The Ultimate Paella Guide | Rumi Spice (2024)

The spring season is here and besides the warmer weather and budding blooms, we love making new delectable dishes in the kitchen. One of our favorite dishes for springtime, or any time, is paella. Paella is a Spanish dish with origins rooted back in Valencia tradition. Original paella recipes consisted of saffron-scented rice, rabbit or chicken, fresh snails, string beans, white beans and lima-like beans served in a large shallow dish. However, over the years paella has evolved into a variety of delicious options that satisfy virtually anyone.

Although traditional paella recipes mirror that of Valencian Paella, there are an array of paellas for all types of taste buds:


Most typically made with chicken, peas, black pepper and paprika, chicken paella pairs perfectly with a side of olives and makes for the perfect Sunday dinner meal.

Try the recipe here

Seafood Paella

Also known as paella marinera, seafood paella is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine. Usually prepared with squid, prawns, mussels and clams, seafood paella is popular in coastal regions, but is our personal favorite on a warm spring day or cool summer night.

Try the recipe here

Paella Mixta or "Mixed Paella"

Can’t decide between meat paella or seafood paella? Paella mixta is the perfect choice then! Combining chicken with your favorite seafood selections, mixed paella is the best of both worlds.

Try the recipe here

Paella Negra or "Black Paella"

Paella Negra gets its name from the octopus or squid ink used to dye the rice. Although the ingredients are the same as seafood paella, the black ink not only changes the appearance, but also the taste of this paella giving it a more distinct flavor and ultimately adding depth to your dish.

Try the recipe here

Vegetarian Paella

Basic ingredients for vegetarian paella include artichokes, asparagus, and potatoes. Another light option perfect for lunch on a warm spring day or weekend picnic in the park!

Try the recipe here

Create Your Own

The base of paella is rice and since there are so many different ways to cook rice, there are also a variety of ways to cook paella. Although there are some set recipes for paella, you can definitely create a paella dish that is all your own.

If you’re wondering what type of rice to use for paella, use the traditional Spanish choice. Bomba rice will absorb the flavors of all the seasonings and ingredients you add, giving you the ability to make a pan of paella as unique as you. If bomba rice isn’t available, use a white, short grain rice like arborio.

#1 Use a Real Paella Pan

To develop maximum flavor, paella needs to be cooked in a thin layer, which is why you should use a traditional paella pan. If you don’t have a paella pan, then opt for your largest skillet pan. Anything that is wide and deep will work best!

#2 Oil Up

Don’t be shy when it comes to coating your paella pan with oil. The oil will keep the rice grains from sticking to the bottom of the pan, so be generous with your pour.

#3 Stir Before It Boils

As paella cooks, the rice grains begin to form a loose connection. If you stir the paella during this time, the connection is lost, which results in an undesirable texture. To keep the perfect paella consistency, avoid stirring the paella once the liquid begins to boil.

#4 Use a Paella Seasoning

If you don’t want to bother getting the ratios of seasonings and spices right, use a paella spice blend instead!

#5 Use aHigh Quality Saffron

Saffron is the most precious spice in the world and also a star ingredient in most paella dishes. Make the most of your paella night by using a high quality saffron. High quality saffron is more flavorful by the thread so you won’t have to use as much in your paella dish-- just a pinch will do.

Check out our quality, premier Afghan saffron here.

#6 Eat from the Pan

Traditional paella is taken from the stovetop and placed directly on the table. No separate plates required, just pass out some forks and dig right in to create a delicious family-style meal.

Before eating, make sure to mix up your paella to marry all of the ingredients and flavors together.

Chef Eric Jorgensen of Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! in Chicago shows you exactly how to mix up your paella:

Delicious and easier to make than you once thought, paella is the perfect springtime dish to enjoy with family, friends, and neighbors.

Now it’s your turn! Show us your paella dishes by tagging us on social media @Rumi_Spice.

The Ultimate Paella Guide | Rumi Spice (2024)


What is the essential spice of paella? ›

The most important spice for a traditional paella is saffron, which gives the ish its rich, golden color. However, because saffron is so expensive (more expensive by weight than gold, in fact), some paella cooks use turmeric or dyes instead.

What is the secret ingredient in paella? ›

Sofrito. Sofrito is a flavorful mixture of onions, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers that is used as a base for many Spanish and Latin American dishes, including paella. It's often called the "secret ingredient" in paella, as it adds a depth of flavor and richness to the dish.

