Paella

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
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This delectable seafood paella recipe with juicy shrimp, chewy mussels, and tender octopus will bring Spanish fine-dining straight to your kitchen. It has all the traditional elements, like tender saffron rice, but only takes 45 minutes!

Why You’ll Love This Seafood Paella Recipe

The sweet veggies and saffron infused rice perfectly complement the savory seafood, creating this irresistible traditional Latin dish! Here’s why you will love this recipe:

  • Family Recipe: This is my Abuela’s paella recipe! Each bite is filled with traditional flavors, juicy seafood and tender rice infused with saffron. There are MANY variations to Paella! Please be respectful that my recipe may be different from yours!
  • One Pot: You can use a paella pan or a large skillet, but either way — you will only need to dirty one pot making this classic.
  • Quick: While traditional paella can take as long as 5 hours, this recipe only requires 45 minutes!
  • Hearty: Loaded with shrimp, mussels, octopus, peppers, peas, and lots of tender yellow rice, no one is leaving the table hungry.
  • Ideal For Gatherings: Serve paella directly from the pan, allowing everyone to help themselves to as much paella as they desire. It always feeds a crowd!

Looking for more Latin classics? Try this classic arroz con pollo, juicy pernil and caldo de pollo!

Pan with seafood paella with juicy shrimp, octopus and mussels with lemon wedges on the side.

What Is Paella?

Paella is a traditional rice dish from Valencia, Spain. Its main characteristic is the yellow, saffron-infused rice cooked with vegetables and different proteins. The bottom of a paella has a layer of crispy toasted rice, called socarrat, that is arguably the best part! Cooked in a special rice pan called “paellera”, paella is made in large batches to share with friends and family for lunch or dinner.

For add-ins, seafood like shrimp, mussels, clams, and octopus are quite common. Some kinds of paella even have chicken and spicy chorizo. Veggies like peas, carrots, and bell peppers are added too for even more flavor.

Ingredients for seafood paella recipe arranged in bowls, from top to bottom: smoked paprika, red bell pepper, seafood bouillon, saffron, garlic, rice, onion, octopus, wine, lemon, oil, peas, broth, shrimp, mussels and parsley.

Recipe Ingredients

You only need a tiny bit of saffron but it makes all the difference. Scroll down to the recipe card for exact amounts.

  • Olive oil: Feel free to use avocado oil.
  • Vegetables: Fresh garlic, yellow onion (or a white onion, red bell pepper and frozen peas. If using canned peas instead, rinse and drain them well.
  • Seasonings: Smoked paprika, seafood bouillon (or chicken bouillon) and saffron threads. If necessary, substitute 1 teaspoon saffron powder.
  • Stock: Use low-sodium seafood or veggie stock. Chicken stock will also work.
  • White Wine: It needs to be dry. Sweet wines will make the rice taste strange.
  • Paella Rice: Spanish paella Bomba rice is best, but Calasparra rice or arborio rice will work too. You want to use a short-grain or medium-grain rice. Do not use a long-grain rice.
  • Shrimp: Use medium or large shrimp. Avoid cocktail shrimp.
  • Mussels: Feel free to use pre-cooked.
  • Octopus: Fresh or frozen. You can also use squid!
  • Garnishes: Lemon wedges and fresh parsley, if desired.
Forkful of rice, peas, and shrimp.

How to Make Seafood Paella

Make sure the veggies are softened so that they don’t taste raw or feel under-cooked when the seafood paella is done. Scroll to the recipe card at bottom of the post for full detailed instructions.

  • Sauté: Add the olive oil to a large round pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, and bell pepper, until softened.
  • Season: Mix in paprika, saffron, and bouillon. Add the stock and white wine. Bring to a low boil.
  • Simmer: Stir in the rice and simmer it. Avoid excess stirring while you cook the rice and do not cover it. This allows the rice to create a crispy golden rice layer at the bottom of the pan.
  • Seafood: Place the shrimp, mussels, octopus, and peas on top of the rice. Slightly cover the pan to prevent mushiness, but still retain heat. Continue to cook paella until the shrimp turns pink.
  • Finish: Uncover the pan completely and raise the heat for just a minute to help crisp the socarrat — crispy rice on the bottom. Remove from the stove, cover, and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  • Serve: Serve with a lemon wedge and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
Close-up of paella rice with a fork scooping up a bite of rice with a juicy shrimp.

Cooks’ Tips

Not rinsing the rice might be counter-intuitive, but it’ll give the paella an authentic starchy consistency. Here are some tips to ensure your paella turns out perfect:

  • Paella Pan: Paella is traditionally cooked in a large paella pan to allow the rice to cook more evenly. However, any large (12 inches at minimum) round skillet with shallow sides will work! Do not use a skillet like a wok, you want a flat even surface.
  • Don’t Rinse: Unlike most kinds of rice, don’t wash your rice for paella. You want it to be starchy to have the right texture!
  • Leftover Shrimp: If you’ve got leftover grilled shrimp, add them to the paella right before serving (to avoid overcooking).
  • Prep Ahead: Chop all the ingredients in advance to save time throughout the week.
  • Soak The Rice: I do not recommend soaking your rice. I have read many recipes that suggest it, but when I have tried it, my rice is mushy once cooked.
  • Do Not Cover: Leave your pan uncovered while cooking paella. If you cover it, your rice will absorb too much of the cooking liquid and will not have the correct texture. I do place a lid on when I add the seafood, but only partially, I never fully cover the pan.
Two plates of Spanish saffron rice with a large pan of paella in the background.

