Make Spanish Paella in Your Rice Cooker

Lauren Larson

When I discovered my rice cooker could cook more than rice, my world changed. How had I lived in the dark so long?

Not only can you use a rice cooker to prepare perfect rice with minimal effort, you can also use it to bake cakes, cook whole chickens, steam vegetables and make creamy oat porridges, frittatas and who-knows-what-else.

Since all you need is an electrical outlet (and maybe a stirring utensil), I've found the rice cooker is great for times where a stove is not available, such as in studio apartments, college dorm rooms that allow cooking or during kitchen renovations.

Spanish paella was one of the first dishes I ever made in a rice cooker and I was amazed at how tasty it was! 

Rice Cooker Spanish Paella

Recipe by Lauren Larson, MS, RDN


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1½ cups short-grain brown rice
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ pound chorizo sausage
  • 1 14½-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • ½ cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • ¼ cup sliced black olives
  • Hot sauce, optional
  • Freshly chopped parsley, for serving


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in rice cooker on "cook," "sauté then cook," or other similar setting on your make of rice cooker. Add onion and bell peppers. Sauté until soft, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add garlic to rice cooker and sauté until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Stir in smoked paprika, oregano, salt, crushed red pepper, black pepper, bay leaf, diced tomatoes with liquid, broth and rice. Stir to combine. Close lid on rice cooker and set on appropriate setting to cook rice for at least the length of time listed on the package of rice used.
  3. About 10 minutes before the rice is finished, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs and sausage and cook until well browned and cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir chicken and sausage into rice cooker.
  4. Add artichoke hearts, peas and black olives to rice cooker. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Serve topped with hot sauce and freshly chopped parsley, if using. Serves 6.

Cooking Notes

  • Don't substitute sweet paprika for smoked paprika. The smoked flavor is an important component.
  • Substitute shrimp for chicken as a different protein option. Or, make the recipe vegetarian friendly by omitting the meat and chorizo (or by substituting a vegetarian protein source such as vegetarian chicken or sausage) and using vegetable stock.
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Lauren Larson, MS, RDN
Lauren Larson, MS, RDN, CLC, is a clinical dietitian and certified lactation counselor based in Eagle, CO, and employed in Rifle, CO.