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!!
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
I don’t have a paella pan, so I used a large skillet instead. Use what you have!
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.
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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!!
- 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
More Quick Chicken Dinners:
Favorite EASY CHICKEN RECIPES.
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Buffalo Chicken Burrito Bowls — Juicy chicken along with your favorite burrito ingredients served in a bowl! Pile the toppings sky high and not worry about a wrap breaking, plus it’s a little healthier!! Easy and ready in 15 minutes!
Chicken Avocado Black Bean Salad — A Mexican-inspired salad with tender chicken, black beans, creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and more!
Easy 30-Minute Chicken Fajitas — These chicken fajitas take just 30 minutes to make and are the perfect weeknight dinner. Friends and family will go crazy for this recipe!
15-Minute Salsa Verde Chicken, Rice, and Beans – Fast, EASY, one skillet recipe!! Between the salsa verde, lime juice, and cilantro mixed with juicy chicken, rice, and beans, you’ll be hooked!
Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats — Skip enchilada wraps and use zucchini instead!! Easy, healthier and there’s so much FLAVOR between juicy chicken drenched in enchilada sauce, corn, peppers, and CHEESE!!
Sheet Pan Baked Salsa Chicken and Potatoes — An EASY dinner that’s ready in 30 minutes and made on ONE pan with so much FLAVOR!!
Originally published October 31, 2016 and republished August 5, 2022 with updated text.
Have you ever added sausage to this paella recipe. I’d really like to but I’m not sure what type to add…
Making this recipe this week, can’t wait! Thank you for all the wonderful recipes.
Not personally no. But I would use something like a kielbasa sausage, something that’s already been cooked, and you just slice it and add it in towards the end to warm it through but that you’re not starting from raw.
Hey, love this recipe as is, but I have some vegetarian friends who unfortunately can not eat it, and I would love to see what you would potentially recommend instead of the chicken. It’s fairly easy to substitute out chicken broth for vegetable stock, but I wasn’t sure what to use instead of chicken. Thank you so much!!!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you love this! Instead of chicken not sure if they eat seafood or fish, but that would work. You could probably use tofu in place of the chicken. Or just omit it.
Looks great. Can we use another rice besides Bomba rice? Its just a little expensive.
Feel free to experiment and see how other rices work for you.
I made this recipe for my family. It was absolutely delicious and so pretty! Amazon has some of the ingredients. Thank you for this!!!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it was absolutely delicious and that you were able to find some of the ingredients on Amazon!
I strongly recommend that instead of parsley, you use the Spanish or Mexican version. Cilantro. Called by the English and French “coriander”. Much better flavor from cilantro. Parsley is so “meh”. I’m part Mexican and my wife is ALL Mexican. We almost NEVER use parsley due to its dead bland flavor. We are not fond of salt, and that is a primary ingredient in the paellero. Any way to get it less the salt?
In retrospect, I probably would have used cilantro in this recipe. Probably the day I made it parsley was what I had in the fridge but both are fine. Or coriander. Use your herb of choice.
I agree about salt, it’s not my favorite thing either but it’s flavoring a very large batch of food and IMO it’s not overkill. You could always research about what exact spices would go into a paella of your liking, test, experiment, re-test, etc. on your own if you don’t want to use anything prepared and then salt to taste.
I don’t like fish so I was happy to find a chicken paella recipe. I bought Ducros brand ” Paella valenciana” seasoning mix… And it contains fish! Everything tastes like fish now. (Ofcourse, I didn’t read the ingredients before adding it) So people check the ingredients if you buy a random brand spice package. Next time I’ll try to find Paellero!
Hello, awesome recipe. I just ordered the seasoning and rice from Amazon. I’m planning on making next week. Can I add ground chorizo (not in case)? I don’t see why not since there are a lot of chicken chorizo paella recipes out there.
I think you can totally add chorizo. You’ll have to play it by ear as to when to add it so it cooks through (or you can pre-cook it separately and then add towards the end would be my guess). Either way, please keep me posted on how it goes! This is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made in 8 years of blogging because it tastes SO authentic and is easy to make.
I am very excited to make this recipe, but I couldn’t find the spice packet anywhere. The Latin market didn’t have it, either. I have saffron, paprika, garlic powder and other spices on hand to make my own mix. Do you happen to know how much of each spice I would need to mimic the spice packet? Thanks! ?
No I don’t know the ratios. That is why I suggested ordering it from Amazon. Good luck with things!
I’ve been looking for a good easy paella recipe for a long time, this one looks like the right one. I’m in San Diego, would you share the name of Luis’s store with me? Thank you!!
It was in Bankers Hill on 5th Ave but it has since closed :(
I had to come back and let you know how much my family LOVED this paella! I have never thought about making paella before — mostly due to the pesky list of seasonings required — but your source for the spice packet was perfect! Your recipes are always so straightforward and reliable. This one was delicious and will definitely be repeated. Thank you!!
Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! I was with you, never thought to make it either until this very chance encounter (and the handy spice packet!) and thank you for the compliments :)
I love paella! I could have eaten it every day while we were in Barcelona this summer (sadly I didn’t). I’ve been looking for a fairly easy recipe, but like you said…they’re all so complicated! This one looks much more digestible, so totally giving it a shot!
There are lots of recipes out there, as you mentioned in the article. The key is the rice used and you are spot on with the bomba rice. One sees so many paellas out there that use long-grain rice which is completely wrong.
They key to a paella, as opposed to a risotto, is not to stir the rice at all. The secret is to use not only the same type of rice but also the same make. That way, over time, you can adjust the amount of liquid required and add just enough to cook the rice without stirring. If it ends up being a little dry then splash a little more water over the paella and only stir if really necessary.
A paella can be cooked in a large frying pan, but a paella is normally cooked in a very large pan so that the rice itself is just a relatively thin layer on the bottom of the pan.
And don’t worry if it sticks a little to the bottom, many Spaniards consider the caramelised stuck grains to be the best part and even “fight” to scrape them off and eat them!
LINCOLN you are absolutely right about the rice, the lack of stirring, the thickness and the bottom of the paella. Bomba rice is the best choice, but if it’s hard to find you can substitute Calasparra Rice. Calasparra rice will react differently than Bomba – absorb slightly different amounts of liquid, but it’s comparable and authentic. One should NEVER use a rice meant for risotto (e.g.Arborio). Paella is not meant to be creamy like a risotto. In Spain they say the rice layer should only be as deep as your finger is wide. Also, we always increase the heat under the pan for a few minutes at the end to get the caramelized grains you mentioned. It’s called Socarrat and it truly is the prize of the paella, often reserved for any special guests..
Your chicken paella looks absolutely stunning! I really need to give it a try soon. Thanks for another amazing recipe of yours (I love your blog so much and for so many years now!!). Have a nice day! -Del
hey girl this looks so yummy!
when I opened this email and saw the pictures I was in my grandmothers kitchen smelling the chicken paella she was cooking on the stove along with corn tortilla made with the masa she made. My grandpapa would be coming down the drive with a team of work horses unhitched ready for their meal , water and a little rest. My grandpapa would step into the kitchen, stopped to smell the aroma, smiled, went to my grand ma, gently hit on the behind and told her “better than my mom’s”. She would gently hit him in the arms and told him to “stop that” and both of the smiled. As a little boy I didn’t know what that meant. I just thought that if I would hit my grandma like that the outcome would not be the same.. She filled my plate with the paella and it would look like the pictures in here and the taste was there was nothing on earth any better. Thanks for taking me back
What a lovely story and I’m glad seeing this recipe brought you back!
I love paella! Looks delicious! :)
I’ve never had paella, but your picture looks yummy. I can check our international aisle at the supermarket, but I have a feeling I’ll need to buy the seasoning packet online–not sure the midwest is the best place to find international items in the stores!
I’ve never seen it anywhere else except this highly specialty specialty store and I live in grocery store mecca. It’s worth it because otherwise just buying the saffron alone is way more money!
I’ve never made paella before, but will definitely be making this recipe! It looks delicious and I love the flavor of saffron!! Can’t wait to try!
The saffron flavor is so luxurious tasting, we loved it!
Oh Averie, I have never seen you tackle on something so different. I have been to Spain a couple of times and the dish is very popular there as you can imagine. Its quite nice. I am going to try making your version. I’ll go to Ralphs to see if they have that spain spice packet in their international aisle.
They don’t have it – trust me, I would have mentioned that since I have a lot of CA readers. LMK after you make it how it goes!
I’ve never made paella but this looks like an easy way to start! I seem to rotate through mexican, asian and Italian flavored dishes so something spanish would be fun to try. Saffron threads can be pricey so a seasoning packet sounds convenient and economical. Happy Halloween to you as well!
Saffron threads can be pricey so a seasoning packet sounds convenient and economical. <--- Yes, yes, yes! That's why the packet is just so nice. Plus as a first attempt, I didn't know the ratios of the saffron, to the other spices, etc. and the pre-packaged seasoning cut out one big variable. Plus it's what the guy used and his was so good I didn't want to mess with the flavor! You will love this if you try it!
I wasn’t sure where I’d be able to find a seasoning packet . I scoured Kroger and was about to give up and try someplace else but ended up finding paella “kits” (seasoning and short grain rice) in the clearance aisle. Score!! This probably is the easiest way to make paella and we both liked it. I also added chorizo–it’s Jon’s favorite sausage. I made about half the recipe and we have lots of leftovers…and I still have half of the kit to make it again. So glad I tried this!
I’m so glad to hear that you tried this and that you were able to find a paella seasoning kit, in the clearance aisle no less! After making this, I probably could have halved the recipe as well (we had leftovers for a longggg time) but what’s crazy is that the batch the guy was making at the store was probably 5x or more of my recipe. Glad the chorizo worked well too!