Chicken and Chorizo Paella is completely loaded with flavor! This Spanish Paella makes the perfect weeknight meal because it's ready in 40 minutes and it's made all in one pot!
Paella has become such a staple in our household over the past decade. It's one of the meals that pack in so much flavor in no time at all. It's also little effort and made all in one dutch oven. Plus, even my kids enjoy it.
What is Paella?
Paella is a Spanish dish that can really differ with ingredients, but it usually contains chicken, sausage, saffron, rice, some kind of stock, and vegetables. Many times it has seafood, like Shrimp, clams or mussels. This recipe doesn't have any seafood, but it can easily be added.
Why You'll Love This Spanish Paella Recipe:
- It's so easy to make and loaded with flavor and just the right amount of spice!
- The recipe is made all in one pot, so hardly any dishes. Can I get a heck yea?
- It has all the things..from meats to veggies and rice, so you will be nice of full from this hearty meal.
- This recipe only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to prep and 40 minutes of cooking.
Chicken Thighs- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are used in this recipe for their higher fat content and more rich flavor than breast meat. If you're weird about thighs, try the boneless skinless. I'm not a huge fan of bone in thighs, but if you trim these skinless thighs up well, they are absolutely delicious, especially cooked in with the flavors of this dish.
Chorizo- A pork sausage that originated in Spain and has quite a bit of heat. I suggest looking for a mild spice option for this recipe. Not all Chorizo is created equal and you can find Chorizo in links or ground up like the chorizo I used. I recommend ground chorizo for this recipe, but you can use links as well.
Rice- You can use different types of rice for paella, but you need to stick with a short grain. I use Arborio rice and it's delish. Plus, I use it all the time for garlic parmesan risotto and at this point, it's a pantry staple. Bomba is the most popular choice for Paella and Valencia rice works great too.
Chicken Stock-Stock plays an incredibly important role in flavoring the paella and cooking the rice to perfection. Do not use broth in substitute of the stock as it lacks depth and flavor. Kitchen Basics is my favorite stock and it's worth the extra cost. A good stock will enhance the entire flavor of a dish!
Saffron- Oh Saffron, why must you be so expensive? Saffron is one of the key components of paella and brings taste, aroma and color to the dish. Only a few strands are used in this recipe, and if you don't have it, I give some recommendations below to keep you on a budget. Don't worry, I've made paella a million times without it, and while it is delicious, sometimes it's not manageable to buy a $25 spice. End of rant.
Onion, Bell Pepper & Garlic- This combo is used to create a world of flavor in this Chicken Paella.
Peas & Parsley- Used to finish off the dish and adds sweetness from the peas and fresh herb flavor from the parsley.
Substitutions & Variations:
If you're on a budget, check and see if you can get a small amount of Saffron at your grocery store. I believe World Market has a small pack of Saffron for $4.99. If you can't get it or they don't have it, substitute the Saffron with ½ teaspoon of turmeric or add a ½ teaspoon of Smoked or regular Paprika. This will add flavor and the color we are looking for.
Cooking for people who don't like Spicy? You can substitute the chorizo with a mild Italian Sausage.
If you are using chorizo links, cut them into ½-1 inch thick pepperoni like slices and cook with the same directions. They will turn out great too!
Hate peas? Leave them out!
Love Seafood? You can add in Shrimp, clams or mussels to this dish after cooking the chicken, when adding the peas. For clams or mussels, you know they are done once the shells open up and for the Shrimp, they need to be an internal temperature of 120 degrees.
How to Make Chicken and Chorizo Paella:
Here are the Step by Step Instructions for Paella.
Step 1: Prepare and Cook the Chicken
Trim the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
On the stovetop, place a dutch oven on medium heat and add in olive oil. Allow it to heat up, then add in the chicken thighs. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the dutch oven and place onto a plate.
Note: The chicken won't be cooked entirely and will cook completely in the pot in next steps.
Step 2: Cook Chorizo
Add the chorizo to the empty dutch oven with only brown bits of chicken remaining. Break the chorizo up with a wooden spoon and cook for 2 minutes.
Step 3: Add Vegetables & Spices
Into the Chorizo filled pot, add in onions, peppers, salt and pepper and saffron. Stir well, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 4: Toast Garlic and Rice
Open the lid and stir in garlic and arborio rice. Allow it to toast for about 1 minute.
Step 5: Add Stock and Chicken
Pour in the chicken stock and place the chicken back into the pot, nestling it down into the rice, where it is mostly covered by liquid.
Step 6: Cook the Paella
Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 15 minutes and do not peak or remove cover.
Step 7: Add Fresh Ingredients
Uncover and check that internal temperature of the chicken has reached at least 165 degrees. Stir in fresh parsley and peas. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
*If the chicken was less than 165 degrees, make sure to recheck it after covering for another 5 minutes.
Optional: If you are looking for a crunchy bottom (Socarrat), you can cook for additional 5 minutes by turning the heat up to medium high. Do not cover during this process.
Step 8: Serve
Top with lemon wedges and serve!
- When preparing the saffron, take a few strands and rub them between your index finger and thumb. It will turn your fingers a little yellow, but it breaks the strands apart perfectly.
- It's really important to trim the chicken thighs up well. Cut the really fatty portions off and discard. You can see in the ingredient photo above, that the chicken thighs are nice and trimmed.
- Don't use the wrong rice for this recipe or it will not turn out good.
- Part of the Paella cooking process is NOT stirring frequently. During the 15 minutes of cooking before adding the peas, leave the dish covered and do not open or stir. You've got to trust the process.
If you have one, great. Otherwise, a deep enameled pan with a cover or my personal favorite, the dutch oven, works fantastic!
A short grain rice is used for Paella, with the most popular being Bomba, Arborio, and Valencia. I use the Arborio, which is actually an Italian rice, and I find it cooks up perfectly in Paella.
Socarrat is a term used with Paella, when the bottom layer of the pan of rice gets crispy. You can achieve this best with an actual paella pan. It's an optional step in this recipe, that honestly, I don't usually do. After cooking the peas, turn the heat up to medium high and cook uncovered for an extra 5 minutes. If you cook it too long, it can burn or dry out the paella, so I usually avoid it. The rice tastes absolutely delish without it, but if you want it, go for it!
Store the leftover Paella in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheating the Recipe:
Paella reheats really well. I reheat individual servings by wrapping up a portion into a foil packet and heat it in the oven on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Plop it right onto a plate and it tastes as amazing as the first time!