What is paella?

Question: What is paella?

Answer: Paella is a rice dish from Spain that has become very popular and is known around the world. It originated in the fields of a region called Valencia in eastern Spain. Valencian people prepared the dish with whatever ingredients they had on hand - rabbit, snails and vegetables. Today paella has spread to every region of Spain, using just about any kind of ingredient that goes well with rice!

Actually, there are as many versions of paella as there are cooks. It may contain chicken, pork, shellfish, fish, eel, squid, beans, peas, artichokes or peppers. Saffron, the spice that also turns the rice a wonderful golden color is an essential part of the dish.

For more on paella, read our article Paella - an Introduction.

Varieties of Paella

As we said earlier, there are as many versions of paella as there are cooks. Below are links to our versions of the three principal varieties of paella. The Paella de Marisco is a step-by-step recipe and includes photos of each step. If you have never watched someone cook a paella, we recommend that you start by reviewing this step-by-step first. It will give you a good idea of the process from start to finish.

  • Traditional Paella Valenciana - This recipe has rabbit, chicken and snails, as well as beans and artichokes.
  • Paella de Marisco - Also known as paella mixta because it contains seafood and chicken, this is probably the most popular version overseas and with visitors to Spain.
  • Paella Vegetariana - Vegetarians – don’t despair! This version is for you. It contains white beans, artichokes, eggplant and peppers.