Easy Vegan Paella (1 Pan!)

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Skillet of our easy vegan paella topped with tofu chorizo sausage

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!

Cherry tomatoes, onion, smoked paprika, saffron, green peas, lemon, artichoke hearts, olive oil, red bell pepper, arborio rice, and vegetable broth

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.

Pouring vegetable broth over arborio rice, onions, red bell pepper, and seasonings

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.

Vegetable broth poured over arborio rice and seasonings

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!

Stirring cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and green peas into a skillet of vegan paella

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.

Pan of vegan paella topped with lemon wedges

We hope you LOVE this vegan paella! It’s:

Warming
Tender
Savory
Hearty
Customizable
& Comforting!

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

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!

Bowl of vegan paella with tofu chorizo

Easy Vegan Paella (1 Pan!)

Easy vegan paella that’s packed with seasonal vegetables and so flavorful! Comforting, naturally gluten-free, and perfect for weeknight meals or meal prep. Just 1 pan required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Pan of our vegan paella recipe
5 from 15 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 (Servings)
Course Entree
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Spanish-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 4 Days

Ingredients

  • 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

FOR SERVING optional

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.

Nutrition (1 of 6 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 372 Carbohydrates: 68.5 g Protein: 9.8 g Fat: 7.3 g Saturated Fat: 0.4 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4 g Monounsaturated Fat: 1.7 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 1385 mg Potassium: 371 mg Fiber: 8 g Sugar: 8.6 g Vitamin A: 1756 IU Vitamin C: 47.4 mg Calcium: 41.9 mg Iron: 1.2 mg

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  1. Nicole says

    So very delicious, and ridiculously easy considering how yummy it is! I did have to cook the rice quite a bit longer than the recipe indicated, but it was worth the wait. Thanks for yet another winning recipe!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Nicole! Thank you for sharing your experience!

  2. Manuela says

    This paella is sooo good! My favorite so far out of multiple recipes I’ve tried. Love the lemony taste and of course the marinated artichoke is a must!! I wanted to ask for suggestions on how I might make the rice a bit “drier?” I remember a paella my aunt who is from a Spain once made for us and the texture of the rice was firmer/drier. I remember she actually put it in the oven on a sheet. When would it be indicated to put in the oven? Thanks in advance for the suggestions! P.S. I love your blog and book! Our family is addicted to the strawberry cheesecake from the book!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Manuela! So happy to hear you and your family enjoy our recipes! We haven’t tried paella in the oven but it’s possible if you make it in an oven safe skillet that you could then stick it in the oven (maybe 350 F?) for 10 minutes or so to achieve the drier results you want. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try! xo

  3. Kira says

    Okay, was not sure what to really expect with this but YUM!!! Super easy to make and it was so so good! The bright colors made me so excited to eat it. Couldn’t get my hands on saffron so substituted with turmeric. Also made with the vegan chorizo but since I’m not vegan, next time I make it (because this will definitely be made numerous more times!) I want to try with seafood.

  4. Nicki Escudero says

    OMG, such a fragrant, flavorful dish. I’m half-Spanish, and this was my first time making paella. 😂 Artichokes, peppers, tomatoes, what more could you ask for? The saffron made for the most enjoyable cooking experience. Such a fantastic dish. Thanks so much for this recipe. Nicki

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! Thanks so much for the lovely review, Nicki. We’re so glad you enjoyed the paella! xo

  5. Emily says

    So good! My husband and I loved it. I made it as written and topped the paella with the vegan chorizo. De.li.cious.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yumm, amazing! Thanks for the lovely review, Emily. We’re so glad you both enjoyed! xo

  6. Linda says

    Substituted turmeric for saffron, other then that followed the recipe as written. Delicious, fast and easy. Will make again.
    Thanks.

  7. Jill says

    So delicious, and really a simple dish to make! We paired it with the soy chorizo from Trader Joe’s and it was perfect!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Jill. Thank you for the lovely review! xo

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Ana. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  8. Molly says

    Hi- I am so excited to make this for a friend for our first dinner together since pre covid!!! I am trying to be better about using the groceries I already have… do you think white Jasmine rice would be okay? I love all your recipes! They never disappoint.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Molly, we think it would be more prone to getting mushy. But let us know if you try it!

