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Open fire seafood paella recipe | best paella pan

Open Fire Seafood Paella

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 8 1x


This seafood paella recipe made over an open fire is perfect for entertaining a crowd! It serves eight; pair it with Spanish cheese and sangria.


  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups snap peas
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 pound large shrimp, raw, deveined and peeled
  • 1/2 pound bay scallops, or large scallops cut into quarters
  • 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 very large pinch saffron
  • 2 1/2 cups Spanish bomba rice (it’s easiest to find online, so order here!)
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 quart fish stock
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • 16 to 18 inch-paella pan (here’s our paella pan)*
  • *To replicate our open fire setup (available at your hardware store):
    • 8 concrete blocks
    • Hickory or oak logs (made for grilling or smoking)
    • The grate from your grill


  1. Set up the grate: The paella can be cooked over any open fire, with a grate placed about 8 to 10 inches over the fire. For our open fire paella, we built a makeshift paella grill on our deck (for just $10!). To make the same grill: buy 8 concrete blocks from hardware store and place them in the configuration shown in our photos. Then place the grate from your standard grill over the top of the blocks.
  2. Start the fire: About 1 hour before you want to start cooking, start the fire. We recommend using a hardwood such as hickory or oak to help the fire burn consistently (we picked up some packaged logs made for grilling or smoking at our local hardware store). While cooking, add small pieces of wood to maintain the fire.
  3. Prepare the ingredients (“Mise en place”): Small dice the onion and bell pepper, and add them to a bowl. Mince the garlic and add it to the same bowl. Cut off any hard ends from the snap peas and place them in a separate bowl. Measure out the remaining ingredients and place them on a tray. Then take the tray to the fire for cooking.
  4. Cook the shrimp: Warm the olive oil in the pan and cook the shrimp for about 1 to 2 minutes per side until barely pink. Remove to a plate and set aside. 
  5. Cook the sofrito: Add the onion, garlic, and peppers to the pan and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the tomatoes are thickened and almost caramelized. 
  6. Add the remaining ingredients: Add the rice and stir it into the tomatoes, cooking for about 2 minutes. Then add the wine, smoked paprika, saffron, and salt, and stir until everything is evenly coated. Pour in the broth and stir so that rice is evenly distributed. Add the scallops and snap peas evenly over the top of the dish. 
  7. Let it cook: At this point, do not stir the dish at all! Letting the paella cook slowly without moving it allows the desirable crust to form at the bottom of the pan, called socarratTry to maintain the fire so that the paella simmers evenly across the pan without boiling (if it is boiling heavily, spread out the coals to reduce temperature). The rice should cook a total of 30 to 40 minutes after the broth has been added (including Step 8). Rotate the pan every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Make sure to maintain the fire so that it does not burn out during the cook time. 
  8. Add the snap peas and shrimp: When the top of the rice is beginning to show through the water, press the snap peas lightly into the rice using tongs. Add the shrimp to the dish, also lightly pressing them into the rice. Once the broth is mostly cooked out and the paella is slowly bubbling, rotate it more frequently. Remove it from the fire just before the last of the broth has been absorbed. You may even hear a “crack” of the socarrat forming on the bottom of the dish. Allow to rest 10 minutes to firm up before serving.


*The best paella pan for this recipe is one that is 16 to 18 inches. Do not attempt to make this recipe in a smaller pan! It is customized for this size of pan and will serve 8 people. Also, paella pans are made of carbon steel and will rust. Make sure to dry the pan completely after cleaning it, and rub it with a bit of vegetable oil to prevent rusting.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Open Fire
  • Cuisine: Spanish