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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Vegan Paella with Tofu

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The vegan paella is comforting, flavorful and family-friendly. It’s made with cooked brown rice, spicy tofu, earthy mushrooms, veggies, a hint of fresh lemon juice, and the perfect amount of seasonings. It’s so delicious that you won’t miss the meat – I promise!   

vegan paella with tofu served in a large skillet

If you’re looking for the perfect meal to please everyone in your family and happens to taste great as leftovers, then this recipe is for you! Everything about this vegan paella recipe is flavorful, fragrant, easy to make, and leaves a lasting impression with anyone who tastes it. 

Latest Recipe Video!

Most vegetarian or vegan paella recipes are very tasty, but don’t have any added protein, so they aren’t very filling.

But this vegan paella is spicy, hearty, and packed with protein – which helps keep you full and satisfied long after you’ve finished your meal.

This dish took me right back to Spain, and when served with a glass of wine, felt like I was in an authentic Spanish restaurant!

Tools and Equipment You’ll Need

How To Make Vegan Paella

Recipe Ingredients & Notes

vegan paella ingredients
  • Rice: I chose brown rice instead of the traditional Bomba Rice, for added whole grains and fiber. It honestly tasted just as good!
  • Saffron: Important for getting that authentic paella flavor into this dish!
  • Tofu: For protein! It also has a meaty texture, so it replaces the meat typically used in paella recipes. Choose extra firm tofu.
  • Veggies: You can choose any you like — I added bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots, onions, corn, tomatoes and peas.
  • Spices: You’ll need cumin, paprika, smoked paprika, salt, cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper, and garlic.
  • Broth: To deepen the flavor of the paella and help it to simmer longer on the stovetop.
  • Lemon Juice: Don’t leave this out! Critical for adding brightness and acidity to your finished paella dish.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add tofu when oil is heated through, season with salt. Sauté 10 minutes, or until tofu is browned, stirring occasionally.

tofu sauteeing in a pan

Step 2: Add mushrooms, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes, or until mushrooms release liquid and begin to brown.

onions and mushrooms added to a pan

Step 3: Meanwhile, cook your brown rice. Add in saffron at the same time you add the rice to the boiling water. Stir and cook on low – let sit until all water is absorbed. Back to the tofu/mushroom mixture: Stir in carrots, corn, tomatoes, garlic, and all of your spices (including salt & pepper), and sauté 2-5 minutes more.

peppers and seasonings added to a pan

Step 4: Stir in rice, and about 4 oz veggie broth. Cover with lid, and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Add peas on surface (do not stir yet), cover, and allow peas to steam 1 to 2 minutes.

peas added to paella mixture

Step 5: Remove pan from heat, and stir in lemon juice and green onions. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

vegan paella with tofu served in a large skillet

What Makes This Vegan Paella Healthy?

  • Protein: This meal that is PACKED with protein and happens to be vegan too. You will get 11 grams of plant based protein in every serving. 
  • Fiber: Whole grains and veggies give you 7 grams of fiber in each serving of this vegan paella!
  • Low Calorie: You won’t believe it, but each giant serving of this authentic paella is only about 200 calories. That means you can go back for seconds completely guilt-free!  

Will Kids Enjoy This Vegan Paella Recipe?

Unless you make it too spicy, most kids are going to love the flavors and textures in this vegan paella. They won’t even realize how good for them it is and may even go back for seconds.

For pickier kids, I recommend cutting up the veggies super small, and reducing the cayenne pepper. You can always sprinkle some extra cayenne on your serving after you’ve separated out the kids’ portions if needed!

single serving of vegan paella with tofu with a skillet of paella in the background

Recipe FAQs

What Type of Rice is Best for Paella?

Technically, to make traditional authentic paella, you are supposed to use a Spanish Rice called Bomba (or Calasparra) Rice. However, Paella Rice is a refined white grain, and so for a healthier swap I recommend brown rice which has a similar hearty texture, but is much more nutritious! For a low carb option, you can try cauliflower rice. For a higher protein option, try quinoa!

What Does Saffron Taste Like? What if I don’t have Saffron?

