Spain on a Fork > All Recipes > Main Dishes > Making a Spanish Paella without a Paella Pan
All Recipes, Main Dishes / July 31, 2019

Making a Spanish Paella without a Paella Pan

Many people have wondered or asked, can you make a proper paella without a paella pan? The short answer is, absolutely. However, you do need to make some adjustments to the ingredients and the cooking times. In this post I will show you how to make a beautiful Spanish paella using just your standard frying pan.

Making a Spanish Paella without a Paella Pan

To make this paella I used a 10-inch nonstick fry pan, but you can use any type of standard fry pan to make this paella. Since standard fry pans are much smaller than paella pans, the secret here is to not overcrowd the pan. Otherwise the rice will not have the correct texture.

Making a Spanish Paella without a Paella Pan
The paella I made for this recipe is the typical paella Valenciana, the only difference is that I swapped out the chicken & rabbit for yellowfin tuna. However, you can make any kind of paella with this method. From a seafood paella to a vegetable paella.

Making a Spanish Paella without a Paella Pan
Even though we are not using a paella pan, to call this dish a paella you have to use the right ingredients. Like round rice, a good quality extra virgin olive oil and of course, some high-quality saffron. Just like all Spanish rice dishes, it´s very important to use high-quality saffron. As this is what flavors the paella and gives the rice that beautiful golden color.

Cookware that I use:
Swiss Diamond Chef´s Knife
Swiss Diamond Pans
Wood Cutting Board

Watch the Video Below on Making a Spanish Paella without a Paella Pan

Making a Spanish Paella without a Paella Pan

Course Main Course
Cuisine Spanish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 2
Author Albert Bevia @ Spain on a Fork


  • 2 fillets yellow fin tuna (cubed and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper)
  • 20 green beans cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tomato grated
  • 1/2 cup cooked large lima beans (canned or frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup round rice
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 lemon


  1. Heat a fry pan with a medium-high heat and add a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, after 2 minutes add the cubes of tuna into the pan and move around with the oil, after 2 minutes and all the tuna has been browned, remove from the pan and set aside

  2. Add the green beans into the pan and mix around with the oil, after 3 minutes make a well in the middle and add the 4 cloves of minced garlic, mix around for 1 minute, then add 1 tomato that has been grated, a 1/2 cup of frozen or jarred lima beans, 1/2 tsp of sweet smoked paprika and season with sea salt, mix it all together until well combined

  3. Next add 2 1/4 cups of cold water into the pan, pinch in 1/2 tsp of saffron threads, season again with sea salt and add 1 sprig of rosemary, gently mix together and let it come to a boil, then add 1 cup of round rice and gently mix around so everything is evenly distributed, after this don´t mix the rice again, but you can give the pan a quick shake once in a while

  4. Six minutes after adding the rice into the pan, add the tuna back into the paella, after a total of 9 minutes since adding the rice, lower the fire to a low-medium heat and let it simmer, after simmering for 3 to 4 minutes there should be very little water left, to achieve the socarrat (caramelized rice underneath) heat the pan back to a medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and cover with a dish cloth, after 5 minutes uncover the paella and garnish with lemon wedges, enjoy!

Recipe Notes

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  1. Mark Wilkinson

    Hi, really enjoying your recipes, thank you! Affordable, delicious and v clearly explained.
    I made your tuna paella last night and lightly browned the cubes of tuna then put aside till the rice had been cooking for 6 mins, following the recipe exactly. Unfortunately, when the dish was finished the tuna was really tough – should I have added it to the rice after 9 mins instead, when the heat is turned down to low – ? Maybe the tuna would come out softer this way – ?
    Also, you say use EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil, but recently I’ve heard that high heat is not good with for this oil – should I just use good olive oil, but ordinary grade, rather than extra virgin?

    Loving the website and great videos – keep it up!

    All the best,

    A trainee English cook

    27 . Mar . 2023
    • Spain on a Fork

      Yes add the tuna at the end otherwise it will get tough, in Spain we have been using EVOO for over 1000 years, if you feel more comfortable using regular olive oil you can 🙂 Much love

      28 . Mar . 2023
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