Spicy Paella With Chile, Lime and Cilantro

Paella. I’ve never ordered it in a restaurant and I’ve only prepared it twice…and used the same recipe both times.  In other words, I’m far from an expert. Actually I know hardly anything about the dish except that it’s Spanish and that you’re supposed to have a paella pan…which I don’t. About ten years ago, I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and made it and we loved it. It’s been sitting around in my recipe database all this time.   I just served it for the second time last night and we still love it.

Anyone got any good paella recipes? I’d like to try another version.


This recipe is bursting with flavor. How can you go wrong with andouille sausage, shrimp, hot chiles, cumin, cilantro and lime….and that’s only a partial line up.   There’s so much going on in this recipe that one might think the flavors would compete, but it all comes together nicely with an incredible end result. It makes enough to feed an army and it takes a bit of doing to get it to the table. Let’s take a look.


Spicy Paella With Chile, Lime and Cilantro
  • Broth:
  • 1 dried New Mexican or Anaheim chile
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 C. chicken broth
  • Herb Blend:
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Paella:
  • 24 unpeeled large shrimp (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 (3.5-ounce) andouille sausages or chicken sausages with habanero chiles and tequila (such as Gerhard's), cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2½ cups finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 2 cups sliced zucchini
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
  • 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
  • 8 lime wedges
  1. To prepare the broth, remove stem and seeds from chile. Combine the chile, cumin, cinnamon, and 2 garlic cloves in a food processor; process until minced. Combine chile mixture and broth in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  2. To prepare herb blend, combine cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, and 2 garlic cloves; set aside.
  3. To prepare paella, peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact; set aside. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large paella pan or large skillet over medium heat. Add sausages; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Add shrimp; sauté 2 minutes. Remove from pan. Add bell pepper and onion, and sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini; sauté 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, paprika, salt, and 3 garlic cloves; cook 5 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in broth, herb blend, sausages, and corn; cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Arrange shrimp, heads down, in rice mixture; cook 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat. Cover with a towel, and let stand 10 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.

Paella…It’s What’s for Dinner.


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  1. says

    I’ve never made it, but have ordered it out. This looks excellent, Lea Ann, but also will check back and see if anyone has other recipe suggestions. Paella is for a large group and I cook mainly just for me…but I do have a houseful coming next month.

  2. says

    I’m weird. I’m waiting to one day be able to afford one of those huge, awesome paella pans to make paella. I want that crisp rice on the bottom and all the flavor from the meat throughout. Sighh….dream on… Anyway, I wouldn’t turn away anybody else’s homemade paella no matter what type of pan they used. This looks pretty fabulous to me!

    • Lea Ann says

      Well this particular batch of paella most certainly did not have crisp rice on the bottom. One more reason to buy a paella pan. :)

  3. says

    Great presentation LA and I sure agree with “How can you go wrong with andouille sausage, shrimp, hot chiles, cumin, cilantro and lime….” We’ve talked about making it but never have – I’ve only had it out.

    • Lea Ann says

      I’ve never had the “real” stuff. If I find somewhere in Colorado that serves it, we’ll have to treat ourselves.

  4. says

    I love paella and this sounds like a great rendition. I was lucky enough to have paella in Spain years ago and have tried to duplicate the recipe several times and have gotten close but could never quite make it taste the same. I guess it’s just hard to duplicate the ‘experience’ anyway. The paella there and the recipes I’ve tried always have clams and/or mussels along with shrimp, chicken and sausage. There was never corn or zucchini but always peas and pimento. Saffron is also an important flavoring.

    • Lea Ann says

      ahhhh Yes, I do know about Saffron in paella. With all these ingredients, I’m sure that expensive little spice would have gotten lost. I agree, so many times I’ve tried to re-create a memorable meal at home. Local ingredients and atmosphere just can’t be copied.

  5. says

    Nice presentation! I haven’t made this classic dish myself, and I have to say the list of ingredients is intimidating. I’ll come to your house the next time you make it. :)

    • Lea Ann says

      That ingredients list is ridiculous. You most certainly are invited over next time I make it … which might be another 10 years from now. :)

  6. says

    I love paella! When I read the title in my email subscription I thought the flavors sound so perfect especially with an impending snow storm! My husband is more of the paella maker in our house. We spent a week in Barcelona a number of years back and he found a wonderful culinary store featuring local provisions which we packed a suitcase full of home (including some paella pans). I love the flexibility to skew it more toward meat or seafood or a mix. Yum!

    • Lea Ann says

      Well, I’ve found my expert! You’ll have to make it sometime and blog about it. So I can what the real thing is. :)

    • Lea Ann says

      I have no space in my kitchen for one more dish, pan, gadget, etc. I keep kidding my husband that we need to move to a larger house.

  7. says

    I am certainly no paella expert either, but I CAN tell you that the flavors in this sound spot-on perfect! Which is what really matters to me.

  8. says

    I don’t have a recipe, but I do have many fond memories. I first learned about paella while in Spain. It was the first time I sat down to have dinner at 10pm or later! It was also the first time I indulged in LOTS of sangria at hidden bars in alley ways. Not sure I’ll ever eat paella again without thinking back on that trip.

    Looks delicious!

  9. says

    Yum! I just got back to town and found this in my inbox. Never had Paella, but would love to try it. All those favorite flavors, plus rice = perfection in my book. And I love that it makes so much which is perfect for a party dish. Going to print this and put it in the “must try” pile. :-)
    and I’ll bet you are a creative stacker when you must have a new vessel. It brings out the engineer in me.

    • Lea Ann says

      I hope you like it. Vickie, I have creatively stacked myself out of room, I suppose I could put it in my secondary storage area in the basement …. which is quickly filling up. :/

  10. says

    Lea Ann, I think your recipe sounds delicious…with a southwest twist I think. I have had paella many times. Last year at a party, we had paella that was cooked in a pan 6 feet wide.
    I like to cook this dish for company and will try to make one soon and post the recipe. I’m sure my company won’t mind waiting a few minutes for a couple of photos.

    • Lea Ann says

      I knew I could count of my world traveler friend to have had paella many times. And I wondered if this was traditional, so glad for you to tell me it has a SW flair. Now just how the heck do you cook a pan that is 6 ft wide????

  11. says

    I just love paella. My daughter gave me a pan a few years ago for my birthday. I’ve made it a few times, but it’s been a while… I think it’s about time we had it again!

  12. says

    Sounds amazing! Every time I see someone on tv prepare a paella in one of those giant pans and loaded down with all kinds of goodies, I am envious. I know I’ll never do that at home, so I’ll just have to stick with our beloved jambalaya I guess!

    • Lea Ann says

      I’ve had two discussions with people about how paella compares with jambalaya. Guess it’s just a difference in spices.

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