  9. Gilly says

    Hi! I don’t *love* artichokes and was wondering if you had any recommendations for something to replace them with.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Gilly, We could see kalamata olives, jackfruit, or summer squash being nice. Let us know if you try it!

  10. Caitlin says

    Soooooo delicious and easy to make! Will be a new go to staple for me. I added beyond sausage instead of chorizo and it worked great!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Caitlin. Thank you for the lovely review! xo

  11. Arizona says

    Hi! I’m a big fan of your recipes, especially the sweet ones :) I wanted to comment on this one, to let you know we have an “official” plant-based take on paella in València, which is called paella de verduras (vegetable paella), and it’s normally made with artichokes (like you used), spring onions, garrofó (butter beans), and some greens (not peppers). Ah! And I think you will get better results (crispier rice) if you don’t cover the pan, and only cover it for the last 5 minutes of the cooking process. I would not add the chorizo here, but I will definetely use it in other recipes, looks delicious!!

  12. Beth Ann Schumacher says

    Is there some other way to make Vegan Chorizo without soy? Thank you for considering my request.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Beth Ann, you could try cooked lentils or pinto beans. We’d suggest pulsing them in the food processor for a smoother texture. Let us know if you try it!

  13. Lola says

    Oh, I will give this one a go! If I want to add vegan protein, e.g. Quorn “chicken” pieces or vegan sausages, at what point would you recommend to add them? Or cook separately and add at the end with saffron? What about premixed paella mix (containing saffron), add it in the beginning? Thank you!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Great! We’d suggest cooking separately then adding at the end. Similar to the way the vegan chorizo is used in this recipe. We aren’t familiar with premixed paella mix, so we’re not sure there. Let us know how it goes!

      • Monika Niemasik says

        I am such a fan of your recipes, I browse your site daily. I made this and it was a hit with my family and neighbors! Next time I am going to consider using Cauliflower rice as a lower carb option.

  14. Vicky says

    So happy to see this on here! I grew up around paella but never liked the sea food in it, I’ve even fallen into ( luckily empty) paelleras lol
    I can’t wait to make this! Do you think brown arborio rice is ok to use? I think it could work but asking the experts, thanks!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! We’ve never experimented with brown arborio rice actually, so we’re not sure. Let us know how it goes!

  15. Ashley Crawford says

    Oh my gosh… So good and honestly, so easy to make. I normally always have to increase my seasonings and I didn’t with this recipe. I did use my own homemade tofu for the “meat”. The flavor was fantastic. Definitely worth making. I’ve never liked paella until now.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Ashley! Thank you for the lovely review! xo

  16. Aimee T. says

    This looks great and I’d love to try it, was curious what could be swapped in instead of peas for the non-peas lovers? :) edamame? Chopped green beans? I don’t want to freestyle and mess up the flavor! Thank you!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Aimee, we think either of those ideas would be lovely! Let us know how it goes!

      • Aimee says

        I just made it this past week with diced haricot vert green beans – it all turned out so great! My only weirdness was with how oily the marinated artichokes were but I got over that! Yummmm.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Dee, saffron is a pretty key ingredient for classic paella flavor. But perhaps try subbing a little bit of ground turmeric for color? Let us know how it goes!

  17. Marta Paunero says

    Hey! Haven’t really tried (or fully read) this recipe but please don’t include the vegan chorizo in it! I’m Spanish and I’ve always wondered why overseas Paella recipes always include this ingredient? Which is never used in traditional Spanish Paella. ..just do you know :)

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Marta, as mentioned in the “what is paella” section, our version is inspired, not traditional. The vegan chorizo is optional, but we like adding it for making the meal feel more complete and nutritionally balanced in the absence of other protein sources. You can certainly leave it out, if preferred.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Caroll, we think it will be more prone to getting mushy, but might be okay! Let us know if you try it!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Teresa, we think it will be more prone to getting mushy, but might work. If you try it, keep in mind that it won’t need to cook for as long. Let us know how it goes!