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Chicken and Chorizo Risotto

This chicken and chorizo risotto recipe is a one-pot meal that will bring the flavors of a traditional paella to your table. This simple take on the classic Spanish dish is made with arborio rice infused with saffron and filled with hearty ingredients like chicken and sausage. Serve it with a glass of simple red sangria to complete the experience.

Close up of chicken chorizo risotto in a skillet.

What I love about chicken chorizo risotto

In September, I went to Portland on a blogging retreat and we went to an awesome Spanish restaurant where I had paella for the first time since I was in Spain. It was unbelievably delicious and it reminded me how much I love it.

When I got home, I knew I wanted to make my own, but I was honestly overwhelmed by the thought of trying to learn something new – yes, I realize paella isn’t really that hard, but I am who I am – so I made this paella-inspired risotto instead.

After making a million batches of zucchini risotto, I can make risotto with my eyes closed, and I always have arborio rice in my pantry. This recipe is a little time consuming, but I promise it’s super easy and one pan cleanup makes up for it.

Chicken chorizo risotto on a plate with a fork and a lemon wedge.

Here’s what you’ll need to make risotto with saffron

Close up of chicken chorizo paella in a skillet.

How to make this chicken and chorizo paella recipe

Sear the chicken. Start by searing your chicken thighs. Season them with salt & pepper, and add a tablespoon of olive oil to your pan. Let it get nice and hot. Then, sear the chicken until it releases easily from the pan – about 5 minutes per side.

Remove the cooked chicken and set it aside on a cutting board. Cook the sausage next and transfer to the cutting board when it’s fully cooked. Chop the chicken and sausage into bite sized pieces (I like the do this while the rice is cooking, but if this is your first time making risotto, you might want to do this ahead of time so you don’t feel overwhelmed).

Make the risotto. Leave the rendered fat from the meat in the pan and add your onion and garlic. Cook them until tender, stirring as needed.

Next, add the rice and let it soak up all the juices in the pan. Then, deglaze with your white wine. When the rice has absorbed that, start adding your chicken stock in 1/2 cup increments. With the first 1/2 cup, add the saffron and turmeric

Let each addition absorb before adding the next, and stir the rice regularly to prevent sticking. This also pulls out the starches which makes risotto creamy. When the stock is gone, continue with 2 cups of water (still 1/2 cup at a time).

Add the mix-ins. With the last addition of liquid, return the meat to the pan and add the frozen peas and chopped tomatoes. Allow the rice to absorb the liquid and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Garnish and serve. Remove the pan from heat and garnish with fresh parsley (fresh thyme would also be great) and serve with lemon slices. The fresh squeeze of lemon really brings out the brightness in the flavors and makes the dish pop, but you can skip it if you want.

Close up of chicken and chorizo risotto on a plate.

FAQs and tips on making chicken chorizo risotto

Do you need saffron in paella?

Saffron is a traditional ingredient in paellas. Without it, the unique flavor of paella will be missing. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend substituting saffron when making paella since the ingredient is so integral to the flavor profile.

What can I use instead of saffron?

Turmeric is a good substitute for saffron when you cannot find it, but it has as a peppery taste that’s much stronger than saffron. Safflower is another commonly used substitute. Both of these have the distinct yellow coloring of saffron, but they won’t produce the unique flavor of saffron.

What meat is good with risotto?

Risotto is a such a great neutral base that really any meat will pair well with it. It all depends on what other flavors you add to the dish, but I love serving risotto with chicken, sausage and even seafood. In this case, I’m mixing two of my favorites, chorizo sausage and boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

Chicken chorizo paella in a skillet with a serving spoon resting in it.

More dairy free risotto & rice based recipes you will love

Other chicken & sausage recipes you should try

Chicken chorizo risotto on a plate with a fork and a lemon wedge.
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Chicken and Chorizo Risotto

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


This chicken and chorizo risotto is creamy and full of flavor, with a hint of saffron make it a great alternative to paella. While it takes a little bit of time, it’s actually really simple to make and fancy enough to impress guests.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 23 chorizo sausages

  • 1 cup diced onion

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 cups arborio rice

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 roma tomato chopped

  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

  • 1/21 teaspoon coarse salt, to taste

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Liberally season chicken thighs with salt & pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet and sear the chicken for 4 – 5 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through and easily releases from the pan. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Without adding oil to the pan, repeat with the chorizo until cooked through.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until the onion is tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir as need to prevent burning or sticking.
  3. Add the rice and allow it to absorb the oil in the pan. Deglaze the pan with the wine and allow the rice to absorb it.
  4. Cook the rice by adding 1/2 cup increments of chicken stock and allowing it to simmer until the liquid has been absorbed. With the first addition, add the saffron and turmeric. Repeat until broth is gone and continue with the water until rice is cooked.
  5. With the last addition of water, add the tomatoes and peas, and return the meat to the pan. Simmer until everything is cooked through. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper, to taste.
  6. Remove from heat and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with lemon wedges or slices.
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Spanish
  • Diet: Gluten Free


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 218
  • Sugar: 3.1 g
  • Sodium: 953.2 mg
  • Fat: 7.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 24.6 g
  • Fiber: 1.3 g
  • Protein: 10.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 25.4 mg

Keywords: chicken and chorizo risotto, chicken chorizo risotto, risotto with saffron, chicken and chorizo paella, chicken chorizo paella, chicken and chorizo paella recipe

Last Updated on January 17, 2022 by Melissa Belanger

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    1. Any kind you want to use, but I would avoid Mexican style chorizo since it’s vinegar based. We used Johnsonville chorizo sausages. If you use smoked or pre-cooked sausage, you can skip the cooking step.

  1. The ingredients list says chicken broth and chicken breast, but the instructions say chicken stock and chicken thighs?