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Amazing Vegetarian and Vegan Paella Recipe

A Little About Paella…

Paella translates to ‘the pan’, which this traditional dish is made in, typically a flat and wide cast iron pan that is big enough to make over an open fire. It is a Valencian rice dish traditionally made with ingredients like saffron rice, pieces of rabbit, chicken, eel, local snails, green beans, and white beans. In addition to those ingredients, it is important to mention the distinct combination of aromatic flavors as well, like paprika, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley, and the star of the show, saffron.

Although full of flavor, it is packed with tons of fat and calories. Need not worry my Veggiecurean tribe, with just a few minor modifications like using brown rice instead of white rice and substituting the meat for beans, I have crafted the perfect Vegetarian Paella Recipe for you. It is super-flavorful and although this Vegan Paella Recipe may appear to be intimidating, prep time is only about 15 minutes and active cooking time is about 15 minutes; the rest is all slow baking done in the oven. The aroma that the combination of these spices exudes, will have your neighbors knocking at your door! I make it all year round as I find warm rice dishes very comforting in the fall and winter seasons.

Amazing Vegetarian and Vegan Paella Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Paella is a Valencian rice dish traditionally made with meats and seafood. I came up with this vegan version with brown rice instead of white. It’s super-flavorful and although it may seem hard to make, prep time is only about 15 minutes and active cooking time is about 15 minutes; the rest is all slow baking done in the oven. And, guess what? Paella is actually a perfect summer picnic dish because it serves well at room temperature and can be carried well in a picnic basket.  
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, (finely chopped)
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, (minced)
  • 2 cups freshly chopped tomatoes or 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 2 cups short-grain brown rice
  •  1 15 oz chickpeas or black beans (rinsed, drained)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine, cooking wine or water
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15 oz artichokes (quartered) or artichoke hearts
  • 1 red bell pepper (stemmed, seeded, sliced)
  • 1 orange bell pepper (stemmed, seeded, sliced)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata or black olives (sliced)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


  • Arrange oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, making sure you have ample space between racks for a Dutch oven. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cooking the Rice

  • In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add shallots and a pinch of salt and cook until onions are tender and translucent (about 5 minutes).
  • Add garlic and tomatoes until the mixture thickens.
  • Add rice and mix well until grains are well coated.
  • Stir in beans, broth, wine, saffron, and 1 tsp. salt.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Cover the pot and transfer to the preheated oven.
  • Bake for about 50 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.

Roasting Vegetables (this can be made ahead of time)

  • While the rice is in the oven, line a large-rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • On the baking sheet, combine artichokes, peppers, chopped olives, 1 tbsp. oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and a few dashes of freshly ground black pepper.
  • Toss to combine, then spread contents evenly across the baking sheet.
  • Add to the oven and roast vegetables for 40 minutes on the upper rack until tender and brown around the edges.
  • Remove from the oven and let the vegetables cool for a few minutes.
  • Add parsley and lemon juice to the vegetables and toss gently.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.
  • Putting everything together and distributing roasted vegetables over baked rice, cover, and let paella sit for 5 minutes. Serve and Enjoy!


     Pro Tips

    •  You can store your leftover Vegetarian Paella in an airtight container after it is cooled for up to 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
    • You can keep in the freezer in an airtight container for about 1 month.
    • When reheating, add to a pan on medium-low heat with some broth until heated all the way through. This will help you retain the same texture when it was originally cooked.
    • Here are some other vegetables that work well with this vegetarian paella; cauliflower, asparagus, and portobello mushrooms.
    • Saffron is quite an expensive spice but a little goes a long way.
    • You can make the roasted vegetables ahead of time and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Just reheat the vegetables and add them to the cooked rice.
    • What is the best rice for paella? Short grain brown rice or arborio works best. Basmati, Sushi, and Jasmine rice are too soft and will make the consistency of this dish very soft and mushy.
    • Check out these two popular vegan rice dishes that will be sure to please every taste bud in your family! Pea Pulao, Dal Chawal Arancini


    • Dutch Oven with Lid

    What are the Main Ingredients in Paella?

    This beautiful recipe has evolved and most of the typical ingredients are not what we think of when we hear paella. When we order paella at our favorite restaurant today, it will probably come packed with sausage, chicken, shrimp, mussels, and clams. Here are the main ingredients in all paella dishes, the rice, the broth, saffron of course, and not to mention the crust factor.

