If you’re wondering what to serve with your paella, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I list 51 of the most popular side dishes for paella.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best side dishes to serve with paella are blistered shishito peppers, fried calamari, and drunken mussels. You can also serve a fresh tomato salad, ham croquettes, or marinated olives. For Spanish tapas side options, there’s pan con tomate, patatas bravas, or champinones al ajillo.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Start your paella meal off with a bang by serving some tasty tapas! Not only will it keep your guests entertained, but it will give your paella more time to develop the iconic socarrat (crispy crust).
I like keeping it light and easy with a plate of marinated olives, but you can also try blistered padron peppers or croquettes.
Paella is a complete meal on its own, so you don’t need a heavy side.
Something like a bowl of marinated olives is perfect.
They’ll give the guests something to snack on if you need extra time to prepare in the kitchen, and you can prep them ahead of time so there’s no extra stress on the day.
Why we love this recipe: there’s zero hands on cooking.
Go full-on Spanish and serve this iconic dish with your paella.
It will work best as a starter, but can also be served alongside the paella in a ‘help yourself’ type of spread.
Don’t forget the dipping sauce! This recipe uses a spicy garlic mayonnaise.
Why we love this recipe: you can’t go wrong with the classics.
Blistered shishito peppers
Blistered shishito peppers have to be one of my favorite side dishes.
Most of the peppers will be pretty mild, but every so often you’ll get one that’s really hot!
And there’s no way of telling which one it will be…
Why we love this recipe: they’re super addictive.
Another tapas side that you can serve with paella is croquettes.
And these ham croquettes are so creamy you’ll find it hard to believe that they don’t have cheese in them.
What’s the big secret? Constantly stirring your bechamel sauce to achieve a perfectly smooth consistency.
Why we love this recipe: it’s versatile, cheap, and delicious.
Champinones al ajillo (Spanish garlic mushrooms)
Sauteed white button mushrooms and garlic may sound simple but they pack a flavorful punch.
They’re soft, tender, and would be delicious mixed into the paella or just served on the side.
This recipe also adds a bit of heat with a chili pepper.
Why we love this recipe: it transforms a basic ingredient into something really tasty.
Pairing bread and paella is a carb-loaded bonanza, but you deserve to indulge from time to time right?
You can never go wrong with a slice of crusty sourdough or Irish soda bread for a quicker option. But if you want to keep with the Spanish theme, go with pan con tomate.
Paella is already a carby delight but that doesn’t mean you can’t pair it with another one, especially one as iconic as garlic bread..
Garlic bread is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, and you’ll be able to use it to wipe your plate clean at the end of the meal.
Why we love this recipe: it’s as simple as you can get.
Pan con tomate
Not a fan of garlic bread? What about this Spanish version of bruschetta?
Pan con tomate uses an artisan bread like ciabatta as a base for a sweet-tasting tomato spread.
You can serve it as it is, or experiment with different toppings like cooked shrimp or roasted veggies.
Why we love this recipe: you only need 4 ingredients.
Salads and vegetables
Paella is a heavy dish, so a light veggie side dish or a serving of leafy greens are excellent options.
My go-to is a quick, no-frills arugula salad, but you can also try Greek salad for a tasty fusion meal.
And if you want something warm, sauteed green beans or steamed asparagus are super quick and easy.
Easy arugula salad
You can’t really go wrong with a basic side salad.
The arugula will bring a peppery and slightly bitter taste to your plate, which will stop the meal from getting too heavy.
Psst… for a more delicate flavor, use baby arugula.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a lifesaver when you’re in a rush.
Fresh tomato salad
A fresh tomato salad is a perfect side salad to go with your hearty paella.
It’s got sweet juices from the tomatoes and a tangy dressing to cleanse your palate.
It’s super simple too – you can have it on the table in under 10 minutes.
Why we love this recipe: it’s full of bright summer flavors.
Grilled corn on the cob
Grilled corn on the cob is one of those sides that only needs simple seasonings like salt and butter to make it delicious.
But you can get a little creative too.
Other seasoning ideas include chili lime butter, parmesan butter, or herbed butter… you can even wrap it in bacon!
