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Traditional Paella Recipe

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Traditional paella

This traditional paella recipe is easier to make than you might think!


This is a delicious and traditional paella recipe that will feed a crowd. We’re talking about 24 people!

When I cook paellas I like to make them big! I only do it about once every year, using a ginormous paella pan I purchased about 20 years ago. 

This is one I made as requested by my daughter for her birthday. As it’s lockdown at the moment, the leftovers were all delivered to hungry neighbour.

I can’t wait until everyone can come over again and we for a paella party.

About this recipe

This is a recipe I developed after watching paellas being cooked on our numerous vacations to Spain. The traditional paellas there are amazing but they are also quite expensive.

In fact, I prefer making my own like this because I can serve a group of 20 for about the same price as it would cost to order a paella for four in Spain.

They are perfect for barbecues and large groups. That said, you might not want to make as much as I did.

Simply halve or quarter the recipe. 

cooking mussels

Cooking the mussels produces a delicious stock for the paella.

The secret to the perfect traditional paella

This authentic paella recipe is really easy to make. The key to the perfect paella is using the freshest ingredients you can get your hands on. There’s no point going to the trouble of making a paella with substandard ingredients. 

I purchased all my meat from a local farm shop and ordered my seafood just out of the water from my fishmonger. You really can taste the difference.

In addition to that, I made my own stocks. Stock cubes just aren’t good enough! 

For this traditional paella a used a combination of mussel and clam stock with homemade chicken stock. 

parsley and garlic sauce

You’ve got to try this parsley and garlic sauce!

My parsley and garlic sauce

Although not essential, I make a lot of parsley and garlic sauce for people to scoop over their paella at the table. 

It really adds delicious flavour. Believe me… there is never any leftover!

Parsley and garlic sauce for traditional paella

The parsley and garlic sauce is super easy to make.

To make the optional parsley and garlic sauce for this traditional paella, blend parsley, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt together until smooth.

For this large paella, I blended 200g (7 oz) of parsley with eight large cloves of garlic, 250ml (1 cup) extra virgin olive oil and the juice of two lemons. I added salt to taste. 

This was the perfect blend for my taste but you should adjust the recipe to taste. 

Working ahead

I highly recommend getting everything prepared and ready before you start cooking. There are a lot of tasty ingredients in this recipe and each takes some time to prepare.

If there is one thing I should emphasise, it is that the seafood should be handled with care. Many chefs simply throw their seafood in with the other ingredients while cooking.

I find it better to cook seafood like scallops and squid in a pan first. These ingredients only need a couple of minutes in a hot pan. Cook them longer and they could be come tough. 

Get all of your vegetables prepared ahead of time too. If you have everything ready to go when you start cooking, it’s a much simpler process. 

smashing garlic

Pound the garlic, rosemary and thyme together.

Cooking on the barbecue

I always cook my traditional paellas outdoors. 

You could of course cook indoors. All you need is a good heat below your pan and you’re set to go. For me though, this is one that just needs to be cooked outside. It’s party food!

adding olive oil

Place you pan over a medium high heat and sprinkle your pan with sea salt. Then add the olive oil.


Fry the onions and pepper until soft. About five minutes should do.

Which Meat?

I used chicken thighs, pork loin and of course chorizo which was freshly made at my local farm shop. Do you have to use these meats too? Nope. Add whatever meat you like or leave it out.

Seafood paellas without meat are popular in spain too. 

Which Seafood?

I like a good assortment. In this recipe I used prawns, clams, mussels and queen scallops. I would normally throw in some squid too but I couldn’t get any. 

If using fish fillets, they should be cooked ahead of time until just cooked through. Then add the cooked fish to the hot rice and cover for a few minutes. 

Be careful not to overcook the fish or it will fall apart. Although I didn’t use halibut, sea bass or cod this time, these are all nice additions. 

NOTE: If using clams and/or mussels, wash them. If any don’t close or are broken, discard them.

adding meat to traditional paella

Add the meat and fry until cooked through and lightly browned.


adding garlic to paella

Stir in the garlic and herb mixture.

