Seafood Paella is an easy, delicious and flavorful seafood recipe that you can make at home. With fresh shellfish, mussels, and other seafood, plus Italian sausage, this meal is packed with flavor!
I used to stray away from difficult or time consuming recipes, but now I enjoy them. I think I just appreciate the different steps required in a recipe and the time it takes to make food right. And although I hate clean-up, I don’t have a problem getting out different pots and pans in order to get something just right.
Seafood is a great alternative to beef and chicken, and is just as versatile. This seafood paella recipe takes some extra time to make, but the finished dish is worth it!
What is Paella?
“Paella comes from the countryside around Valencia, where it began as a humble dish for workers in the orchards and vegetable fields. They simmered what ingredients they could find—tomatoes, beans, rabbit, snails—in a wide pan over the cuttings of orange trees before adding rice to absorb the flavors and make a filling midday meal. From there, paella drifted into villages and then cities and eventually became Spain’s national dish.
Paella is at its best cooked at home, made with traditional, shortcut-free technique and served the moment it’s ready to an appreciative crowd. Nothing in Spanish cooking compares to carrying a massive pan of golden-brown rice out to the table, or the pleasures of digging into one. And while paella has a lot of details to sweat and rules to follow, the most important is simple: There is no such thing as a version for just one person. As one aunt in the family village in rural Valencia says, “Paella is really just an excuse to gather people.” Source: Saveur.com
Paella can be made using a variety of meat, poultry, or seafood.
I do highly recommend using a paella pan if you have one, but you can also use a cast iron skillet. The more you practice making paella, the easier it will be to make! For the spicy Italian sausage, make sure it’s been removed from the casing.
The one thing I will stress is purchasing quality ingredients (saffron and paella rice) and seafood. Spend the money and get some great, quality seafood. Fresh or frozen. It doesn’t matter. It makes all the difference!
Seafood Paella Recipe Notes
This recipe requires some extra steps because I like to steam my mussels separately and then add them on top of the paella. It’s perfect for a family dinner or for entertaining. This is the most requested dish that I make and bring to parties and potluck dinners!
I hope you give this Seafood Paella recipe a try – it is incredible!
For the paella:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil split + more if needed
- 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic minced or finely chopped
- 28 oz can or jarred tomato sauce plus more if needed
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 2 to 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 4 small squid cleaned, and sliced or chopped
- 2 cups medium-grain Spanish paella rice
- 3 cups chicken stock plus 1 to 2 cups more if needed*
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 pound spicy Italian sausage chopped, or broken up into pieces
- 12 oz fresh wild caught shrimp
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes cut in half crosswise
- fresh parsley finely diced for garnish
For the mussels:
- 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 to 2 shallots minced
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ pound mussels scrubbed and de-bearded (about 12)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or ½ cup water
For the paella:
- Using your cast iron skillet or paella pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onions and sauté until softened, for about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant, for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add in the tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper and add in the smoked paprika and the saffron threads, mixing well, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the squid and cook, stirring, for a minute or so and then, add in the rice and stir well until all the grains are coated with the tomato sauce mixture and the rice is evenly distributed around the skillet or pan.
- Using a separate small saucepan, bring the chicken stock and wine to a boil and then pour evenly over the rice. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil, and season with salt.
- Turn the heat down to low and let the rice simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. If it looks like you need more liquid to help your rice cook, you can add just a little more tomato sauce (1/4 cup to a 1/2 cup depending on how much you need) and more chicken stock* to the rice, half way through cooking. If you do this, pour evenly over the rice and then make sure the rice is still evenly distributed over the skillet.
- Add in the sausage, either chopped, or broken up into pieces and evenly distribute all over the rice and stir and cook until the sausage is cooked and browned completely. As your paella is cooking, remember to keep mixing around the pan so it doesn't stick to the bottom as much. A little sticking is ok (and some people even like the really cooked bits stuck to the bottom) but you just don't want it to burn.
- While the rice is cooking, prepare the mussels.
For the mussels:
- Using a large sized saucepan or small pot, warm the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat, waiting until the butter has melted. Add in the minced shallots and garlic and sauté until the shallots are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the mussels into the saucepan and pour in the chicken stock and wine or water. Immediately cover the pan with the lid for about 5 minutes. After about 5 to 6 minutes, lift the lid and check the mussels. Nearly all of the mussels should be open by now. If not, cover and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. You can mix the mussels around in the saucepan to get the sauce nicely distributed over them. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened after this time. Do not consume any mussels that have not opened.
- Once the rice is cooked, arrange the shrimp and tomatoes evenly over the rice and let cook. After the shrimp start to turn pink, flip them over and cook the other side. You want to cook the shrimp until they are just pink. Do not overcook.
- Arrange the open mussels on top of the seafood paella, drizzle the remaining tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over the top of the paella, garnish the parsley and serve immediately. Enjoy!
For the shrimp, I highly recommend using raw shrimp. Don’t buy the shrimp that is pink, that has already been cooked and is generally there to purchase for shrimp cocktail. When purchasing mussels, most grocery stores do all the cleaning and debearding for you. However, if you need to do it yourself, click here for a great resource for how to clean and debeard mussels.