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Best Paella Pan

Looking to make a spicy Spanish casserole unique in flavor and presentation? Check out our list of the best paella pans you can buy online.

While you may think paella is just one more ho-hum rice-based dish, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, this spicy Spanish casserole is so unique in flavor and presentation that it’s been named the National Dish of Spain. And not only does it require a special type of rice that helps it cook to perfection, but it also commands its very own, uniquely designed pan called a paellera.

What Are the Benefits to Using a Paella Pan?

With so much going on when you’re cooking up a pan of this delicious main course meal it’s hard to know where to begin. But it definitely starts with the pan itself. Because the flat-bottomed paella pan is wider and shallower than your standard frying pan, rice cooks evenly and can form that crispy socarrat underside this dish is renowned for. And unlike risotto, where your dish is constantly stirred into a creamy consistency, paella is never stirred but simmers uncovered in the wide-mouth paellera. Escaping steam reduces moisture and creates a drier finish that produces the individual grain texture. And let’s talk about dimples because most paella pan designs include a multitude of them across the base which helps trap tiny amounts of fluid, preventing sogginess and promoting an even cook process.

What to Look for When Buying a Paella Pan

Construction

Several distinctive features set a paella pan apart from your standard frying pan. The first thing to look for is that edge-to-edge flat base that ensures the dish cooks evenly and forms the crispy socarrat bottom. The second is an extra-wide, open surface that allows steam to escape and prevents foods from becoming soggy. The third is a shallow surface that ensures foods are spread thinly and evaporation is maximized. And the final feature to look for is the material the pan is made from. Traditionally, that would be carbon steel due to its exceptional thermal conductivity and fast, even heating, however, different materials are gaining in popularity.

Material

While the authentic paella pan uses carbon steel to achieve a fast, even heat, other easier-care materials are starting to surface that deliver many of the same features, but without the required maintenance. Finishes such as enamelled steel that doesn’t require pre-seasoning, won’t rust and offers a non-stick finish – however without the same level of thermal conductivity as carbon steel. And while stainless-steel options offer the same low-maintenance features as enamelled, they don’t provide the even heat you get with carbon steel, so you run the risk of hot spots and burning if foods aren’t monitored when cooking.

Heat Sources

If you’re thinking of going with a traditional paella pan, there are a few caveats you should be aware of – including your kitchen appliances. When cooking paella, it’s important to ensure the entire pan base is in contact with the burner. Because some paella pans feature a very slight curve at the bottom, they’re best used on gas stoves or open flame cooking, where the heat can rise to surround both the base and raised portion of the pan. When cooking on the flat surface of electric, ceramic, or induction stovetops, you need a pan with a completely flat base or you won’t get the full transfer of heat needed for even cooking. Designs with an entirely flat base are the more versatile option as they can be used on electric, induction, ceramic, as well as gas stoves.

Top 6 Paella Pans

Garcima 16-Inch Carbon Steel Paella Pan for Open Flame Use

Best for Small Family Meals

If you’re looking for a paella pan that’s just big enough to prepare a delicious family meal, then this traditionally designed 16-inch option is the way to go. Made in Spain from carbon steel, this authentic design features the iconic dimpled base that helps preserve textures and prevent the rice from sticking and turning mushy. And because it’s made from carbon steel, you not only get a faster, more even distribution of heat throughout the entire cook process but that deliciously crispy sirocco base. This paellera is designed for open-flame or oven cooking and features large, steel handles that make gripping and lifting the medium-sized pan on or off the flame, safe and easy. Pre-seasoning is required as well as hand-washing followed by a light oiling.

Who Should Buy This Paella Pan?

This is a perfect choice for use on a gas stove, outdoor grill, or oven, and want a pan that is sized to produce the perfect amount of paella for a family meal.

Pros:

  • Traditional carbon steel construction
  • Classic dimpled base
  • Generous steel handles
  • Suitable for gas stove, oven, or outdoor grill

Cons:

  • Not suitable for electric, ceramic, induction cooktops

Specs for Comparison:

Material: Carbon Steel

Pan width: 16-inches

Feeds: 4 to 6

Heat sources: open flame or oven

Finish: hammered, dimpled base

Maintenance: Hand wash and season

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Machika 22-inch Polished Steel Paella Pan with Dimpled Base

Best for Entertaining

When the party always ends up happening at your house, you want a pan that can produce enough paella to feed a crowd – and then some. That’s why this 22-inch polished carbon steel paellera is about to become your favorite helper when it comes to entertaining. Constructed in Spain from top-grade carbon steel, the wide-open surface of this shallow pan ensures rice not only cooks to perfection but quickly enough to keep your hungry guests happy. The generous proportions of this pan do require a paella burner to ensure an evenly heated cook surface – because who wants to miss out on that crispy, caramelized socarrat finish? Simply hand wash with soap and water, dry, and store in plastic to prevent rust or damage.

Who Should Buy This Paella Pan?

This is the perfect choice for the host or hostess who wants to prep food for a crowd in one fell swoop. Sufficient to feed up to 16, this generously sized pan means you never need to worry about running short on food.

