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Overhead shot of a traditional Spanish paella with chicken and ribs in a black paella pan with a wooden spoon.

Spanish Paella Recipe (Paella Valenciana)

This authentic recipe for traditional paella valenciana is as simple as it is delicious! Try it for yourself, and taste the real flavors of Spanish rice.
5 from 5 votes
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Course: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 1165.71kcal


  • 1/3 cup olive oil (80 ml) ideally good quality virgin or extra virgin Spanish olive oil
  • 1/2 a whole chicken (1200 grams or 2.6 lbs) chopped into small bits by your butcher (about 15+ bits from half a chicken)
  • 1 lb ribs (450 g) chopped into small pieces by the butcher
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes grated (approx. 80 ml or 1/3 cup). You can use good quality passata if preferred.
  • 10 ounces green beans (285 g) of flat green beans, washed and cut into 2-inch pieces. *See notes for all substitution notes, but string beans also work
  • 1/3 lb of butter beans (150 g) In Spain, we use garrafón -- a special kind of large Lima bean. Try to find good quality jarred butter beans instead. See notes for all substitutions.
  • 2 teaspoons sweet Spanish paprika If able, use paprika from Murcia (unsmoked). But pimentón de la Vera is also fine.
  • 1 pinch saffron about 10 threads. Soak in a tablespoon of hot water until ready to use.
  • 14.1 oz rice (400 grams) of a variety of paella rice. My preference is called Senia but it's hard to find. Try to find Bomba, Calasparra, or if unable to find any of the above, use Arborio. See notes for more details.
  • 1.5 tbsp salt (22 g) it may seem like a lot, but it is essential for flavor.
  • 9 cups water (2,130 ml total) 4 cups for the stock (this will evaporate) and 5 cups for the rice (paella rice varieties have about a 2.5-3:1 water/rice ratio)

Optional - Rabbit Paella Option

  • 1/2 a whole rabbit roughly 2 pounds, cut into same size pieces as the chicken *OPTIONAL* Only if you want to go fully authentic! In this case omit the ribs.


  • Heat a paella pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Swirl to coat the entire base of the pan. Add the salt in a circle around the diameter of the pan. This will keep the meat from splattering too much once cooking.
  • Add the chicken and pork ribs or rabbit (if using) and cook until golden brown. I recommend moving the meat every five minutes for about 20 minutes in total. The browned, caramelized bits that stick to the pan will give lots of flavor to the paella.
  • Push the meat away from the center of the pan, and add the green beans and cook for about three minutes.
  • Move the beans to the edge and add the garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds, making sure not to burn.
  • Add the butter beans. Sauté very carefully, for about one minute. Be careful not to break/mash them.
  • Add the paprika and sauté for about 30 seconds and then add the tomato and saffron. Slowly mix everything in the pan together, taking care not to break the beans.
  • Now add the water. I recommend adding first the 5 cups needed to cook the rice. Then, use a toothpick to mark how far up the water goes. Record this water line. Then add the other four cups. Bring to a rapid boil for about 10 minutes, and then lower to a simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Ideally, at this point, there are only 5 cups of water left in the pan (the amount needed to make rice for 4 people). You can check by using your toothpick. The water line should match the same mark as before -- if it's higher keep cooking, and if it's lower add a bit more water.
  • Now it's time for the rice! Add the rice to the pan and give a slight stir if necessary to ensure all rice is submerged in the liquid and evenly spread. Cook at a high simmer for 10 minutes, then reduce to a low simmer for another 8-10 minutes (depending on the variety of the rice). You'll know when the rice is ready and the broth is gone, as you will hear a faint ticking/cracking coming from the bottom layer of rice. This crackling means that the rice is caramelizing on the bottom (called socarrat) -- that's a good thing. When you start to hear it, turn up the heat for about 30 seconds (stop immediately if you start to smell burning).
  • Remove the paella from the heat and cover with a dishcloth for five minutes. Then serve immediately!


  1. The ideal paella rice is a short/medium grain round variety such as Bomba rice. If necessary, you can substitute Arborio. You can order it in advance if you can!
  2. A paella pan is a special frying pan for making paella. If you don’t have one (very likely if you don’t live in Spain), use your largest, flattest skillet. I like to use cast iron if not able to use a paella pan.
  3. If you can’t find saffron or it is cost-prohibitive, you can use a pinch of turmeric for color or simply omit it.
  4. This recipe is written for four people and I use a 22-inch (56 cm) size paella pan. Traditional paella is made in a very thin layer. You can use a smaller pan for this recipe, but the rice will be higher and it will be harder to get socarrat
  5. If possible, cook over an open flame. If you have a gas stove, that's ideal. If not, try an outdoor paella kit. 


Calories: 1165.71kcal | Carbohydrates: 89.65g | Protein: 47.86g | Fat: 67.7g | Saturated Fat: 21.77g | Trans Fat: 2.24g | Cholesterol: 166.69mg | Sodium: 3665.03mg | Potassium: 899.12mg | Fiber: 4.36g | Sugar: 4.18g | Vitamin A: 1668.15IU | Vitamin C: 19.77mg | Calcium: 109.71mg | Iron: 4.92mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @spanishsabores on IG and hashtag it #spanishsabores!