Today, I am going to tell you how to make paella. I have no idea why I haven’t posted this recipe before, but here it is, my grandma’s paella recipe. For me, this is the best paella recipe. And my grandma doesn’t use saffron for the paella, so me neither. I don’t think you need it, it really only changes the color of the rice. If you cook the onion like I tell you, the paella will take on a beautiful color, more natural I think.

Paella is considered one of Spain’s most popular dishes. Not all paellas are created the same though. Some paellas are made with vegetables, some with seafood and others are a combination. In my opinion, and I would say my grandma shares the same opinion, the best paella is the one with seafood and a little bit of meat.

In Spain, we also use cigalas. A cigala is like a baby lobster. It’s also similar to a crayfish, but is bigger. The flavors are also very different . I’ve never seen them in the U.S., but if you find them, go ahead and definitely add them to the paella. They’re delicious. My grandma also adds some cuttlefish, which is similar to squid. I also can’t find that in the U.S. You could add bay scallops instead.

I am under the impression that a lot of people think that paella is a very complicated dish, but it’s not. Paella is an easy dish to make, but it requires a lot of preparation and cook time. Of course the first couple of times will take longer, but once you get some practice , its pretty quick and straightforward  to make. You have to multi-task a bit, otherwise you will spend five hours in the kitchen for something that should take a couple.

When you make paella, you don’t have to make everything at that moment, you can pre-cook almost all the  ingredients ahead of time. Make sure your paella pan is at least for four-six people. If it’s a smaller pan, the rice will get soft and chewy.

The rice portion per person is 1/3 cup. If you are making paella for four, use 1/3 cup per person. (plus a little extra). If you are making paella for four, you will also use 8 spoons of broth plus 1. If you are making paella for six, you will pour 12 spoons plus 1. It’s always double plus 1.

Ingredients for four-five people:

  • 1 onion grated
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1/2 lb calamari tubes and tentacles sliced into rings (250g)
  • 1 cuttlefish sliced or 25 to 30 bay scallops
  • 2 medium sausages (plain seasoning, don’t use italian seasoning) or 1 pork rib chopped
  • 12-15 medium sized shrimp (usually 2 or 3 per person)
  • 12 cigalas (if you can find them…)
  • a little more that 1/2 lb mussels (300g) (3-4 per person)
  • a little more than 1/2 lb little neck clams (300g) (2-3 per person)
  • 1 quart (1L) seafood broth (better if homemade)
  • arroz Bomba (Bomba rice) 1/3 cup per person
  • 1 clove garlic
  • parsley
  • sea salt
  • On low heat, cook the grated onion with some olive oil until it looks extremely brown. This is one of the most important steps of the entire recipe. Stir it once in a while and let it cook. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to get to the color that you want.
  • Meanwhile, drizzle some olive oil in the paella pan and cook the two bell peppers on medium heat. (chopped very small)
  • Don’t forget to stir the onion and the peppers once in a while.
  • While the onions and peppers are cooking, steam the mussels and clams in about one cup of water. Once open, keep the water and add it to the seafood broth that you will be using later. Set the mussels and clams aside.


  • Once the peppers are cooked (it take less time than the onion), add the calamari, cuttlefish/scallops and the meat. Season with salt and let it cook. Drizzle some olive oil if necessary.
  • Add the onion (again, make sure it’s extremely dark brown) to the paella pan with all the ingredients.
  • IMG_7258
  • In another pan, cook the shrimp and cigalas (no cigalas in the picture, I couldn’t find them!) and set aside.


  • Its time to pour in the rice. On low heat, add the rice and stir until everything is mixed and the color of the rice is brown.

*At this point you can turn the heat off, cover the paella with aluminum foil and leave it for a few hours. You could make it in the morning, and finish it later for dinner.

  • Now, add the seafood broth to a pot and warm it on low heat.
  • 20 minutes before you want to serve dinner, turn up the heat for the broth to medium. If you added rice for 4 people, using a  medium-sized ladle, pour 9 spoonfuls and let it cook. Shake the pan using the handle. DO NOT STIR WITH A SPOON! At this point, add the mussels and clams.
  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the garlic and a little bit of parsley using a mortar and pestle. Add a little broth and mash it.


  • When the rice is almost cooked, add the shrimp and the cigalas during the last couple of minutes of cook time, and then add the garlic and parsley on top.


My grandma’s paella 

*Try the rice before you remove it from the heat. If the rice is cooked, the paella is ready to be served.

Bon profit!

21 thoughts on “Paella

    1. Mi abuela no le gusta. Ella cree que si los ingredientes son frescos y lo cocinas bien no es necesario. Pero es una opción de cocinar paella, tu siempre puedes añadirlo :):)

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  1. Love, love paella. I took a lesson in Madrid at one time and have made it a few times when I returned home…also recently blogged about it too. Love all the seafood you have in yours.

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  2. I love paella. My husband even more. That’s the one thing I usually cook for him on his birthday. I’m intrigued you don’t use saffron. I was under the impression it’s an essential ingredient other than the rice. But I can see how flavorful this is the way you caramelize the onions. I’ve essentially adopted similar method for all my cooking 🙂

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