Bring the delicious flavors of Spain to your kitchen with this rich gluten-free paella. The saffron-infused rice is paired with chicken, shrimp, mussels, and a variety of vegetables cooked in aromatic spices. It's topped with fresh lemon juice and parsley for a beautiful presentation. Everyone at the dinner table will be impressed by this dish's big bold flavors.Jump to Recipe
Have you ever eaten something you couldn't get enough of? Paella is something I always get seconds and thirds of because I love it so much. I grew up in a family that loved to experiment with recipes from around the world and Paella became a staple for us. With that being said, a bucket list item of mine is to travel to Valencia and enjoy some authentic paella.
In the meantime, this gluten-free recipe is a delicious and convenient way to bring Spain to your table as a simple weeknight dinner. More gluten-free rice recipes you'll love include Gluten-Free Spanish Rice, Buffalo Chicken Rice Bowl, One Pot Lemon Herb Chicken and Rice, and Yellow Mediterranean Rice.
- What Is Paella?
- Why This Gluten-Free Recipe is a Winner!
- Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- How to Make Gluten-Free Paella
- All About The Socarrat
- Choosing The Right Gluten-Free Rice
- Pro Tips
- Gluten-Free Paella Variations
- Make It Budget-Friendly
- Storing and Reheating
- Easy Gluten Free Paella Recipe with Seafood
What Is Paella?
Paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish that originated in the Valencia region of Spain. It is a flavorful and savory rice dish cooked in a wide, shallow pan called a "paellera" or paella pan. The dish is known for its distinctive combination of saffron-infused rice and a variety of proteins and vegetables.
While there are numerous regional variations, the classic Valencian paella typically includes rabbit, chicken, green beans, and snails, seasoned with saffron and other spices. Seafood paella like this recipe, is another popular variation. You can expect a mix of shrimp, mussels, clams, and squid. Vegetarian and mixed versions with a combination of meats and seafood are also common.
Why This Gluten-Free Recipe is a Winner!
Gluten-Free: All ingredients in this recipe are completely gluten-free. Everyone with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease can enjoy this delicious meal without worrying about added ingredients that may contain gluten.
No Paella Pan Needed: This gluten free paella recipe is extremely easy to make. Don't worry about mastering any complicated cooking techniques or not having the right equipment. All you need is a large skillet and you're good to go.
One Pan Simplicity: Everything is made in one skillet which means you'll have less clean up when you're done making it perfect for weeknights.
Customizable: Have fun customizing this Paella by adding different varieties of meat and vegetables. Start by using up what you already have on hand to give this gluten-free recipe your own spin.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Chicken breasts - Boneless chicken breasts are used as the non-seafood protein. You're welcome to use boneless chicken thighs or Spanish chorizo.
Shrimp - I recommend using large or even jumbo shrimp because it tends to shrink a little bit as it cooks.
Mussels - Use mussels in the shell, as they cook they'll start to open up releasing delicious juices into the rice mixture.
The Veggies and Rice
Onion - Any onion can be used. I've made this with white and yellow onion. You can use sweet or even red onion for added color.
Green bell pepper - For added color and flavor. Feel free to use red pepper, orange, or yellow bell peppers instead or in addition to green bell peppers.
Garlic - Freshly chopped garlic brings so much flavor to the Paella. I recommend using fresh instead of garlic powder. Four garlic cloves are used in this shrimp paella but you're welcome to use as much or as little as you want depending on your preferences. We like it a lot around here.
Diced tomatoes - When choosing canned diced tomatoes, be sure to choose a variety that's not pre-seasoned.
Spanish rice like Calrose rice - The kind of rice you use is very important because it's the base of the recipe. I think it's the best part of the dish. A great paella is dependent on not only the protein used but the rice too. I love Calrose rice because it's a medium grain rice that has a mild flavor and absorbs the flavors of the Paella very well.
