How to Make Lobster Paella: A Taste of Spain and Maine

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Let LobsterAnywhere transport you to sunny Spain with lobster paella recipe. Skip the hassle of flight delays and long lines at the airport. With a few tips and suggestions, you will be serving up this classic Spanish dish with confidence.

How to Make Lobster Paella
Grill master Paul Jimenez shows off his Lobster Paella made with two 2 pound whole lobsters par cooked.

There are certain dishes that instantly cause people to congregate, and paella is one of them. While there are many versions of paella, lobster paella takes the savory Valencian dish to luxurious levels.

This is a dish that can easily feed a crowd. It also allows you to utilize a luxury item like lobster and stretch it out so everyone can enjoy the sweet, succulent king of the sea. So mix up a batch of sangria, put on some flamenco music, and let’s break down making lobster paella.

What is Paella?

Paella is an iconic and classic Spanish dish native to the fourth most populous community of Spain, Valencia. The name paella actually refers to the shallow, wide frying pan that the dish is prepared in. Traditionally prepared over open fire, this rice-based dish is perfect for preparing on the grill while also being easy to prepare on the stove. Some less traditional recipes will actually call for you to finish cooking the rice in the oven.

The heart of paella begins with picking the right rice. Just like risotto uses short-grain arborio rice, paella is traditionally made with short grain bomba rice. You may also find it listed as Valencia rice. The rice gets its distinctive yellow color and slightly floral flavor from saffron. While saffron is the most expensive of spices, it only takes a pinch to transform the rice in both color and flavor and saffron is readily available from spice stores and even places like Trader Joe’s.

Lobster Paella Recipe
Seafood paella staring whole Maine lobster with clams, mussels, colossal shrimp, and sea scallops created by Paul Jimenez @bigpaulonthegrill

What Type of Lobster Should I Buy for Lobster Paella?

Every part of lobster is perfectly suited for being added to lobster paella. If you decide on our live Maine lobster, you are guaranteed to have the essence of lobster infused into every bite of paella. The shells can be used to reinforce the lobster flavor in your chicken or seafood stock. Simply add the shells to your stock and allow it to simmer, infusing it with flavor. You can also do the same with the shells from our Maine Grade A hard shell lobster tails.

However, you can always go with our frozen lobster meat. This will make it easy to have tender and succulent chunks of lobster in every bite. Our tail, claw, and knuckle meat is ideal for dishes such as lobster paella.

What are the Common Types of Paella

While the ingredients and combinations of both proteins and vegetables are endless for paella, there are three distinct varieties of paella.

  • Paella Valenciana – This is the most basic of paella. It begins by browning your meat, often chicken and chorizo, building that first layer of flavor. Next comes the vegetables and aromatics, such as onions and garlic. Water and saffron are added next and brought to a boil before the rice goes in. Unlike rice dishes such as pilaf, the rice for this preparation is not toasted or braised in oil.
  • Paella de Marisco – Lobster paella would fall under this category. Paella de marisco is a celebration of the gifts of the sea. Whether you’re adding clams, mussels, and shrimp, or going all out with calamari and cuttlefish, this paella is filled with seafood. It also uses seafood stock in place of the water. This is the perfect dish for all of your pescatarian family and friends.
  • Paella Mixta – This version of paella is like the surf and turf of paella. It combines both proteins such as chicken and sausage with seafood. Our sustainably sourced shrimp and our U-10/20 dayboat scallops are both great additions to this type of paella.
Seafood Paella recipe
Epic seafood paella from Nicole Stover of Beach Girl Grills featuring split lobster tails, sustainable colossal shrimp, and scallops

Playlist for Lobster Paella

For this version of paella, we’re going to keep the ingredients simple and make it all about that beautiful sweet, succulent lobster meat. Feel free to add in addition seafood for paella de marisco or additional proteins for paella mixta. Let the paella pan be your canvas to paint with your favorite flavors!

Lobster Paella cooked in a grill
  • Short grain rice – The most common rice for paella is Bomba rice. You can also use Arroz de Valencia or rice labeled for paella.
  • Saffron – This is what gives paella its signature canary color. The tiny threads are the stigma and styles of the crocus flower.
  • Olive oil
  • Aromatics – onions and garlic
  • Red bell peppers – These are optional but add a little additional sweetness that compliments the sweet meat of the lobster.
  • Paprika – You can use sweet paprika or smoked paprika, also called pimentón.
  • White wine – Use a dry white wine that you enjoy drinking, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. You can also omit the white wine and use all chicken stock/seafood stock, or try adding the sweet anise flavor of Pernod.
  • Chicken Stock/Seafood Stock – You can use either one. If you are using live lobsters to begin with, reserve the shells and add them to the stock to infuse even more lobster flavor.
  • Fire-Roasted Tomatoes – Not a traditional ingredient but readily available year round. Echoes the flavor of smoke in the smoked paprika.
  • Fresh or Frozen Peas
  • Lobster – The star of the show and the main event! All portions of the lobster are ideal for making lobster paella, from whole live lobsters, to and knuckle and claw meat.
  • Lemon wedges

How to Make Lobster Paella

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Lobster Paella Recipe

Lobster Paella Recipe

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For this version of paella, we’re going to keep the ingredients simple and make it all about that beautiful sweet, succulent lobster meat. Feel free to add in addition seafood for paella de marisco or additional proteins for paella mixta. Let the paella pan be your canvas to paint with your favorite flavors!

