This easy Spanish rice with chicken and shrimp gets its distinct bright yellow colour from saffron. It is the recipe that will make your days brighter and tastier!
If you can’t get enough of the vibrant Spanish flavours, take a look at our Spanish Baked Chicken Thighs and Potatoes for a delicious one pan meal.
Spanish sun is bold and intense but the sea is warm and friendly. The waves are so tame and playful that all I wanted to do was bob along the natural flow of the Mediterranean sea for hours and simply enjoy being.
Those are the memories from one of my trips to Spain to visit my childhood friend and her family. Whenever I go abroad I feel like I need to recreate the food from that place as soon as I get home.
This recipe for Spanish rice with chicken and shrimp is my take on the famous paella from the Valencia region, where we usually go for our summer holidays.
My love for Spanish food is deep and often comes out in recipes inspired by the its cuisine. They are not always authentic but they 100% delicious!
These loaded potato skins with chorizo and Bravas sauce is my nod to the famous Patatas Bravas, that we are absolutely in love with! And my saucy sausage casserole combines the gorgeous Mediterranean flavours of spicy chorizo, artichokes and plump cherry tomatoes.
And of course, I would never dare to write about the Spanish cooking and eating traditions without mentioning the tapas. I’ve got you covered if you want to throw a wine and tapas party!
Spanish Rice Recipe
Since conjuring up the Spanish sunshine and beach is pretty much impossible in England at any time of the year, all we’ve got is the food. Thankfully for me, it’s not difficult given that most ingredients are readily available.
I love Spanish paella, the plump yellow rice studded with chicken, prawns and mussels! We are so lucky to experience a plethora of versions in various restaurants and friend’s homes. Interestingly enough, the ones made at home are always the most memorable.
While this recipe for Spanish rice is inspired by paella, it is not actually an authentic paella recipe. For starters, the Spaniards would never use chorizo to flavour their famous dish.
On my mission to recreate the famous Spanish paella I wanted to make it more accessible to an everyday cook and use the ingredients available to us.
In my recipe I used the round, short grain rice used for paella called arroz redonda (round) or bomba. It is often labeled as paella rice in most supermarkets.
You can substitute with risotto rice if you can’t find it. Those two are similar but not exactly the same. Avoid basmati or jasmine rice for this recipe.
To flavour the rice I relied on the onions, garlic, chopped cured chorizo (Spanish chorizo, not Mexica) but most importantly I used saffron for that immediately recognizable colour and taste!
Recipe Tips and Notes
- This Spanish rice recipe is something I cook when I want a quick one-pan dinner. While this recipe is fast and all ingredients are thrown together and cooked in one pan, it is by no means plain.
- I made sure of it by adding a teensy bit of chopped chorizo (a big no-no in authentic Spanish paella) and real saffron. Then I topped it with shrimp!
- You can always add mussels or langoustines but I felt like by putting them on the ingredients list I was veering into the “expensive recipe” territory and I really didn’t want to do that.
- I added green peas to my Spanish rice, however flat green beans would be more authentic.
- In my recipe I give you general guidelines but you can experiment with the add-ons.
- You can substitute chicken with pork or add any other vegetables you like. Artichokes for example are something I’ve seen being used in paella in Spain.
Is saffron essential to this dish?
Now let’s talk about saffron. For centuries it’s been regarded as the most precious and expensive spice in the world. It is still on a pricey side but I find it to be much cheaper if you go to Middle Eastern shops or markets. You can also try Amazon!
Historically it was widely used in many European countries for cooking and baking. Saffron is still very popular in the Middle East.
A very few threads of saffron add a unique flavour that could not be duplicated but my favourite part is they colour an entire dish bright yellow. If you don’t know what to do with the leftover saffron you will have after making this Spanish rice, use it in another delicious recipe for Tuscan Chicken with Saffron Cream Sauce.
That being said, a yellow food colour is used by many, many Spanish people to avoid the expense. So yes, you can omit saffron.
My whole family and especially my kids ADORE this dish. They request it often as it has a true comfort food quality without being heavy.
More One Pan Recipes to Try:
- Rosemary Lemon Chicken and Potatoes
- Orecchiette Pasta with Chorizo Sausage and Roasted Butternut Squash
- Indonesian Chicken and Rice with Green Beans
This recipe was originally published in 07/2017. Updated and republished in 04/2021
Spanish Rice with Chicken and Shrimp
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 skinless and boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
- 100g(¼ cup) cured Spanish chorizo chopped
- 225g(1 cup) shrimp
- 10g(¼ cup) fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
- ½ lemon juice only
- 185g(1 cup) paella rice
- 500ml(2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp saffron threads a pinch
- 40g(¼ cup) frozen peas
- salt to taste
- Cook chopped chorizo in olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes until slightly browned and the oil is coloured orange. Add chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes over low heat, then add chicken and a pinch of salt. (Do not oversalt as chorizo is salty and so is chicken stock) Cook for 5 minutes until chicken is mostly done, add minced garlic and parsley and cook while stirring for 30 seconds.
- Then add rice and stir until the rice is evenly coated in oil for a minute or so, add chicken stock, saffron threads and lemon juice, stir to combine and bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Check for doneness. You might want to cook a few minutes longer is rice is not done or uncover if there is still too much liquid.
- Add peas and stir lightly, then top with shrimp, cover and cook for 5 minutes longer. By the end, the liquid should be entirely absorbed by the rice and rice is tender but not mushy.
- Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve with lemon wedges.