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This cast iron chicken and chorizo paella is a flavor party in a skillet! Chicken breast and Spanish chorizo, made in a cast-iron skillet, filled with red bell peppers, aromatics, crispy saffron rice, peas, manzanilla olives, and more! This one-pan chicken and chorizo paella recipe is perfect for feeding the whole family.
What is paella?
Paella is a rice skillet meal that originated on the eastern coast of Spain in Valencia. Traditional paella is made over an open fire in a large flat pan.
Spanish paella typically has rice, saffron, vegetables, and an array of seafood. Traditional paella doesn’t include chorizo, but I wanted to make a non-seafood-inspired paella for those who cannot have seafood.
For my seafood lovers, I do have a seafood paella recipe!
What is the difference between paella and risotto?
Paella and risotto are both rice-themed dishes, but they are made in different ways and have different textures. Risotto is the same texture all over. Paella has a soft texture in the middle but is dry on the top and has a crispy bottom.
Chicken and chorizo paella ingredients
Here is what I used to make an authentic paella with chicken and chorizo:
- Spanish chorizo
- Boneless skinless chicken breast
- Diced red bell pepper
- White wine
- Arborio rice (or bomba paella rice)
- Manzanilla olives
- Diced tomatoes
- Smoked paprika
- Saffron threads
Types of chorizo
There are different types of chorizo, and for the purpose of this recipe, we want to use Spanish or Portuguese chorizo, which is already par-cooked.
Mexican chorizo is the raw version and is best used crumbled in recipes. Although par-cooked, I like to brown the chorizo to impart its flavor to the dish and caramelize the outside.
Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside!
Cooking the chicken
Brown the chicken with kosher salt, paprika, and freshly ground black pepper. By cooking it after the chorizo, the chicken will pick up flavored bits and oil that the chorizo left behind.
It will fully cook through later in the dish, but I like to get all sides browned for flavor. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside with the chorizo.
How to make the base of the paella
After cooking the protein for the paella, we are going to cook the onions in the skillet. The onions will pick up all the delicious juices, spices, and flavors that the chicken and chorizo left behind in the pan.
Cooking the paella base
- Add in the red bell pepper and garlic, and sauté until the garlic is fragrant.
- Pour in the white wine and deglaze the pan. This will loosen any browned bits on the skillet bottom, which has all the flavor!
- Add in the diced tomatoes. I prefer using fire-roasted tomatoes because it gives the chicken and chorizo paella an extra punch of flavor.
- Add in the chicken broth. If it seems like too much liquid, don’t worry, the rice is going to soak it all up.
Next, we are going to return the chicken and the chorizo to the skillet and give it a nice stir. What’s paella without saffron? The rice is white, so how does the paella become yellow? Enter saffron.
What is saffron?
Saffron is a spice that looks like tiny little threads. It is very fragrant but has a subtle flavor and lends rice that rich yellow color. Saffron is a staple in paella recipes. I also like to use a little turmeric in my paella as well, even though it isn’t a traditional spice!
Best type of rice for paella
If you can get your hands on Spanish paella rice, also known as bomba rice, then I would recommend that for this chicken and chorizo dish.
It can be hard to find, so I typically substitute arborio rice, which is short-grain rice.
Tips for crispy paella rice
My biggest tip when making paella is when you add the rice, you do not want to disturb it, so it gets that ‘socarrat’ crispy texture at the bottom of the pan.
Add the rice to the liquid, give it ONE stir to ensure it’s evenly spread, then LEAVE IT! Cover with a lid or foil.
Finishing the dish
After the rice is fully cooked, there should be no liquid left. If you see liquid remaining, allow it to cook a few minutes longer.
Next, I add frozen peas, manzanilla olives, and parsley to the paella. The frozen peas will thaw when you stir the paella together.
Olives in paella
If you’re not an olive fan, don’t write them off so quickly in this recipe. I would give them a try because it really brings the flavors full circle, and I’ve flipped olive haters with this dish (mission accomplished).
It gives the paella a delicious salty note with each bite!
