Making this Chicken and Chorizo Paella at home is easy and really fun. It is made with chicken thighs and traditional Spanish chorizo, along with a sofrito and short grain rice. Today I’m sharing tips and techniques so you can make the perfect paella!
I have tried so many types of paellas in my life, and chicken and chorizo paella is one of my favorites. I really love the flavors that chorizo adds to paella…a bit spicy, smoky, and ultra delicious. I can’t really describe the flavor profile in words…it’s the kind of thing that you just need to try to understand. It adds depth to the dish and it’s amazing!
Making this chicken and chorizo paella at home is super easy, and today I am sharing all you need to know about it, including tips and tricks!
Before we start, here are some things to know about paellas:
- It is a traditional dish from Spain
- It is always cooked on a shallow pan. The traditional Spanish paella pan is shallow and made of carbon steel.
- A good paella has a good socarrat, which is that crust of toasted rice that forms in the bottom of the pan. It’s hard to achieve, and takes lots of practice.
- Key ingredients: sofrito, saffron, paprika, chicken stock, short grain rice, tomatoes.
Chicken and Chorizo Paella Ingredients
Each ingredient in this easy paella recipe plays a key role:
- Chicken: I used skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. You can also use chicken drumsticks or cubed chicken breast.
- Spanish chorizo: The smokiness of Spanish chorizo adds depth and color to the dish. Use smoked Spanish chorizo or semi-smoked Spanish chorizo. Semi-smoked Spanish chorizo, which is what I used, will add more flavor and color than fully smoked Chorizo will.
- Sofrito (red bell peppers, onion, garlic): This trio will be your flavor base. Make sure you cook the sofrito until soft and fragrant.
- Smoked paprika: adds smokiness and colors.
- Saffron threads: Saffron is a unique spice whose flavor is very hard to describe. It’s a bit floral and it adds more than just taste…it adds depth. It’s a key ingredient in paellas. Dissolve saffron threads in a little bit chicken broth before adding to the paella.
- Short grain rice: Always use short grain rice, like Bomba or Arborio, because it absorbs all that flavorful liquid much better.
- Chicken broth: Use good quality chicken broth, as it is a key flavor-building ingredient.
- Can of diced tomatoes: Adds flavor and color.
- Green peas: Adds color and contrast.
- Olive oil: what’s a good paella without good Spanish olive oil?! 🙂
How to Make this Chicken and Chorizo Paella
- Season and cook the chicken thighs: Season with salt and pepper on both sides, and cook about 8 minutes per side on medium heat. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Cook the sofrito and chorizo: Don’t wipe the skillet clean! The brown bits from the chicken are packed with flavor. Add some olive oil and cook the sofrito (red bell peppers, onion, garlic) along with smoked paprika, until soft and fragrant. Then cook the chorizo.
- Add the rice and diced tomatoes: after adding the rice and tomatoes, cook for about 2 minutes to toast the rice, stirring.
- Add chicken broth and saffron threads: Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
- Add peas and return chicken to pan: nest the chicken in the rice.
- Cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes on low heat: rotate the pan occasionally if one side of the pan is cooking more than the other.
- Remove from heat and cover with foil for 10 minutes: this will allow the rice to absorb the remaining liquid and flavor.
- Serve with lemon wedges and parsley.
Traditional paella is cooked over the grill set up in a specific way to heat up a large pan evenly. Some people also use gas burners designed specifically to heat up large paella pans.
On a regular stove at home, where the gas burners are a lot smaller, rotate the pan occasionally if one side of the pan is cooking less than the other. This will also help prevent the bottom from burning. You want the bottom to be crispy, not burnt.
Making paella at home is so much fun. It’s always a feast whenever we make paella! I hope you give this a try, and be sure to check out the “Tips fro Making the Perfect Paella” section below.
If you’re interested in more rice recipes:
- One Pot Jambalaya
- One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice
- Stuffed Acorn Squash with Wild Rice and Mushrooms
Thank you for reading, and please don’t forget to pin this recipe 🙂
Tips for Making the Perfect Paella
- Use the right pan: It must be very shallow, about 2 inches deep or less. Paella is cooked in a thin layer. Try a traditional carbon steel paella pan, cast iron skillet, or a regular skillet.
- Rotate the pan: If your burner is too small, you may need to rotate the pan occasionally if one side of the pan is cooking less than the other. This will also prevent the bottom from burning. It all depends on your burner.
- Use Bomba or Arborio rice: these short grain rice varieties absorb flavor like no other.
- Do NOT stir the rice! Stirring constantly creates a gummy consistency, like risotto. Paella rice is supposed to be loose.
- Don’t skip these ingredients: Red bell peppers, onions, garlic, smoked paprika, saffron, diced tomatoes, and chorizo. They add flavor, depth, and color to the paella.
- Let the paella rest: remove from the heat source, wrap in foil and let it sit for 10 minutes. This will allow the rice to absorb the remaining liquid and flavor.
Chicken and Chorizo Paella
- 4 chicken thighs - (preferably boneless)
- 1 medium yellow onion, small diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and small diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 8 oz smoked or semi-smoked Spanish chorizo - (cut into ¼ inch pieces)
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
- A large pinch of saffron threads
- 3 ¼ cups chicken broth plus 2 tablespoons, divided
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Chopped Italian parsley for garnish
- Lemon wedges
- Combine the large pinch of saffron threads with 2 tablespoons chicken broth to let it infuse. Set aside.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large 12 inch shallow skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Cook the chicken about 7-8 minutes per side, until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and transfer to a plate.
- To the same pan, add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and smoked paprika, adding more olive oil to the pan if needed. Cook until softened and fragrant. Add chorizo to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes until brown, stirring occasionally.
- Add the rice and diced tomatoes, and stir. Cook about 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the 3 1/4 cups of chicken broth and saffron threads along with the liquid. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. Increase heat to high and bring back down to a simmer. Add peas and return chicken to the pan.
- Cook, covered, for 20-25 minutes on low, rotating occasionally if one side of the pan is cooking less than the other. This will also prevent the bottom from burning.
- Remove from heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. During this time, the rice will absorb the remaining liquid and flavors.
- Serve with parsley and lemon wedges. Enjoy!
- Equipment: paella pan or a shallow skillet, about 2 inches deep. This recipe requires a 12-inch skillet.
- Heat control: Traditional paella is cooked over the grill set up a certain way to heat up a large pan evenly. On a regular stove, rotate the pan occasionally if one side of the pan is cooking less than the other. This will also help prevent the bottom from burning.
- Chicken: feel free to use chicken breast (cubed) instead.
- Spanish chorizo: I used semi-cured Spanish chorizo, which is not fully cooked, because it's got more moisture, color, and flavor. You can also used fully smoked Spanish chorizo, just be sure to remove the casings.
- Saffron: saffron threads can be expensive, but it's a must for depth of flavor and essence in paellas.
- Lemon wedges: a squeeze of fresh lemon juice takes this paella to the next level!