Why There's No ONE Authentic Paella Recipe

There is no ONE authentic paella recipe. Every region of Spain has their own interpretation of this dish, which means YOU can have your own version as well.

I’ve been traveling throughout Spain to explore and discover Spanish foods that are new to me. I’m not trying to find recipes, they only teach you how to cook ONE thing.

I’m in search of new ingredients that I can apply the cooking methods that I already use in my own kitchen. The idea is not to change HOW I cook, but search for a new WHAT to cook.

That’s why there is no singular authentic paella recipe. Paella is more of a cooking METHOD that can accept the ingredients YOU desire.

You might want shrimp, clams, and mussels. You’ve then made Paella Mariscos.
Use tomato, onion, garlic and rabbit and you have Paella Valencia.
Go ahead and use ALL ingredients you can think of and create Paella Mixta.

Or, you can invent the combination of ingredients to make your OWN original paella recipe.

Here’s the basic procedure for making the authentic paella recipe for YOUR kitchen:

  • Heat a large flat pan until water evaporates quickly.
  • Add a good quality olive oil and wait until it starts to look streaky.
  • Saute’ your protein products like chicken, shrimp, or sausage.
  • Add RAW short-grain rice like Bomba rice or Arborio rice.
  • Add aromatics like onion, garlic, peppers or tomatoes
  • Deglaze the pan with a flavorful stock, using twice the quantity as rice.
  • Add any delicate proteins like shrimp, clams or mussels to cook in the moisture.
  • Cover and simmer on low heat until the rice absorbs the liquid.

Ole’! You’ve made your OWN chicken or beef or lamb or pork or tofu or vegetable paella!

Even though I watched an experienced paella chef make his paella recipe in today’s video, I still realize that it’s up to ME to follow his method but use the ingredients I want in my own paella dish.

It’s another example of how cooking METHODS, the HOW to cook, always gives you power over the ingredients, the WHAT to cook. This is when cooking is liberating and FUN!

Paella is an obvious choice for studying Spanish food, but there are so many more flavors and ingredients I discovered there.

Join me for my next FREE online webinar workshop, "International Food Finds: Discover Global Inspirations For New And Exciting Meals At Home"

About Chef Todd

Chef Todd Mohr is a Certified Culinary Educator who has empowered home cooks all over the world with the reliable, dependable, repeatable METHODS behind cooking that build confidence, generate creativity and enable anyone to cook with the ingredients THEY desire.


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  • Edward L Bramblett
    6:01 PM - 29 July, 2019

    Chef, the Paella pan is very large. I am thinking of using my grill to get a more even heat. Any thoughts on this?

  • Vlad
    2:52 PM - 12 June, 2018

    Why "Add aromatics like onion, garlic" is going after "Saute’ your protein products like chicken, shrimp, or sausage.
    Add RAW short-grain rice" and not before?

  • Karen Bacon
    11:51 AM - 4 December, 2017

    Hi Chef
    As I've been cooking fresh and from scratch all my life, I "throw" 🙂 something different together every night. I think that keeps my menu fresh and new. I like to make complete meals of different countries too! Anyway, Spain it is tonight (with Paella of course). I love love love your cooking class!! While I know how to cook already, I'm learning so much and constantly being inspired. I'm really glad I joined this "cooking family".
    Karen Bacon

    • Chef Todd
      2:06 PM - 4 December, 2017

      Hi Karen!
      Yes, it's not WHAT you cook but HOW you cook that unleashes creativity.

  • Dinah Haines
    2:22 PM - 19 May, 2017

    Hey fella I enjoy the show. I have been ill as my home was on fire not from cooking though a furnace issue so now I've frozen all winter got carbon monoxide poisoning and hypothermia. I am thawing out for spring and summer will be around here and there. Have not forgot you yet. Ha Ha Its a good thing!

  • Dave Sliwa
    3:59 PM - 9 May, 2017

    Chef - I enjoyed your paella video, but I think you failed to make a very important point. If one were to simply follow your steps they would be making a simple one pot rice dish or stew. The real goal of paella, and what makes it so unique, is the carmelization of the bottom layer of rice. Perfect paellas yield socarrat, a seductive caramelization of the bottom layer of rice. So - one would need to understand the importance of NOT STIRRING or deglazing the pan substantially after the broth has been added, keeping the heat very low, and also know what they are looking for to judge when their dish is done.

  • Peter Standaart
    1:56 PM - 26 March, 2017

    Thank you so much, Chef Todd, for this video. I love your enthusiasm, thirst for new experiences and genuine desire to share what you know with your students. You definitely are one of the finest teachers in any subject from whom I've had the honor to learn.
    In most of the "restaurant"-type paellas, I've noticed that the rice on the bottom of the pan is lightly browned and crispy. It adds a nice contrasting texture to the dish. How can I accomplish this with burning everything and making a grand mess?!
    With much appreciation, Peter Standaart

    • Chef Todd Mohr
      12:27 PM - 27 March, 2017

      Hi Peter!
      Thank you for your kind words. If you'd like "crunchy on the bottom" paella, just don't stir it. The direct conductive heat on the bottom of the pan will eventually burn the rice, just like you want.

  • Beverly Millus
    2:32 PM - 7 March, 2017

    I love this series!!! My husband thinks everything needs to be cooked on HI. I take my time and use a lower temp. Now I have PROOF it works better 'my' way. Thanks for the new recipe! This is one I can use left over bits of vegies and such. We are a BIG fan of 'one pot wonders'.

  • hrmendez1@gmail.com
    9:20 PM - 26 September, 2016

    Hi Chef,
    I agree with both of you. It is a method of cooking a one dish meal. However, the reason the dish is called "Paella" is because of the type of pan used to cook the food. I grew up with a Spanish grandmother and she could come with different combinations of proteins in her dishes. Whatever was available in the fridge and in the farmers market. Thanks for showing us the video; great memories. 🙂

  • Dee Pangilinan
    2:59 AM - 26 September, 2016

    Reading your breakdown of the method, I realize it's what I do when I cook what I've come to call "all-together now" rice or "fake paella" for my family: one-pot cooking that has both rice and entree (and in a Filipino household, a meal is not a meal without rice!) together. My real takeaway lesson is that there really needs to be more water/stock - I always just usually add the regular amount for regular rice, and keep hot water on standby to add if it looks like the rice needs a bit more cooking. Next time, I won't be afraid to add more water from the start. Thank you for the lesson!

    • Chef Todd Mohr
      1:46 PM - 26 September, 2016

      Hi Dee!
      Thanks for your kind comment. Yes, this is a METHOD where you can use the ingredients YOU desire.
      If you find you've added too much liquid, just remove the lid and let it evaporate. YOU control the process when you have a reliable method.

  • Diane Hoffman
    1:06 AM - 26 September, 2016

    Saw the Paella video clip. Looks simple & fast. My kind of method. One dish too. Thanks.

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