Choose the Best Paella Pan for a Perfect Paella Dish [Nov. 2017]

This post was last updated on February 11th, 2018 at 07:17 pm

Seafood Paella

Of course, you have heard plenty about paella by now. But, just in case, we’ve included some basics about paella in this post.

We’ll also present some paella pan buying tips to make your buying decision easier.

In this post we’re going to review our favorite paella pans, starting with authentic Carbon Steel Garcima Paella Pan 15-Inch (38cm)   from Valencia.

And, for the end, we’ll show you how to take care of your paella pan. You’ll also find some interesting details about paella you may not know.

Let’s get started with some paella basics.

 

Paella Basics

What is Paella?

Paella is a very tasty and healthy Spanish rice dish, cooked in a paella pan. Actually, it’s a Catalonian national dish from the places around the city of Valencia.

Because of big popularity, you can find it throughout Spain and also all over the world. There’re many It’s made of short rain grain rice, meat or seafood, and different vegetables. Paella could be also without meat, only with rice and vegetables.

But, it couldn’t be without olive oil and typical spices like black pepper, smoked paprika, saffron, bay leaf, and thyme. A poetry of Mediterranean taste and colors, seasoned with Spanish temperament.

If you’ve ever eaten paella, you know what I’m talking about. But, if you haven’t eaten paella yet, you must taste it as soon as possible, otherwise, you’ll miss a real pleasure of Mediterrainum.

 

What Is a Paella Pan?

Paella pan (paellera in Spanish) is a large round shallow pan with sloping sides and two or more handles. This pan is specially designed for cooking paella.

The traditional paella pan has dimples on the bottom and a slight dip in the middle. This makes pan more rigid and stable at the high temperature.

This design also makes cooking easier because the oil goes towards the center of the pan and you can fry and cook with the little amount of the oil.

Sometimes, also the paella pan is called simply paella.

 

How to Cook Paella in a Paella Pan?

In Spain, paella is traditionally cooked outdoors on an open fire tripod . Outdoor cooking on an open fire will give an extra flavor to your paella, but it may need some practice.

If you don’t have a fireplace in your backyard, you could use a fire pit bowl  or a charcoal grill . But, on a camping holiday old good camp grill is perhaps the most useful.

But maybe you’re not so excited about burning and monitoring the fire. If so, then you’ll like a specially designed dual ring gas burner . This way, you will be able to control the cooking temperature very precisely.

In your kitchen, you will probably cook paella on gas cooking top. Be aware that the traditional paela pans with dimpled bottom cannot be used on the flat stove tops (AGA cookers or similar), electric, ceramic or induction cooktops.

For this purpose, you’ll need a paella pan with the completely flat bottom. This way, a perfect contact between the cooking top and paella pan and enables a good transmission of heat.

But, flat bottom is not enough for cooking on the induction cooktop. Because of the electromagnetic principle of induction cooking, a magnetic bottom of paella pan is needed. So, for induction cooking, you’ll need the carbon steel pan with a flat bottom or stainless steel pan with magnetic plate encapsulated in the bottom.

 

Before You Buy: 3 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Paella Pan

What Size Paella Should I Get?

There’re many different sizes of paella pans (or paelleras) on the market. From 8” (20cm) diameter for preparing tapas to 60” (150cm) diameter, which is big enough for 250 people.

  • The ideal size for home cooking is 15” or 16″(38-41cm), which serves from 3 to 6 people.
  • If you prefer to make paella also for your friends, you may need a little bigger pan. Paella pan with the diameter of 18″ or 22” (46-51cm) diameter is big enough for 7 to 12 people. A two-circle gas burner or tripod for open fire are needed for proper cooking in paella of this size.
  • If you plan a real paella party for 13 to 25 people, then you need a big paella pan with the gas burner. The pan with diameter 24″ or 28” (61-71cm) would be fine for this purpose.

In every size of the paella pan, you can cook smaller or bigger quantity of pealla. But, for proper cooking of paella, the rise should not be thicker than a finger (half of inch or 12mm). This way the socarrat comes evenly browned.

 

What Is a Paella Pan Made Of?

Paella pans are usually made of carbon steel, enameled steel or stainless steel. There’re also aluminum, copper, and cast-iron paella pans on the market. They could be of the appropriate shape and size, but they’re not typical for making paella.

We have to stress to be aware of non-stick pans, often advertised as an easy cleaning solution. Those “magic” coatings could release toxic gases over high heat.

And, they’re not so scratch resistant as advertised. So, it’s possible that you’ll start eating small pieces of this special non-stick coating very soon.

Each material has its pros and cons. So, the best material doesn’t exist, because everyone has its own needs and priorities.

