Make dinner easy with this homemade brown rice paella recipe! It's loaded with high quality protein from chicken, shrimp, and chorizo, savory veggies and spices, and made with fluffy saffron brown rice for a healthier twist on the classic paella.
What is Paella?
Paella is an authentic Spanish rice dish. It's typically cooked over an open flame and made in a very large skillet (called a paellera) meant to be enjoyed by family and friends.
One of the best things about paella is that there are a variety of ways to make it your own. You may have heard of seafood paella which is very popular or even a chorizo paella or vegetarian paella. The flavor possibilities are endless!
Paella Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken - I used chicken thigh to add more rich flavor to the dish but feel free to use chicken breast if you prefer.
- Chorizo - Use the traditional Spanish chorizo which comes in links. Mexican chorizo is usually in a ground sausage form. In this recipe, we want chorizo links that can be sliced into small pieces.
- Shrimp - Use large peeled and deveined shrimp.
- Tomato paste - This is the base of the paella sauce and provides a rich savory flavor to the rice.
- Broth - Any broth will work for this recipe. I prefer to use a chicken, vegetable, or bone broth.
- Rice - Traditional paella uses a Spanish rice called bomba rice. As it can be hard to find, I opted for a short grain brown rice in this recipe. If needed, you can also another short or medium grain rice like arborio.
- Saffron - A staple flavor to traditional paella. Only a tiny bit is used as it's a potent spice but also pretty expensive. If needed, you can use a saffron power.
- Diced tomatoes - These help deepen the tomato flavor. You can use fresh or canned.
- Peas - Another traditional element to paella and adds a pop of color to the rice dish.
As discussed above, traditional paella uses a rice called bomba which is a short grain rice that can absorb a lot of liquid making it very fluffy when cooked. It can be hard to come by but can be found at some specialty international grocery stores or online.
I opted for a short grain brown rice in my paella recipe as it's easier to find, typically the rice I have on hand, and more cost efficient. Not to mention, brown rice is a whole grain making it a slightly healthier rice compared to white rice.
How to Make Paella
You will need a large 8 or 9 inch skillet. Traditional paella is made in a large skillet so if you have a 16 inch skillet, feel free to use that and double the recipe!
Step 1 : Cook the chicken. Because chicken takes the longest to cook, this recipe starts by cooking the pieces of chicken in olive oil.
Step 2 : Saute the onions and garlic. These are aromatics and won't take long to cook down. Simple saute them in the same skillet as the chicken until soft.
Step 3 : Stir in the tomato paste. Add the tomato paste to the skillet along with the spices and saffron thread and mix it into the chicken until it's well absorbed.
Step 4 : Add the chorizo. Toss the chorizo pieces into the skillet and let them cook until warm.
Step 5 : Stir in the rice. Sprinkle the rice into the skillet and pour in the broth and diced tomatoes. Give everything a big stir to coat the rice and then let the skillet simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes.
Step 6 : Add the shrimp and peas. Nestle the shrimp into the rice and and gently stir in the peas. Place the lid back on top of the skillet and let it simmer for another 5 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through.
Step 7 : Serve. Enjoy the paella while warm and enjoy!
Can I used Cooked Rice in Paella?
Yes, you can use cooked rice to make this simpler if you prefer. I love the brown rice that you can "steam in a bag" and find it highly efficient during the work week.
Simply cook the rice according to package directions and toss it in as directed with the chicken and chorizo mixture. Only use 1 cup of broth as the rice is already cooked. Give everything a big stir and then nestle the shrimp and peas into the rice and only cook until the shrimp is cooked through.
Using cooked rice basically take the 30 minute wait time out of the picture.
How to Store
Paella is a dish that keeps and reheats well! Allow the paella to cool down and then transfer it to an airtight container. Store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To reheat, scoop it into a microwave safe dish add a splash of broth or water to help loosen it up and microwave it in 30 second intervals until warm.
You can also rehear paella in a skillet (my preferred method) which allows the rice to get crispy again along the bottom. Transfer the paella to a skillet, add a splash of broth or water, and heat on medium-low heat until warm.
- Don't overcook the chicken. The chicken should be just barely pink before adding in the other ingredients. This is because the dish still has another 30 minutes or more to cook which will allow the chicken to cook all the way through.
- Make sure the rice is covered with broth before letting it simmer. If the rice doesn't have liquid to absorb, it won't cook properly.
- Try not to stir the paella too much. In fact, I prefer not stirring it at all once the shrimp are added. This allows for a "crust" to form along the bottom of the skillet which is one of the best parts of paella! It actually has a name - "socarrat".
Frequently Asked Questions
This is called "socarrat" and is one of the best parts of the rice dish!
Yes! It's not "authentic" but I prefer it as brown rice is easier to find, cheaper, and slightly healthier.
Spain, specifically Valencia.
Check out more quick dinner recipes:
PS : If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a star review and comment below! Also be sure to follow along with me on Instagram and Pinterest to stay up to date on all tasty recipes here at The Fit Peach!
Popular The Fit Peach Recipes:
Brown Rice Paella with Chicken Shrimp and Chorizo
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ pound chicken thigh - cut into pieces
- ½ cup white onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ tap saffron threads
- 6 oz chorizo sausage
- 1 cup brown rice
- 2 cups broth
- 7 oz diced tomatoes
- ½ pound shrimp - 8-10 large shrimp
- ½ cup frozen peas
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until the chicken is just barely pink.3 tablespoon olive oil, ½ pound chicken thigh
- Add the white onion and garlic, and cook until soft.½ cup white onion, 2 garlic cloves
- Add a tomato paste, paprika, turmeric, sea salt, black pepper, and saffron threads and mix until the tomato paste turns a dark red color.1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ⅛ tap saffron threads
- Add in the chorizo and continue to cook for about two minutes until browned.6 oz chorizo sausage
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the rice to the skillet along with the broth, and diced tomatoes. Stir gently so that the rice is coated in liquid. Place the lid on top and let the mixture cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked.1 cup brown rice, 2 cups broth, 7 oz diced tomatoes
- Nestle the shrimp into the rice and sprinkle the peas on top, place the lid on top, and let the mixture cook for another 3 - 5 minutes until the shrimp are cooked through.½ pound shrimp, ½ cup frozen peas
- Serve while warm and enjoy!