Quinoa and Shrimp Paella

Quinoa takes on Paella- and the results are delicious.

You’re going to love our version of Quinoa and Shrimp Paella, adapted from a traditional Spanish version that uses rice. Instead of filling up on empty white rice calories, we decided to use quinoa instead, and it turned out wonderfully. We love the versatility of paella; you can make it with so many different ingredients! Some people use chicken, lobster, or sausage as the protein, and you’ll find vegetables varying from green beans to fresh tomatoes and lima beans. In this version, we use shrimp because it’s one of our favorite lean proteins. Adding our signature seafood seasoning to the shrimp really brings out its flavors. You end up with a dish that’s so delicious, you’ll want to eat it all the time. How great that it also happens to be so healthy!

You can whip up this healthy Quinoa and Shrimp Paella dish in less than 30 minutes, so what are you waiting for? It’s a great opportunity to try Spanish cuisine without having to splurge on an expensive restaurant meal.

A Quick Note about Saffron

Saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices – in fact, it’s worth more per ounce than gold, earning its nickname “red gold!” While it is very expensive, it’s definitely worth using for this dish. It has a floral aroma, but it doesn’t taste sweet. Rather, it’s a touch earthy and grassy, lending a deep, complex flavor to anything you add it to. It really takes a good paella and elevates it to a GREAT paella, just with the addition of a few threads.

If you don’t want to spring for saffron, or you can’t find it at the local grocery store, never fear. This dish tastes 100 percent delicious without it. But, it definitely has a more authentic flavor with the saffron addition, so splurge if you can.

We Love a One-Pan Meal!

The other great thing about this Quinoa and Shrimp Paella is that it’s a one-pan meal! There’s no need to precook the quinoa or the shrimp – they both cook right in the pan along with the other ingredients.

After cooking your onions, bell peppers, and garlic, you can add uncooked quinoa and chicken broth straight to the pan. Simmer it all together until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. Then, add your raw shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, and peas. Shrimp cook so quickly, so the residual heat is more than enough to turn them pink and opaque.

Just like that, the dish is ready to serve! Let us know what you thought in the comments! For a vegan version of paella, check out this Fusion Paella Recipe.

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Gale Compton

Gale co-founded SkinnyMs. with a goal to provide women with delicious recipes, fitness routines, and ways to reach their ideal weight. Gale has been featured on the Today Show in which she won a cook off for the best Lasagna. Be sure to search for her winning recipe, Skinny Lasagna Rolls.

Guided by her firm belief in healthy eating and the power of exercise, Gale has written two cookbooks and several fitness ebooks. She earned her Fitness Training Certification from, National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association. Gale loves to run with her dog Maggie and has completed numerous half-marathons.

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25 Comments

  1. This was fantastic! May actually rival my other current Skinny Ms. recipe, the chicken taco slow-cooker soup. Notably, I didn't have Saffron and couldn't get any easily in town, so I just left it out altogether. I loved it, and so did my sweetie, who added a few dashes of hot sauce and gobbled it up.

  2. This was amazing!! I skipped the saffron bc it was so expensive, but it turned out great without! My husband even made the comment that we will be having this again!

  3. Is the Spanish paprika smoked or non-smoked? There are two types…..
    Anyone used smoked, I would like to make this and I have the smoked but just not sure whether it would be complimentary or not:-)

  4. I'm starting it right now, but do I do the quinoa separately in its own pot, or do I add it dry, pre-cooked when I add chicken broth?

  5. This is DELICIOUS!!! This is one of my "go to" recipes, I love it and it is so healthy Don't forget the seafood seasoning (I used Old Bay), as it is mentioned in the ingredients, but not the instructions!!! Make this, you will be happy you did. Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes!

  6. I used fire roasted diced tomatoes and threw in some chicken and a little leftover polish sausage, as well. It was delicious and my husband LOVES it. We'll definitely keep this one in the rotation

  7. I didn't have or use all of the different spices listed on the recipe, but it didn't seem to matter. This was still amazing without all the exact spices! I was blown away with the flavour and how filling it was. A definite new staple in my household. It also makes enough for many meals for us!

  8. Oh my goodness! This is amazing! I have never cooked quinoa before. Thank you so much for introducing it so well. This will definitely be something we continue to enjoy.

  9. I made it tonight and it was awesome
    NOTE: I did not have saffron, seafood seasoning or peppers so I compromised. Cheaper anyway.

    In place of saffron I used Goya Azafran(saffron).
    I sprinkled Goya Sazon con culantro y achiote on the shrimp. (Gave nice color to the shrimp)

    In place of the sliced pepper I julienned a carrot and added that after the chicken broth.
    I also used sofritto which made it even more awesome!! I added 2 tablespoons right after I sautéed the onion.

    1. Joanee, You’re right, saffron is expensive. It’s a luxury that I purchase about once per year. 🙂 Love your tips!

    2. I’m a beginner to cooking and actually goofed a little ( wish I would have read some comments first) . I put in cooked quinoa and wasn’t sure if shrimp get cooked with peas together in last 5 min or get cooked prior … could you just reiterate that it is indeed last 5 min shrimp are put in ( raw) ? The flavors were amazing ., I just need a second shot 🙂

      1. Melissa, Oh my! 🙂 Yes, the shrimp goes in the last 5 (maybe 6) minutes of cooking. Shrimp cooks very fast…too long makes them like rubber.

  10. Love this recipe! I have served it for my husband and me, to company, and even made it for an open house (sangria is a nice compliment) to great reviews and many requests for the recipe. The gluten-free bonus makes it a winner for those with gluten sensitivity. I used smoked paprika and added a few Aleppo pepper flakes and grilled chorizo at the end. Thank you for providing a flavorful, flexible, easy, and healthful go-to recipe I will continue to use for years to come.

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