Saffron has a very earthy, floral, sweet flavor. It’s important to get a higher quality saffron that’s fresh, so you get the most flavor out of it. Saffron is expensive, so for a more budget friendly alternative (or if you just don’t have saffron on hand), you can use turmeric instead!

Do I need a Traditional Paella Pan To Make This Recipe?

The short answer is – no you don’t! A paella pan is great if you’re going to be making paella very frequently, but if you’re only going to make this recipe once in a while you can just use a large shallow skillet. I recommend a pan that’s at least 12 inches wide – the larger and more shallow the better so the rice can cook evenly.

How to Store and Keep

Leftover paella tastes great because the flavors just have more time to blend together!

To Store: Transfer the cooled paella to an airtight container and place in the fridge. It will keep for up to 4-5 days in the fridge.

While technically you can freeze this recipe, the rice might be a little mushy when you defrost it. That said, it will keep in the freezer for up to 4 months in an airtight, freezer safe container!

Top Tips For Making The Best Paella

  • Once you add the rice to the pan, I know it’s tempting to stir it several times. But don’t stir it; because that will give you more of a risotto like consistency. For authentic paella, you want it to absorb the liquid and get a nice crust on the bottom of the pan (called the soccarat!)
  • Chop all your veggies into evenly size bite-size pieces. It’s much easier to eat when everything is uniform, but also it will cook much more evenly as well. 
  • The fresh lemon juice gives the vegan paella a little bit of extra zest, so don’t skip adding it. Always try to use fresh lemon juice, not the bottled stuff. It makes a huge difference when it comes to flavor. 
  • Feel free to change up the veggies with whatever you have on hand! Zucchini, artichokes, olives, roasted red peppers, and yellow squash would all work well in this dish.
single serving of vegan paella with tofu with a skillet of paella in the background

Check Out These Other Incredible Vegan Dinner Recipes!

If you have tried this Vegan Paella Recipe or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

vegan paella with tofu served in a large skillet
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Vegan Paella with Tofu

The vegan paella is comforting, flavorful and family-friendly. It’s made with cooked brown rice, spicy tofu, earthy mushrooms, veggies, a hint of fresh lemon juice, and the perfect amount of seasonings. It's so delicious that you won't miss the meat – I promise!   
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Spanish, Vegan
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 228kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice about 1/4 cup dry
  • tsp saffron crumbled
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 oz spicy marinated tofu finely diced
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms diced
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 14 oz can chopped or diced tomatoes drained
  • 4 cloves garlic minced (4 tsp.)
  • 4 oz vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Salt more to taste
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper you can add a little more if you like it spicy
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas thawed
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 green onions thinly sliced, for garnish

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add tofu when oil is heated through, season with salt. Sauté 10 minutes, or until tofu is browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Add mushrooms, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes, or until mushrooms release liquid and begin to brown.
  • Meanwhile, cook your brown rice. Add in saffron at the same time you add the rice to the boiling water. Stir and cook on low – let sit until all water is absorbed. Back to the tofu/mushroom mixture: Stir in carrots, corn, tomatoes, garlic, and all of your spices (including salt & pepper), and sauté 2-5 minutes more.
  • Stir in rice, and about 4 oz veggie broth. Cover with lid, and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.
  • Add peas on surface (do not stir yet), cover, and allow peas to steam 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and stir in lemon juice and green onions. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Video

https://youtu.be/-6r0RfUMTl0

Notes

Top Tips For Making Vegan Paella
  • Once you add the rice to the pan, I know it’s tempting to stir it several times. But don’t stir it; because that will give you more of a risotto like consistency. For authentic paella, you want it to absorb the liquid and get a nice crust on the bottom of the pan (called the soccarat!)
  • Chop all your veggies into evenly size bite-size pieces. It’s much easier to eat when everything is uniform, but also it will cook much more evenly as well. 
  • The fresh lemon juice gives the vegan paella a little bit of extra zest, so don’t skip adding it. Always try to use fresh lemon juice, not the bottled stuff. It makes a huge difference when it comes to flavor. 
  • Feel free to change up the veggies with whatever you have on hand! Zucchini, artichokes, olives, roasted red peppers, and yellow squash would all work well in this dish.

Nutrition

Calories: 228kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 854mg | Potassium: 967mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7g

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