Let’s take a look at most popular paella pan materials and their properties:

Carbon Steel – Traditional material for authentic paella pans (paelleras in Spanish). They’re not only traditional but still the most popular type of paella pan in Spain.

Carbon steel is excellent material for pans because of its strength and high thermal conductivity. So, heating is fast and evenly which make it great for cooking.

Paella pans made of carbon steel pans are thin but strong because of the concave shape of the bottom. For this purpose, traditional carbon steel paella pans have small hollows at the bottom.

Carbon steel needs some seasoning before the first use and a little more maintenance after cooking. With proper care, you can use carbon steel pan for years.

Enameled steel – Also very popular because don’t rust. The base for the enameled pan is a carbon steel pan, coated with a thin layer of enamel. Because of enamel, thermal conductivity is not so good, but cleaning and maintenance are much easier. And there’s no need for seasoning at all.

But, be aware that enameled surface of the pans is more sensitive to mechanical damages so it’s better to avoid roughly handling. Price of enameled paella pans is higher compared with carbon steel pans.

Stainless steel – Durable, very undemanding for maintenance and insensitive for handling. And there’s no seasoning needed before the first use. Great pans gourmet kitchens and serving on the table because of the shiny look.

Quality Paella pans are usually made of 18/10 or 18/8 stainless steel. There’s also an 18/0 type, but it’s not so corrosion resistant.

But, stainless steel is also a poor heat conductor. The thermal conductivity of stainless still is about one third of the carbon steels thermal conductivity. And it’s not so low because of the shining surface, as you can read in some paella pan reviews. A shinning or black surface has nothing to do with thermal conductivity od pans. It’s only dependent on material’s composition and structure.

So, the cooking in stainless steel paella pans is more demanding, and you need more even heat source under the paella, which is not always easy or possible to achieve. Stainless steel paella pans are the most expensive.

 

Do Paella Pans Have Lids?

Paella Cooked on an Open FireFor cooking paella, you don’t need a lid, because the point of large and shallow paella pans is in quick evaporation.

So, typically authentic paella pans do not have lids.

The lid could be used only after cooking when paella has to stand covered for a while.

Or if you want to keep it warm for a more time.

 

 

The 5 Best Paella Pans in 2017

 

Garcima Paella Pan, 15-Inch (38cm), Authentic Carbon Steel from Valencia

Garcima Paella Pan, an Authentic Carbon SteelGarcima is a family-owned company from Valencia, the birthplace of paella. The family has produced pans for almost a hundred years.

Nowadays, Garcima is considered as the biggest manufacturer od paella pans and gas burners in Spain.

Garcima Paella Pan, 15-Inch Carbon Steel is a traditional paella pan made of carbon steel. It has a dimpled bottom and two horizontal riveted handles.

The riveted joint is not only traditional but also effective because it cuts the thermal (or heat) bridge. Therefore, some heat is lost in that connection and so riveted handles remain colder.

This paella pan could be used on a gas burner, grill, on an open fire tripod or on the charcoal grill , but not on the induction cooktop.

This Garcima Carbon Steel Paella Pan with 15-inch (38 cm) diameter could serve 3-5 people, so it’s ideal for home cooking. With the weight of 2,5 pounds (1.13kg) this pan is not a heavy duty one. However, it’s perfect for cooking paella, because it’s designed for this purpose.

Of course, you can cook also many other foods in this paella pan like country potatoes, roasted chicken quarters, things or breasts and so on. Once seasoned proper, your paella pan will get black and the food will not stick at the bottom.

PROS

  • Authentic traditional design
  • Excellent cooking properties of carbon steel
  • Proven quality
  • Convenient price

CONS

  • Plastic covering on the handles are heat sensitive
  • May rust if you not care for properly

 

 

BOTTOM LINE

Garcima Paella Pan, 15-Inch Carbon Steel is an authentic paella pan for the traditional paella cooking. It can be used also for other foods, but it’s primarily made for cooking paella.
An authentic paella pan from a trusted producer with a century of experience. What do you want more?

 

Lodge Paella Pan CRS15, 15Inch (38cm) Carbon Steel Skillet

Lodge Paella Pan CRS15, Carbon Steel Paella SkilletLodge from Tennessee started to produce American-made cast iron cookware more than 120 years ago. Besides cast iron, Lodge has also a complete line of carbon steel cookware.

Carbon steel is lighter and less sensitive to mechanical damages than cast iron. Therefore, it’s an ideal material for outdoor cooking cookware. It also heats and cools down faster, which makes it more convenient in use.

