuisine.

By following the right techniques and using the right ingredients, anyone can recreate a delicious and traditional seafood paella in their own kitchen. Whether you use a regular skillet or a paella pan, the result will be a mouthwatering meal that is rich in flavor and texture.

What’s great about paella is its adaptability. With endless variations, you can personalize the dish to suit your individual preferences. You can experiment with different types of rice, substitute proteins, or add extra ingredients for an extra burst of flavor.

So don’t hesitate to dive into the world of paella and indulge in this classic Spanish feast right in the comfort of your own home. With a one-pot seafood paella, you’ll be able to enjoy a taste of Spain and impress your family and friends with your culinary skills.


Can I make seafood paella without a paella pan?

Yes, you can make seafood paella using a regular large skillet. The wide surface area of the pan allows for even cooking and the formation of the socarrat, the crispy layer of rice at the bottom. However, if a paella pan is available, it can be used for a more authentic presentation and evenly distributed rice layer.

What kind of rice is best for paella?

The recommended rice for making paella is Spanish rice, also known as “bomba” rice, “calasparra” rice, or “arroz redonda.” Spanish rice is a short-grain rice that absorbs more liquid without becoming mushy, resulting in a perfect texture for paella. It can be found in specialty stores or online. If Spanish rice is not available, medium-grain rice like Calrose rice can be used, but adjustments may be needed in the amount of liquid.

Can I substitute the seafood in the recipe?

Yes, if seafood is not preferred, it can be omitted and replaced with more chicken and vegetables, or other favorite seafood options such as clams, scallops, or chopped fish.

What adaptations can I make to the recipe?

The recipe for seafood paella is highly adaptable. Some possible adaptations include using different types of rice, substituting pork, turkey, or rabbit for the chicken, adding chorizo for extra flavor, or making a vegetarian version by omitting the meat and seafood and adding more vegetables. Get creative and personalize the dish to suit your preferences!

Is it possible to make a one-pot seafood paella?

Absolutely! Paella is meant to be a one-pot dish. By following the recipe and instructions, you can enjoy a flavorful and authentic seafood paella cooked and served in one pan. No need for multiple pots and pans!

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