Turn humble rice into a tasty, Spanish-inspired paella that easily feeds a family or a crowd with these 10 top tips to make the perfect paella.

It might look hard to make but with a few simple tricks you’ll be making paella and pronouncing it correctly as pie-yay-a at home.  This rice dish has its roots in Spain and there are many versions around. Those using seafood are a festival favourite because they look so good everyone wants to eat it.

Of course, many think they are an expert paella chef, including my two best mates, Monty and Vinnie. With the title of World’s Best Paella Maestro at stake, Monty and Vinnie the gloves were off, and the knives were drawn as these two hit the pans for a fun #paellaoff and a fabulous dinner for friends.

The hungry judges waited, mouths drooling as delicious aromas constantly wafted past. Keeping hunger at bay, Micki showed her culinary stuff with a pissaladière hot from the oven and a huge platter of rock oysters generously topped with freshly ground pepper and lemon.

10 top tips to make the perfect paella 

Both Monty and Vinnie were too protective of their paella recipes to share, but I like this one from Jamie Oliver which includes chicken and sausage for a tasty result. 

Here are some top tips from the chefs on how to make the perfect paella.  One thing on which they both agree is that you need to have a beer in your hand while cooking.


Monty’s tips

  • Use fresh, homemade stock but Campbells Real Stock is also good.
  • Paella pan has to be the right size for the number of people you’ll be serving.
  • A basic steel pan that you can use on the barbecue is fine.
  • Invest in good saffron.
  • Have someone else do the preparation (Thanks Sam).

Vinnie’s tips

  • Ensure a good, even heat source.
  • Buy your saffron from a spice trader in Istanbul.
  • Use a combination of homemade chicken and vegetable stock
  • Stir the stock in to distribute all the yummy ingredients, then don’t stir it again.
  • Layer the seafood, bit by bit, so that it doesn’t become overcooked.
  • Finally, make it look pretty.

Who made the best paella?

In the interests of group harmony, we didn’t declare an outright winner.  The paellas were different and there was little left of either by the end of the night!  Both were winners.

Time for dessert

The evening finished with a New York cheesecake by request, made by Eat,drink+beKerry.  

I used this simple recipe from BBC GoodFood website.  The result was a cheesecake with a crack-free top which is just what you want on a cheesecake.

The recipe said to leave it cool in the oven for two hours with the door open for a soft cheesecake and that’s exactly what I got.  I put some fresh, seasonal fruit on top.

Here’s to more fun nights with friends!