Easy Chicken Paella — If you’re never made paella before, here’s how with this EASY recipe ready in 45 minutes!! Juicy chicken and tender rice with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and more! So much FLAVOR in every bite!!
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Super Simple Chicken Paella Recipe
I am by no means a paella expert. Here’s what I did back in 2016, here’s how the recipe came about, we loved it, and I have been making it again and again ever since.
With that said, here’s how I stumbled into having to try my hand at a centuries-old Spanish dish with no clue about where to begin.
I’m an avid runner, and on a warm Saturday afternoon I ran by a local artisan grocery store and there was a man, Luis, making paella on the sidewalk in a huge paella pan over an open fire. I stopped because the smell was amazing and he asked me if I wanted to try some.
I said I didn’t have any money with me because I was just out running and he said, no it’s free. In San Diego, nothing is free except the sunshine and this very generous portion of paella.
It was beyond excellent. The rice was perfectly tender and scented with saffron, there were red bell peppers and onions for flavor and texture, and the chicken was soft and moist.
I knew I had to recreate it so went home and started researching paella online. I came across a million different recipes and ways to make it and every one was different and one more confusing and complex than the next. I almost gave up.
Until I was running the next weekend and Luis was outside again making paella. This time I picked his brain about how to make it and what he did.
He explained the steps to me and that’s how I made this easy chicken paella with a few tweaks of my own, including scaling down the recipe from massively huge to large family-sized.
The paella was ready in about 45 minutes, far exceeded my expectations, my family raved about it, and I’m really glad I challenged myself to make this recipe. You never know until you try is the advice I always give my readers and I’m glad I took my own advice!
What’s in the Easy Chicken Paella?
For this simple chicken paella recipe, you’ll need:
- Olive oil
- Red bell pepper
- Chicken breasts
- Bomba rice
- Low-sodium chicken broth
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Fresh parsley
Scroll to the bottom of this post for the full recipe card with measurements.
How to Make Chicken Paella
Here’s how the paella recipe with chicken comes together:
- To the pan, add the olive oil, onion, and bell pepper. Sauté until softened.
- Add the garlic, cook for a minute, then remove the veggies from the pan.
- Add a little more oil to the pan, along with the diced chicken. Season with salt and pepper, then cook until about 50% done. Remove to a plate.
- Add the rice to the pan and toast for about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the broth and the paella spices, then add the chicken and veggies back to the pan.
- At this stage, the tomatoes and some water should be stirred in. Let the paella simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
- Stir in the peas and fresh parsley at the very end and cook just until warmed through.
What’s the Best Rice for Paella?
Bomba Rice is essential to making chicken paella. You can buy it online, or find it in some specialty stores.
I don’t recommend using any other kind of rice because I can’t predict how your homemade chicken paella will turn out.
What Paella Spices Should I Use?
Rather than buying saffron, Luis recommended I use a packet of Paellero. Super easy and delicious!
I strongly recommend going with that because there are so many different spices in authentic paella and unless you want to buy all of them, or really know what you’re doing and are a paella expert, a packet of seasoning mix is the easiest!
Can I Add Chorizo or Seafood?
You can use chorizo or you favorite seafood, including shrimp, mussels, lobsters, or clams.
Since I didn’t make it that way, I can’t give specific cooking times and when within the process of the rice cooking you add the ingredients and all seafood cooks at a very different rate. Do some research online and cross-reference some recipes and you’ll likely add seafood towards the end of the overall cooking time.
If using chorizo, I’d treat it as I treated the chicken here and add it then.
Can I Make Paella in an Instant Pot?
Yes, you sure can and I have this Instant Pot Shrimp Paella recipe that is fast, easy, and every bit as good as the stove top version!
It can be adapted to use chicken if you prefer chicken instead of shrimp.
Pin This Recipe
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large sweet Vidalia onion or yellow onion, diced small
- 1 red bell pepper, trimmed, seeded, and diced small
- 3 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
- about 1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1.1 pounds Bomba Rice
- 4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 packet Paellero
- one 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water (or additional chicken broth), as necessary
- 1 cup peas (I used frozen that I added straight from freezer)
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- lemon wedges, for garnishing
- To a large skillet (15+ inches in diameter if possible) or paella pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, onion, pepper, and sauté over medium-high heat until vegetables begin to soften and lightly caramelize, about 5 to 8 minutes; stir intermittently.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute; stir intermittently. Remove the sofrito (the onion, pepper, and garlic) from the pan; set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook the chicken until it’s about 50% cooked through, stirring and flipping intermittently. Remove from the pan; set aside with the sofrito.
- Add the bomba rice and cook to toast the rice for about 3 minutes, stirring intermittently.
- To the chicken broth, add 1 packet Paellero, and stir to combine. Add the chicken broth to the rice.
- Add the sofrito and chicken back to the skillet, add the tomatoes, 1 cup water, and simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender, chicken is cooked through, and liquid is absorbed. If necessary, you may need to add more than 1 cup water (or chicken broth) based on the texture of the rice. Taste it near the end of the cooking period and if it’s too firm and all the liquid is absorbed or nearly so, add a bit more water using your judgment.
- Add the peas, parsley, stir to combine, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to warm through.
- Taste the paella and add salt and pepper, if necessary, to taste. The saltiness of the chicken broth, tomatoes, whether you used Paellero, and personal preference for salt and pepper will dictate how much to use. I used about 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
- Garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately.
Storage: Paella will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 319Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 84mgSodium: 1418mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 5gSugar: 9gProtein: 34g
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Originally published October 31, 2016 and republished August 5, 2022 with updated text.