    Amazing Vegetarian and Vegan Paella Recipe

    All about the Rice

    Paella is known for grains of rice that are smooth, absorbent, and not mushy at all, typically Spanish rice. The rice you choose when making my Vegetarian Paella is important, certain rice delivers different textures, and using white or brown rice will give you the best results. Here are a couple of rice comparisons that may be helpful; arborio rice, for example, is used in dishes like rice pudding or soups, basmati and brown rice are both good with curries, in stir-fry, and Spanish vegetable recipes, black rice is amazing with puddings and baked goods, jasmine rice is a bit sticky and tastes great on its own, red rice is so adaptable and great in salads, wild rice has a rough texture and holds up well in soups. Think rice is bland? Check out these two popular vegan rice dishes that you can add to your rice recipe list, Pea Pulao, Dal Chawal Arancini.

    Can’t Forget the Broth

    The broth is such a versatile staple that we always seem to have on hand. It can be used to add flavors to dishes like soups, savory pies, and stews. Some people would rather use store-bought options like vegetables, seafood, chicken, etc., or take the traditional route and make it homemade with vegetables, shrimp shells, chicken bones, etc. I always seem to have a few cans of vegetable broth in my pantry. With all the bold flavors that are being combined in a Paella dish, it is important to have a broth that will complement and bring out the flavors in all the ingredients.

    Hard to Miss the Saffron

    We cannot possibly talk about vegetarian paella without recognizing first this wonderful ingredient, saffron. Originating from Greece, saffron is one of the most expensive spices out there, the cost is due to the labor involved in harvesting those delicate strands from a beautiful flower. With its vibrant color, mild floral tones, and aroma, saffron is popular in many Spanish recipes; this unique spice is what gives the paella its wonderful bright golden color. Always remember when using saffron, a little goes a long way!

    Must talk about the Crust

    Paella lovers say that a great paella dish must have a brown to burnt crust of rice at the bottom. It is the marriage of all the flavors embodied in the crusted rice and it is truly my favorite part of the dish; one that you can only achieve by letting this dish cook without constantly stirring the pot.

    So, what I am sharing with you is my Vegetarian Paella, it is a crowd-pleaser with my family and friends. I have taken it to several potlucks, and picnics, and because it can be such a fancy dish as well, I have made it for at-home date nights! This meal travels very well and tastes great at room temperature. Here is my twist on this traditional dish, a Vegan Paella Recipe that packs a punch, is robust, and full of all the comforting flavors that you crave without adding extra calories from the seafood and meats. The combination of vegetables, beans, and amazing spices is sure to satisfy. This dish is healthy, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and the perfect meal for your next family get-together. This is a one-pot meal that looks beautiful as a centerpiece and without a doubt will serve a huge crowd!

    Health Benefits & Allergens

    There are a multitude of health benefits to this Vegan Paella Recipe if prepared as directed.  Here are a few you can gain by using the ingredients in this dish:

    • Olive Oil- Rich in monounsaturated fats, may prevent stroke and has anti-inflammatory properties
    • Vegetable broth- High in antioxidants, can aid in stabilizing blood pressure, improve metabolism and digestion
    • Brown Rice- Improves heart health and reduces the risk of diabetes
    •     Beans- High in protein, promotes heart health, and high in antioxidants
    •     Onions- High in antioxidants, helps control blood sugar and may boost bone density
    •     Tomatoes- A good source of Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin K, and Folate
    •     Garlic- Can improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and can help fight sickness
    •     Bell peppers- Great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Potassium
    •     Lemon- Helps digestion, a good source of Vitamin C, and improves skin quality
    •     Parsley- Rich in antioxidants, supports bone health, and may improve heart health
    •     Saffron- A powerful antioxidant, may reduce PMS symptoms and may reduce appetite
    •     Artichokes- A rich source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and fiber
    •     Olives- High in Vitamin E, rich in antioxidants, and contains healthy fats
    •     It’s healthy
    •     It’s gluten-free
    •     It’s vegan
    •     It’s dairy-free

    Leave a comment below and tell me for what occasion you made this gorgeous-looking dish!