Arroz Con Mariscos Vs Paella: 7 Key Differences

As both are almost similar-looking rice dishes, many people get confused about arroz con mariscos and paella. The similar price range in most restaurants makes the confusion even more intense. 

So, arroz con mariscos vs paella, what’s the difference? 

Arroz con mariscos is a Latin American dish while paella is a traditional rice dish in Peru. Arroz con mariscos is a rice dish mixed with different seafood whereas paella is mixed with chicken, sausage, rabbit, and snails. These two dishes are cooked with different types of rice and condiment as well. Also, the cooking method and pot used to cook them are also different. 

To know their differences in detail, keep reading. 

Arroz Con Mariscos Vs Paella: Quick Comparison

Before going into a detailed discussion about arroz con mariscos and paella, here’s a quick comparison you can check. If you are already familiar with these two dishes, this table should be helpful. 

Feature Arroz Con MariscosPaella
OriginPeru, Ecuador, and ColombiaSpain
Protein usedSquid, mussels, clams, and fishChicken, rabbit, chorizo sausage, and snails.
Rice UsedDifferent medium-grained and long-grained rice can be usedBomba Rice (Valencia rice) is recommended
Condiment usedAchiote, aji amarillo, and ají panca (paprika) are mostly usedSaffron is mandatory 
Cooking containerAny large pot and fry panPaellera or paella pan is recommended
Cooking methodRice and seafood are cooked separatelyAll the ingredients are cooked together in the same pot
Calories336 calories per cup (1 cup =  241 gram)442 calories per cup (1 cup = 241 gram)

Arroz Con Mariscos Vs Paella: In-depth Comparison

difference between paella and arroz

Here is a detailed discussion of the difference between paella and arroz. If you want to order or cook any one of them, this discussion will help you. 


Paella originated in the Valencia region of eastern Spain, whereas, Arroz con mariscos is a Latin American dish traditionally from Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

Paella is a rice dish that is named after the pan in which it is traditionally cooked, the “paellera”. The dish has been popular in Valencia for centuries. It is said that the farmers who worked in the fields would cook rice over an open fire with whatever ingredients they had available. 

On the other hand, Arroz con mariscos is considered a classic dish in coastal areas of Latin America where the seafood is abundant. 

Protein Used:

Arroz con mariscos is usually made with seafood including squid, mussels, clams, and fish, whereas paella is made with chicken, rabbit, chorizo sausage, and snails.

Arroz con mariscos means “rice with seafood” in English. As the name suggests, it is a seafood-based dish, so the protein used here is strictly a mix of various types of seafood. You can use different seafood in this dish depending on availability and your personal preference.

Paella, on the other hand, can be made with a variety of proteins including seafood as well.

Rice Used:

You can use different types of long-grain or medium-grain rice while cooking arroz con mariscos but you must use short-grain rice while cooking paella. 

Paella is traditionally made with a type of Spanish rice called “bomba rice” also known as Valencia rice, which is a short-grain rice. It is excellent at absorbing liquid and other flavors while maintaining its texture and shape. 

It is also considered the best rice for making paella due to its ability to hold up to the long cooking process without becoming mushy. 

If bomba rice is not available, you can use other short-grain or medium-grain rice for cooking paella but it’s not really recommended. Choosing the right rice for paella is very important. 

On the other hand, you can use any medium-grained or long-grained rice for arroz con mariscos. However, for different types of rice, the water requirement will be different. 

For medium-grain rice, you should add enough water so that when you put a spoon on top of the rice, it sinks a little bit. But the spoon should still be mostly above the surface of the water. 

For long-grain rice, you will need to add more water, and the spoon should be fully submerged when resting on top of the rice.

Condiment Used:

One of the most important ingredient condiments or spices in paella is saffron or saffron powder which isn’t required in arroz con mariscos. 

When added to the rice, saffron infuses its flavor into every grain and gives paella a beautiful golden-yellow color. This color is one of the defining features of paella, and without saffron, you won’t get it. And it’s important to use high-quality saffron for getting a beautiful color and aroma. You can check out the following ones. 