Spanish bomba rice is used in traditional Spanish paella but this can sometimes be hard to find. If you can't find Calrose or Spanish rice, I highly recommend using arborio rice which is also known as risotto rice. This paella rice is a white rice that's high-starch resulting in a creamy, chewy texture. Calasparra rice is another option that is similar to arborio rice.
Frozen green peas - Frozen peas are a great and convenient option. When added toward the end of the cooking process they become bright green adding a beautiful pop of color.
The Spices and Other Ingredients
Smoked paprika - I chose to use smoked paprika in this recipe because I love the deep and bold flavor it provides. Since this Paella doesn't include sausage like chorizo or chicken sausage, I wanted to bring the smoky flavor and this is my favorite way to do so. If you don't care much for the smoky flavor, feel free to use regular or sweet paprika instead.
Salt and pepper - To enhance the flavors of the other ingredients. Be sure to taste the simple Paella before adding especially since the chicken stock you're using is probably already seasoned.
Extra virgin olive oil - You might look at this and think do I need 1/4 cup? Yes, you do need more than a few tablespoons of olive oil. Without enough olive oil, you won't be able to achieve the desired socarrat. Trust me on this. We will get more into that later on.
Bay leaf - To infuse the rice with delicious aromatics.
Saffron threads - This is a must, not only does it give the rice a great flavor but it gives it that golden color.
White wine - I like to use a sauvignon blanc in this easy dish.
Chicken broth - The perfect base of flavor starts here. Consider making your own homemade broth or stock for added flavor and nutritional benefits from the bone broth.
Parsley - For added color and freshness
Lemon juice - To give the delicious gluten-free Paella a zesty twist and to bring brightness. Buy a few extra lemons so you can serve each plate with lemon wedges.
How to Make Gluten-Free Paella
Step 1. Combine chicken pieces in a mixing bowl with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper until well combined. Set aside.
Step 2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or large skillet.
Step 3. Once heated, add onion, green bell pepper, and garlic. Cook for around 3-4 minutes until the onion and pepper start to soften.
Step 4. Add the seasoned chicken, white wine, diced tomatoes, bay leaf, Spanish rice, saffron threads, and chicken broth. Give the mixture a good stir until all ingredients are well combined. Cook covered at a steady simmer over medium heat to low heat for around 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is fully cooked or al dente. Be sure not to stir the rice during this process so the rice can form a nice crispy crust at the bottom of the pan.
Step 5. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add shrimp, mussels, and frozen peas.
Step 6. Once done, remove from heat, remove the lid, fold in lemon juice, and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.
All About The Socarrat
Socarrat is the prized crispy crust that forms on the bottom of a paella, particularly in traditional Valencian preparations. A tip on achieving this is toward the end of cooking, increase the heat slightly, and listen for crackling sounds.
Be sure to monitor the rice's color and aroma. Avoid excessive stirring in the final stages, let the rice cook and settle at the bottom of the pan to develop a golden-brown crust. Rest the paella briefly after cooking to let the socarrat firm up. Achieving this crispy layer requires a delicate balance of heat, timing, and technique.
Choosing The Right Gluten-Free Rice
The type of rice you use is so important. Be sure to stick with short grain rice for the best results. Fortunately, rice is naturally gluten-free and there are many rice variations to choose from making the right rice easy to find at many grocery stores.
Bomba Rice (Arroz Bomba): This traditional rice from Spain is often considered the best for paella. It has a unique ability to absorb liquid while remaining firm and separate. You'll see this variation used when prepped at a Spanish restaurant or in other authentic recipes.
Valencia Rice (Arroz de Valencia): Another Spanish rice variety suitable for paella, Valencia rice has a short grain and absorbs flavors exceptionally well.
Arborio Rice: Known for its short shape, you can expect a nice chewy and creamy texture with every bite.
Calrose Rice: Medium grain instead of short grain. It doesn't have the same high starch qualities that arborio does but you can expect a softer stickier texture making it perfect to use in Paella.
Brown Rice: This is not a traditional option but it's a healthy one. If using, you may need to adjust the cooking time.
