Shrimp Paella

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  • 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! And CHI-CHI’S® Fiesta Style Roasted Tomato Salsa, to be more specific!

    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:

    Homemade Tortilla Chips
    Close up of Homemade Tortilla Chips
    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!
    Tater Tot Nachos (Totchos)
    A plate of loaded 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!
    Chicken Enchilada Casserole
    chicken enchilada casserole in cast iron with scallions
    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!

    Check out CHI-CHI’S® full line of salsas in varying flavors and heat levels, available nationwide at your favorite grocers, including Target and Ralph’s. Click here for even more recipe ideas and CHI-CHI’S products!

    Smoky Shrimp Paella for Pinterest

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    A bowl of food on a plate, with Paella
    Print Recipe
    4.63 from 8 votes

    Easy Shrimp Paella

    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 Time5 mins
    Cook Time25 mins
    Total Time30 mins
    Course: Main Course, Main Dish
    Cuisine: Spanish
    Keyword: shrimp paella
    Servings: 4
    Calories: 286kcal



    • 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: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 286mg | Sodium: 1702mg | Potassium: 411mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 712IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 197mg | Iron: 3mg
    Close up jar of salsa
    image of jessica formicola

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