The Unusual and Tasty
Crayfish Paella Recipe 

(Paella de Cangrejo de Rio)

By Edu Valor / Author - Spanish Chef

The first time I made this wonderful crayfish paella recipe (or crawfish), the flavor wasn't anything like I had before.

It was all because of the vegetables and broth that was prepared before. Get this right, and you're likely to impress your guests.

Use raw crayfish. Pre-cooked ones will not give the rice that typical aroma.

Its appearance and combination of ingredients unite the delicate aroma, making it a festive dish. Joined with a glass of dry white wine, you could feel like one doesn't need anything else.

The dish isn't really a paella since the rice is rather on the creamy to liquid side, and you can make it in any pan. But it's a very Spanish dish! You'll often find it in Spain as Arroz con cangrejo de rio.

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Edu's Paella Recipes
Delicious crayfish paella on a white plate.A very tasty and unusual crayfish paella recipe

Arroz con Cangrejo de Rio

The above headline is a more suitable name for this rice dish. Translated it means rice with crayfish. We have grown accustomed to call "paella" about every dish with yellow rice.

Not that it bothers anyone, but if you ask for "paella de cangrejo de rio" (crayfish or crawfish paella) in some restaurants in Spain (especially Valencia), they may not have it on the menu.

You'll likely find what you want under "Arroz con cangrejo de rio". A different name but still so good!

A cooked crayfish on a vegetable layerCrayfish or crawfish on a bed of leek.

Ingredients for 4 Servings

Preparation: 25-30 minutes
Cooking: 18 minutes for the Bomba rice, approx. 55 minutes total.
*Measurements in metric and USA Imperial system. For British/Canadian measurements please use the metric conversion calculator.

Rinse the leek, carrot, celery, asparagus and tomatoes. Pul off the middle tail fin of the crayfish to remove the tract (the intestine).

Crayfish Broth

  • 4-5 raw crayfish
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 leeks, only the green part
  • 1 celery stem
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 carrot
  • 25ml/1 fl oz olive oil
  • 1 hand parsley, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • approx. 700ml/24 fl oz water
  • salt

The Recipe

  • 16 raw crayfish
  • 1 leek cut in strips, finger long
  • 200g/7 oz Bomba rice or another round rice
  • 1 large tomato diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 green asparagus stems, cut in 3 pieces
  • 1 carrot, cut in strips
  • 1 celery stalk, cut in strips
  • 1 hand of fresh onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp paprika powder
  • 5-10 saffron strings (or 1 tsp food dye)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil

Let's Make the Crayfish Paella Recipe

You could make the crayfish broth well in advance. I don't advice keeping it longer than a day because flavors decay over time too.

For the Crayfish Broth:

  1. Rinse the vegetables and cut them coursely. Break the neck of the crayfish.
  2. In a pot on medium fire, sauté the garlic and tomato in oil.
  3. Add all the vegetables with bay leaf and chopped parsley. Stir a few times.
  4. Add the crayfish and combine everything. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. With a pestle or similar, crush the crayfish thoroughly in the pot.
  6. Pour water until everything is submerged. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
  7. Strain the broth and save for later.

The Recipe:

  1. With the oil on medium fire sauté the minced garlic with tomato.
  2. Add the cut vegetables. Stir a few times.
  3. Add the paprika and stir to combine everything. 
  4. Pour the strained broth, bring to a boil and season with enough salt and the saffron.
  5. Mix everything well, and then add the rice. Turn up the fire to high and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Turn fire to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  7. After the 10 minutes put the 16 crayfish on top of the rice and cook for another 5 minutes.
  8. Turn off fire and cover with tin foil or a lid. Leave it 5 minutes.


  • Adding the salt in the beginning will limit oil splatters.
  • Another rice than Bomba may have different cooking time.
  • Taste the broth.
  • Pull away the middle tail fin of raw crayfish to remove the intestine of the crayfish.

Crawfish paella in a large panA Festive Crawfish Paella

What You Will Need

  1. A paella pan for 4 servings*
  2. A paella burner*
  3. Vegetable knife
  4. Strainer and bowl
  5. Pestle
  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!!

Edu's Authentic Spanish Paella Recipes