Spicy Seafood Paella Recipe For The Perfect Spanish Feast

Have you ever wondered how to make the perfect spicy seafood paella? We’ve been there too, and with a love for this traditional Spanish feast, we took it upon ourselves to develop the perfect recipe.

That’s why this post will guide you step-by-step through an authentic, mouth-watering recipe for Spicy Seafood Paella that is sure to impress. Dive in – your taste buds are about to take a spicy trip to Spain!

What is Spicy Seafood Paella?

spicy seafood paella recipe, in a cast iron pan

Spicy Seafood Paella is a delicious Spanish dish made with a combination of fresh seafood, saffron-infused rice, and a variety of spices. It’s known for its vibrant colors, bold flavors, and satisfyingly spicy kick.

How to Make a Spicy Paella

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Spicy Seafood Paella

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword paella, seafood, spicy paella, spicy seafood paella
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Extra Virgin
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 2 Cayenne Alternatively for a little less heat, use ripe Serrano or Jalapeno Chili Peppers
  • 2 Piri Piri Leave these out for even less heat
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice or medium-grain rice
  • 4 cups seafood or chicken stock warmed
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads soaked in 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen green peas thawed


  • 8-10 large shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 8-10 mussels cleaned and debearded
  • 8-10 clams cleaned
  • ½ pound calamari rings
  • ½ pound lobster meat or crab meat optional


  • Fresh parsley chopped (for garnish)
  • Lemon wedges for serving


  • Sauté Vegetables: In a large paella pan or wide skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, red bell pepper, and chilli peppers. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add Rice: Stir in the rice, ensuring it gets well-coated in the oil and vegetable mix.
  • Liquid and Spices: Pour in the white wine, letting it simmer and reduce by half. Then, add the warmed stock and saffron (with its soaking water). Sprinkle in the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Gently stir to ensure even distribution of ingredients.
  • Cook Rice: Allow the mixture to simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Do not stir too frequently as you want the rice to develop a slight crust at the bottom (known as "socarrat").
  • Add Seafood: Distribute the shrimp, mussels, clams, calamari, and lobster/crab meat (if using) evenly over the rice. Press them slightly into the rice. Cover the pan with foil or a large lid.
  • Final Cook: Let the paella cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the seafood is fully cooked (shrimp should turn pink, and mussels and clams should open). Discard any mussels or clams that do not open.
  • Peas and Rest: Scatter the green peas over the top in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Once done, remove from heat and let the paella rest for a few minutes.
  • Serve: Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
  • Enjoy your spicy seafood paella with a refreshing white wine or sangria!

Tips and tricks for a perfect paella

To make a perfect paella, there are a few tips and tricks that can take your dish to the next level. First, use real saffron for an authentic flavor and vibrant yellow color.

Second, create a flavorful sofrito by cooking onions, garlic, and tomatoes until they are soft and fragrant. This will add depth of flavor to your paella. Another tip is to cook the rice slowly over medium-low heat to ensure it absorbs all the delicious flavors from the broth.

And finally, let your paella rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to create a truly outstanding paella every time.

Variations and Adaptations

– Vegetarian or Vegan options: For those who prefer not to eat seafood, there are plenty of variations of paella that can be made with vegetables such as bell peppers, peas, and artichokes.

Alternatively, you can make a vegan version by substituting chicken stock for vegetable broth and omitting the seafood altogether.

– Substituting ingredients: Feel free to get creative and substitute some of the seafood in the recipe with your favorites. You can use lobster or crab instead of shrimp, or even add scallops or calamari for extra variety.

Don’t be afraid to experiment!

– Adding extra spice or flavor: If you like your paella extra spicy, consider adding chopped chile peppers or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to give it an extra kick. You can also experiment with different herbs and spices such as smoked paprika, saffron threads, or even a dash of hot sauce for added flavor.

Remember to adjust cooking times based on any changes you make to the recipe

Vegetarian or Vegan options

Vegetarian and vegan paella are great alternatives for those who don’t eat seafood or meat. Vegetarian paella typically includes a variety of fresh seasonal vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions, peas, and tomatoes.

Vegan paella can be made without any animal products by replacing ingredients like shrimp or chorizo with plant-based alternatives. Despite the absence of seafood or meat, vegetarian and vegan paellas can still have that distinctive golden color and smoky flavor.

There are many recipes available for vegetarian and vegan versions of this traditional Spanish dish, including options that are also gluten-free. So whether you’re following a specific diet or simply looking to try something new, these plant-based variations offer delicious alternatives to satisfy your taste buds.

Substituting ingredients

There are various ways to substitute ingredients in paella to create different flavors and accommodate dietary preferences. In traditional meat-based paella, you can replace the meat with seafood for a delicious seafood paella.

