Simple Shrimp and Artichoke Paella

In Recipes

A perfect romantic date night in, this Spanish paella is simple and stunning, made on the stovetop. It’s a healthy dinner that’s gluten free and dairy free.

Simple Shrimp & Artichoke Paella | A Couple Cooks

Show of hands: who loves a good date night in? Much as I love the dress up-dinner-drinks routine, some of Alex and my favorite memories have been nights we’ve spent at home, cooking together. It’s not always pretty: there are shirts splattered with tomato sauce and burnt bread and broken pizza stones…and sometimes a few tears. But there’s something so comforting about pouring a glass of red wine, turning on some tunes and ultimately eating the fruits of your labor. Date night in — it’s a thing. (Our friend Ashley even wrote a book about it.) Keep reading for our best shrimp paella recipe, and why you should make it at home!

Related: Try our Open Fire Seafood Paella, cooked over an open fire!

Simple Shrimp & Artichoke Paella | A Couple Cooks

Simple Shrimp & Artichoke Paella | A Couple Cooks

Date night in

This Valentine’s Day, we’re bringing you another date night in, a tradition we started in the early years of our blog. Four years ago, it was this simple vegetable paella. I discovered paella (Pie-A-Yah) while I was studying in Spain in college: it’s a traditional Spanish dish of rice, vegetables, and seafood or meat, flavored with exotic spices like smoked paprika and saffron. Paellas are celebratory, many times cooked over an open fire. Some of my favorite memories in Spain are sharing paella with new friends.

Simple Shrimp & Artichoke Paella | A Couple Cooks

How to make shrimp paella

We received such positive feedback about the paella date night that we’re bringing it back this year, this time with a twist. As you know, we eat mainly vegetarian, but on celebratory days we splurge with a little seafood or meat. Alex was set on making this a shrimp paella, since it’s quite traditional and looks stunning as well. I must say I became a believer, as the dish turned out as delicious as it is beautiful. What makes the dish is the smoked paprika (called pimenton in Spanish); it lends a sultry, smoky flavor that’s instantly addicting. It’s hard to describe my love for the stuff. We have several sources for smoked paprika, but Simply Organic is one of our favorites. The other key spice for the dish is traditionally saffron. However, since it’s the world’s most expensive spice, we went with a common substitute: turmeric, which gives a bit of earthy flavor and a brilliant yellow color.

Simple Shrimp & Artichoke Paella | A Couple Cooks

You’ll see that the recipe below is written a little differently than most — it’s a recipe for a date night, including music and wine. Don’t worry if you don’t have the special pan; a large skillet works just as well. The quantities below are enough for four, so either a double-date night, or you’ll have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch!


Simple Shrimp and Artichoke Paella

1 Star (No Ratings Yet)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Spanish


A perfect romantic date night in, this Spanish paella is simple and stunning, made on the stovetop. It’s a healthy dinner that’s gluten free and dairy free.


  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ pound raw deveined shelled shrimp
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 pinch oregano
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked white arborio rice
  • 1 tablespoon Simply Organic smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Simply Organic turmeric (or 1 pinch saffron)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, packed
  • 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas


  1. Set the mood: Turn on some music (we love Google music stations Indie in the Kitchen for cooking and Cocktail Party Jazz for eating). Pour yourself some wine (maybe a Spanish red, such as a Rioja), or your beverage of choice. If you’re hungry, grab something to munch on as you prepare your dish. And—relax! Forget about the day’s worries and get ready to have some fun in the kitchen.
  2. Prep school: Dice ½ onion. Mince 4 cloves garlic.
  3. First, the shrimp: In a large skillet or paella pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high. Add the shrimp and saute until just barely opaque, about 1 minute per side, sprinkling with 1 pinch kosher salt, 1 pinch oregano, and 1 pinch red pepper flakes. Set the shrimp aside.
  4. Time to cook: In the skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until just translucent, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until all liquid is reduced, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in 1 ½ cups rice, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon turmeric (or saffron), and 1 teaspoon kosher salt for about 1 minute. Add 3 cups broth and 3 cups spinach leaves and stir in the spinach so that it is covered by the liquid. Bring to a medium simmer; do not stir. (The goal is to slowly cook down the liquid through the rice without stirring, so make sure the heat is not too high.) Arrange artichoke quarters on top of the rice. While you wait, clean the kitchen, set the table, assemble a simple green salad or dessert.
  5. Get ready and wait: Cook until the rice is al dente and the liquid is fully cooked down, about 20 minutes. In the last 3 minutes, arrange ¼ cup peas and cooked shrimp on top.
  6. Serve: After the liquid is mostly cooked out, remove from the heat and let sit for a few minutes (a little more of the liquid will absorb as it sits). Make sure not to leave on the heat too long or the paella may burn — though crusty bits on the bottom are both traditional and desirable! Serve immediately.


