Paella is a traditional Spanish dish bursting with chicken, chorizo, shrimp, mussels, and/or clams slow-cooked with rice. This rich meal is often served in tapas restaurants in the U.S., but you can totally pull it off at home, too. Although the recipe requires a many ingredients and one to two hours to cook, the actual preparation is straightforward and pretty simple. Time to throw your own tapas party!

Seafood Paella served in a paella pan

Julia Mueller

Things You'll Need


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

Step 1: Sauté the Onions

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

onion sautéing in a paella pan

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 one.

Step 2: Brown the Chicken Thighs

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

chicken and onion in a skillet

Julia Mueller

Step 3: Add the Rice and Chorizo

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

chicken, onion, rice, chorizo, and tomatoes in a paella pan

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: Let the Rice Cook

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

Cooked paella mixture in a pan

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.

raw seafood on top of paella mixture

Julia Mueller

Step 6: Serve!

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