How to serve paella
Top the chicken and chorizo paella with freshly chopped parsley and lemon wedges for squeezing over the top while eating. The acid in the lemons gives the paella a nice bright flavor!
Paella is such a visually stunning dish. It always makes a beautiful centerpiece on the table if you have the space. Make sure to use a trivet to place the cast iron on because it is very hot.
This skillet recipe is an entire meal in one pot. You don’t really need to add any other side dishes to it.
In the end, you get this colorful, beautiful chicken and chorizo paella that is bursting with flavor.
Storing and reheating paella
Paella is already bursting with flavor, but the best part? It’s even better and more flavorful the day after!
- To store, place leftover paella in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- To reheat, microwave on reheat setting until elements are warmed through.
Can you freeze chicken and chorizo paella?
Yes, this is a freezer-friendly dinner idea. Cook it like normal, then let it cool. You can place it in a freezer-safe food storage container or a zip-top freezer bag when it is completely cooled.
Keep it in the freezer for up to six months. When you are ready to reheat it, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then, reheat it in a skillet or oven.
Loved this recipe? Check out my seafood and chorizo paella!
Looking for other chorizo recipes?
- Seafood Paella
- Herb Grilled Shrimp and Chorizo Skewers
- Clams and Chorizo
- Caldo Verde Soup
- Chorizo Potato Breakfast Skillet
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- 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 pound chicken breasts (or thighs cut into square pieces)
- 2 links Spanish chorizo (12oz sliced [see note #1])
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- Kosher salt/Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 small yellow onion (diced (1/3 cup))
- 1 large red bell pepper (seeded and diced (about 1/2 cup))
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 14.5 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes (1 can)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 3 1/3 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Pinch saffron threads
- 2 cups Arborio or Bomba rice
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
- 1/4 cup sliced manzanilla olives
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
- Lemon wedges for garnish
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- Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large cast iron skillet [see note #2] on medium/high heat. Add in the sliced chorizo and brown on both sides, use a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Add in the chicken, paprika, pinch of salt and pepper. Brown the chicken on all sides and using a slotted spoon set aside with the chorizo.
- Lower the heat to medium. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté the onion and peppers till softened, about 4 minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute.
- Add in the white wine and deglaze the pan. Using a spoon, scrape off the bits that were on the bottom of the pan. Allow the alcohol to cook off and liquid reduce, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, pinch of saffron, and turmeric. Add back in the chorizo and chicken. Bring to a gentle boil.
- Once the liquid is gently boiling, carefully add in the rice and stir once so that it evenly disperses. The rice should be covered in liquid. Lower the heat and cover with lid or foil and allow to cook undisturbed for 20 minutes. This allows the rice to develop a crispy bottom.
- When the liquid has been fully absorbed add in the peas, olives, and parsley mix all together. If there is liquid remaining, allow it to cook a few minutes longer.
- Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges on the side, to squeeze over the dish.
What is paella?
- Paella originated on the eastern coast of Spain in Valencia. Traditional paella is made over an open fire in a large flat pan. Paella typically has rice, saffron, vegetables and an array of seafood. Traditional paella doesn't include chorizo, but I wanted to make a non-seafood inspired paella for those who cannot have seafood.
- There are different types of chorizo and for the purpose of this recipe we want to use Spanish or Portuguese chorizo, which is already par-cooked. Mexican chorizo is the raw version and best used crumbled in recipes.
- If you can get your hands on Spanish paella rice, also known as bomba rice, then I would recommend that. It can be hard to find, so I typically substitute arborio rice, which is a short grain rice.
- Paella is such a visually stunning dish, it always makes a beautiful centerpiece on the table if you have the space. Make sure to use a trivet to place the cast iron on, because it is very hot.
What size cast iron to cook in
- Use a 12 inch or 15 inch cast iron skillet. Too small of a skillet will overflow the pan.
- Paella is already bursting with flavor, but the best part? It's even better and more flavorful the day after!
- To store, place leftover paella in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 4 days.
- To reheat, microwave on reheat setting, until elements are warmed through.