Tyler Florence’s Chicken and Coconut Paella Recipe

If you think paella is only about seafood, hold onto your hats because the culinary maestro Tyler Florence has spun this classic dish on its head with a tropical twist that’s nothing short of genius. A symphony of flavors where chicken pirouettes with coconut in a dance so harmonious, it could only be described as epicurean nirvana. I whipped up this exotic feast, and let me tell you, it’s like sending your taste buds on an all-inclusive vacation to flavor town.

Imagine tender morsels of chicken infused with aromatic spices merging with the creamy richness of coconut milk, all nestled in a bed of perfectly seasoned rice. This isn’t just food; it’s a journey — one where each bite transports you to sun-drenched shores even on the dreariest of days. I have to confess, my kitchen was filled with such irresistible scents that neighbors started peeking over fences, drawn by the siren song of this divine paella. Stay tuned if you dare to transform your dinner into an event that will have everyone talking!

Key points I covered in this post

1. I was initially drawn to Tyler Florence’s Chicken and Coconut Paella recipe because it promised a unique twist on the traditional Spanish dish. The idea of infusing coconut flavors into paella intrigued me, as it’s not something you find in classic versions of the meal. By replacing some standard ingredients with coconut milk and shredded coconut, this recipe introduces an unexpected but delightful tropical flair to the dish.

2. One of the key aspects I appreciated about this recipe is the use of chicken thighs. From my experience, chicken thighs remain juicier and more flavorful than breasts when cooked for longer periods, which is essential for creating a rich paella. The chicken is browned first to give it a nice texture before being combined with other ingredients, ensuring that every bite is packed with savory goodness.

3. I found that the sophistication of flavors in this dish comes from more than just the coconut. The recipe calls for aromatic ingredients like saffron and smoked paprika, which are staples in traditional paella recipes. These spices contribute deep earthy tones and a vibrant color to the rice, complementing the sweetness of the coconut components perfectly.

4. Another element I enjoyed was incorporating a variety of fresh produce such as bell peppers and peas, adding both color and nutrition to the dish. This vegetable inclusion not only makes the paella more visually appealing but also ensures that each forkful provides a balanced taste with hints of freshness amidst the richer notes.

5. Preparing this dish requires patience and attention, particularly when it comes to simmering the rice without stirring too much. This technique allows for the formation of socarrat – a slightly crispy bottom layer that’s highly coveted among paella aficionados like myself. Achieving that perfect socarrat without burning can be tricky; however, when done correctly, it adds an incredible textural contrast to Tyler Florence’s Chicken and Coconut Paella Recipe.

Tyler Florence’s Chicken and Coconut Paella

Tyler Florence’s Chicken and Coconut Paella

Dive into a tropical rendition of the Spanish classic with Tyler Florence’s Chicken and Coconut Paella. This dish marries succulent chicken thighs with the creamy richness of coconut milk, enveloped in aromatic spices and saffron-infused rice, for a culinary journey to flavor paradise.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 44 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Spanish with a Tropical Twist
Servings 4 people
Calories 650 kcal


  • Preheat the Oven: Preheat to 375°F (190°C) to accommodate the high-altitude cooking adjustment.
  • Brown the Chicken: Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. In a large paella pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and brown the chicken on both sides. Remove and set aside.
  • Sauté Vegetables: In the same pan, add the onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté until soft.
  • Combine Ingredients: Add the rice, stirring to coat in the oil and vegetables. Pour in the coconut milk and saffron-infused chicken stock. Stir in the paprika and turmeric.
  • Cook the Chicken and Rice: Return the chicken to the pan, nestling it into the rice. Bring to a simmer, then transfer the pan to the oven.
  • Bake: Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Add the Peas: Sprinkle the peas over the top in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  • Garnish and Serve: Let the paella rest for a few minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with lemon wedges on the side.


