Seafood Campfire Paella on the Oregon Coast

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An impromptu camping trip to the Oregon coast offers us the chance to incorporate some local shellfish into this one-skillet seafood campfire paella recipe.

Paella in a skillet on a camping table with forks and a bottle of wine in frame

Made Possible by Kenwood Vineyards

The Oregon Coast is absolutely stunning – if you can see it through the fog. While this rugged coastline offers spectacular vistas, lush vegetation, and picturesque campgrounds, the weather there can be infamously uncooperative. Weeks of nonstop rain, heavy fog, and gusting winds prompted one camp host from Yuma, AZ to tell us that it had turned his southwest tan into pacific northwest rust.

So when we saw a weather forecast that predicted two consecutive days of sun, we decided to jump on it. With little under 24 hours notice, we packed the car and were heading to the coast.

We arrived in Newport, a small port town known for fresh seafood. As we cruised along the docks we saw rows of crabbing boats that had come in earlier that morning. Seals barked in the harbor and bearded men in yellow rubber waders sat outside smoking cigarettes. This was a salty fishing town if we ever saw one. So we did the only thing we could and stopped by a local fishmonger to pick up a few supplies for dinner.

Fish market in Newport, Oregon Clams and mussels in a red and white bowl

We were planning on making campfire paella so we decided to get some mussels, clams, and shrimp. Wrapped in brown paper, we placed our catch in our cooler and made our way a little further up the coast to Beverly Beach campground.

Oregon is one of the few places in the country where you are allowed to build fires on the beach. We had briefly entertained the romantic notion of cooking our meal out on the beach, but despite the clear skies, it was a still a little too blustery for that. So instead, we made dinner at the campsite among the coastal redwoods.

While it might seem a little intimidating at first, paella is actually a perfect meal to make when camping. It’s super versatile, can be easily cooked over a campfire, and best of all – the recipe calls for just a glug of wine, leaving a nearly full bottle leftover. No possible idea what we’d do with that…

Back at the campsite, we got a small fire going. In a 10″ cast iron skillet, we sauteed some onions and garlic in olive oil, while grilling some cherry tomatoes off to the side. We then added the tomatoes, rice, and various spices to the pan and stirred to coat with olive oil.

Megan moving a skillet over a campfire

At this point, we were supposed to add the white wine but had a momentary panic attack when we realized we had forgotten to pack a corkscrew. A few swears and pointed fingers later, we remembered our wine had a twist top. Crisis averted! After that, the wine went in, followed by broth. We both had a drink.

As the liquid simmers, the rice begins to cook. When the rice was looking al dente (about 15 minutes in) we added the seafood. With all the steam rising off the rice, the seafood cooks very quickly. So you want to avoid adding it too early, otherwise, it will overcook.

Paella in a cast iron skillet over a campfire

With the liquid nearly gone, the rice done, and the seafood fully cooked, we pulled the pan off the fire. The pictures here don’t really do this meal justice. The aroma coming off this thing was just absolutely incredible. In fact, we didn’t even bother plating it. Instead, we ate it right out of the cast iron.

After finishing the paella and half the bottle of wine, we were feeling pretty good. But we couldn’t let go of the idea of a beachside bonfire. We were so close. So we quickly cleaned the dishes, packed our backpacks, and walked down to the beach. Thankfully, the wind had died down a little and it looked like we were in for a golden sunset.

Megan standing in front of a bonfire on the beach along the Oregon Coast

These types of experiences never cease to amaze us. Just how quickly things can change. Only 24 hours ago we were watching Netflix and scrolling through the weather on our phones. And now we were sitting on a beach having a fire and watching the sunset over the Pacific ocean. It’s a great reminder that adventure is out there. You just need to go out and find it.

Paella in a cast iron skillet on a camp table with a vlue tent in the background

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Paella topped with shrimp, mussels, and clams in a cast iron skillet on a camp table

Oregon Coast Campfire Paella

Author: Fresh Off The Grid
4.67 from 15 votes
Print Pin Rate Save
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
2 servings


  • 1 pound seafood, (mussels, clams, shrimp, prawns, or a mix)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cup broth
  • Big pinch of saffron
  • 1 medium onion, , minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup short grained rice, , Bomba is traditional if you can find it; we used Calrose
  • 4 cloves garlic, , minced
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ cup Kenwood Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
  • Parsley, , to garnish


  • Prep the seafood if needed - scrub the mussels and clams, debeard mussels & devein the shrimp or prawns if they aren’t already. Place the mussels and clams in a large bowl of cold water to soak as you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  • Start your campfire - you will be cooking over the flames at high heat, so no need to burn the wood down to embers. Place your cast iron on the grill to preheat. Optional step: Skewer the cherry tomatoes and place on the grill over the fire to roast. This helps to add a nice smokey flavor to the paella and it draws out some of the sweetness of the tomatoes.
  • Measure 1 ½ cups broth into a cup or small bowl. Add the saffron to the broth and stir. Set aside. Dice the onion & mince the garlic.
  • Once your fire is going and the skillet is hot, add olive oil followed by the diced onion, salt, and red pepper flakes. Saute for about 2 minutes, until the onion is just beginning to soften.
  • Add the rice and the minced garlic to the skillet. Toast the rice, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes or until it begins to turn golden (but not browned). Add the wine and stir until absorbed by the rice, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the paprika, stirring briefly to coat the rice and then add the broth with the saffron and the roasted tomatoes. Give it a big stir to distribute all of the ingredients and then let it be. After 15 minutes, add the mussels, clams, and shrimp. Cook for roughly 15 minutes more. The paella is done once the rice is tender, all of the liquid has been absorbed, and you hear the rice start “crackling” - an indicator that the paella is forming socarrat - the wonderfully crunchy, brown crust that paella is known for.
  • Remove from the heat, garnish with parsley, and enjoy with a glass of the remaining wine!