Alternatively, you can make a mixed paella by combining both meat and seafood. For those following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you can explore options like cauliflower rice as a substitute for regular rice and include vegetables like bell peppers and peas for added flavor.

Experimenting with different proteins and ingredients allows you to customize your Spanish feast to suit your taste buds.

Adding extra spice or flavor

We can elevate the flavors of our spicy seafood paella by adding extra spices or ingredients. One option is to use smoked paprika, which adds a smoky and slightly sweet taste to the dish.

Another spice that can bring depth and complexity is cayenne pepper, for those who enjoy a bit of heat. Additionally, incorporating aromatic herbs like parsley or cilantro can enhance the overall flavor profile.

For an authentic Spanish touch, consider using saffron threads or its alternatives like turmeric and calendula to impart a vibrant yellow color and a distinct taste. Experimenting with different combinations of these spices allows you to tailor your paella according to your personal preferences, making it even more delicious and satisfying.

Serving and Enjoying Spicy Seafood Paella

When it comes to serving and enjoying Spicy Seafood Paella, there are a few key considerations to make your feast even more delightful.

Recommended side dishes

We have some delicious side dishes that pair perfectly with spicy seafood paella. Fried rice, quick French bread, broccolini saladSpanish musselsgarlic butter shrimpCaesar salad with homemade croutons, and fried plantains are all great options to complement the flavors of the paella.

For a healthier choice, green beans are a fantastic side dish that adds freshness to the meal. And if you’re looking for some additional options, sweet plantain slices and pimientos de padrón are both tasty additions.

With so many good choices available, you can find the perfect side dish to complete your Spanish feast. Just remember to include something chilled and crunchy to balance out the rich flavors of the paella!

Wine pairings

Mixed Paella or Seafood Paella pairs best with rich white wines like Roussanne, Marsanne, Trebbiano, Chardonnay, and Viognier. These wines complement the flavors of the dish and enhance the overall dining experience.

If you prefer red wine, Monastrell (Mourvedre) or Garnacha can also be paired with Paella Valenciana. Chardonnay and Viognier are top choices when it comes to white wines that pair well with Seafood Paella.

For those who enjoy a variety of options, food-friendly wines like rosés, reds, and whites can all work well due to their versatility in pairing with different ingredients. So take your pick from these delicious wine options and elevate your paella feast!

Tips for leftovers and storage

Leftover seafood paella can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. For the best taste and freshness, it’s recommended to consume the leftovers within the first 1-2 days. Remember that seafood can go bad quickly, so don’t store it for more than 24 hours.

To prevent any odors or flavors from transferring to other foods in the fridge, use an airtight container when storing leftover paella. If your paella contains shellfish, remove them before storing and add them back in when reheating for optimal flavor.


In conclusion, this spicy seafood paella recipe is the perfect dish for a Spanish feast. With its flavorful combination of saffron-infused rice and a variety of seafood options, it’s sure to impress your guests.

Whether you’re hosting a special occasion or simply want to enjoy an authentic Spanish meal, this paella recipe is a must-try. So gather your ingredients, follow the step-by-step instructions, and get ready to indulge in a delicious and memorable dining experience.

Take a look at our article for some other Spicy Dinner Ideas!


1. Is this an Authentic Spanish Seafood Paella Recipe?

While I am not Spanish, my recipe will certainly rival some of the delicious Paellas I have eaten while visiting Madrid, Ibiza and Majorca!

Can I make a non-spicy version of seafood paella?

Yes, you can make a non-spicy version of seafood paella by omitting or reducing the amount of spicy ingredients like chili flakes or cayenne pepper.

2. What types of seafood can I use in the spicy paella?

You can use a variety of seafood in your paella, such as shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, and even fish fillets. Feel free to mix and match according to your preference.

3. How long does it take to cook a seafood paella?

The cooking time for seafood paella typically ranges from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the recipe and quantity of ingredients used.

4. Can I substitute any ingredients in the seafood paella recipe?

Yes, you can substitute certain ingredients in the seafood paella recipe based on personal taste or dietary restrictions. For example, if you don’t eat shellfish, you can replace them with additional fish or vegetables like bell peppers and peas.

5. Do I need a Paella Pan?

While a paella pan is traditionally used to make paella due to its wide and shallow design, which helps in the even cooking of rice, there are several alternatives you can use if you don’t have one on hand:  Large Skillet or Frying Pan, Wok, Casserole Dish, Roasting Pan or Oven-safe Baking dish

6. Where is the Chorizo?

While Chorizo is a common ingredient in many Paellas, I find it overwhelms the gorgeous seafood flavours in this dish.

7. Why is Saffron so Expensive!

Saffron, often referred to as “red gold,” is one of the most expensive spices in the world by weight. There are several reasons for its high cost: Labor-Intensive Harvesting Process, Large Land Area Required, Risk of Crop Failure, and Storage and Transport.

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