Chicken and Quinoa Paella

Traditional paella is made with rice. This recipe replaces the rice with quinoa, which is very good at absorbing the flavor of whatever it cooks in. This recipe simplifies cooking paella by foregoing the paella pan and using a common baking pan, the perfect size for parties and potlucks. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Prep Time:
25 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr 10 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 35 mins
1 9x13-inch paella


  • 6 cups chicken stock

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste, divided

  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided

  • 1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

  • 1 ½ pounds tomatoes, halved

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

  • ½ cup onion strips, 1/4-inch thick

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • ½ pound green beans, stem ends trimmed, halved

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips

  • 3 cups white quinoa

  • 25 saffron threads

  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stemmed


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

  2. Bring chicken stock and bay leaves to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer while preparing the other ingredients. Taste stock; it should taste a little over-salted. Season with 1 to 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper as needed.

  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper.

  4. Squeeze out seeds from each tomato half over a sieve and into a bowl. Reserve the juice and discard the seeds. Grate the cut sides of the tomatoes over a bowl through the large holes of a box grater. Discard the skin. Combine the tomato juice and the grated pulp.

  5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes and coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add chicken in batches, in a single layer with space between pieces. Saute until meat is mostly opaque, about 4 minutes; it will continue cooking in the oven. Place chicken in a 9x13-inch baking pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken, being careful not to burn the fats rendering in the skillet.

  6. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the same skillet. Add the tomato juice-pulp mixture. Cook, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of skillet, until juices are mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and paprika. Mix well. Add onions and garlic; saute until is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir the mixture, called a sofrito, into the baking pan with the chicken.

  7. Heat the last tablespoon of olive oil in the hot skillet. Add green beans and saute for 1 minute. Add bell peppers; saute until green beans are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes more. Transfer mixture to the baking pan and stir well; mix in quinoa and saffron.

  8. Remove and discard bay leaves from stock and bring to a boil. Pour 1/2 into the baking pan. Mix carefully until well combined. Add remaining stock and stir carefully. Lay rosemary sprigs on top.

  9. Bake in the preheated oven until quinoa is tender yet firm to the bite, 35 to 45 minutes.

Cook's Notes:

You can use any combination of dark and white chicken meat.

Replace the fresh tomatoes with 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, if desired. Skip Step 4 if using.

Yes, you have to count the saffron threads.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

350 Calories
11g Fat
41g Carbs
23g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 10
Calories 350
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 39mg 13%
Sodium 1030mg 45%
Total Carbohydrate 41g 15%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 39mg 193%
Calcium 59mg 5%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 696mg 15%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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