Choose the Right Rice: Opt for short-grain rice like Bomba or Valencia for the best texture in paella.
Even Heat Distribution: Use a wide, shallow pan to promote even cooking and the coveted socarrat (crispy crust) at the bottom.
Quality Ingredients: Select fresh and high-quality ingredients, including saffron, for authentic flavor. I also suggest opting for fresh seafood to avoid any undesirable flavors.
Don't Overcrowd the Pan: Ensure an even layer of rice and avoid overcrowding to allow each grain to cook evenly.
Rest Before Serving: Allow the paella to rest briefly before serving to let flavors meld and socarrat firm up.
Gluten-Free Paella Variations
Chicken and Chorizo: Omit the seafood and create a flavorful twist with gluten-free chicken and chorizo, infusing smoky and savory notes.
Vegan Paella: Craft a vibrant gluten-free paella with a mix of colorful vegetables, beans, and aromatic spices. Swap the chicken broth for 2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth. Add red bell peppers, lima beans, artichoke hearts, and more.
Mixed Paella: Combine your favorite gluten-free proteins like chicken, seafood, and chorizo for a diverse and satisfying paella experience. Want to add a little spice? Try adding a little cayenne pepper to this great recipe for a little kick without compromising the flavor of the rice.
Lobster Paella: Indulge in luxury with this variation featuring lobster as the star ingredient, adding a decadent touch to the traditional paella.
Make It Budget-Friendly
Paella can get very expensive with all the different proteins used. Below are a few tips I use when making this family favorite without breaking the bank!
Choose Cost-Effective Proteins: Opt for budget-friendly proteins such as chicken thighs, drumsticks, or economical cuts of pork instead of pricier options like seafood.
Use Frozen Seafood: Consider using frozen options, which are often more budget-friendly than fresh. Frozen shrimp and mixed seafood blends can be cost-effective choices.
Seasonal Vegetables: Incorporate seasonal vegetables to take advantage of lower prices and maximize freshness. Bell peppers and peas are often budget-friendly options and prices may be reduced in the summer.
Bulk Purchases: Buy rice, broth, and spices in bulk to save money in the long run. This is something we enjoy doing because you can store rice and other spices for quite a long time.
Utilize Leftovers: Repurpose leftover meats or vegetables from previous meals into your paella. It's a smart way to minimize waste and stretch your budget.
Consider Meatless Options: If your budget is tight, explore paella variations without meat or seafood. A vegetarian or vegan paella can be just as flavorful and budget-friendly. This variation can be very healthy too!
Storing and Reheating
To store paella, allow it to cool a bit before transferring it to an airtight container. This will reduce the amount of condensation build-up. Refrigerate the paella for up to 3 days for the best results. For longer term storage you can freeze the paella for up to 3 months. Be sure to thaw completely before reheating.
To reheat, you can use a microwave or stovetop. In the microwave, cover the paella with a damp paper towel to prevent drying out and heat in short intervals, stirring between each, until it reaches your desired temperature. On the stovetop, add a splash of broth or water to the paella in a pan, cover, and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Ensure thorough reheating, and enjoy your delicious paella again!
Easy Gluten Free Paella Recipe with Seafood
- 2 chicken breasts cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 1 1/2 cups spanish rice like Calrose rice
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 lb mussels
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
- Lemon juice
- Combine chicken pieces in a mixing bowl with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper until well combined. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or large skillet.
- Once heated, add onion, green bell pepper, and garlic. Cook for around 3-4 minutes until the onion and pepper start to soften.
- Add the seasoned chicken, white wine, diced tomatoes, bay leaf, Spanish rice, saffron threads, and chicken broth. Give the mixture a good stir until all ingredients are well combined. Cook covered at a steady simmer over medium heat to low heat for around 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is fully cooked or al dente. Be sure not to stir the rice during this process so the rice can form a nice crispy crust at the bottom of the pan.
- During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add shrimp, mussels, and frozen peas.
- Once done, remove from heat, remove the lid, fold in lemon juice, and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately.