I love using my Instant Pot pressure cooker to make an easy, weeknight version of paella. It cooks up quickly and evenly, and there’s no need to tend to a pot or pan on the stove.
The method is very simple—you sauté the vegetables with chicken and sausage, add the rice and liquid, and then cook everything under pressure for just ten minutes. That’s it!
Paella is such an adaptable dish, especially in the Instant Pot. If you prefer white meat chicken, dice up some tenders in place of the chicken thighs.
If you can’t find classic Spanish chorizo, use andouille or another spicy, cooked sausage. Or use a mild sausage!
As for the spices, saffron is traditional for authentic paella—it adds a yellow hue and distinctive floral flavor. But it’s expensive and can be hard to find; skip it or use a pinch of turmeric instead.
If you don’t have smoked paprika, regular sweet paprika will work just fine.
After cooking, you may see a crust of dark caramelization and crunchy rice at the bottom of the pan — this is ok! This is called “socarrat” and is traditional for paella. Just mix it in and enjoy.
Here’s a time-saving pressure cooker trick that I use in this recipe: Heat up the chicken broth ahead of time, and thaw the peas in the broth. You can do this on the stovetop or in the microwave, whichever you prefer.
Hot ingredients take less time to come up to pressure so you shave a good 5 to 10 minutes off the total cooking time doing this, and dinner gets on the table sooner!
Pressure Cooker Weeknight Paella with Chicken and Sausage Recipe
If using a stovetop pressure cooker, cooking time is the same.
Short-grain rice is traditional for paella, however it's fine to substitute long-grain white rice or quick-cooking brown rice for this recipe. Cooking times are the same.
Note from the editor: Our original version of this recipe called for one ripe diced tomato or one whole canned tomato (crushed), which adds a more authentic flavor to the paella. However, we received comments that this caused the paella to occasionally burn on the bottom. We've removed the tomatoes from the recipe to ensure a more consistently successful dish, but if you'd like to experiment with tomatoes on your own, add the tomato after cooking the garlic and cook until most of the liquid has evaporate before adding the onions. Thanks!
- 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- Big pinch of saffron threads (roughly equal to 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 pound (3 to 4) boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 6 ounces (about 2 links) chorizo or other spicy sausage, sliced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (325 grams) short or medium grain rice
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 6-quart Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker
1 Heat the saffron with the chicken broth and defrost the peas: In a small saucepan, heat the broth to a simmer, then and add the peas and saffron. Reduce the heat to low to keep the broth warm and give the saffron a chance to infuse the broth while you get everything else ready.
(You can also heat the broth in a microwave safe bowl or liquid measuring cup for about three minutes. Add the peas and saffron after microwaving and cover to keep warm until needed.)
2 Cook the vegetables, chicken, and sausage in the pressure cooker: Select the “Sauté” setting on your electric pressure cooker and add the oil and garlic. Sauté until little bubbles of oil form around the garlic and it becomes aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in the onion and bell pepper. Sauté until they have softened a little bit, 3 to 4 more minutes. Stir in the paprika and salt, and sauté for one more minute.
Add the chicken and sausage and stir to combine. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, until the chicken has turned opaque. It's ok if the chicken is still a little pink in the middle.
3 Scrape the bottom of the pan: Add a splash of the hot broth to the pan and use it to scrape up any browned bits that have developed on the bottom of the pan. These browned bits add a lot of flavor to the dish, so don't skip this step. (This also helps prevent the dish from burning on the bottom during cooking!)
4 Add the remaining ingredients and the broth: Stir in the rice, then pour in the rest of the hot broth with the peas and saffron. Push down any grains of rice from the sides of the pot, making sure that everything is submerged in the cooking liquid.
5 Pressure cook the paella: Secure the lid on the pressure cooker, and make sure the pressure regulator is in its “Sealing” position. Cancel the “Sauté” cooking program, then select the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” program and set the cooking time to 5 minutes at high pressure.
The pot will take 5 to 10 minutes to come up to pressure, and then the cooking program will begin counting down.
6 Release the pressure: When the cooking program ends, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure by moving the pressure regulator to its “Venting” position.
7 Serve: When the pressure has fully released, open the pot. Scoop onto plates, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve it piping hot. Leftovers will keep for about a week.
You may get a crust of dark caramelization and crunchy rice at the bottom of the pan -- this is ok! This is called "socarrat" and is traditional for paella. Just mix it in and enjoy!
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