Variations

Want to add different proteins or add more veggies? Here are some ideas:

  • Swap The Broth: If you’re out of seafood and veggie stock, use chicken broth or even water. As long as you are adding a good seafood bouillon, your paella will still be flavorful!
  • More Veggies: Diced carrots, diced fresh tomatoes and corn kernels are great ways to make this recipe even heartier.
  • Chicken: Add chopped chicken breasts for another traditional type of paella. Add the raw chicken, cut into bite size pieces, with the vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes before continuing with the recipe.
  • Chorizo: This is sliced chorizo sausage, not ground Mexican chorizo! You can add this when you would add the seafood as it’s already dried and cured.
  • Spicy: It’s not very traditional to have spicy paella, but nothing’s stopping you if you like it spicy! Try adding cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or chopped jalapeños for some heat!

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Paella is best the day after it’s made, so leftovers are a win! If you manage to save some for later, here’s how to store it:

  • Fridge: Place cooled paella in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Don’t store it longer, as it has lots of seafood with different spoilage timelines.
  • Freezer: Transfer it to a freezer-friendly container. Freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating. Don’t reheat from frozen!
  • Reheat: Place paella in a pan with a little oil over medium-high heat. Cook with the lid on for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. You can also microwave it in 30-second intervals until warm.
Landscape photo of seafood paella.
5 from 3 votes
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Yield: 8 servings

Seafood Paella

This seafood paella recipe is an effortless version of Spain's national rice dish! Each bite is filled with traditional flavors, juicy seafood and tender rice infused with saffron. The bottom layer of crispy toasted rice, called socarrat, may just be the best part! There are MANY variations to Paella. Please be respectful that my recipe may be different from yours!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika, divided
  • 1 large pinch of saffron, crushed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons seafood bouillon, divided
  • 3 cups seafood stock, or vegetable stock
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups Bomba rice, check below for more options
  • 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 12 mussels, rinsed and scrubbed
  • 8 oz raw or cooked octopus or squid, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 2 lemon wedges, for serving
  • 1 tablespoons chopped parsley, optional garnish

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a paella pan, or an extra large skillet (read notes below for help choosing a pan). Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and sauté for 4 minutes, until softened.
  • Stir in the paprika, saffron, bouillon, stock and white wine. Bring to a low boil.
  • Stir in the rice and simmer for 15 minutes. You want a crusty layer of rice to form on the bottom of the pan, called socarrat to form, so avoid stirring too much. Only stir a few times max, as needed.
  • Nestle the shrimp, mussels, octopus and peas in with the rice and place the lid offset on top of the pan. (This will help hold the heat in, but allow the steam to escape so you don’t end up with mushy paella!) Continue cooking for 10 minutes, or just until the shrimp turns pink.
  • Remove the lid and turn the heat to high for 1 minute (to help crisp the socarrat). Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then serve with a lemon wedge and sprinkle of fresh parsley, if desired.

Notes

Store: Place cooled paella in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Don’t store it longer, as it has lots of seafood with different spoilage timelines.
Freeze: Transfer it to a freezer-friendly container. Freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating. Don’t reheat from frozen!
Reheat: Place paella in a pan with a little oil over medium-high heat. Cook with the lid on for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. You can also microwave it in 30-second intervals until warm
Paella Pan: Paella is traditionally cooked in a large paella pan to allow the rice to cook more evenly. However, any large (12 inches at minimum) round skillet with shallow sides will work! Do not use a skillet like a wok, you want a flat even surface.
Paella Rice: Spanish paella Bomba rice is best, but Calasparra rice or arborio rice will work too. You want to use a short-grain or medium-grain rice. Do not use a long-grain rice.
Don’t Rinse: Unlike most kinds of rice, don’t wash your rice for paella. You want it to be starchy to have the right texture!
Do Not Cover: Leave your pan uncovered while cooking paella. If you cover it, your rice will absorb too much of the cooking liquid and will not have the correct texture. I do place a lid on when I add the seafood, but only partially, I never fully cover the pan.
Chicken: Add chopped chicken breasts for another traditional type of paella. Add the raw chicken, cut into bite size pieces, with the vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes before continuing with the recipe.
Chorizo: This is sliced chorizo sausage, not ground Mexican chorizo! You can add this when you would add the seafood as it’s already dried and cured.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 323kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.003g, Cholesterol: 55mg, Sodium: 1169mg, Potassium: 289mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 662IU, Vitamin C: 21mg, Calcium: 46mg, Iron: 4mg

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Post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.