Shrimp Paella

This post is sponsored by CHI-CHI’S® Salsa, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Looking for a quick and easy, one-dish meal? My Shrimp Paella is your answer… with a secret time-saving ingredient.

Close up of shrimp paella in a enameled skillet


Shrimp Paella is an easy, weeknight meal requiring less than 10 ingredients, one pan and 30 minutes—all due to one secret pantry staple!

I’m not going to keep you waiting. The secret ingredient is SALSA!

Make sure you PIN Shrimp Paella!

I have fond memories of salsa as a child. Chips and salsa were a staple snack (and sometimes meal) at my home. It still is! Now CHI CHI’S is helping create new “salsabrations” for snack time, dinner time and everything in between by adding some zest to your favorite meals!

CHI CHI'S Fiesta Style Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa bottles with lemons, parsley and frozen peas

For Shrimp Paella, a medium-heat salsa functions as a makeshift sofrito. With quality ingredients including real tomatoes, vegetables and flavorful seasonings, it saves oodles of time chopping and sautéing vegetables.

I prefer CHI-CHI’S® Fiesta Style Roasted Tomato Salsa, because it adds even more flavor with smoky tomatoes. You can even see the char marks! It also has jalapenos, fire-roasted garlic and smoked chipotle chili powder. With a medium-heat level, it is perfect for the whole family.

Salsa in a glass bowl with a spoon

The consistency of the salsa is thick and chunky with roughly chopped vegetables and just the right about of liquid that cooks perfectly into the paella rice for even more added deliciousness and color.

PRO TIP: Using seafood, vegetable or chicken broth for any rice adds even more flavor to any dish!

Next question… what is paella? Paella is a Spanish rice dish, typically served in a large pan and topped with chicken or seafood.

Spoon of shrimp paella

Seafood Paella, or shrimp paella, in this case, isn’t actually all that classic. Paella was first cooked over wood fires in the fields of Spain and made with rabbit, chicken and snails.

It is iconic for using large, shallow dishes so the rice has more surface space against the fire, allowing it to cook faster than in a typical saucepan.

Pouring salsa into a simmering pot of rice and broth

This also allows for socarrat, the crispy layer of rice that builds on the bottom. Paella is often judged by this crust that caramelizes and gets a little chewy.

PRO TIP: Rinse your rice thoroughly  to remove any sediment and prevent it from being clumpy and overly starchy.

In the U.S., the most commonly used proteins for paella are clams and mussels, as well as chicken thighs. For a quick meal, you can’t beat shrimp.

Sauteed pink shrimp in a enameled skillet

Shrimp cooks fast and require little preparation, especially if you buy them peeled and deveined. I look for bags of frozen shrimp to go on sale at the store and then buy a few.

FACT: Saffron is expensive, so in some cultures, the hue of your rice symbolizes your stature in society. The more you use, the wealthier your family!

I used small amounts of saffron for fragrance and color, but not necessarily for flavor. For this recipe, salsa helps add the iconic color. Since CHI-CHI’S® Fiesta Style Roasted Tomato Salsa packs a punch, saffron doesn’t play as large of a role.

Wooden spoon with shrimp paella and peas

Bomba rice is the traditional rice for paella, but you can use any short-grained rice. Arborio, which is typically used for risotto, is my top choice.

Bottle of salsa next to a bowl of shrimp paella

Questions you might have about how to make paella:

Can I make paella ahead of time? You sure can, but with such a quick and straightforward recipe, you might not need to. Also, shrimp tend to get rubbery when reheated. If you do reheat, I suggest doing it on the stovetop, or even oven, as opposed to the microwave.

Can I freeze shrimp paella? Sure! Follow my tips for the best freezing practices. Freeze in individual airtight containers for your own healthy TV dinners. See my notes above about reheating.

Close up of a bowl of shrimp paella

Do I have to use shrimp? Use whatever type of protein you like or a combination! Some people like to add squid, mussels, clams, oysters or chicken. Cook all proteins before adding.

What does saffron taste like? It is a hard taste to describe, but the best description is that it is floral.

Can I make paella spicy? Traditional paella isn’t actually spicy at all, but I like a little bit of heat. CHI-CHI’S® Fiesta Style Roasted Tomato Salsa Medium provides a mild kick of jalapeño heat, but if you want more, feel free to add a teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes and a few dabs of hot sauce to the rice before cooking.

Close up of shrimp paella for pinterest

Here are a few other recipes that beg for you to use salsa:

close up overhead shot of bowl of tortilla chips with bowl of salsa

Homemade Tortilla Chip Recipe

Homemade Tortilla Chips Recipe: why buy a bag when you can make your own, hot and crispy? You won’t believe how easy it is!
See The Recipe!
A plate of loaded totchos

Tater Tot Nachos (Totchos)

Loaded Tater Tot Nachos, also known as Totchos, are the ultimate game day snack. Smothered with cheese, chicken, pico and green chiles, they are sure to make your guests happy!
See The Recipe!
chicken enchilada casserole in cast iron with scallions

Chicken Enchilada Casserole Recipe

This Chicken Enchilada Casserole Recipe is a delicious casserole recipe loaded with a cornbread crust, chicken, beans, and cheese, all made in a cast iron skillet!
See The Recipe!

Smoky Shrimp Paella for Pinterest
A bowl of food on a plate, with Paella

Easy Shrimp Paella

4.42 from 12 votes
Shrimp Paella is an easy, weeknight meal requiring less than 10 ingredients, one pan and 30 minutes—all due to one secret pantry staple!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4



  • Heat a large, shallow skillet with olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add shrimp, sautéing until they are pink and slightly curled.
  • Transfer shrimp to a plate and set aside, leaving seasoned oil in the skillet.
  • Add arborio rice, saffron, fine sea salt, smoked paprika, ground black pepper. Brown rice for 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in CHI-CHI’S® Fiesta Style Roasted Tomato Salsa Medium
  • and chicken broth.
  • Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for approximately 20 minutes.
  • Uncover and using a fork, fluff rice with frozen peas and cooked shrimp.
  • Recover and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, or until peas thaw and shrimp is reheated.
  • Fluff again before serving. Spritz with fresh lemon wedges and chopped parsley.
  • If you try this recipe, please come back and let us know how it was!


Calories: 286 kcal, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Protein: 26 g, Fat: 8 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 286 mg, Sodium: 1702 mg, Potassium: 411 mg, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 5 g, Vitamin A: 712 IU, Vitamin C: 24 mg, Calcium: 197 mg, Iron: 3 mg
Calories: 286
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: shrimp paella
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Close up jar of salsa
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Chef Jessica Anne Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal, Mashed and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.42 from 12 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for the recipe of Shrimp Paella and your detailed explanations. I remember that I made some paella once, and it did not turn right. Hope this time I will succeed!

  2. 5 stars
    I love that this dish takes so little time and so little ingredients! It looks so tasty!