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The Ultimate Authentic Spanish Paella Recipe (Valenciana)

Valencian Paella Recipe

Welcome and Bienvenido! Paella is an easy, (fairly) quick and a fantastically enjoyable meal that is perfect for sharing with family and friends. A good paella will make you smile - you only need to look at all the vibrant colors to see that paella is happy food!

Right now I am going to share with you the secrets of my 100% authentic paella recipe and I will also show you how to make a mixed paella (seafood and meat) or a simple chicken paella.

Regional Paella Variations

Each part of Spain has it's own version of paella and uses quite a variety of ingredients, so you may come across some paella recipes using peas, snails or chorizo. This particular recipe is from my home region in Spain, Valencia - the original home of paella. Though there are several regional variations of paella, the essentials of making a good paella are the same throughout.

  • Good Quality Paella Rice
  • Correct Ratio of Water to Rice (we don't want over or undercooked rice)
  • Getting all the yummy flavors into the cooking oil and stock
Authentic Seafood Paella

Authentic Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella Ingredients

Paella for 4 Persons

Prep Time = 20 minutes

Cooking Time = 30 - 40 minutes

  1. Medium Squid x 4 - cut into chunks
  2. Shell on Mussels x 24
  3. Whole Shell On Prawns x 24
  4. Langoustines (optional) x 8
  5. Paella Rice x 4 cups
  6. Saffron/Paellero Seasoning
  7. Chick Peas or Butter Beans - 1 x large can
  8. Runner Beans x 8
  9. Garlic x 4-6 cloves
  10. Fresh Tomato (optional)
  11. Lemons x 1
  12. Fish Bouillon or stock cubes
  13. Chicken Bouillon or stock cubes
  14. Water (or fresh fish stock) x 8 cups
  15. Red Bell Peppers x 2
  16. Olive Oil x 2 Tablespoons
  17. A Newspaper!

You can use any seafood you want to make your paella, but I always use a basis of squid, shell on mussels and shell on prawns. It's nice to have some big ole' langoustines to put on the top but they can be really pricey, so it really depends on how rich I'm feeling as to whether I use them or not. I also sometimes use clams, razor clams or scallops in my paella as well as the basic, squid, mussels and prawns.

One difference to my Abuella's recipe that you'll find here, is the addition of stock cubes or bouillon. She never did this, but she had the advantage of being able to buy her seafood straight off the boat! Since most of the seafood we buy has been frozen and subsequently loses some of it's flavor, I recommend using some form of stock.

Mixed Paella - Too Yummy for Words

Mixed Paella - Too Yummy for Words

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

40 min

1 hour

Serves 6 - 8 people

Method for Easy Seafood Paella

  1. Put your paella pan (or if you don't have one, a large frying pan), on your burner, stove or BBQ.
  2. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil
  3. Slice 2 large red bell peppers into large slices add to the oil and cook until fairly soft. Remove the peppers onto a plate, making sure to keep as much of the oil in your pan as possible
  4. Add 4-5 cloves of chopped fresh garlic and cook gently for 3-4 minutes (do not burn your garlic as this will ruin your paella)
  5. Add half a cup of rice per person to the oil and garlic. Fry the rice in the oil for 2-3 minutes until slightly toasted.
  6. If you are using stock cubes or powdered bouillon add it now. I usually use 1 fish stock cube and one chicken stock cube for a paella of this size, which is equivalent to about 3 heaped teaspoons of powdered bouillon.
  7. Using the same measuring cup as you used for the rice, add two cups of water (or fresh fish stock) for each cup of rice.
  8. Add saffron strands or paellero seasoning until you have a nice yellow color and stir the paella to distribute the color and stock evenly.
  9. Add one large tin of chick peas (or butter beans) as well as the salted water they came in.
  10. Add your green beans.
  11. Add the red peppers you cooked earlier.
  12. Turn the heat up high and allow to boil fairly rapidly.
  13. Once about half of the water has been absorbed into the rice, add your pieces of squid (around 4 small squid is enough) and a few dozen shell on mussels. Arrange your mussels, peppers and beans so that the paella looks attractive. After this point you must not stir your paella!
  14. When nearly all the water has been absorbed, taste the rice to see if you need to add a little more water. If you do just add another cup. If you feel the paella would benefit from more garlic add another 1-2 chopped cloves and sprinkle evenly over the paella.
  15. Add your prawns and langoustines to the top of the paella and cook until all the water has been absorbed. The best paellas will have slightly crispy rice underneath, so keep the heat on without burning the paella for a few minutes.
  16. Turn off the heat and if you want to sprinkle a chopped fresh tomato on your paella do so now.
  17. Cover the paella with newspaper or a lid. Leave to sit for 5 minutes.
  18. Cut a lemon into wedges and place around the edge of the paella.

