Paella is a Spanish rice dish that is naturally gluten free. The modern version of paella originated from the Valencia region of Spain and is one of the most well-known Spanish foods worldwide. However, paella became synonymous with Spain only within the last 100 years. The word paella actually refers to the shallow pan that is used to cook this meal.


Valencia, Spain from travelnow.or.crylater

Paella most likely originated with the Moors between the 10th to 15th century, but this style of rice dish can actually be traced back even further back to an ancient family of Arabic rice dishes. These include Persian pilaf and Indian biryani. For more about the history of paella, see this great Everyday Food Blog article.


Paella building blocks:

  • Paella pan (la paella). Spain Food Sherpas has a guide to help you choose the right pan for your heat source.

  • Bomba rice, a round shortgrain Spanish rice


Rice from Jocelyn Morales


Saffron harvest from Mahdi Dastmard
  • Aromatics (onions, garlic, tomatoes, paprika)
  • White wine
  • Socarrat, which translates as ‘scorched’ and refers to the crispy bits of rice on the bottom of a pan of well-made paella. The video below will walk you through the steps to help achieve this sought-after crust of rice.

Paella types:

Paella Valenciana

The oldest type of paella. It includes rabbit, chicken, green beans, lima beans, rosemary, and snails.

Paella de marisco

Seafood paella. This type generally includes langoustines, shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, and a firm fish, as well as dried peppers for a bit of depth and heat.


Mussels paella from martin becker

Paella mixta

Paella that includes both seafood and meat. This is the most commonly served type within the US.

Arroz con cosas

Literally means ‘rice with things’. This is how Valencians may generalize paella-like dishes they think are heretical, like versions that include chorizo.

Arròs negre

Squid ink paella made with seafood and peppers. It is Catalan and Valencian in origin, but is not usually called a paella, even though it’s prepared in the same manner.


Arròs negre from Jay Wennington

Paella vegetariana

Vegetarian or vegan paella, which may also be grouped under ‘arroz con cosas’, as it is not traditional.

* Title image courtesy of Spanish Sabores.

- Further Reading -