Which Rice?

Although I have seen paellas made with other rice varieties, for me it has to be arborio rice for paella!

There is not need to soak the rice before adding it to the pan. 

Just add it raw to the hot ingredients and stir well to coat in the oil. 

Adding rice to paella

Add the raw arborio rice and stir well to combine.


adding stock and paprika

Add half of the stock and the paprika. Top up with more stock as it cooks down.

adding chopped tomatoes

Add the chopped tomatoes. Both canned or fresh are fine.

finished paella

When there is just a little stock left, add the prepared mussels, clams and scallops. Cover for 5 minutes to steam.

The finished presentation is important. Top with a little parsley and garlic sauce and a few lemon wedges. 

Are you ready to make this? Go for it.

Here are a few more recipes you might like to try. 


Keralan Fish Curry
Pan Seared Salmon with Saffron Sauce
Keralan Prawn Curry
Malabar Fish Curry



Yield: 24

Traditional Paella Recipe

finished paella
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 1 kilo (2 lbs.) mussels - cleaned
  • 1 kilo (2 lbs.) clams - cleaned
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 30 queen scallops
  • 2 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 onions - finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper - finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper - finely chopped
  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) chicken thighs - cut in large or small pieces
  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) pork loin - cut into bite sized pieces
  • 450g (1 lb.) chorizo - sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 2 kilos (4 lbs.) Arborio rice
  • 4 litres ( 4 quarts) chicken or seafood stock or a combination of both.
  • 3 tbsp sweet or smoked paprika
  • 400g (14 oz) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 generous tsp saffron
  • 400g (14 oz) trimmed green beans cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces.
  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) medium prawns - peeled and deveined
  • 3 lemons - quartered
  • Salt to taste


  1. Start by bringing about 2 litres (8 cups) of water to a boil. Add the mussels and simmer until they open. Removed with a slotted spoon and discard any that have not opened. Repeat with the clams.
  2. Place the cooked clams and mussels in a bowl and refrigerate if not using immediately. Also refrigerate the cooking liquid if not using right away.
  3. Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry the scallops for about a minute or until just cooked through. Refrigerate in a bowl if not using immediately.
  4. Place the garlic, rosemary, thyme and black peppercorns in a mortar and pound a bit to break them down some. Set aside.
  5. Heat your paella pan over medium high heat and add the salt and olive oil.
  6. Bring to a bubble and then stir in the chopped onions and bell peppers. Fry for about five minutes or until soft.
  7. Add the chicken, pork and chorizo and fry for about ten minutes to brown and cook through. Add the garlic and herb mixture and stir it in.
  8. Now add about half the stock and the paprika. Simmer and add more stock as needed. If you run out of stock, you can always top with water.
  9. When the rice is cooked and there is just a little stock left in the pan, stir in the saffron.
  10. Add the green beans and prawns and push them down into the rice to cook. Add the prepared mussels, clams, scallops and quarter tomatoes.
  11. Lower the heat to low and cover to allow the paella to steam for 5 minutes.
  12. Season with salt to taste and top with the lemon wedges, a sprig of rosemary (optional) and some of the parsley and garlic sauce (see recipe in post) if using.

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If you enjoyed this recipe, please don’t be a stranger. Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Cassandra D

Monday 13th of July 2020

I intend to make the authentic goan pork vindaloo recipe.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 21st of July 2020

Hi Great to hear, hope it went well. Thanks Dan

George Pow

Monday 6th of July 2020

I am definitely going to try at least one of your Recipes, so well described you make it So Easy!

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

Hi George Good to hear, thanks very much. Dan

Derek Turnbull

Friday 3rd of July 2020

Would love to see you cooking this, Dan. I never have managed to master Paella!

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

Hi Derek I might try and post a Utube video soon. Thanks Dan

Jason harrop

Friday 3rd of July 2020

Looks bloody amazing

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

Hi Jason Thanks very much. Dan

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