Pros:

  • Hard-wearing carbon steel construction
  • Classic dimpled base
  • Generous steel handles
  • 2-year warranty

Cons:

  • Requires a paella burner

Specs for Comparison:

Material: Carbon Steel

Pan width: 22-inches

Feeds: 14 to 16

Finish: polished steel, dimpled base

Maintenance: Hand wash and season

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Lodge 15-inch Carbon Steel Paella Pan with Pre-Seasoned Finish

Best for Multiple Heat Sources

To enjoy the delicious flavors of true paella anywhere and anytime, you want a pan that can be used on a variety of heat sources. This is that pan. Made from pre-seasoned carbon steel, this paellera is ready-to-go the moment you unpack it. The smaller, 15-inch cook surface and flat base make it ideal for use on any cooktop – including gas, electric, ceramic, or induction – or to pop in the oven to keep things warm. Hard-wearing, 12-gauge carbon steel construction lets you cook with this pan on your outdoor grill or open campfire as a great, lighter-weight alternative to heavy cast iron. And it’s easy to maintain – handwash with warm soapy water, wipe dry, and rub in a little cooking oil to preserve the finish.

Who Should Buy This Paella Pan?

This is the perfect size for those who want to prepare paella without the need for a separate burner. Its ideal for use on any cooktop and a great alternative to cast iron when cooking over a campfire or outdoor grill.

Pros:

  • Pre-seasoned carbon steel
  • Sized for use on any cooktop
  • Great for outdoor grill/campfire use
  • Easy-grip handles

Cons:

  • Requires oiling after each use

Specs for Comparison:

Material: Carbon Steel

Pan width: 15-inches

Feeds: 4 to 6

Finish: flat base

Maintenance: Hand wash and season

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Garcima 12-inch Steel Paella Pan with Enamel Finish

Best for Paella for Two

For those who love the zesty flavors of a traditional paella but don’t want the hassle of pulling out a special burner to hold an over-sized pan, this 12-inch option provides the perfect solution to your culinary dilemma. Made in Spain, this pan is proportioned to feed between 1 and 3 people and is small enough to fit onto your gas, electric, or ceramic cooktop without the need to bring out an extra burner. The flat base of this enamel-on-steel paella pan ensures the entire cook surface is evenly heated for a perfectly textured paella and deliciously crisp socarrat base. Generously sized handles allow you to lift this pan with ease, while the enamel coating not only makes clean-up easy but eliminates any worry about rusting.

Who Should Buy This Paella Pan?

This smaller paella is ideally sized to feed between 1 and 3 people and because of its 12-inch diameter, it’s a perfect fit for those that cook on electric, gas, or ceramic stovetops.

Pros:

  • Enamel on steel
  • Sized for stovetop use
  • Suitable for electric or open flame heat
  • Easy-care, rust-proof finish

Cons:

  • Not suitable for induction cooktops

Specs for Comparison:

Material: Steel

Pan width: 12-inches

Feeds: 1 to 3

Finish: Enamel on steel

Maintenance: Hand-wash

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Ecolution 15-inch Carbon Steel Paella Pan with Non-Stick Finish

Best for Healthier Eating

For the easiest paella you’ll ever make, you need to start with a pan that delivers not only superior heat distribution but a non-stick finish. And here it is. This heavy-duty carbon-steel pan features a Hydrolon non-stick interior that is water-based and eliminates the need for excess oils when cooking. So, not only does it make food prep and clean-up easier, it promotes healthier, low-fat eating. The smaller, 15-inch diameter makes it the perfect size for use on most cooktops including gas, electric, or ceramic without the need for a separate burner. And because it can be used in the oven – up to 450-degrees F – foods stay hot until served. Best of all, the sealed finish allows for hand-washing or running through the dishwasher for an extra deep clean.

Who Should Buy This Paella Pan?

For those who always want to eat healthier, this non-stick paella pan is a great way to enjoy the delicious flavors of Spain, without all the oils.

Pros:

  • Carbon steel construction
  • Hydrolon non-stick finish
  • Safe for most cooktops and oven use
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons:

  • Requires regular sharpening

Specs for Comparison:

Material: Non-stick carbon steel

Pan width: 15-inches

Feeds: 3 to 4

Finish: flat, non-dimpled base

Maintenance: Dishwasher-safe

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Victoria 13-inch Cast Iron Paella Pan Pre-Seasoned with Flaxseed Oil

Best Versatile Paella Pan

If you want to explore the world of paella but are a bit concerned about the upkeep required with a traditional carbon steel pan, you’ll want to check out this pre-seasoned cast iron option. Not only is it constructed from recycled cast iron for an environmental take on this popular pan, but it’s pre-seasoned with flaxseed oil, so you’re ready to cook the moment you unpack it. The smaller, 13-inch size results in a lighter weight pan you can comfortably lift and move when hot. It also means this paellera can be used on your gas, electric, ceramic or induction stovetop as well as over an open campfire, barbecue grill, oven or broiler. It just doesn’t get any more versatile than that. Simply hand-wash and follow with a light oiling to preserve the finish.

Who Should Buy This Paella Pan?

This is a great choice for those who love the versatility and heat retention characteristics of a quality cast iron. It can be used on virtually any heat source, with no worries about warping or damage to the finish.

Pros:

  • Durable cast iron construction
  • Pre-seasoned
  • Ideal heat distribution and retention
  • Highly versatile

Cons:

  • Heavier than carbon steel

Specs for Comparison:

Material: Cast iron

Pan width: 13-inches

Finish: smooth

Maintenance: Hand wash and season

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Bottom Line

For those who want to take their kitchen credentials to an international level, paella is a great way to start. This popular meal allows for any number of variations on the ingredients and seasonings you choose to use and that’s what takes it from totally classic to your own signature dish. What doesn’t waver, however is the need for a traditional paella pan. Only with its wide, shallow base can you achieve the optimal amount of evaporation, perfectly cooked textures, and that iconic, crispy socarrat base that brings it all together. In the world of authentic Spanish cuisine, this pan is a must-have.

Photo credit: JGA/Shutterstock

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