Lodge Paella Pan CRS15 is a 15-inch (38cm) Carbon Steel Skillet, designed as a traditional paella pan with sloping sides and two riveted handles. Handles are made of pure iron without any covering. Therefore, you can’t burn the covering, but you must use mitts when carrying around the pan.

This skillet is made of heavy gauge carbon steel. It weighs 6.4 pounds (2.9kg), which makes it a real heavy-duty piece of cookware. Because of its high weight, this pan has also a great thermal stability. Therefore, heat is distributed very evenly and cooking is much easier.

In this 15-inch paella pan, you can make enough paella for 3-5 people, so it’s ideal for family use.

As all Lodge products, also Lodge CRS15 comes already seasoned. But, original seasoning is more for rust protection. You will have to make some extra seasoning if you want to cook eggs in this pan. Or you just cook in your pan and easy-release finish will improve with use.

Find more about cleaning and seasoning Lodge Carbon Steel Pans in the video below: 

With Lodge CRS15 cooking paella is a poetry, also if you’re not so experienced. Because of its big thermal mass, you can make a great soccarat much easier.

Besides paella, this skillet it’s appropriate also for cooking other foods. Particularly for big pieces of meat like rib eyes, T-bones or even porterhouse steaks.

You can use it in your kitchen oven, on gas, electric, induction or ceramic cooktops. It’s a great pan for outdoor cooking on the charcoal grill, camp grill or in the wood-fired pizza oven.

PROS

  • Heavy duty construction
  • Preseasoned already
  • Excellent cooking features
  • Also for induction cooktop
  • Great value for the price

CONS

  • May rust if you not care for properly


BOTTOM LINE

Lodge Paella Pan CRS15
is a perfect carbon steel skillet for cooking paella and many other foods. It could be used on all kind of cooktops, grills and open fire too.

This pan may appear a little rough-looking, but I can’t imagine better skillet for outdoor cooking. Heavy and thick, useful and so durable that it could last a lifetime. You only need a proper camp grill   and the party can begin.

 

Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Paella Pan, 15-3/4 – Inch (37,5cm)

Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Paella PanMatfer Bourgeat is a French producer of quality cookware with 200 years of tradition. Their motto is “A passion for taste”.

Their products are used daily by Chefs in hotels, clubs, conference centers and cruise lines all over the world.

This black steel paella pan is actually polished. It’s made of thick carbon steel and it weighs 6 pounds (2.72kg).
This makes it one of the heaviest pan of this dimension.

Its diameter is 15” ¾ (37.5cm) and it’s 2 1/16” (5.2 cm) high, which is a little more than traditional paella pans height is. The size of this pan is ideal for home use.

Handles on this pan are almost vertical. This is not traditional for paella pans, but it’s very handy indeed.

Handles are welded directly on the pans, which is not traditional too. This seems to be a good solution because cleaning the rivets is not very practical. But on the other hand, welded joint transmits heat much better than riveted, so welded handles are hotter.

You can cook with Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Paella Pan on any kind of cooktop. I believe that it works fine also on an open fire (grill or tripod), but I would not have the heart to do this with such a pan. This is paella pan for induction hobs too.

Because of carbon steel and big thermal mass, this pan heats up quickly and even. This helps a lot to make a great soccarat, which is essential for good paella. Besides paella, this pan is perfect also for many other foods from vegetables to real steaks.

This pan comes polished, so you must clean and season it before first use. In Matfer Bourgeat Instruction for seasoning is described an interesting process of seasoning. It’s based on a mixture of oil, salt, and potatoes skin.

PROS

  • Heavy duty construction
  • Excellent cooking properties
  • Handy handles
  • Also for induction cooktop

CONS

  • May rust if you not care for properly
  • Welded handles transmit heat rapidly
  • High price
  • Bottom line

 

BOTTOM LINE

Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Paella Pan is not only perfect for cooking paella but much more. This great piece of cookware is made to last a lifetime. It could be used by professional cooks or in our home kitchens as well. But, unfortunately, its price could be an important determinant when making a buying decision.

 

Garcima Paella Pan,16-Inch (40cm), Enameled

 

Garcima 16-inch Enameled Paella Pan

 

This Garcima Paella Pan,16-Inch Enameled is traditionally designed. It has a concave bottom and two horizontal handles. On the enameled pans handles cannot be riveted but welded. Thus, the transition of heat between pan and handless is better, so handles are little hotter.

This paella pan with 16-inch (40cm) diameter could serve 4 – 6 people, so it’s ideal also for bigger families. With a weight of 3,2 pounds (1.45kg) this pan is also a little heavier than carbon steel pan.

