Enjoy the rich and aromatic flavors of this homemade paella seasoning blend for an authentic taste of Spain in rice dishes and more! Adjust the individual spices to suit your taste for the best paella ever.
What is the magic ingredient that makes paella paella? Some would say that it’s saffron, famously the world’s most expensive spice. In Spain, however, it’s not that simple.
- Spanish seasoning, with extra spices for complexity
- My favourite one pot is this Spanish chicken and rice flavoured with spices and warming herbs
- Vegetable paella is perfect seasoned with this paella seasoning
Not only is saffron eye wateringly expensive, but the quantities needed for a glorious yellow paella can lend the dish a rather medicinal flavour. You need more spices in the mix for a balance of colour and flavour.
For paella, then, saffron usually comes in the form of a ready mixed paella seasoning that also includes turmeric for more of that golden colour, paprika for sweetness and smoke, pepper for heat and aromatic garlic and oregano.
You can buy it in tiny quantities in pretty tins that make your kitchen look handsome, but in the Fuss Free kitchen we like to make our own.
Why make homemade paella seasoning?
- It is easy – just mix and store in a jar.
- Timesaving – no more searching through the spice drawer every time you cook.
- Adjust to your taste – customise and have it your way every time!
- Cheaper than buying a ready-made blend.
- Not just for paella– use it in dips and tapas too.
Turmeric – poor man’s saffron
A little saffron goes a long way – and it is also hugely and prohibitively expensive. I’ve added some turmeric to add to that glorious golden colour and the earthy deepness taste of the saffron.
Granted it is not exactly the same flavour, but it does enhance the saffron.
Turmeric is used in paella anyway – but it will also make saffron go that little bit further.
Paella seasoning ingredients
- Saffron – The tiny red stigma of the saffron crocus are expensive to produce and therefore usually sold in small quantities. Fortunately, you only ever need a little. If your saffron comes in strands, you will need to crush or crumble it.
- Smoked paprika – rich, sweet and smoky
- Turmeric – For extra colour and a slight, balancing bitterness. It’s also extremely good for you!
- Dried oregano – aromatic and delicious
- Cayenne pepper – hot hot hot – a little goes a long way – go slowly!
- Ground black pepper – a little heat
- Garlic powder – rich and aromatic
How to make easy paella seasoning – step by step
Before you start, read my step-by-step instructions, with photos, hints and tips so you can make this recipe perfectly every time.
Scroll down for the recipe card with quantities and more tips at the bottom of the page.
Step One – Check the size of your storage jar before you start, to see it will hold all the seasoning.
Then gather all your ingredients.
Gently crush the saffron threads using a pestle in a mortar or bowl. This helps to release the flavor and colour of the saffron and will allow it to mix fully with the other ingredients. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can crumble the saffron between your fingers.
Now simply add all the other ingredients.
Step Two – Give everything a good mix with a spoon or whisk, making sure all the ingredients are well distributed.
Helen’s Pro Tip
It’s far better to mix in a bowl, rather than putting everything in a jar and shaking. This can take ages and if the jar is nearly full, your spices may not be well combined.
Step Three – Transfer your paella seasoning to a clean, dry jar. I usually use a jam funnel for this, as it avoids waste and mess.
Seal the jar tightly and store in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, the blend can last for several months, although for the best flavour, use it within 2–3 months.
How to use
Paella – Sprinkle the seasoning blend directly onto your paella as it cooks. Use about 1–2 tablespoons of the blend per batch, depending on the size of your paella.
Rice Dishes – This seasoning blend is not limited to paella. You can also use it to flavour other rice dishes, stews, grilled meats, and even roasted vegetables.
Marinades – Mix a tablespoon or two of the blend with olive oil, lemon juice, and a bit of salt to create a flavour packed marinade for chicken, seafood, or vegetables before grilling or roasting.
Helen’s Pro Tip
Give your seasoning mix a good shake before using, as the contents can settle.
You can vary the balance of the spices to taste and make your paella seasoning your way
- A little more or less cayenne, depending on whether you like heat.
- Thyme instead of oregano. Make your paella seasoning your way.
Store your seasoning in a cool dark cupboard.
Your ‘best before’ date will be the shortest date out of all the herbs and spices you used, though I find you get the best flavour by using it within a couple of months.
Although best before is a guide, it doesn’t mean you have to throw your mix away. If you keep it a long time, the flavour fades, so just use a little more.
Buying and storing spices
Spices are at their best when freshly ground and they should be stored somewhere cool, dark and dry.
I find small jars from the supermarket rather pricey and large bags go stale before I can use them, so modest sized packets from the corner shop or ‘world foods’ aisle of the supermarket work best.
Resealable bags are not reliable so use a strong clip around the neck.
I separate my bags into savoury spices, herbs and sweet spices, to avoid them becoming tainted.
I use 1 to 2 tablespoons, according to the size of the paella. If in doubt, use a little and add more as the paella cooks.
This paella seasoning is just spices and some dried herbs. There are no artificial colourings such as you might find in some commercial versions. It’s suitable for vegans and as long as you check your spice brand, gluten free too.
Use it in marinades for a touch of Spanish style, or add it to tapas dishes with chickpeas or potatoes.
More recipes for rice and seasonings
One-pot Spanish chicken with rice – a robust, full flavoured dish. Use a little paella seasoning along with the paprika.
Portuguese rice – perfect with peri peri
Pizza seasoning – perfect for dips and sprinkles
Greek seasoning – a super shortcut to Mediterranean flavour
- ¼ tsp saffron
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp dried oregano (or thyme if preferred)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Assemble the ingredients and check that your storage jar is a suitable size.
- If your saffron comes in strands and not ready powdered, you need to crush or crumble it so that it will combine evenly with the other ingredients. Once this is done, put the saffron and all the other ingredients in a bowl.
- Mix well.
- Transfer your paella seasoning mix to a storage jar. Using a jam funnel will avoid mess and waste.
- Label and store in a cool, dry, dark place.