12 Satisfying Paella Recipes

This versatile Spanish classic is the perfect one-pan rice dish, whether you're cooking for a weeknight or a special occasion.

Overhead view of a Spring Vegetable Paella, served on a marble surface.

Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Traditionally cooked over coals, paella began as a humble Valencian rice dish featuring chicken, rabbit, fresh green beans, fresh shell beans, tomato, garlic, paprika, and a pinch of saffron. One of the most prized elements of paella is the socarrat, or the golden brown crust of rice that forms on the bottom.

As the diversity of these recipes attest, the basic paella format is incredibly versatile. Variations range from minimalist to extravagant as the dish has gained in popularity throughout the world. Katie Button's recipe for Arroz con Cosas gestures at this versatility by opening up the ingredient list to include vegetables and proteins you may already have on hand. Some feature only vegetables, like our unconventional recipe for Spring-Vegetable Paella that gets flavored with preserved lemon and finished with chopped radicchio. Others take a surf-and-turf approach, such as Tamara Murphy's Seafood-and-Chicken Paella with Chorizo.

Though not technically paella in the strict sense, we love how the basic cooking method is adaptable to toasty strands of pasta, as exemplified by our recipes for Squid and Shrimp Fideuà with Allioli and Lobster with Fideos.

So, grab your paella pan, choose a wine pairing, and get cooking.

01 of 12

Paella Valenciana

Paella Valenciana
© Kana Okada

Chef Seamus Mullen's extravagant version of this Catalonian standard includes chicken, shrimp, shellfish, and creamy butter beans. The dish is flavored with roasted piquillo peppers, saffron, and Spanish chorizo.

02 of 12

Chicken and Pork Paella

Overhead closeup of Chicken and Pork Paella, served in a paella pan on a dark wood surface.
Christopher Peter Testani

In this delicious version of the classic Spanish recipe, chicken, and pork ribs combine with rice, artichoke hearts, and Romano beans for a hearty and satisfying dish, laced with alluring flavors of saffron, garlic, and smoky pimentón.

03 of 12

Arroz con Cosas

Arroz con cosas, served in a cast iron skillet.
Whitney Anderson

This recipe (the name of which translates to "rice with things") from chef Katie Button is a great way to use up any extra vegetables you have on hand, whether it's summer squash or turnips, in an easy and flexible, Spanish-style rice dish. She lets the rice star with the socorrat, the prized crispy coating that forms on rice at the bottom of the pan. Button serves the finished dish with a drizzle of homemade allioli that adds garlicky nuances to each bite.

04 of 12

Sardinian-Style Paella

Overhead closeup of Sardinian-Style Paella.

Frances Janisch

Fregola, the pearl-size Sardinian pasta that is quite similar to Israeli couscous, makes a terrific substitute for rice in this paella-style dish; it soaks up a lot of the cooking liquid from the seafood, tomato, and chorizo stew and still stays nicely chewy. For such an impressive main course, it can be prepared surprisingly quickly.

05 of 12

Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella
© Lucy Schaeffer

This hearty paella, created by David Joud, is brimming with browned chicken, seared squid, spicy chorizo and briny shellfish. For a faster version, omit the sole and crabmeat.

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Squid and Shrimp Fideuà with Allioli

Overhead view of Squid and Shrimp Fideua with Allioli, served on a wooden surface with glasses of white wine.
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

In this one-skillet main course inspired by winemaker Mireia Taribó's homeland of Catalonia in northeastern Spain, slowly sautéed squid and shrimp nestle into a bed of short, thin noodles. The fideuà noodles soak up the seafood stock and onions as they cook, their flavor intensifying as they crisp on the bottom of the pan. Be careful not to overcook the seafood — especially the squid — during the initial sauté.

07 of 12

Spring-Vegetable Paella

Overhead view of Spring Vegetable Paella served on a brightly colored tablecloth.

Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

This creative take on paella combines pieces of thin, young asparagus, fresh sweet peas, and spinach with mushrooms and sausage. The dish is flavored with preserved lemon and anchovy, which add a bright citrus kick and savory depth, respectively. Chopped radicchio is stirred in at the very end to add crunch, color, and an extra dimension of fresh, pleasantly bitter flavor.

08 of 12

Smoky Paella with Shrimp and Squid

Smoky Paella with Shrimp and Squid
© Quentin Bacon

At Jaleo, the delightful Spanish restaurant in Washington, D.C., José Andrés prepares this satisfying rice dish with lots of seafood, including cuttlefish and a housemade fish stock.

09 of 12

Seafood and Chicken Paella with Chorizo

Seafood-and-Chicken Paella with Chorizo
© Cedric Angeles

At her now-shuttered restaurant, Brasa, chef Tamara Murphy would make her own chorizo for the excellent paella she used to feature on her menu. She broke with tradition by sautéing the shrimp and steaming the mussels and clams before adding them to the paella during the last few minutes of cooking. This keeps the seafood moist and delicious. For another variation on the surf-and-turf paella theme, see chef Seamus Mullen's recipe, which picks up an extra layer of smoky flavor from cooking on the grill.

10 of 12

Skillet Chicken and Chorizo Paella

Chicken and Chorizo Skillet Paella, served with glasses of red wine and hunks of baugette.
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Missie Crawford

While Spanish paella is traditionally made in its namesake pan, this cast-iron variation is a great alternative — and it can go straight from stove to table. The recipe builds layers of flavors as you sauté aromatics in the same pan you've used to sear the chorizo and chicken. From delicately floral saffron to smoky paprika and a bright lemony finish, this one-pan meal has it all.

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Garden Paella

Overhead view of a pan full of Garden Paella surrounded by glasses of red wine.
David Malosh

This vegetarian take on paella is studded with zucchini, eggplant, and roasted piquillo peppers.

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Lobster with Fideos

Lobster with Fideos, served in a paella pan.

Akiko Ida & Pierre Javelle

Rossejat de fideos, a traditional seafood dish of Spain's Catalonia region, resembles paella but instead of rice, it calls for fideos, fine vermicelli-like pasta. Here, the pasta browns in hot oil until toasty, then cooks slowly in a deliciously rich stock, made with the lobster shells, soaking up all the flavor.

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