Why we love this recipe: it’s a quick side that won’t detract from the paella.
For a fresh bite, choose pickled radish as a side for your paella.
They’re sharp and tangy, and will balance out the rich tomato sauce of the paella. Plus they’ll bring a vibrant pop of color to the plate.
Psst… you can pickle other veggies too like carrots, pepper and cucumber.
Why we love this recipe: they’ll keep in the fridge for up to four months.
Mediterranean chopped salad
Fuse Spanish and Greek flavors with a paella and Mediterranean salad combo.
The creamy tzatziki dressing will help mellow out all the spices from the paella, and help cool you down on a hot day.
It’s ideal when you just want a small portion of paella, and then something lighter but still filling on the side.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a melting pot of different textures.
Paella is usually already loaded with protein, but what’s the harm in serving more?
Baked lobster tails can easily keep the seafood theme going, but my favorite is a juicy steak for a delicious spin on the classic surf-and-turf.
Carry on with the seafood theme and serve these drunken mussels as a side.
They’re ‘drunken’ because of the white wine broth they’re cooked in. There’s also some umami packed anchovies in there for maximum flavor.
You can add clams in too, and toasted bread is non-negotiable.
Why we love this recipe: it’s perfect for date night or a dinner party.
Fried calamari will offer a crunch texture to contrast with all the soft textures in a paella.
Pro tip: let the squid soak in salted milk for at least 20 minutes before breading it to help tenderize the flesh.
Noone likes rubbery calamari!
Why we love this recipe: you can easily make it gluten-free.
Steak and chimichurri sauce are a match made in heaven.
This vibrantly green sauce’s bright, herby flavors is an excellent contrast to your steak’s savory, meaty goodness.
You can buy this sauce in a bottle, but trust me – making it from scratch is the way to go.
Prop slices of the perfectly-cooked steak over your paella before drizzling the chimichurri to get the perfect bite.
Why we love this recipe: it’s restaurant-quality minus the luxurious price tag.
Send your guests home with a full belly by serving dessert after your paella meal.
Spanish flan and Natillas de leche are two wonderfully soft and sweet dessert options that mesh well with a hearty paella dish. For a dessert that’s more on the refreshing side, try a Sangria sorbet.
Cap off your meal with the sweet flavors of a classic Spanish flan.
This jiggly custard has a beautiful sticky caramel sauce on top, and a silky smooth texture that makes it a joy to eat.
For an extra hint of acidity, serve this flan with fresh raspberries.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a light dessert that can be made ahead of time.
Burnt basque cheesecake
This dessert has gained popularity over the years, but did you know it originated from a Spanish restaurant called La Viña?
I find that it’s easier to make than the typical cheesecake.
There’s no crust involved – instead, the cream cheese mixture is poured straight into a lined pan and baked until it has a gorgeous golden brown top.
Enjoy a slice with sherry wine for the ultimate after-paella treat.
Why we love this recipe: it has a perfect rating from 294 votes.
The best side dishes for paella
- Fresh tomato salad
- Patatas bravas
- Blistered shishito peppers
- Grilled corn on the cob
- Pickled radish
- Drunken mussels
- Garlic bread
- Fried calamari
- Marinated olives
- Mediterranean chopped salad
- Ham croquettes
- Pan con tomate
- Champinones al ajillo (Spanish garlic mushrooms)
- Easy arugula salad
- Spanish flan
51 BEST Sides To Serve With Paella
- 1 portion Drunken mussels
- 1 portion Pan con tomate
- 1 portion Marinated olives
- 1 portion Pickled radish
- 1 portion Patatas bravas
- 1 portion Blistered shishito peppers
- Prepare your paella according to your favorite recipe.
- In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
- Side dishes include: fresh tomato salad, patatas bravas, blistered shishito peppers, grilled corn on the cob, pickled radish, drunken mussels, garlic bread, fried calamari, marinated olives, mediterranean chopped salad, ham croquettes, pan con tomate, champinones al ajillo (spanish garlic mushrooms), easy arugula salad, and spanish flan.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!