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The Best Rice for Paella: A Guide to Spain’s Favorite Dish


Paella is a type of rice dish that has been around for centuries. The tradition of paella can be traced back to the 13th century when it was still primarily a method for cooking fish. As time progressed and Spain emerged as a great power, the dish’s popularity grew. Today, paella is one of Spain’s favorite dishes and continues to gain popularity abroad.

In this blog post, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about Spain’s most famous dish. What type of rice is best for paella? What ingredients should you use? How do you make it? We’ll answer all of these questions and more. So read on, learn something new, and make your delicious paellas today!

What Is Paella?

Paella is a mixture of different types of rice cooked slowly in a large pot and served with various ingredients. Traditionally, paella is prepared in a paellera (paella pan).

Just like so many great classics, paella came from humble beginnings. It began as a peasant dish often made with whatever ingredients were on hand.

It wasn’t until later that paella became popular throughout Spain when rice exports increased, and rice became more readily available.  Spain was once the world’s leading exporter of this grain but has since been supplanted by India and Thailand. Although the recipe remained similar across Spain throughout history, geographical locations influenced the rice preparation method.

What Type Of Rice Is Best For Paella, And What Are The Different Types Of Rice That Can Be Used For Paella?

Three types of rice can be used for paella: long grain brown rice, short grain brown rice, and white rice. Each class has different characteristics that make it more suitable for cooking in paellas.

1. Long Grain Brown Rice

Long grain brown rice is the most popular and widely used rice that can be used for paella. This rice has rounded grains that are usually medium-sized. Long grain brown rice, also known as Arroz Robusto del Pais, is an example.

It takes longer to cook than white or short-grain brown rice, but it’s very healthy; long-grain brown rice contains no fat, protein, or cholesterol. This type of rice is ideal for paella because it absorbs the dish’s flavors so well. As a result, it tastes delicious and can bring out the flavors of the ingredients you add to its cooking pot (more on this later).

2. Short Grain Brown Rice

Short-grain brown rice is similar to long-grain brown rice but is a bit shorter. The grains of short-grain brown rice are usually small, and the cooking time is much shorter than long-grain brown rice.

3. White Rice

White rice can also be used for paella, but it differs from long and short-grain brown rice. As its name suggests, white rice is white and fluffy, which makes it ideal as a base for sauces like paella or fried foods like batata manchego. It doesn’t absorb spices, as other types of rice do, so it needs extra ingredients added to it for the dish to come out tasting great.

What Ingredients Should You Use? 

Different types of rice have other cooking times, and different ingredients should be added to the rice. You should also remember that you can use the same ingredients for each type of paella you make.

1. Meat

Chopped meats are usually added to fish paellas; however, they can also be used in meat-based paellas.

2. Oil

Olive oil is usually used as a top drizzle on some dishes but can also be used as a cooking ingredient in paella.

3. Tomato

Tomatoes are a key ingredient in paella, especially in the form of chopped tomatoes. They can be used for seasoning and adding a tangy taste to the dish. You can also add extra herbs to your paella dish.

4. Onion

Onions are commonly added to meat-based paella dishes and make them taste better because they give them a sweet flavor and aroma. If you want to use onion in your favorite paella recipe, you should take extra care when chopping the onion so that it doesn’t brown or burn during cooking.

5. Vegetables

Vegetables are another key ingredient when making paellas because they add tons of texture, color, and flavor. You can add vegetables during the cooking process or after it’s done.

6. Seafood

Seafood is another key ingredient in paella because it adds a rich taste to the dish and enhances its flavors. It can be cooked with rice or separately. For paella recipes, you can use shrimp, mussels, clam, squid, cuttlefish, and scallops.

How To Make The Perfect Paella?

1. Heat the Oil in Paella Pan and Brown the Meat

While preheating your paella pan on the stove, add some olive oil to it and brown the meat first.

2. Add Seasoning Ingredients

Add onion, tomato, and other ingredients, such as garlic, to enhance the flavor if you wish to do so. Cook it until they soften.

3. Pour in Liquids and Rice

Add wine (or any type of alcohol) or broth to deglaze the pan and dissolve any bits of food sticking onto its surface. Then add water (and vegetables if you want). Bring to a boil and then lower the heat until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice

4. Add Seafood and Vegetables

Open the lid and add seafood and vegetables. Bring the heat to a boil again. It is essential to prevent your rice from burning by constantly turning or stirring the paellera. Serve and enjoy!

Delicious Variations On The Classic Dish

There are countless ways to prepare paella at home, but in the end, there is not just one method for cooking paella. The dish’s origin and its traditional ingredients help us understand that it can be cooked differently depending on the region or culture.

1. Mojo-Paella (Spanish Style)

Mojo-paella is a seafood paella that uses saffron and garlic as seasoning ingredients instead of tomato sauce or onions. It’s usually eaten with lemon juice and hot pepper sauce (salsa).

2. Xató-Paella (Catalan Style)

Xató is the Catalonian word for “stew.” Xató-paellas are usually served with garbanzos (chickpeas), so people from Palma, the capital of the Balearic Islands, call it “pla xaton”, which means big stew.

3. Frutti-di-Mare-Paella

Frutti di mare is an Italian term for seafood composed of various fish and shellfish. This paella is usually garnished with fresh raw materials on tops of the rice, such as scallops, shrimp, mussels, and clams.


Paella is a beloved dish perfect for Spanish natives or those who admire Spanish cuisine. It’s loved by millions worldwide, and it’s easy to see why: it’s delicious and can be made in various ways depending on what each cook desires. We hope you learned about paellas in this article and start making one!

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