Instant Pot Shrimp Paella — All the rich flavors of classic Spanish paella but made in your Instant Pot and ready in 25 minutes! Plump and juicy shrimp, crisp-tender bell peppers and peas, all tossed in saffron and paprika seasoned rice! An EASY recipe that’s perfect for busy weeknights!
The Easiest Instant Pot Paella Recipe
Paella is a centuries old rice dish originating from Spain and most often contains proteins including seafood, chicken, or sausage.
However, as is the case with many recipes that tend to be old, it’s common for them to take hours and hours to prepare. But in our fast-moving world, no one has time or desire to cook all day, especially me!
That’s where my shrimp paella recipe that’s made in an Instant Pot changes everything and saves you tons of time without sacrificing authentic paella flavor.
This shrimp paella made in an instant pot has a bold and strong flavor as paella should thanks to spices like saffron and paprika.
Plump and juicy shrimp are the star protein mixed into saffron seasoned rice along with crisp-tender bell peppers and green peas.
The dish is finished off with a spritz of lemon or lime juice and a bit of cilantro if you’d like.
Ingredients in Instant Pot Shrimp Paella
For my authentic shrimp paella recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Olive oil
- Chicken broth
- Long grain rice
- Black pepper
- Medium fresh shrimp; cleaned, peeled, deveined
- Red bell pepper
- Cilantro, optional for garnishing
- Lemon (or lime) wedges, optional for garnishing
How to Make Shrimp Paella in an Instant Pot
Follow these easy steps to make paella with shrimp in an Instant Pot in just 25 minutes!
Step 1: Turn your Instant Pot to sauté and add the oil. When hot, add the onions, garlic, and saute for a couple minutes.
Step 2: Add the chicken broth, rice, paprika, salt, pepper, saffron, and stir to combine.
Step 3: Layer the shrimp on top in a single even layer and do not mix or stir.
Step 4: Cancel or turn off the saute function, seal the lid, select pressure cook on high pressure for 6 minutes with valve sealed.
Step 5: Do a quick release by moving the valve from sealing to venting, open the lid, press the cancel button.
Step 6: Remove the shrimp from the instant pot and set aside in a large bowl.
Step 7: Add the peas, bell pepper, select saute and saute for a couple minutes, then cancel.
Step 8: Transfer the contents of the instant pot to the large bowl with the shrimp and stir.
Step 9: Optionally garnish with lemon, lime, cilantro and serve.
Can I Make Shrimp Paella Without an Instant Pot?
Yes, you definitely can! For those without an instant pot I recommend making shrimp paella on the stovetop in a large skillet using the same concept as I did in my Chicken Paella recipe, but substitute shrimp instead.
Simply saute the shrimp initially in your skillet with the onions, peppers, and garlic until it’s done, then removing it from the skillet, and carrying on with the remainder of the recipe as directed.
Add the shrimp back in at the end of the recipe. Shrimp is more forgiving than chicken since it cooks in a fraction of the time.
Do I Need a Paella Pan to Make Shrimp Paella?
You definitely do not need a paella pan if you’re making it on the stovetop. While it’s a nice thought, they are huge, bulky, and impossible to store in an average sized kitchen.
This is why I decided to embark upon making shrimp paella in an Instant Pot.
However, if you don’t have an Instant Pot, as indicated above, simply make your homemade paella with shrimp in a large skillet.
What Type of Shrimp Is Best for Paella?
For my shrimp paella, I recommend using medium-sized fresh shrimp that are cleaned, peeled, and deveined.
Approximately U30 to 40-count shrimp is what I suggest; meaning there are 30 to 40 shrimp per pound. However, in this recipe you only need a half pound, so about 20 shrimp.
The shrimp cook in the instant pot so you need to start with fresh, uncooked shrimp, rather than previously cooked shrimp, including frozen shrimp that have already been cooked. Look for raw, fresh, medium-sized shrimp.
Can I Make Paella in an Instant Pot with Other Proteins?
Yes, you can. You can do half-and-half shrimp with other proteins, no shrimp and only other proteins, or a total mixture of whatever you’re in the mood for.
- If you want to add clams or mussels, add them on top of the rice like you would with the shrimp.
- The same goes for sausage. I would use a precooked andouille sausage or kielbasa sliced in thin rounds, and place them on the rice without strirring.
- If you want to add chicken, use small bite-sized pieces so it cooks through in the 6 minutes of pressure cooking. Keep it right on top like you would place the shrimp.
Keep in mind that the recipe was tested and written for shrimp only so you may need to slightly alter cooking times if you add a significant quantity of additional proteins.
What’s the Best Type of Rice for Paella?
Traditional paella in Spain often times uses a short grain rice called bomba or calasparra. However, they’re not readily available for most North Americans.
Therefore, my recommendation is to use long grain rice. Although, you could use jasmine rice too.
However, I don’t recommend substituting with any other types of rice.
All rice cooks a bit differently and it’s too hard to predict how other varieties will cook, how much liquid to add, and since I haven’t tested them I can’t promise how your paella will turn out.
Serving and Storage Suggestions for Instant Pot Shrimp Paella
Paella is best when it’s served warm and fresh, especially when served with lemon wedge to squeeze over the finished dish and cilantro or coriander before digging in.
It will keep airtight for up to 4 days in the fridge or for up to 2 months in the freezer.
Being that there’s shrimp involved, I tend to be more cautious on my storage estimates than when talking about chicken or red meat since seafood is a bit more delicate in this aspect.
Can This Recipe Be Doubled?
Most savory recipes I share on my site serve four to six, depending on appetites and the specific recipe. My Instant Pot paella recipe, however, is a small batch recipe that should serve two.
This is in large part because Instant Pots by their very nature don’t hold a very large quantity of food.
However, if desired you can double the recipe.
You may want to increase the pressure cooking time to approximately 7 to 8 minutes instead of the 6 minutes indicated since the machine will be much fuller. Please note though I’ve never doubled the recipe and am merely providing an educated guess.
Tips for the Best Shrimp Paella
Saffron and saffron substitues:
Paella gets its distinctive yellow color and unique taste from saffron. While some people may replace the saffron with turmeric to achieve that yellow color, the taste may suffer.
For this, I suggest to use good quality saffron to get an authentic taste.
In my recipe for Chicken Paella, I used a boxed seasoning mix called Paellero. I would liken it to using a packet of taco seasoning rather than using cumin, garlic powder, and so forth when seasoning taco meat.
While Paellero is nice and definitely delivers in the flavor department, for this recipe the flavor is built from scratch ingredients like saffron and paprika. Although if you happen to have Paellero on hand (not likely), you can use it instead of the individual spices I called for.
Deglazing the Instant Pot:
After adding the onions, garlic, rice, spices, and broth, make sure that nothing is stuck to the bottom of your instant pot. The pot should easily deglaze when you add in the broth and anything stuck should loosen, but give a good stir at the bottom to make sure.
A very nice option to try here rather than using 1 1/2 cups chicken broth is to use 1 cup broth and 1/2 cup dry white wine such as chardonnay, pinot grigio, or sauvignon blanc.
The wine lends an ultra rich taste to the paella so if you have some open, give it a try! The alcohol burns off during cooking and what you’re left with is the luxurious depth of flavor the wine adds.
Using the Instant Pot:
Pay close attention to which functions or modes you need to use on your Instant Pot in this recipe. The recipe starts in saute mode, then high pressure cooking with a manual quick release, and back to saute mode.
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Instant Pot Shrimp Paella
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced small (white or yellow is traditional, I used red)
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth, I use low-salt varieties
- 1 cup long grain rice, washed well
- 1 teaspoon paprika, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 small pinch saffron threads, or about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon saffron powder
- ½ pound U30-40 count fresh shrimp; cleaned, peeled, deveined (about 20 medium shrimp)
- ½ cup peas, I recommend frozen that have been thawed and not canned
- ½ cup red bell pepper, sliced thin
- 2 teaspoons cilantro, finely minced; optional for garnishing
- Lemon or lime wedges, optional for serving
- To a 7 to 8-quart Instant Pot (or similar pressure cooking device)*, add the oil, and set to saute function.** (See Notes)
- When the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, and saute for about 2 minutes, or until the onion is lightly browned; stir nearly continuously.
- Add the chicken broth, rice, paprika, salt, pepper, saffron, and stir to combine. Tip - Make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot so stir well, paying special attention to the bottom.
- Add the shrimp over the top of the rice mixture in an even layer, not overlapping. Do not move or stir.
- Cancel the saute button, select the pressure cooking button, and set to pressure cook on high for 6 minutes, making sure the valve is in the sealed position.
- After 6 minutes, do a manual quick release by moving the valve from the sealing to venting position. Tip - Use a kitchen towel or something over your hands like oven mitts since the steam is incredibly hot.
- Remove the shrimp and place them in a large bowl; set aside.
- Add the peas and bell peppers to the Instant Pot, select the saute button, and saute for a couple minutes, or until the peppers are crisp-tender. Cancel the saute mod.
- Then transfer the mixture to the bowl with the shrimp, and stir to combine.
- Optionally add the cilantro and optionally spritz the paella with lemon or lime juice before serving. Paella will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days or for up to 2 months in the freezer.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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