Slow-Cooker Paella Recipe
When we think of Spanish cuisine, one of the first dishes that comes to mind is paella. The bright yellow rice topped with chicken, seafood, lemon wedges, and other ingredients is a hearty meal made more enjoyable when shared!
What is paella?
One of the things that might confuse non-Spanish speakers is how to say paella. Its pronunciation is simple: pai-ay-uh. Following Spanish phonetic rules, double l's like in paella are usually pronounced like y's.
While paella is now known as a quintessential Spanish dish, the word "paella" actually originates from the pan used to cook the rice dish, called a paellera. Traditionally, this rice dish is cooked in a flat pan with handles on opposite sides and the dish cooked in ti eaten straight from the paellera with wooden spoons.
Speaking of tradition, while it is widely accepted that paella is the national dish of Spain, the dish is most famously known as a specialty in Spain's Valencian region. That is why the most popular varieties of paella are known as the paella Valencia or paella Valenciana; it is an homage to the region it hails from.
Traditional paella Valenciana features chicken, rabbit, snails, beans, saffron, and tomatoes grown in the region. Some locals even claim that what sets their paella apart is due to the water in Valencia!
What are traditional paella ingredients?
What makes Spanish paella authentic is that the dish uses locally sourced ingredients. Depending on its place of origin, paella from different regions can be made with widely differing ingredients.
This versatility is what gave rise to recipes like paella negra (which is a unique black paella due to squid ink), paella marinera (also known as seafood paella), and paella mixta (which contains both meat and seafood), among others.
This recipe is adapted from paella Valenciana and features chicken as the main protein. However, you can also quickly turn it into an adaptation of paella mixta or paella marinera by adding or substituting the chicken with your favorite seafood.
Usually, paella is made with saffron, which gives the dish a unique and delicate flavor. However, it can be expensive or difficult to find, so we have indicated using turmeric as a substitute.
Paella recipe made easy
Authentic Spanish paella may sound like a daunting dish to make, but cooking paella doesn't have to be stressful. Not everyone has a paella pan, which is usually too big for a normal stove anyway, so we have simplified the procedures in this paella recipe using a slow cooker.
This recipe yields a no-fuss, one-pot paella dish that is light and flavorful. If you don't have a slow cooker, you can also use a rice cooker; this method will take less cooking time as rice cookers usually heat up faster and to higher temperatures.
Whether you're using a slow cooker or a rice cooker, you can develop more flavor to your paella by sauteing the onion, garlic, and bell peppers, and searing the chicken until the skins have turned a golden brown. Then, add the washed rice. Sauté until the moisture evaporates and the rice is lightly coated with the oil from the chicken. Deglaze the pan with part of the water or stock. When you have scraped off the caramelization at the bottom of the pan, pour everything in your slow cooker pot and proceed with the rest of the recipe.