This easy shrimp paella recipe is stunning and works for entertaining or a weeknight dinner. Here’s how to make this traditional Spanish recipe!
This post was created in partnership with Simply Organic. All opinions are our own.
Show of hands: who loves a good date night in? Much as I love the dress up-dinner-drinks routine, some my favorite memories are nights where Alex and stayed in cooking together. It’s not always pretty, mind you! There are shirts splattered with tomato sauce and burnt bread and broken pizza stones. But there’s something so comforting about pouring a glass of red wine, turning on some tunes, and ultimately chowing down on the fruits of your own labor. Date night in — it’s a thing. And the perfect date night in recipe? This easy shrimp paella. Of course — it works for weeknights and family dinners, too! Here’s why you should make it.
What is paella?
Four years ago, Alex and I started our date night in tradition with this easy vegetable paella. I discovered paella (Pie-A-Yah) while I was studying in Spain in college. It’s a traditional Spanish recipe featuring rice, vegetables, and seafood or meat, flavored with 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. Our newest take on paella? This shrimp paella recipe covered with juicy shrimp and tangy artichokes.
The stars: smoked paprika and turmeric (or saffron)
As you know, we eat mainly a whole food plant based diet over here. But occasionally we’ll splurge with a little seafood or meat. Alex was set on creating an easy shrimp paella recipe, since it’s traditional for a seafood paella and looks stunning as well. I must say I became a believer: the dish turned out as delicious as it is beautiful.
What makes this shrimp paella is the spices! First off, there’s the smoked paprika, called pimentón in Spanish. (Here’s more about smoked paprika.) It lends a sultry, smoky flavor that’s instantly intriguing. We have several sources for smoked paprika, but Simply Organic is our favorite. The other key spice for the dish is traditionally saffron. But since it’s the world’s most expensive spice, we went with a common substitute: turmeric! It gives a bit of earthy flavor and a brilliant yellow color. (Here are more turmeric recipes, if you’re interested.)
How to make shrimp paella: the basic steps
Here are the main steps for making a shrimp paella (or go to recipe below):
- Saute the shrimp: In a large skillet or paella pan, saute the shrimp in olive oil for 1 minute per side until barely opaque. Then set aside.
- Saute the veggies: In the same pan, heat olive oil, then saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and cook for 6 to 7 minutes.
- Add the rice, spices, & broth: Add the rice, smoked paprika, and turmeric and saute for 1 minute. Add veggie broth and spinach. Bring to a simmer and arrange the artichoke quarters on top of the rice.
- Simmer (don’t stir!): Simmer until the broth cooks through the rice, about 20 minutes, and do not stir. In the last 3 minutes, arrange the peas and shrimp on top. Enjoy served directly from the pan.
Do you need a paella pan to make this recipe?
You’ll see in the photos that we’ve used a paella pan when we made this shrimp paella recipe. But is it required? Nope! Don’t worry if you don’t have a paella pan; a large skillet works just as well! A paella pan is shallower than a skillet, so it cooks a bit differently. But it can be hard to balance it across the burners on your stove, depending on the size. While purists would argue that paella is only cooked in a paella pan, for an easy paella your largest skillet will do.
Looking for paella recipes?
Outside of this easy shrimp paella recipe, here are some of our favorites for different occasions:
- Seafood Paella Recipe on an Open Fire — feeds a crowd!
- Simple Vegetarian Paella — vegetarian for weeknights!
- Grilled Paella Recipe — perfect in the summer on the grill
This shrimp paella recipe is…
Pescatarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free.Print
This easy shrimp paella recipe with artichokes is stunning and works for entertaining or a weeknight dinner. Here’s how to make this traditional Spanish recipe!
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ pound raw deveined shrimp, shell on or off (thawed if frozen)
- 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 baby spinach leaves (or chopped standard leaves), packed
- 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
- Dice the onion. Mince the garlic.
- 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.
- In the skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until just translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until all liquid is reduced, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the rice, smoked paprika, turmeric (or saffron), and kosher salt for about 1 minute. Add the broth and spinach 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.
- Cook until the rice is al dente and the liquid is fully cooked down, about 20 minutes. In the last 3 minutes, arrange the peas and cooked shrimp on top.
- After the liquid is almost completely 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!
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Spanish
Keywords: Paella, Shrimp Paella, Seafood Paella, Easy Paella Recipe
Looking for more healthy seafood recipes?
Outside of this shrimp paella recipe, here are a few more healthy seafood recipes:
- 5 Minute Seared Tuna Recipe
- Baked Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce
- Broiled Salmon with Bourbon Glaze
- Truffled Egg with Smoked Salmon
- Baked Shrimp with Feta and Tomatoes
- Roasted Tomato Shrimp Over Creamy Polenta
- Quick Garlicky Shrimp Couscous
- Garlic Grilled Shrimp
- Easy Grilled Shrimp
- Grilled Shrimp and Vegetable Skewers
- Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Sauce
- How to Cook Shrimp on the Stove
- Grilled Shrimp Tacos
- Salmon en Papillote with Roasted Potatoes
- How to Buy Sustainable Fish & Seafood
- Best Shrimp Dinner Ideas
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.