The Authentic Paella
Valenciana Recipe 

(Paella Valenciana)

By Edu Valor / Author - Spanish Chef

World-famous and controversial in Spain! That's what the authentic paella Valenciana recipe is. Every town seems to have their own mix of ingredients.

Probably the longest-debated controversy in the country and outside! You'd understand if you saw the dishes. 

The tradition lacked authenticity! Nothing more and nothing less! But, they did something about it, as described below.

I sometimes smile when the Mediterranean pride comes out for something like a national dish!

You see this trait too with our French and Italian friends. I think it's interesting. It shows shared passion, and we don't want it any other way.

Paella Valenciana on a plateFreshly made paella Valenciana without the snails.

Listen! The ingredients of a paella were always loosey-goosey, even in the old days. How do you protect the paella Valenciana if it's not defined?

Well, you involve the people of 266 towns in Valencia to see how they make it. Today there are 10 essential ingredients and other optional ingredients to protect the tradition.

Understand this well, there's not one unique paella Valenciana recipe. The estimate is around 200 varieties.

Every town has their own version. Not too different from each other, but you could still identify them as paella Valenciana. 

Often, families use whatever is directly available in and around their kitchen or region. In mine, snails are not always at hand. It's actually not the most common ingredient according to a study.

Ingredients for 4 servings

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 18 minutes for the Bomba rice, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour total.
*Measurements in metric and USA Imperial system. For British/Canadian measurements please use the metric conversion calculator.

Use preferably fresh or frozen white beans. Dry beans need to be soaked at least 12 hours or overnight and boiled for 10 minutes. When done, drain and rinse thoroughly. Canned/jarred bean preserve doesn't need to be soaked!

  • 500g/18 oz chicken, cut
  • 400g/14 oz rabbit, cut
  • 150g/6oz garrofón beans (white large beans, butter beans are good too)
  • 250g/9 oz flat green beans, cut pinky finger long
  • 20-25g seasalt
  • 1.3L/44fl oz water
  • 150g/5.5oz tomato puree or cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 400g/14 oz Bomba rice
  • 15-20 saffron strings or 1 tsp yellow food dye
  • 2-3 tsp paprika powder
  • 12 snails (optional)
  • 100ml olive oil (Extra Virgin)

Let's make an Authentic Paella

  1. Pour oil in the pan and sprinkle the salt over it. 
  2. Brown the meats well on medium fire. The meat should be crispy brown. When using snails, add them at the end of the browning.
  3. Turn fire to medium-low. Push the meats (with snails) to the sides of the pan and add the tomato, garlic and paprika. Sauté until the juice from the tomatoes evaporates completely. This is important taste wise! Some chefs even brown the tomato sauté.
  4. Add flat- and white beans. Stir everything together with the tomato and meats.
  5. Pour some of the water and cook for a few minutes. Stir to combine.
  6. Turn up the fire to medium-high and pour in the rest of the water. Wait until it boils!
  7. Taste the broth. Add salt if necessary.
  8. Add the bomba rice and saffron. Stir and spread ingredients evenly over the pan. Cook for 10 minutes. Do not stir the rice from now on. 
  9. Turn down the fire to medium-low and cook for another 8 minutes.
  10. If you want the socarrat, insert a narrow spatula until you hit the bottom of the pan. Is the rice browned underneath? If not, raise the fire to high and cook for another 90 seconds to 2 minutes. 
  11. Turn fire to low. Insert the spatula in the rice to do another check.
  12. Turn off fire and cover the pan with aluminum foil (cooking cloth or a lid are good too). Leave it for 5 minutes.

Authentic Spanish paella Valenciana in a panA classic ready to be shared and enjoyed.


  • Sauté the tomato with garlic and paprika well. It'll enhance the taste.
  • Adding the salt in the beginning will limit browning of the pan as well as oil splatters.
  • Another rice than Bomba may have different cooking time.
  • Taste before adding the rice.
  • Use meat with bones, it adds taste.
  • Bean preserves do NOT need to be soaked.

The Scientists' and Chefs' Revenge

The dish was losing its merit and tradition. It was turning into something unidentifiable which had quite a few professionals thinking.

After all, paella is the Spanish dish par excellence, symbolizing togetherness and celebration. Actually, paella is the pan itself and over time became the name of the rice dish.

I guess they had enough of scattered recipes lacking the spirit of authenticity. There was a need for revindication and a study was bound to happen. See the research project here!

Region-wide research by the UCV found the following ingredients to be essential:

  1. Rice (Arroz de Valencia)
  2. Chicken
  3. Rabbit
  4. Saffron (Saffron strings add taste too)
  5. Garrofón beans (a type of lima bean, similar to butter beans)
  6. Flat green beans
  7. Extra virgin olive oil
  8. Water
  9. Salt
  10. Tomato

There were also 38 regularly used and 50 occasionally used ingredients. Considered optional but still allowed to make up an authentic paella Valenciana.

Leaving out snails (a traditional ingredient) will not make it less authentic, as long as you stay true to the essence of this beloved Spanish classic.

Like many people, I don't care for snails unless they are small ones. I do like to add taste to my dishes with garlic and paprika. 

Again, the above ingredient list describes one way to make the authentic paella Valenciana.

Personally, I think they should have also included other traditional recipes. Like the ones with eel, sausages and meatballs.

What You Will Need

  1. A paella pan for 4 servings*
  2. A paella burner*
  3. Spatula
  4. Meat knife
  5. Paring knife
  6. Cutting board
  7. Measuring beaker

*The paella pan with burner can be replaced with an electric paella pan for indoor (or outdoor) cooking. Never use a gas burner indoors!!

How Difficult is it to Make?

There are a few things to consider if you want to make this authentic paella Valenciana recipe a delicious one.

Making the dish is an art. Luckily, one that is fairly easy to master. For quick success, make sure to read the technique secrets here. After a couple of times, you should understand how to make a good paella. 

As you may know, recipe procedures like the above are indicative. I don't know what equipment you use, under which atmospheric conditions, or what ingredients you use.

Also, there's an important difference between stale and fresh ingredients.

With some cooking skills, your common sense will make the authentic paella Valenciana recipe a success. You are the chef!


Edu's Authentic Spanish Paella Recipes