This vegan paella is always a show-stopper. It’s deeply flavorful, a gorgeous golden hue (thanks to saffron) and loaded with salty, briny, fresh, comforting ingredients. It’s also naturally gluten free and makes for a wonderful family dinner or holiday dish.
This post is sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. All opinions are our own.
We’re so excited to finally share this vegan paella with you! It’s a recipe we’ve wanted to create for quite a while now, after enjoying it at many tapas restaurants over the years, and of course, in Spain a few years ago.
In order to make this recipe vegan (without sacrificing any flavor), it took us a few tries to nail the ratios. We’re so happy with how it turned out! One of the insights we realized along the way is that ingredient quality really matters – especially when it comes to spices. More on that later!
The final result is a satisfying, savory, rich Spanish rice studded with tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, olives, artichokes, peas and vegan sausage. Sounds like a lot, I know, but it all comes together so perfectly.
It’s also surprisingly easy to make and comes together in under an hour. All you need is a paella pan, a few uncommon ingredients, and a bit of patience!
What is paella?
Paella is a Spanish rice dish originally from Valencia. There are many iterations of classic paella served in different regions of Spain, so there’s really no classic version.
Traditional paella typically contains either chicken, seafood (sometimes both), or even sausage. Despite the various add-ins, there are a few ingredients that appear in every recipe. Those include a short grain rice, saffron, sofrito (a base of chopped vegetables cooked in oil) and stock.
The word “paella” translates to “frying pan” in the Valencian language.
What is a paella pan and do I really need one to make paella?
Traditional paella pans are wide and shallow to allow for maximum surface area. Carbon steel paella pans are most traditional in Valencia and they’re relatively affordable and easy to find.
Other surface materials include stainless steel and enameled steel. A paella pan can certainly be used for more than paella, so it’s a great investment and certainly comes in handy when you actually make paella.
That being said, it’s not completely essential. Any wide, shallow skillet will do the job, but make sure that the layer of rice doesn’t exceed two inches. This is essential for evenly cooking the rice and forming the crispy golden bottom layer (referred to as soccarat).
A 16-18 inch pan should be perfect for most 5-7 person families. You can purchase paella pans at most kitchenware stores or, of course, online.
Spices and herbs essential to paella
We’re so thrilled to be partnering with Mountain Rose Herbs to bring you this vegan paella recipe.
Mountain Rose Herbs is a purveyor of high-quality organic herbs, spices, teas and other ingredients. We’re sharing a bit more on why we love their products below, but here’s what we used in this vegan paella:
- Saffron. Saffron is arguably the most important ingredient in paella and accounts for its vibrant yellow hue. Saffron is one of the most expensive and precious spices, but it’s well worth using for its intense flavor. It takes nearly 150 Crocus Sativus flowers to produce a single gram of dried saffron threads! Real saffron can be difficult to find, but Mountain Rose Herbs is a fantastic (and relatively affordable!) source. You just need a pinch for this recipe – a little goes a long way!
- Smoked paprika. I absolutely love smoked paprika – it’s one of my favorite spices! It has a fantastic earthy, smoky flavor that perfectly complements the ingredients in paella.
- Sweet paprika. Sweet paprika has a less intense red hue than its smoked counterpart, and a milder, sweeter flavor.
- Red pepper flakes. For a little extra spice, of course! If you don’t like heat at all, feel free to skip these. Or, if you like things extra spicy, feel free to double the quantity.
- Salt. Any kosher or sea salt will do, but we particularly loved using an extra pinch of Mountain Rose Herbs Red Alaea Salt in this recipe.
Mountain Rose Herbs sells a number of bottled products (herbs, spices, aromatherapy ingredients, etc.), but we specifically love that they sell bulk spices and herbs at super affordable prices!
Most of their bulk spices and herbs are packaged (at minimum) in a 4 oz. bag, which is really a significant amount when you compare to the tiny bottles you buy at a store. We stocked up on all of our most-used spices and herbs (which we tend to go through pretty quickly!) and we’re so excited to share more about that soon!
How to make paella vegan
As we mentioned before, paella is not traditionally vegan and often contains meat or seafood.
To make this paella vegan, we omitted chicken stock in favor of vegetable stock. To replace the meatiness of a traditional paella, we used a spicy vegan sausage that actually tasted fantastic.
I’m not a huge fan of fake vegan meats, but I actually loved it in this recipe and thought it was a much-needed addition. Mushrooms also add a bit of extra meatiness and texture, so it really doesn’t feel like you’re missing out on any classic flavors.
We hope you get a chance to serve this at a dinner party or holiday event. It’s the perfect family-style dish, and it’s the perfect recipe to prove that vegan food can actually taste just as good as the real thing 😉
More vegan dinner party favorites
- Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with White Bean Salad
- Vegan Pot Pie
- Sweet Potato Risotto
- Grilled Tofu Kebabs with Peanut Sauce
- Harissa Roasted Carrots with Hummus
If you make this vegan paella recipe, we’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below! We also love to see your creations on Instagram – tag us at @crowded_kitchen so we can see what you’ve been cooking.Print
This vegan paella is always a show-stopper. It’s deeply flavorful, a gorgeous golden hue (thanks to saffron) and loaded with salty, briny, fresh, comforting ingredients.
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 1 yellow onion (1 1/2 cups) finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1 1/2 cups chopped spicy vegan sausage
- 1/2 cup piquillo peppers, cut into thin strips
- 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 cup bomba rice*
- 1/4 tsp saffron threads, crumbled and soaked in broth
- 3 ½ cups vegetable broth, divided
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley, divided
- 1 10 oz jar of baby artichokes, drained and halved
- 1 cup frozen or fresh peas
- 1/3 cup green olives with pimentos
- Add oil to a paella pan over medium heat.
- Once oil is heated, add onions and sauté for 5-6 minutes.
- While onions are cooking, add vegetable broth to a small pot over medium heat. Crush saffron threads and add to broth. Simmer gently.
- Once onions are cooked, add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add mushrooms, red pepper, and sausage to the pan and cook, stirring several times for 8-10 minutes.
- Add fire roasted tomatoes, white wine, lemon juice, 1/3 cup of parsley, piquillo pepper slices, salt, red pepper flakes, paprika, and smoked paprika and stir well.
- Add paella rice and top with 3 cups of broth. Give a gentle stir, and then let it cook for 20 minutes over medium-low heat. Do not stir the rice while it’s cooking.
- Pour reserved ½ cup of broth over the top of the paella. Top paella with peas, artichokes, green olives and top with 2 tbsp of fresh parsley. Cook for additional 5 minutes, just until warmed.
*Bomba rice is a short-grain rice traditionally used in paella. You can also substitute with another variety of paella rice, or another short-grain rice like arborio.
Keywords: vegan paella