If you love paella but hate how expensive it can be to make, you will love this easy poor man's gluten free paella. Full of scallops, shrimp, and calamari, your friends will never know you skimped on cost.
Paella is one of those comfort foods that I will always order when in a restaurant. It is naturally gluten free, and it is filled with delicious seafood and rice. I was always intimidated to try to make it. Maybe it was the fancy-sounding ingredients?
Unfortunately, paella can also be a very expensive meal to create. Shrimp, mussels, and other specialty meats and seafood prices add up really fast.
I am really excited to share this recipe with you because it is not only easy to make, but the cost is so low! It is a great poor-man paella and is great for those on a budget!
If you are on a budget, I have tons of easy tips to save money on gluten free. Living gluten free on a budget is easy!
What is Paella?
Paella is a Spanish dish that originated back in the 19th century on the Eastern coast of Spain. I want to share the three rules for making paella. (My recipe breaks at least one rule, so I am a bit of a rebel!
- Cook paella over a fire.
- Use a paella pan (oops!)
- Use medium-grain rice.
Why this gluten free paella recipe is great:
I have always thought that paella is that showstopper meal that is perfect for entertaining. It not only has a beautiful golden color from being cooked with saffron threads but having lots of seafood and meats slowly cooking in the rice adds a beautiful depth of flavor that bursts through with every bite.
- Seafood - As I mentioned you can use Trader Joe's inexpensive seafood blend. You want to make sure you have shrimp, calamari, scallops, and any other types you like.
- Chicken - I made this optional. Many paella's have chicken cooked in.
- Saffron - Safron can be expensive, but luckily you only need a tiny pinch to get the flavor. If you don't have saffron, you can substitute turmeric.
- Chicken broth - I like to use low sodium.
- Rice - White or brown is good.
Recipe step by step directions:
Step 1: Add the onions and oil to a pan and cook for 2 minutes until the onions soften.
Step 2: Add the broth, peppers, and seasonings.
Step 3: Add the thawed seafood and canned diced tomatoes. If you want to get fancy, toss in some mussels or clams. These are inexpensive and can add some pizzaz to this gluten free paella.
Add in the raw chicken if you are adding chicken now so it has time to cook in the broth.
Step 4: Add the rice and continue to cook the paella on medium heat until it boils. Once it comes to a boil, turn the cooking temperature down to low. Stir frequently.
Add the optional thawed frozen peas and cooked chicken sausage if you are adding those in.
Step 5: the liquid will continue to cook down. When it is gone and your rice is tender, the paella is ready to serve!
If you are looking for even more budget recipes, here are 17 delicious gluten free budget recipes!
Tips and Recipe FAQ:
There is a wide variety of seafood and meats you can use in your seafood paella recipe. Chicken, sausage, mussels, fish, clams, and shrimp are most commonly used. My kids love shellfish of any kind, as long as there is no fish in this recipe, they will eat it up. (My kids are funny about fish.)
Trader Joe's sells a mixed seafood bag in their frozen section and it is priced really low. I love to use this instead of expensive seafood in my paella recipe.
This paella should keep fresh for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Store in an air-tight container.
You can easily make this paella without a paella pan! I don't own
the best rice for paella is medium grain rice. My favorites are: Calrose, Basmati, and Brown Rice varieties
More easy gluten free budget recipes:
Easy Gluten Free Paella
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 red or green pepper chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 ½ cups brown rice * see note
- 1 ½ cups water
- 14 ounces diced tomatoes no salt added
- 1 package of frozen seafood defrosted (I use Trader Joe's calamari, shrimp, and scallop blend.)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pinches saffron threads
- 3 links of Italian chicken sausage chopped (you can also add chicken if you would like)
- ⅓ cup frozen peas *thawed
- In a big pot on medium heat, add oil, onion, and garlic.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Add rice, diced tomatoes, seafood, optional ingredients, and water to the pot.
- Add salt, pepper, and saffron to the pot. Bring to a boil.
- Cover the pot and turn down the heat to low.
- Simmer until the water has all been absorbed.
- Add more salt if needed.
- I used Trader Joe's frozen seafood mix because it is inexpensive and comes with a lot of seafood in the bag. Be sure to thaw it and drain the extra water out of the bag before adding it to the rice mixture.
- If you want, add mussels or clams to the paella. They are inexpensive if you buy a few and they make the presentation look really nice if you are entertaining.
- You can use white or brown rice. The white rice will need a little less liquid.
- This paella will keep for up to 3 days in an air-tight container
Please know that every gluten free flour blend has a different starch to grain ratio. If you use a blend I didn't test, you may need to adjust your moisture levels in your baked goods.
Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.
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Is the serving size in the nutritional information incorrect? Should it be 100 grams instead of 1?
Hi Ashley, the recipe card does an automatic calculation. I put how many servings, and for some reason it changed it to grams.
Sandy, may I verify that the sausage in the recipe should be uncooked?
Hi Mary, I used cooked sausage and sliced it. I like Aidelle's brand because those are gluten free.
As I posted before, this is a fabulous meal, on my husband's A list! For me, it takes 1-1/2 hours total time but I don't mind because it's so good. For the #6 simmer step, I simmer 20 minutes covered, then uncovered until liquid is absorbed. Instead of 1-1/2 cups water, I use 1-1/4 cups chicken broth (a little less liquid for white rice as you suggest.) Now I use ALL the optional ingredients as well: 3 sausage links, 1/2 cup thawed frozen peas and 1/2 lb. mussels. I verified with you Sandy, that the rice used in the recipe should be uncooked. May I verify that the sausage should also be uncooked?
Thank you for creating such a wonderful gluten free dish!
I am so glad you loved the recipe, Mary. Thank you so much!
You may have saved the happier part of my life! I love your recipes and since following you I complain a lot less! Flavor, texture, satisfaction - THEY'RE back.
Thank you, Thank you.
Wow Beverly, you just made my day, maybe my whole week! thank you so much for coming to tell me and spread happiness over to me.
I enjoyed making this recipe, the very first paella I ever tried (I'm 71 years young). It was very tasty! I added the peas and some mussels, but no sausage or chicken. I do have some questions, however. My rice turned out mushy and I think it's because I cooked the 1-1/2 cups Basmati rice before I added it to the recipe. Please confirm that it should go into the recipe uncooked. Also, the printed recipe has no chicken broth, only water. Yet the description above calls for broth. Which is correct? Just want to thank you for your many wonderful gluten-free recipes. I have tried many of them, especially the dinner recipes and my husband and I enjoy them all!
I am thrilled you loved the recipe, Mary. You want to use uncooked rice next time. The rice will cook into the broth.
OK, that makes sense Sandi, thank you. Also, do you recommend substituting the 1-1/2 cups water with same amount of chicken broth?