What are the best 11 Paella spices?

Paella spices
Paella is a popular rice dish from Spain, particularly in the town of Valencia. While some people consider it the national dish of Spain, many Spaniards view it as a regional Valencian dish.

three main types of Paella

There are three main types of Paella:

  1. Valencian Paella – made with olive oil, white rice, beans, green vegetables, seasonings, and meat such as chicken thighs, chorizo, duck, land snails, and rabbit
  2. Seafood Paella – replacing meat with seafood such as mussels, shrimp, calamari, and clams.
  3. Mixed Paella – combining meat, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans

Common vegetables in the Paella

The most commonly used vegetables in traditional Spanish Paella are:

TomatoesTypically used in the form of a sofrito (a sautéed mixture of onions, garlic, and tomatoes) that serves as the base for the Paella
Bell peppersGreen and red peppers add flavor, color, and texture to the dish
Chopped onionsAdded to the sofrito and sometimes used as a topping or garnish for the Paella
Minced garlicUsed in the sofrito and sometimes added to the Paella for extra flavor
Canned or fresh artichokesCommon in Paella, especially in the Valencia region of Spain, where Paella originated
PeasAdd a pop of color and sweetness

What spices go in the traditional Paella?

There are many different Paella spice mixes. The good part about them is that their uses don’t stop just at Paella cooking; they go in soups, marinades, and sauces.

See Also:  4 Simple Lemon Zest Substitute Ideas

Combining these spices gives the Spanish Paella dish its signature flavor profile, which is complex and balanced:

  1. Saffron
  2. Smoked paprika
  3. Garlic
  4. Parsley
  5. Rosemary
  6. Thyme
  7. Cayenne pepper
  8. Red pepper flakes
  9. Cumin
  10. Fennel seeds
  11. Cloves

1. Saffron

Saffron
Saffron

This highly prized and expensive spice adds a distinct yellow color and a floral, slightly bitter flavor to the dish. It is an essential ingredient in authentic Paella and is often called the “golden spice.”

2. Smoked Paprika

Smoked paprika
Smoked paprika

This spice adds a smoky, sweet, complex flavor and deep red color to the dish. It is commonly used in Spanish cuisine and crucial to many traditional Paella recipes.

3. Garlic

Garlic
Garlic

Garlic adds a pungent, slightly sweet flavor that complements the other spices in the dish.

4. Parsley

Parsley
Parsley

Parsley adds a fresh, slightly bitter flavor to the dish and is often used as a garnish to add color and flavor.

5. Rosemary

Rosemary
Rosemary

Rosemary has a strong, pine-like flavor and aroma that can add a unique flavor to the dish. It is often used in small amounts to avoid overpowering the other flavors.

6. Thyme

Thyme
Thyme

Thyme has a slightly minty, earthy flavor that can add depth to this dish. Similarly to rosemary, this one is also used in smaller quantities, as it can be overpowering. 

7. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper

This spice adds heat and a slightly sweet, smoky flavor. It would be best if you used this spice sparingly.

8. Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes
Red pepper flakes

These add a spicy kick to the dish with a slightly sweet and earthy flavor.

9. Cumin

Cumin
Cumin

This spice adds a warm, earthy flavor to the dish and is common in many Spanish and Latin American dishes besides Paella.

See Also:  12+ juniper berry substitute ideas

10. Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds have a slightly sweet, licorice-like flavor that can add a unique twist to the dish.

11. Cloves

Cloves
Cloves

Cloves have a warm, sweet flavor and a strong aroma that can add depth to the dish. 

How to make the Paella?

To make the Paella:

  • If possible, choose Bomba rice (the best Paella rice). If you can’t find it, substitute with Arborio rice (commonly used in risotto) and adjust the liquid accordingly. The important thing is to opt for short-grain rice.
  • Use water or stock (such as chicken stock), and let the rice cook without stirring much, allowing the bottom of the pan to brown.
  • Include the seasonings.

This Spanish dish typically includes a variety of spices to add flavor to the plate. The most prominent spice used in a Paella pan is saffron, which gives the dish its distinct yellow color and unique taste.

The exact combination of spices can vary depending on the recipe and regional traditions. However, saffron is almost always used. Other common seasoning ingredients for Paella are:

  • Sweet paprika
  • Sea salt
  • Granulated garlic
  • Mediterranean oregano
  • Black pepper
  • Saffron threads

What can I use instead of paella seasoning?

Suppose you don’t have access to Paella seasoning. In that case, you can make your own blend by combining the following:

  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of saffron threads (crushed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • A pinch of black pepper

This homemade blend will give your Paella a similar smoky, earthy, and slightly sweet flavor profile to the traditional Paella seasoning.

See Also:  Best 9 substitutes for garlic salt to keep the flavor

Alternatively, you could use a store-bought Spanish spice blend as a substitute, such as an adobo or sofrito seasoning, as both are common in Spanish cuisine.

These blends typically contain similar ingredients to homemade Paella seasoning (smoked paprika, garlic, and oregano) and will add a similar flavor profile to your dish.

Alexandra

Alexandra is a passionate writer with a deep appreciation for food - not just as nourishment but as an expression of culture, a reflection of history, and a celebration of life. She knows that everything in life requires a little spice - and gets a kick (get it?) every time she achieves the perfect combination of heat and depth.

Recent Posts