  • The coconut milk adds a creamy texture that's uncommon in traditional paella, balancing the spices and saffron beautifully.
  • For an authentic socarrat (crispy bottom layer), monitor the oven's heat and avoid stirring the rice once it's in the oven.
  • Adjust the liquid amount if necessary, based on the rice's absorption rate and your preference for the paella's wetness.
Keyword Arborio Rice, Chicken, Coconut, comfort food, Paella, Saffron, Spanish, Tropical, Tyler Florence

Exploring the Aromas and Flavors

I’ve always been intrigued by the complex layers that make up a savory paella, and Tyler Florence’s Chicken and Coconut Paella recipe takes this Spanish classic to new tropical heights. The moment I sautéed the onions and peppers, the kitchen filled with a vibrant fragrance, signaling the start of what promised to be an exotic feast.

Perfecting the Chicken

A key element in any paella is the protein, and in this recipe, chicken takes center stage. I ensured the chicken thighs were perfectly seasoned and seared them until they developed that essential golden-brown crust. This not only locked in the juices but also laid the foundation for flavors that would permeate the entire dish.

Combining Coconut with Classic Ingredients

Traditionally, paella features seafood or chorizo, but in Tyler’s rendition, the sweetness of coconut milk melds harmoniously with the arborio rice. I poured the coconut milk carefully, watching it bubble and blend with the aromatic base. It’s this thoughtful twist that transforms the dish, giving it a creamy texture and a hint of island whimsy.

Mastering the Rice

The heart of any paella is the rice. With Tyler Florence’s recipe, the use of Arborio rice is a slight departure from the usual bomba rice, but its high starch content still achieves that quintessential creamy consistency. I found that maintaining a gentle simmer and resisting the urge to stir were essential in achieving the perfect socarrat – the crispy layer at the bottom that’s highly coveted among paella aficionados.

Seasonal Vegetables as Accents

To balance the richness, I selected an array of brightly-hued seasonal vegetables. The sweet peas, vibrant bell peppers, and grape tomatoes not just added bursts of color, but their freshness also provided a counterpoint to the deep, savory flavors of the coconut-chicken mixture.

Garnishes that Elevate

When it came to garnishing, I went the extra mile with freshly chopped cilantro and lemon wedges. The cilantro imbued a fresh, aromatic quality, while a squeeze of lemon juice just before serving added a necessary zing that cut through the creaminess, brightening up the entire dish.

Cooking Techniques and Tips

Throughout the cooking process, I remained vigilant about heat management. Paella is all about patience and precision. I kept the flame at the right intensity to ensure everything cooked evenly, without turning the rice at the bottom into charcoal. This is a dish that demands your full attention from the moment you heat the oil to the final garnish.

Pairing Suggestions

To complement this dish, I opted for a light, crisp white wine – it provided a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors. Of course, if one prefers to keep the tropical theme, a fruity sangria wouldn’t be out of place either.

Presenting the Paella

Upon completion, the presentation was a feast for the eyes. The colorful combination of the saffron-tinted rice, charred chicken, and pops of green and red from the vegetables made it clear why paella is not just a meal but an event in itself.

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An Ode to Saffron

Let’s not forget the saffron. Its price might raise eyebrows, but its distinct flavor and color are non-negotiable in paella. Adding the saffron threads directly to the warm chicken stock before mixing allowed their exotic flavors to diffuse evenly, giving the dish its signature hue and enchanting bouquet.

Reflecting on the Cooking Journey

As each ingredient merged with the next, I was reminded of why cooking is an art. Tyler Florence’s Chicken and Coconut Paella is more than a list of ingredients and steps; it’s a harmonious dance of taste, technique, and timing that resulted in a dish that’s both comforting and exciting.

What are the key tips for making this paella?

  1. Sear the chicken to perfection for flavor and juiciness.
  2. Infuse your chicken stock with saffron for that authentic Spanish essence.
  3. Let the rice absorb the coconut milk without stirring to achieve the ideal texture.
  4. Time your heat judiciously for the perfect socarrat.
  5. Use a variety of fresh vegetables for balanced flavors and vibrant presentation.
  6. Garnish with fresh herbs and citrus to elevate the dish.
  7. Stay attentive to the cooking process to ensure even cooking.
  8. Pair with a refreshing beverage to balance the richness.

