Barbecue Paella

When we’re on holiday on the Spanish coast, we always look for a restaurant that makes fresh paella. Not the kind of paella that’s quickly reheated in the microwave. We’re seeking a large pan of yellow rice cooking over an open fire on a market square. That’s usually the best paella.

By the way, the holiday paella isn’t considered a proper paella, according to the Valencians. Authentic paella is made with chicken, rabbit, and beans. In Valencia, they call the paella they serve to tourists “arroz al horno con cosas,” which translates to baked rice with stuff. It sounds very Spanish but is harder to remember than paella.

In our backyard, on our grill, we’ve made a fantastic tourist paella with chorizo and shrimp, and it’s genuinely Spanish and delicious.

We start with a skillet and olive oil to roast a few cherry tomatoes. These tomatoes are delicious as a side dish and easy to make. Cut a few tomatoes in half, sprinkle them with fresh herbs, salt, and pepper, and just let them sit until they become soft.

Around the small cast-iron pan, you’ll find a few chorizo sausages slowly cooking. We know chorizo has no place in authentic paella, but it tastes good.

The rice we use for paella is called Arborio rice. It’s a short, thick rice grain with low starch content. This means the rice will stick less during cooking. We first toast the grain in a dry pan to make it even drier. The rice will absorb the broth more quickly, resulting in a thicker rice texture.

This is a steel paella pan with a diameter of 34 cm (13.4 inches). It fits perfectly on our Kamado Joe Classic. You can make enough paella for six people or four hungry eaters in this pan. Just be aware that the pan isn’t stainless steel, so it should be well-greased when stored to prevent rust.

What is Saffron

In addition to the broth, we flavour the rice with paprika, garlic, onion, pepper, salt, and saffron. Saffron is a part of the saffron crocus’s stigma. Each saffron crocus has only three stigmas, and saffron is hand-separated from them. This is a small can with 2 grams of saffron, which requires 300 flowers. Now you understand why saffron is so expensive.

We covered the rice in the pan with aluminium foil so that the steam helped cook the rice. This way, the dry rice grain absorbs all the broth.

Besides the pan with rice, we’re indirectly grilling some shrimp. These are black tiger shrimp without heads but with shells that’ve already been cleaned. We do this because it looks better in the paella. The shell also protects the meat from too much direct heat. However, at the edges of the grill on a Kamado, you don’t need to worry much about that.

You’ll know the shrimp are done when the meat is no longer translucent. If you want to measure it, the safe-to-eat temperature is 58°C (136°F). If you’re still unsure, don’t worry. They will be heated again with the rest of the paella.

After the rice has steamed for 20 minutes, remove the foil and stir everything with a handful of frozen peas. Then, place the shrimp, tomatoes, and sausage on top of the rice and warm everything up for a few more minutes. This is also the moment to gather everyone at the table.

This is our “arroz al horno con cosas” that we like to call paella. If you decide to make this paella, let us know in the comments below. Even better, could you take a photo and post it on Instagram? Tag @bbqhelden so we can see what you’ve created.


  • 400 grams Arborio rice
  • 1 litre of chicken broth
  • 2 tsp saffron threads
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • A handful of fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, and oregano
  • 150 grams of frozen peas
  • Small chorizo sausages
  • 8 large prawns
  • Some olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Prepare a barbecue with a temperature of about 200°C (392°F). By the way, your barbecue should have a lid. Place a cast-iron skillet on the barbecue and pour in some olive oil. Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in the skillet. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over them as well.
  2. Finely chop the fresh herbs and sprinkle them over the tomatoes with some salt and pepper. Close the lid and let the tomatoes become soft. Grill the sausages next to the tomatoes.
  3. Meanwhile, brush some olive oil over the prawns and season them with salt and pepper. When the tomatoes are soft and the sausages are cooked, you can remove them from the grill to cool.
  4. Place a paella pan on the barbecue and pour the rice into it. Let it cook for 5 minutes. Then, pour in the broth. Add saffron, paprika, onion, garlic, and salt and pepper. Cover the pan with aluminium foil and steam the rice for 20 minutes.
  5. Grill the prawns next to the rice until they are no longer translucent, and then immediately remove them from the grill.
  6. Remove the aluminium foil from the pan and taste the rice to see if it is al dente. Then add the frozen peas to the rice and mix everything well. Distribute the prawns and sausage pieces over the rice. Drizzle some olive oil over the rice and cook for a few more minutes until everything is heated.

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