Traditionally paella is simply served with rustic bread and some nice red wine, but I sometimes make a salad to go with it as well. In Spanish families, paella is usually eaten straight from the pan with a spoon which adds to the social aspect of the dish (but can cause some arguments over who is going to have the last prawn!)

Easy Chicken or Meat Paella

Meats most often used in traditional Valencian paella are chicken thighs with pork belly or rabbit or small pork meatballs (albondigas). If you want to cook a meat paella or meat and seafood paella then it's very easy to do, using exactly the same method as above.

The only difference when cooking a meat paella, is that once you have cooked your red peppers and taken them out of the oil, it's time to cook your meat with the garlic. Ensure that your meat is nearly cooked all the way through before adding the rice.

The best easy paella recipe in my opinion, is a mixed paella that includes chicken, pork and seafood. This type of mixed paella is what we eat most often in my family.

A Note on Paella Rice

It really is important to use paella rice for paella! Paella rice is a short grain variety that cooks comparatively slowly, it is also able to absorb a great deal of liquid and therefore flavor. The brand I use whenever possible is Calasparra Paella Rice because it keeps it's shape well and never goes soggy, even if you're a little heavy handed with the stock.

I have made paella with basmati rice on a few occasions, but it is very hard to get right since it cooks in about half the time as a normal paella, requires less water/stock and the basmati rice does not take on so much flavor. Basmati is an ok option if you've run out of paella rice, but it really is second best.

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Paella Cookware

Ideally you will want a traditional paella pan and a gas burner to cook your paella with. This is by far the best way to cook paella because the gas burner ensures that the heat is distributed evenly across the base of the pan, ensuring that the rice and other ingredients are cooked at the same time.

If you are cooking your paella on a stove it will be a bit more time consuming and awkward as you will need to continually turn your paella to make sure it is all cooked equally. It is possible and I have done it many times, but it's not easy! The larger the paella pan the harder it is.

If you don't have a paella pan then I recommend using a large, fairly deep frying pan to cook your paella.


Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 15, 2018:

We just spent a few months in Spain and enjoyed the varieties of paella. I have never made it but will definitely try from your easy to follow recipe.

Susana Smith (author) from UK on January 17, 2018:

My family are from the Valencia region and this is exactly how they make paella. I know traditionally paella contained snails and they do make it that way sometimes. They also make it with meatballs or use rabbit instead of chicken/pork. They are a lot of options for a traditonal paella Valenciana.

thekitchenofspain on June 15, 2017:

It is okay that you dare to call "paella"to this macedonia of ingredients... but Valenciana please?. Inform yourself a bit please.

Susana Smith (author) from UK on June 27, 2013:

In a good paella, the rice at the bottom of the pan will stick and go brown (but not burnt), and that really adds to the flavour. It's the bit that's fought over in my home :)

Marie Ryan from Andalusia, Spain on June 27, 2013:

I have been trying to get paella 'right' for years . You are so right about the crucial stage of not stirring the rice any longer after the fish or last ingredients have been added. This is always the hardest part for me. I get anxious about the rice sticking/burning so can't resist a good stir! This is where I always go wrong. I have no patience! Thanks for the good advice. I will keep on trying.

Susana Smith (author) from UK on January 21, 2011:

You're welcome - glad you found my easy paella recipe!

KimGrkker on January 20, 2011:

Thank-you so much for the recipe. I have always wanted to make this. I enjoy cooking and eating good food.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 24, 2010:

Thanks for sharing this wonderful sounding recipe with us!