What makes Tyler Florence’s Chicken and Coconut Paella stand out?

What truly sets Tyler Florence’s Chicken and Coconut Paella apart is the delightful twist on the traditional Spanish dish. By infusing the classic paella with aromatic coconut milk, Tyler brings a creamy yet subtle exotic richness to the dish. This innovative combination enhances the flavor profile, offering a novel experience for the palate and setting a new standard for comfort meals with a global flair.

Can I use a different type of rice instead of the traditional paella rice?

Certainly, while traditional paella usually calls for short-grain varieties like Bomba or Calasparra, you can use alternative types if those are not accessible. Arborio rice can serve as a substitute, though it’s essential to remember that the texture and cooking time may vary slightly. Aim for rice that absorbs liquid well and doesn’t turn mushy for that perfect paella consistency.

What is the recommended chicken cut for this recipe?

In crafting this delectable dish, bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are typically recommended. They provide a moist and flavorful result due to their higher fat content. Thighs ensure that the chicken remains succulent and tender throughout the cooking process, imparting extra richness to the overall dish.

Can this paella be made without seafood for allergy concerns?

Absolutely! If seafood isn’t suitable for you or your guests due to allergies, it can definitely be omitted. The great thing about paella is its versatility. So, you can still enjoy the luxurious blend of flavors with just the chicken and coconut, or even add more vegetables to compensate for the missing seafood component.

Is this recipe suitable for a large gathering?

Yes, this recipe is perfect for large gatherings. Paella, by nature, is a communal dish meant to serve many. Plus, it presents an impressive centerpiece for your dinner table. Simply scale up the ingredients proportionately, and ensure you have a large enough pan to accommodate the increase.

Can I prepare parts of the recipe in advance?

Preparation ahead of time can certainly ease the cooking process. Marinating the chicken and chopping the veggies beforehand can save you time. However, for the best results, it’s advisable to cook the rice and assemble the paella when you’re ready to serve, ensuring the dish is freshly made and flavors are at their peak.

How do I prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan?

To prevent sticking, it’s all about controlling the heat and maintaining a consistent simmer. After combining the rice with other ingredients, you should avoid stirring it frequently. A well-cooked paella will form a desirable crust, known as ‘socarrat’, at the bottom, which is cherished among paella aficionados.

What kind of pan should I use to cook the paella?

An authentic paella experience starts with the right cookware. A traditional paella pan, wide and shallow, is designed to ensure even heating and the perfect texture for your rice. If you don’t have one, any wide, shallow skillet can work, but just be mindful of size for proper heat distribution.

Can I add different spices to the recipe?

Of course! While the chosen spices are there to complement the coconut and chicken, feel free to experiment with your seasoning to tailor the dish to your taste preferences. Adding a hint of paprika, a touch of cumin, or a sprinkle of cilantro can bring a personal twist to your paella.

What is the ideal liquid to rice ratio for the perfect paella?

The key to a flawless paella is ensuring the rice is cooked through and has just the right firmness. Generally, the ratio is about 3 cups of liquid to 1 cup of rice. However, depending on the rice type and your stove, you may need to adjust. Observe and taste as you cook for perfect results!

Final Thoughts on Tyler Florence’s Chicken and Coconut Paella Recipe

I must say, this twist on the traditional paella with the coconut infusion really captivated my culinary senses. It’s a magnificent blend of flavors and textures that turns a familiar dish into a new encounter with every bite. This recipe is a testament to how a few tweaks can transform a classic into something extraordinary and globally inspired. I thoroughly enjoyed orchestrating this symphony of taste in my kitchen and am certain it will charm the palates of everyone at the table. It’s an exciting recipe for anyone looking to expand their culinary horizons while still capturing the essence of comfort food. After all, food is a universal language, and this dish articulates a deliciously warm and embracing tale.