Saffron Brand Feature 
The Saffron House premium saffronThis product comes in a glass jar that helps keep the genuine red color, the signature saffron smell, and the freshness intact. 
Frontier SaffronAnother saffron brand that comes in a glass jar that is handpicked with care. 
Baby SaffronThis saffron is dried under a controlled condition to ensure its freshness. It is also packed in a blister sealing to keep the aroma intact. 

On the other hand, In arroz con mariscos, common condiments and spices used include turmeric (achiote),  aji amarillo (a type of Peruvian chili pepper), and ají panca (paprika). These spices are also more or less used in Paella in some regions, however, not mandatory. 

Cooking Container:

You can cook arroz con mariscos in any container but for cooking paella, you have to use a special type of container. 

For boiling the seafood and preparing broth, you can use any large pot. And for the frying part, any non-stick fry pan would be enough. You can also use a wok pan for cooking arroz con mariscos. Just choose a good wok pan for cooking fried rice

Paella, on the other hand, is traditionally cooked in a special shallow, wide pan called a paellera or paella pan. The dish was named after this specific carbon steel pan. The shallow depth of the pan allows for even cooking and a distinctive crispy layer is developed on the bottom of the dish.

Cooking Method:

The cooking process of paella and arroz con mariscos is different. Unlike paella, In arroz con mariscos, you cook the rice and other ingredients in different stages and mix them later. 

Arroz con mariscos are cooked in stages, where the meat or seafood is cooked first and the vegetables and rice are cooked separately. Finally, all the ingredients are poured and mixed in one big pot.

On the other hand, the paella cooking method involves sautéing the vegetables and seafood together before adding the rice and broth. After that, you have to simmer everything together until the rice is cooked through. One thing is important here, after adding the rice to the pot, you can not stir the ingredient. 

Also, unlike arroz con mariscos, some traditional paella is cooked outdoors on an open fire. It provides the dish with a delicious smoky flavor. 

Both recipes require cooking in traditional pans and you can not just flash rice them in a rice cooker. Also, you have to give a little effort to cook this traditional rice. 


In one cup of mariscos there are around 336 calories per cup, on the contrary, in 1 cup of paella, there are 442 calories. The extra calories in paella come from the meat used in it. Seafood is lower in calories than chicken, beef, and rabbit. So, if you are watching your calories, arroz con mariscos is a better option. 

Also, if you eat rice often and want low-calorie rice, cauliflower rice can be a good choice to eat regularly. Cauliflower rice is different from white rice in various aspects. 

Final Verdict

If you have seafood available in your area and you are looking for low-calorie food, arroz con mariscos can be a great choice. Also, It requires less complicated ingredients and cooking tools to cook which will be convenient. 

However, if you want to try the delicious crunchy authentic Spanish rice and love chicken, rabbit, and snails, try the paella. But make sure, you have the special tools and ingredients including paella pan, bomba rice, and saffron available. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What Rice Replaces Bomba?

Calasparra rice is the best alternative if bomba rice for making paella if bomba rice is not available. Arborio rice and Calrose Rice can also be used instead of bomba as they are short-grained rice. However, for getting authentic flavor and texture, bomba rice is highly recommended.

What To Do If The Paella Rice Is Hard?

If the rice is hard, add more liquid such as chicken broth or water to the paella and continue to cook it until the rice is tender. Keep the rice covered while cooking, it will be well-cooked sooner. 

What Not To Eat After Eating Seafood?

Dairy products like milk, honey, and buttermilk should not be eaten after eating seafood and dishes like arroz con mariscos. The heating effect of the seafood will contradict the cooling effect of the dairy product. And these will cause indigestion and bloating in your stomach.  


That’s all about arroz con mariscos vs paella. All the key differences between them are discussed here for your convenience. If you eat paella, try eating it directly from the pan together to enjoy the crustiness from the bottom part of the pan. 

Let’s finish today’s discussion here. Have a great day and enjoy your meal.

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