Saffron can be pricey, but it does add to the distinct flavor of paella. Trader Joe’s has the best price we have found so far ($5.99 for a small jar, which we can make 3 paellas from).


It’s good to keep in mind that campfires are not consistent heat sources the way that kitchen stoves are, so cook times can change based on variables such as how hot your fire is or how close the grill grate is to the flame. We’ve given times based on our experience, but they should be taken as guidelines only. We’ve added some visual indicators to help you adapt based on your particular fire.

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Calories: 700kcal
*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator

Paella in a cast iron skillet on a camp table

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  1. I never thought of paella as a camping recipe – but that looks perfect for it! (As long as you can get the seafood… LOL) But instead of waiting, I may try that recipe on the stove with the fresh seafood I can get right from the fishermen at home!

    1. With fresh seafood, paella is – of course – amazing. But we’ve made paella with spicy chorizo sausage, pancetta, and even completely vegetarian versions. And they’ve all been delicious. The broad heat from the fire really helps heat up the whole pan (so you don’t get heat spots in the middle that result in cooked rice in the middle and uncooked rice on the edges) So use the widest burner you have on the stove top to heat up as much of the pan as possible.

  2. My husband and I were just talking about camping meals tonight. This looks awesome!
    P.S. This seriously makes me want to visit Oregon.

    1. ‘Tis the season!! The Oregon coast really is an amazing place – we’re lucky it’s only a few hours away from us. If you ever get the chance to visit, I’d highly recommend it!

    1. Oregon is an *amazing* place to camp (as long as it’s not raining!) The forests here are incredible. You’ll have to experience it some day!

    1. Welcome, Julia! We promise that the paella is even better than it looks 😉 Definitely one of our favorite camp meals so far!

  3. This looks amazing! I’m actually making paella whilst camping this weekend. We plan on foraging for the shellfish so not sure what we’ll get! I usually add broad or string beans to my recipe too. Oregon sounds amazing. Thanks!5 stars

  4. Do you cover the cast iron pot/pan. Also do you think this recipe is fine to double?

    1. You shouldn’t need to cover the skillet, however, if you find that some of the shell fish aren’t steaming properly (i.e. opening) covering it with a lid for a few minutes can do the trick. We used a 10″ skillet. If you want to double the recipe, we would recommend using a 12″ skillet.

  5. I’m not sure about the meal, although I plan on trying that soon as it looked delicious, but that review gave me the best feeling I’ve ever gotten from reading about someone else’s experience. From the spontaneity to the forgetting the corkscrew to the not needing the corkscrew to eating out of the pan and then trekking down to the beach for some more wine and a fire. I bought all new camping stuff, thinking carefully and taking my time to make sure I had everything I wanted and once I had it all I never thought the last thing I needed should have been what I got first…. RESERVATIONS. So I walk by all my gear everyday and wait but have reservations in Palo Duro on the 28th. Me myself and I but I will remember this review often and I will make this recipe. This just really fired me up to leave. I might have to just take off early and make a couple stops on the way. I just realized nobody knows what date it is to that would be irrelevant. It is now June 20, 2019 so 8 days left. Great job with this review, other then the promo but I get it.

    1. Glad it got you fired up to get out there. And we hope you had a great time! Sometimes we need a little inspiration ourselves, something to push us to get out there. We’re glad you could share a little bit of that with.

  6. William White says:

    Excellent recipe. I prefer to make a roasted sofrito in advance as well as doing as much prep work as I can in my own kitchen. In addition, I’ve use frozen peas, mixed seafood, mussels, clams and shrimp with great results and convienance-as well as serving as “ice blocks” during the shuttle to the camp site.

    A neat trick I picked up years ago at the bluegrass festivals I attended; Remove an old enameled steel drum from an old agitator washing machine-the kind with holes all over it. Place it over a metal milk crate (or camp site grate) and build your fire.

    When you’ve got a good bunch of hot coals in it place a piece of expanded metal over the top-place your 23″ paella pan (or smaller) on it and away you go.

    Not only does the fire not smoke, its heat is evenly distributed under the pan. I’ve served groups of 20 using this method.5 stars

    1. I’ve heard of this steel drum campfire trick before, but I’ve never seen it in practice. A smokeless campfire would be a major hit over here. ????

  7. Katherine Bluff says:

    What a fantastic recipe! Beautiful! We unfortunately weren’t camping, so made it on the BBQ instead. My family loves it and my Dad, who is the ultimate foodie, had 3 helpings when I made it. Thank you!5 stars

  8. Janelle Carpenter says:

    We have made this recipe a dozen times now on our Big Green Egg. We found saffron on Amazon pretty inexpensive and noted that the longer we leave the saffron in the stock the better it tastes. Thank you for sharing this!5 stars

  9. I made this unbelievable meal for our camping group and everyone was absolutely blown away. They were in shock that something so gourmet could be made in such a rustic, over the fire way (they weren’t very experienced campers). I stopped at a local fish market on the way to the site and made it our first night. I am in Massachusetts; so, not the PNW, but great local seafood! It looks and sounds complicated, but the steps were easy to follow and it’s always a bonus when your entire meal can be made in one skillet! We devoured it right from the skillet! I also toasted some rustic bread with it… didn’t want to miss any drops on the plate!5 stars

  10. Love this recipe! With the fire ban in California, we would have to cook this in our mini Weber, do you think it would cook properly over coals instead of an open flame?