Get out your paella pan or skillet, pop the bottle of cava, and invite friends over. You will have everyone saying olé to lobster paella.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3.5 ounces Spanish chorizo, diced, optional
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1.2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 14.5 ounces diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups Valencia or bomba rice
  • 4 cups seafood or chicken stock, plus an additional 1/2 if needed
  • 1 tsp saffron, crushed and stirred into 2 tbsp warm water
  • 2 lobster tails
  • 1 lbs Colossal shrimp, tails on
  • 1 lbs scallops, optional
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas
  • 1 roasted red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • lemon wedges for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil.
  2. Add the chorizo if using. Let it cook for 3-5 minutes until browned and the fat has rendered. Remove from the pan.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the scallops if using. Allow the first side to cook for 2 minutes. Flip them and allow the second side to sear for another 1-2 minutes. They should still have a spring to the touch. Remove from the pan.
  4. Add an additional drizzle of oil if needed.  Place the split lobster tails flesh side down into the pan. Allow them to cook for 2-3 minutes. You are just searing them, not cooking them all the way through. Remove from the pan. 
  5. Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions and red bell pepper. Allow them to cook for 3-4 minutes until tender and fragrent.
  6. Add the garlic, salt, paprika, cayenne, and thyme. Stir for 1 minute.
  7. Pour in the wine and allow to come to a simmer. 
  8. Add the rice and saffron with water. Stir for 1 minute.
  9. Add the stock, bay leaf, roasted tomatoes, and chorizo into the pan. Stir to combine. Do not cover.
  10. Allow the rice to cook for 25-20 minutes until most of the liquid has evaported. If the top looks like its drying out too fast drizzle a little additional stock over the top. Do not stir it during this time.
  11. Stir in the peas. Nestle the shrimp and lobster into the top of the rice. Cover the pan with a lid or foil and allow the seafood to cook for 10-12 minutes or until the shrimp is 120 degrees and the lobster tails are between 135-140.
  12. Remove the pan from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Nestle the scallops back into the pan.
  13. Garnish with strips of roasted red peppers, parsley, and serve with lemon wedges. 

Notes

You can make this same recipe with whole live lobster, lobster claws, or lobster meat. The cooking time wil vary.

Chorizo – This is optional but brings a back note of savory heat to the paella. You want to use a dry Spanish style chorizo, not the fresh Mexican style. Linguica is a good substitution.

  • Author: Lobster Louie
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: Spanish
Lobster Paella on the grill

Variations on Lobster Paella

There are endless additional add-ins you can add to your lobster paella. For heartier proteins like chicken thighs or legs, you will want to brown them at the same time your brown your aromatics, and then nestle them into the rice so they can cook through.

For delicate seafood like chunks of cod or mussels, you want to always add them when you add the broth to prevent over cooking, but also allow them to infuse every bite with flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions About Paella

What kind of rice do I need for lobster paella?

Arroz Bomba is the traditional rice for paella. You can also find it labeled as Valencia rice, arroz de Valencia, or paella rice.

What do I cook paella in?

Paella is traditionally prepared in a paella pan, however any wide skillet will work.

How long does it take to make lobster paella?

It depends on the recipe you are using, and also what kind of lobster you are using. Live lobsters will add a little additional time at the beginning for prep. The most labor intensive part of making paella is the chopping and cleaning of the ingredients.

Can I add other ingredients to lobster paella?

You can add your favorite seafood or other proteins like chicken and chorizo.

What is paella?

Paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish from Valencia. It gets its name from the wide pan that its cooked it. It combines short grain rice that gets its trademark yellow color from saffron and endless varieties of add-ins. The trademark of paella is the crispy golden bottom that is called socarrat.

Can you make Lobster Paella on the grill?

You sure can. You can cook in a Dutch oven right on the open flames or a grill safe paella pan.

What cocktails and drinks do you serve with seafood paella?

Enjoy festive cocktails with your paella like red or white sangria, wine like a Riesling or local craft beer.

Final Thoughts on Lobster Paella

Whether you’re creating a lobster paella or going all out for the full paella de marisco experience bursting with seafood, it begins with the freshest dock to door seafood. From live lobsters fresh caught that day and delivered to your door within 24 hours to the sweetest succulent, sustainably sourced shrimp, let LobsterAnywhere help you curate a meal that will create a memory and have your friends and family talking for years to come.

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