Note: A large skillet works for this recipe, but you can use a paella pan if you have it! We placed ours across two burners to get even heat. This recipe serves enough for 4, so if you make it for a date night you’ll also have leftovers!

Keywords: Paella, Shrimp Paella, Seafood Paella, Paella de Mariscos, Seafood Paella Recipe, Spanish, Gluten Free

This post is sponsored by Simply Organic. All opinions are our own; we love their spices and use them often. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who keep A Couple Cooks in action!

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious, and a recipe developer and healthy & sustainable food advocate behind the award-nominated food blog A Couple Cooks.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is photographer and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best new cookbooks” by Bon Appetit, and a recipe developer, photographer, and technical expert at A Couple Cooks.


  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    February 1, 2016 at 10:34 am

    This does look delicious, I love the artichokes and the smoked paprika in it. This is a lot more elegant for a date night, but we’re thinking along the same lines as I just made a Spanish shrimp dish too that I want to publish soon. ;-) And two hands raised over here for date nights in….I agree, there’s nothing more comforting.

    • Reply
      March 3, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Hooray for date nights in! Can’t wait to see your Spanish shrimp – yum!

  • Reply
    February 1, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I didn’t have paella until a friend who’d studied in Spain made some for me and I was instantly hooked!

    • Reply
      March 3, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      How fun is that?! You will have to try it in Spain too :)

  • Reply
    Dani | salt sugar and i
    February 1, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    This looks delicious, I LOVE artichokes!! I also love date nights in…trackies and all :) the only down fall is the washing up after :) My biffy and and I made a seafood paella for our Valentines dinner last year, such a fun dish to make.

    Huge fan of date nights in and HUGE fan of your friend(not without salt)s book!

    • Reply
      March 3, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      Oh hooray, I’m so glad to hear you love Ashley’s book! And yes I agree — dishes aren’t the most fun. That was the biggest thing I had to get over when we started cooking together! Now I don’t mind so much… :)

  • Reply
    February 1, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Oh, I love this style of writing recipes. One of my favorite date night stations is Hipster Cocktail Party on Pandora, and I’m definitely going to check out Indie in the Kitchen. Paella is such a fantastic dish, and this one looks like a stunner.

    • Reply
      March 3, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      Thank you, Allyson! And hipster cocktail party?! We’re in!

  • Reply
    February 1, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    This looks like a perfect recipe for my husband as he loves all of the ingredients in this dish. He also loves paella, so I will have to cook this recipe for him.

    • Reply
      March 3, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      I think it’s a sign! Let’s us know if you made it and if he liked it :)

  • Reply
    Margaret Ann @ MAK and Her Cheese
    February 6, 2016 at 12:13 am

    Paella is amazing, and I love getting ideas for variations. I strongly disliked artichokes for a long time, but turned a corner after trying them in a traditional Spanish dish (same with olives!). Can’t wait to experiment with paella this weekend, artichokes included :) Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Reply
      March 3, 2016 at 9:05 pm

      You’re so welcome! I also did not like olives for a very long time — they do have a very strong taste! So glad you turned the corner with artichokes!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2016 at 10:40 am

    This looks delicious! Do you think that the rice could be substituted for cauliflower rice? My husband and I are doing a Whole30, so unfortunately rice is out for us. I’ve had good luck swapping rice for cauliflower rice in the past, but I’d be curious on your thoughts on doing so in this recipe. Thanks!

    • Reply
      February 14, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      That’s a good question! I think you could try it with cauliflower rice, but I would cook it like a stir fry using the same spices and veggies instead of as a paella. You wouldn’t need to do the step of using broth and cooking the rice down for 30 minutes– does that make sense? Let me know if you have further questions!

      • Reply
        April 2, 2016 at 5:25 pm

        So I’m reporting back here MONTHS later on my success! The cauliflower rice worked perfectly for this recipe – so good! I ended up adding some chicken broth to give the cauliflower rice something to soak up, but I probably didn’t add more than 1 cup of broth total. The flavors in this dish were so good, and I can’t wait to make it again!

  • Reply
    Lindsay Nealer
    January 8, 2017 at 11:50 pm

    This was SO good. They didn’t have Arborio rice at Trader Joe’s and I was not feeling a second stop so I used the shirt grained white rice I had at home but it still turned out great, although if you’re subbing the rice, you’ll want to cover and stir. I’ll be trying this as written very soon. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  • Reply
    Sarah Lucht
    September 12, 2017 at 10:52 am

    This is one of our FAVORITE all-time recipes (& I’m finally getting around to leaving a comment here) so THANK YOU. My husband loves, loves, loves, paella and always requests that I make it whenever we feel like celebrating. I also love your writing – this is the perfect recipe to read through to get you into the mood of relaxing and enjoying an evening at home. So thanks again!

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.