Susana Smith (author) from UK on May 23, 2010:

Hi Daily Matters - let me know how you get on with cooking your paella!

Daily Matters from Portugal on May 22, 2010:

Really really good hub, i'm trying this tonight! Thanks a lot! Voted Up !

MrSpock on February 21, 2010:

This looks very much like Jambalaya. It looks delicious, will come back when I decide to make it.

sunretreat from Spain on February 21, 2010:

Hi Susana I love the recipe thanks very much. I work as a chef in the Alicante region whilst waiting for my big break.I have started to write a book but no luck with publishing it yet.It will happen I can feel it in my bones, or perhaps that's the Spanish sun.Do you still live in Spain?I shall follow your hubs now.

cameciob on February 21, 2010:

I've never had a, I think one day I will make it from your recipe. I love trying new things. Good tip about rice. I used to make a good pilaf back in my country but not here in U.S. Maybe has something to do with the kind of rice I use.

Susana Smith (author) from UK on February 15, 2010:

There's not much that could keep me away from a good paella either! I'd have to be on my death bed I think, lol :)

blondepoet from australia on February 15, 2010:

Mmmmm this looks absolutely divine. I am lead by my stomach all the time.

sheila b. on February 14, 2010:

I've made this from a recipe, but I've never had the real thing made by someone who knows how. I enjoyed your writing and enthusiasm.

ladylux on February 11, 2010:

Thanks for sharing your recipe. The woman I lived with in Madrid always made a pretty good paella. Then this summer, I went to Costa del Sol and couldn't find a decent one anywhere. It was quite tragic. Even though it doesn't come from that region, I still expected to have one that could pass. It was a big disappointment, but your recipe looks similar to the Señora's.

Yena Williams from California on February 11, 2010:

OMG not even joking, Paella is one of my favorite foods of all time. Definitely bookmarking this!! =) Thanks for giving us an AUTHENTIC recipe!

caretakerray on February 11, 2010:

Susana S:

Thanx for some great recipe ideas. Cooking is my second passion and I'm always on the lookout for Ideas.

A very well put together hub. :)


Susana Smith (author) from UK on February 11, 2010:

Hi Izzy - I love it in my village when they make the giant paellas too. My dad is a chef and I have a memory of one fiesta time, when he made around 12 - 15 of the hugest paellas I have ever seen, lol! Now the villagers usually club together in family/friend groups to make their paellas so it's not left to one person!

What vegetables do they use in your region? I don't mind the snails, lol, but they can be a bit chewy!

IzzyM from UK on February 11, 2010:

That's so much for this Susana, I am saving this page. I've got the paella pan but not the recipe, even though I have watched them cook a giant paella in the village square at fiesta time. I like the flavor of the rice in seafood paella but I always leave the seafood itself! I like the local paellas made with chicken, rabbit and vegetables - probably snails too, but what I don't know won't harm me!

Susana Smith (author) from UK on February 11, 2010:

Hello Hello - thanks and enjoy!

Susana Smith (author) from UK on February 11, 2010:

Hi Green Lotus - it is pretty easy to make paella :) Once you've got the water/rice ratio correct and have learnt how to impart the most flavor into the oil and stock its a doddle :)

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on February 10, 2010:

Oh my - this looks delicious! I've never tried to make Paella, but you make it sound easy. I have to give it a go.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on February 10, 2010:

This is a great recipe and it will make achange to my meals. Thank you

Susana Smith (author) from UK on February 10, 2010:

Hi WriteAngled - Let me know how you get on making it:) It's sometimes hard to get the instructions perfect because some bits we do without thinking, so any feedback on that would be very welcome. Chickpeas or butter beans are always added to paella in Valencia :)

Hi Simey - give it a go and let me know how the guiness works, lol:)

Simon from NJ, USA on February 10, 2010:

Wow - it's 9:00am and now I'm hungry - I've had Paella a lot, but never had the courage to make it - you make it sound pretty easy, I may just have to try - of course I may have to add my own 'take' on it and add some Guinness!!!

Krys W from Abertawe, Cymru on February 10, 2010:

Mmmmm, I love paella! I never thought of adding chickpeas or butter beans. Must give your recipe a try.

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