How to make a show-stopping Paella

An iconic 'holiday' dish that brings to mind alfresco dining by the coast, this paella dish is a versatile option and can be tweaked for meat, fish or vegetarian tastes, or those who like a little bit of everything! 

If you don't have a paella dish, a large non-stick frying pan will also do the job. For a proper paella, refrain from stirring the rice too much while it cooks so you get that nice crispy base known as the socarrat.



  • 3–4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken thighs, each cut into 3 chunky pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 500g fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1–2 squid, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 600ml hot chicken stock
  • 300g bomba paella rice (or arborio)
  • 300g raw king prawns, shells on
  • 250g vacuum-packed cooked mussels (the garlic butter ones are fine)
  • 1 roasted red pepper, sliced into long strips
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a high heat. Once hot, fry the chicken thighs for 5 minutes (or until golden).
  2. Stir in the tomatoes and garlic, add the paprika and fry for 60 seconds. Add the squid and stir-fry for 5 minutes until they start to colour, being careful to not overcook the garlic.

  3. Add the saffron to the hot chicken stock and leave it to infuse for a few minutes, then pour into the pan. Bring it to the boil, stir in the rice and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the temperature to a medium heat, give the rice one final stir then leave to cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Do not stir the paella again – you want the caramelised socarrat to form!

  4. Place the king prawns, mussels and roasted pepper on the top of the paella, organised in a spiral pattern. Cover the pan with foil, increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 7 minutes, until the rice is al dente and the prawns have become pink and opaque.

  5. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the paella to rest for 10 minutes, still covered.

  6. Uncover and serve with the lemon wedges, to squeeze on top.