If you think paella is too difficult to make, think again! This one pan wonder is surprisingly approachable, incredibly flavorful, and customizable based on taste and season. We couldn’t help but add some vegan chorizo (check out our recent recipe here) for even more substance. Let us show you how it’s done!
What is Paella?
Paella is a rice-based dish originating in Valencia, Spain. The word paella means “frying pan,” and the dish is traditionally made in a shallow, wide pan with handles on the sides, sometimes also called a paellera.
Paella typically includes rice, saffron (which gives it a yellow color), meat or seafood, broth, and spices. It’s traditionally simmered over an open flame where it develops a crispy crust called socarrat.
Our version is not traditional but is our plant-based take on this delicious Valencian dish. You can find a more traditional (not vegan) paella recipe here from Spain on a Fork.
How to Make Vegan Paella
This recipe starts with combining saffron threads and lemon juice. This brings out the flavor and vibrant red-yellow color of the saffron to get the most use out of it. It’s an expensive spice (because it’s a flower that blooms only one week per year), but it’s essential to paella and has a unique, slightly sweet, and fragrant flavor.
Next, we sauté the onion, red bell pepper, and garlic for a naturally sweet, savory base. Smoked paprika adds a smoky component and sea salt infuses the dish with flavor.
Paella is traditionally made with short-grain round rice, which is considered the best variety for paella because of its low starch content (source). Since it’s not easily available in our area, we used arborio rice, a medium-grain rice that seems to hold up well. Long-grain rices such as basmati and jasmine will be more prone to getting mushy.
Since vegan paella can easily become a rice-heavy dish, we packed this recipe with veggies. Marinated artichoke hearts contribute a salty, brine-y element, cherry tomatoes add sweetness, and frozen peas help it feel more substantial and perfect for spring!
To finish it off, we included an optional topping of our Easy Vegan Chorizo. It adds extra protein and pairs beautifully with the flavors in this paella.
We hope you LOVE this vegan paella! It’s:
It’s a weeknight-friendly, crowd-pleasing entrée. While plenty filling and veggie-packed on its own, it would also pair nicely with our Easy Traditional White Sangria, Romesco Soup with Smashed Chickpeas, Perfect Roasted Asparagus, and/or a Simple Green Salad.
More Comforting Rice-Based Recipes
- Easy Vegan Fried Rice
- Vegan Risotto with Miso and Spring Vegetables
- Caramelized Shiitake Mushroom Risotto
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Easy Vegan Paella (1 Pan!)
- 1/2 tsp saffron
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (if oil-free, sub vegetable broth)
- 1 ½ cups diced yellow onion (~1 medium onion as recipe is written)
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper (~1 medium pepper as recipe is written)
- 3 Tbsp minced garlic (~6 cloves garlic as recipe is written)
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup quartered, marinated artichoke hearts, marinade reserved (~12-ounce jar as recipe is written)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup frozen peas
- In a small bowl, combine the saffron with the lemon juice to bloom the saffron. Set aside.
- In a large skillet or paella pan — at least 12 inches in diameter — heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, red bell pepper, and garlic, and sauté until softened — about 5 minutes. Add paprika and salt and toss.
- Add the rice and stir to coat and lightly toast the grains — about 2 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and the saffron and lemon juice. Stir well to evenly distribute ingredients.
- Bring broth to a boil. Once boiling, immediately reduce the heat to low. Cover, set a timer for 20 minutes, and simmer for 20 minutes undisturbed, or until the grains are tender and the liquid is fully absorbed.
- While the rice cooks, cook vegan chorizo (if including).
- CHORIZO: If serving with optional vegan chorizo, prepare it while the rice cooks. Heat a 10-inch nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a thin layer of avocado oil and as much vegan chorizo as will comfortably fit in a single layer in the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, undisturbed. It should sizzle and pop a bit — if it’s not, turn up the heat a little. Once nicely browned on the bottom, use a spatula to flip as evenly as possible to brown the other side for another 3 minutes. Break it up slightly and toss to evenly brown all sides — ~2 minutes. Repeat with any remaining chorizo and set cooked chorizo aside.
- Test the rice after 20 minutes to ensure it’s cooked. If it needs more time, add 1/2 cup (120 ml) water and cover again for a few minutes. When the rice is tender, turn heat off. Add the artichoke hearts, 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of artichoke marinade, tomatoes, and peas and toss gently. Cover for 2 minutes to warm through. Taste test and adjust as needed, adding more salt to taste, artichoke marinade for acidity, or smoked paprika for depth/smokiness. Optionally, serve with vegan chorizo and lemon wedges.
- Best when fresh. Leftovers will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Not freezer friendly.