Home » How to choose the proper ingredients for an authentic Spanish Paella

How to choose the proper ingredients for an authentic Spanish Paella

by Melissa Bell
4 minutes read

Spanish cuisine is the perfect combination of ancient recipes, penetrating aromas, strong flavors, and vibrant colors. The variety of all Spanish dishes is the result of thousands of years of foreign influences and the freshness of local ingredients. This marvelous combination allows the world to know about the most authentic and delicious cuisine.

Paella, fabada, gazpacho, and omelet are excellent examples of the uniqueness of Spanish meals. All of them reflect the distinctive ingredients used in this Mediterranean gastronomy. Here is where the secret of Spanish cuisine’s popularity relies upon: unique, fresh, and powerful components.


Knowing Spanish ingredients

The success and taste of any dish depend on the ingredients included during its preparation. Most typical Spanish ingredients are:

  • Olive oil;
  • Meat (chicken, pork, beef, sheep, rabbit);
  • Fish and seafood;
  • Vegetables (tomato, cucumber, pepper, onion, carrot, garlic);
  • Spices (pepper, saffron, paprika, parsley, rosemary, oregano);
  • Jams and sausages (chorizo and morcilla).

All Spanish meals have all of these components. For example, gazpacho is a type of soup made of garlic, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, green peppers, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, and bread crumbs.

Fabada is a stew of beans, chorizos, morcilla, bacon, pork bone, garlic, olive oil, sweet paprika, and saffron. Paella ingredients are rice, tomatoes, onion, garlic, meat, chicken, green pepper, beans, olive oil, and saffron.

If you want to replicate some of these specialties at home, the first rule you must follow is to get the right recipe and high-quality ingredients.

Cooking the best Paella

Paella is the preferred choice when cooking at home a typical dish from any country. But, before getting your hands on this delicious Spanish preparation, learn about its origins and types, so you can decide which one to cook.

Paella is a traditional meal created in the region of Valencia. As a common routine, all workers gathered at lunchtime to make their meals. They cooked what they had available in the field. On one occasion, they put together in a big pan rice, onions, tomatoes, garlic, beans, snails, and duck, and seasoned with saffron and salt. The result is what we know today as the Traditional Paella.

Since its creation, Paella became popular and closer regions started to cook variations of the original dish. From that time on, the recipe started to spread all over Spain turning into the iconic Spanish dish.

The different types created until today are Valencian Paella, Mixed Paella, Seafood Paella, Black Paella, and Vegetarian Paella.

Using the best Paella ingredients

Whatever you decide to try, remember to use the best ingredients. But you may have some doubts about how to recognize the right ingredients for cooking Paella.

For making an authentic Spanish Paella, follow these tips:

  • Rice: use bomba rice or any high-quality medium-grain rice, which better absorbs the stock and gives a dry texture.
  • Sofrito: It is the base of the dish. It has green peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and olive oil.
    • Green peppers: Choose those with a shiny and dark green color.
    • Onions: Select onion with papery and dry skin. They also have to be firm and heavy.
    • Garlic: Pick firm, not dry garlic.
    • Tomatoes: Choose tomatoes with shiny and uniform skin.
    • Olive oil: Take special attention to origin and age. It should be grown, pressed, and bottled in the same country, and with a pressing date of at least 1 year.
  • Broth: Use homemade broth depending on the type of Paella. Valencian Paella is cooked with chicken broth.
  • Spices: Incorporate at the right moment saffron, paprika, and rosemary.
  • Meats: Usually rabbit, chicken, and snails.
  • Vegetables: Include green beans and butter beans. They must be firm and with bright colors.

You know how to choose the best ingredients; let’s use them with the right recipe.

Authentic Spanish Paella

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • ⅓ cup of olive oil;
  • ½ chopped chicken;
  • ½ cut rabbit;
  • 4 minced cloves of garlic;
  • 1 chopped onion;
  • 1 chopped green pepper;
  • 2 medium grated tomatoes;
  • 7 oz (200 g) of green beans;
  • 5 oz (150 g) of butter beans;
  • 2 teaspoons of sweet paprika;
  • 10 threads of saffron;
  • 2 cups of Bomba rice;
  • Salt;
  • 5 cups of chicken broth;
  • 1 kilogram of purged and cooked snails without shells.


  1. In a Paella pan, heat olive oil and add chicken and rabbit. Cook until they are brown.
  2. Add green beans and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Incorporate garlic, onion, green pepper, tomatoes, and butter beans. Stir very well.
  4. Include paprika, saffron, and salt. Combine all ingredients until all get colored by the spices.
  5. Pour chicken broth and boil.
  6. Add rice and snails, mix, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. When rice is tender, let it stand for 10 minutes and serve.


Bon Appétit!

Related Articles