How To Make Low-Carb Paella

I’ve been teaching Paella classes for a little over 6 months now and am loving it. I do classes in Hotels, Bars and other venues in LA. They are a lot of fun and range for 12-26 people. Sometimes its a challenge. I even set the fire alarm off once. (No one was harmed!. Browning chicken properly produces smoke!) 

While the students love it, there is always at least one person that asks about a lower-carb version. After all, Paella is 80% or so of rice and it can be a lot of carbs if you’re watching your diet. 
So, I thought of ways to give my students and options and came up with a great solution.
Cauliflower rice. 
I found a bag of cauliflower rice in the Trader Joe’s frozen section so I thought I’d give it a try. It turned out great. I used all the same techniques, but just added less broth since the “rice” wouldn’t soak up the moisture like a regular rice. 
It turned out amazing and I felt no guilt eating it, because now I was eating 80% vegetables!
If you’re looking for lower-carb options but are often left un-inspired by steamed broccoli with chicken, take a trip to Spain and flavor up your meal! You don’t have to give up any flavor on this one!
It’s great as leftovers too. The flavors get even better. 

Simple Paella with Cauliflower Rice (Low-Carb)

Serves 4-6


  • ¾ – 1 lb. chicken, cut up in small pieces
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
  • 1 bag Trader Joe’s cauliflower rice
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • olive oil
  • rosemary sprig (optional)
  • ½ -¾ lb. shrimp (in shell or peeled, your choice)
  • ½ cup peas
  • lemon and parsley for garnish
1. First, in a large saute pan, brown the chicken a 1 T or two of olive oil. Then, push chicken out to the sides of the pan.
2. In the middle of the pan, adda little more olive oil and sauce the onions, red bell pepper, tomatoes and garlic cloves for 2-3 minutes or starting to get softened. 
3. Make a hole in the center, add the tomato paste and the paprika and stir together and cook for about 30 seconds. Then, add the broth or water immediately. 
4. Add the cauliflower rice, saffron, and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes. (This is just to meld flavors together since you don’t have to wait for cauliflower rice to cook). Add the rosemary sprig if you want at this point. Taste and add more salt if needed. 
5. After 15-20 minutes, add the shrimp and peas. Cook another 5 minutes or so, turning shrimp over midway until they are all pink. You can cover with foil if you don’t feel like turning shrimp. 
6. After shrimp are pink and curled up, your paella is done. Top with some parsley and serve with lemon wedges. 

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