What is the secret to a good paella? ›

The broth, together with saffron and sofrito, a mix of olive oil, tomato, garlic, and paprika, are responsible for the paella's flavor. Lledo says that a cook should not overload the paella with ingredients, either meat or vegetables. He says limiting ingredients and letting each element of the dish shine is key.

What spices go in paella? ›

The paella spices include turmeric to give your paella a classic, pale golden colour, and sweet paprika, pepper, bay leaf, garlic and thyme for great flavour. For a more vibrant colour and to add more depth of flavour, just add a pinch of saffron.

What expensive golden spice is a key ingredient in paella? ›

Saffron, known as the “red gold,” is a spice that has been prized for centuries for its unique flavor, aroma, and vivid color. It is made from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus flower and has been used in many different cuisines around the world.

Is saffron necessary for paella? ›

Many people will tell you that it is an essential ingredient in the kitchen to provide a characteristic flavor, color and aroma; in short, there is no better rice than that of a paella with saffron. We agree, but today there are many different ways to introduce this valuable ingredient into our paella.

Why do you not put onions in paella? ›

You should have noticed their 10 essential ingredients do not include onions. That's because the vast majority of Valencians agree that onions do not go into a Valencian paella. Valencians say onions make the rice go soft.

What can you not put in paella? ›

What Can You Not Put in Paella? Real paella does not include many ingredients that go into other rice dishes. Some of these include onions, peas, mushrooms, carrots, and chorizo. While all good combinations with rice, these aren't part of the traditional paella recipes.

Why is there no chorizo in paella? ›

As a Spanish person with roots in Valencia, chorizo has no place in paella. Cured chorizo even less. It's way too strong, especially if you fry it first and use the oil to fry everything else in. It's not like it automatically invalidates it's paella status, it's just not when the dish is about.

What is the best broth for paella? ›

Water is actually the most-often-used liquid in “authentic” paella, but stock is in many cases better. Chicken stock is all-purpose, and a not-too-strong meat stock will work nicely, too. Fish stock is fine as long as you're including fish, and a quickly made shrimp-shell stock might be your best alternative.

How to get more flavour into paella? ›

Spanish saffron

If you're after authenticity in a seafood paella then you have to add saffron for colour and flavour. Spanish saffron should be bought as strands, not powdered, and it needs to be steeped in liquid so it's evenly distributed. Yes, it's an expensive spice but a little goes a long way.

How to get the crispy crust on paella? ›

When you're ready to serve, you can give the paella a crust. Put the pan over medium-high heat until the rice sizzles lightly and begins to smell toasted — but not burned — 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish with the parsley and serve.

What is the most important ingredient in paella Why is it so important? ›

Rice is the most important ingredient in traditional paella, and choosing the right type of rice is crucial to achieving the perfect texture and flavor of the dish. Short-grain rice is preferred because it has the ability to absorb the liquid and flavors of the dish while maintaining its structure and texture.

What is the red spice that Flavours paella? ›

La Dalia spices for paella with saffron is a seasoning mix for paella. Great to use for the preparation of the best traditional paella. These spices not only achieve an exceptional taste but also have the incredible aromas and colour that no others could add to your paella.

What does paella seasoning contain? ›

Key spices include saffron, known for its unique aroma and golden coloring properties, and various forms of paprika—dulce (sweet), picante (hot), and ahumado (smoked)—which add depth and warmth to the dish. Other spices that can enhance a paella include rosemary, thyme, and garlic.

What is a good substitute for paella spice? ›

Turmeric is usually used in place of saffron in Paella when the traditional saffron threads aren't used. Although the flavors are not the same - turmeric being much more bold and peppery - the turmeric will provide the traditional yellow color found in paella.

How to add flavor to paella? ›

Flavour boost

Chorizo is a classic addition to any paella. So, even if the recipe doesn't call for it, use it to give your rice colour and flavour early on, and add depth to the finished dish. Cook thinly sliced chorizo in oil in the pan, then use the oil to cook your sofrito.

Do you use sweet or hot paprika for paella? ›

The Hot / Picante paprika is used to add a hot chili note to your dish such as in Fabada Asturiana. The bitter-sweet is used where you want flavour but not too much heat, so use this in Paella.

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