This pan is principally designed for cooking paella. Furthermore, you can cook many other foods in it. You can use it on your stovetop, on a gas burner, grill or even open fire. It’s also suitable for kitchen oven or even for the wood-fired brick oven.

But, because of its concave bottom, this pan will not make a good contact with the electric, induction or ceramic cooktops. So, the heat loses on these cooktops will be much bigger.

As all enameled pans, also this pan is more sensitive to mechanical damages than carbon steel pans. Namely, enamel is fragile so you must handle with care. And, also cutting and roughly use of metal cooking accessories is not recommended.

PROS

  • Easier cleaning
  • No seasoning needed
  • It doesn’t rust

CONS

  • Reduced thermal conductivity versus carbon steel pans
  • Enamel sensitivity requires gently handling

 

BOTTOM LINE

Garcima Paella pan, 16-Inch Enameled Steel is a traditional carbon steel paella pan coated with enamel. If you prefer easier cleaning and maintenance and you find seasoning annoying, this is the right paella pan for you.

Because of the enamel thermal conductivity of this pan is little worse. But, you will make excellent paella with great socarrat with this pan anyway.

 

Guison Paella Pan, 16-Inch (40cm) Stainless Steel Flat Bottom ( For Induction Cooktops)

 

Guison Stainless Steel Flat Bottom Paella Pan

 

Besides authentic carbon steel and enameled paella pans, a Spanish Garcima produces also stainless-steel pans as the top of their offer. Guison is one of two the Garcima’s brands of stainless steel.

While classic designed stainless steel paella pans with dimpled bottom are produced under the La Ideal brand, Guison is a brand for stainless steel paella pans with the flat bottom.

Guison Paella Pan,16-inch Stainless Steel Flat Bottom is made of quality 18/10 stainless-steel. It’s designed as a classic paella with two riveted handles but with the flat bottom.

However, the bottom of this pan is not only flat but also reinforced with aluminum for uniform warming better thermal conductivity.

Normally, stainless steel pans don’t work on induction cooktops, because stainless steel is not magnetic. Therefore, an additional steel plate is embedded in the bottom.  So, this is a paella pan for induction cooktop as well.

This paella pan has a 16-inch (40cm) diameter and could serve 4 – 6 people, so it’s ideal also for bigger families.

Stainless steel makes this paella pan maintenance and seasoning free. Thanks to the thick and flat bottom this pan can be used on all kind of cooktops.

PROS

  • No seasoning
  • Easier cleaning after use
  • It will not rust
  • Suitable for induction cooktops

CONS

  • Less heat responsive

 

BOTTOM LINE

Guison Paella Pan, 16-inch (40cm) Stainless Steel Flat Bottom is a beautiful pan for cooking paella and many other foods.  And besides cooking, this pan is also great for serving. Cleaning is easy and it will never rust.

Thanks to the flat and magnetic bottom this pan can be used on all cooktops including the induction. Because of the thick bottom, this pan heats a little longer, but then cooks evenly and takes food warm for a long time.

A great choice if you like to keep your paella pan on display, hanging in your kitchen. And also a singular and great present for someone who likes shiny cookware.

 

Some Useful Paella Tips

How to Season a Carbon Steel Pan?

Proper seasoning of new carbon steel paella is very important and should be done properly. First of all, you must clean the original anti-rust coating. The best way to do this is with the water and vinegar.

  • Splash enough water into the pan to cover the bottom and add some white vinegar.
  • Bring to boil the water boil for 10 minutes.
  • Discharge the water and vinegar and wash the pan with some plate detergent.
  • Rinse the pan well and dry it with the towel.
  • Splash a small amount of olive oil into the pan.
  • Use a dry paper towel and grease thoroughly the inside and outside of the pan.Your pan is now prepared.
  • Wrap the paella pan in the paper if you don’t plan to use it for a long time.

If you want to use your carbon steel paella pan also for cooking other foods, then is better to season it proper to keep food from sticking.

Watch a video about carbon steel pan seasoning:

 

 

What Is the Best Paella Rice?

The rice is the key ingredient to good paella. However, in paella, you can’t use the same type of rice you use for risotto.

Paella short grain rice is more roundish and absorbs more water than risotto rice, but do not create a creamy sauce around the grains.

So, paella rice sticks together but at the same time grains are distinct and can easily be separated. Rice grains in paella should not be “glued” together.

The most known varieties of paella rice are Bomba , Bahia , and Calaspara .

 

What Does Socarrat Mean?

socarrat tilesSocarrat is a Spanish word for fired clay tiles with a white base, in most cases painted in black and red.

I can see you already, wondering how paella and fired clay tiles could be connected.

 

Wait for a little while before crushing clay tiles…

 

SocarratIn paella, socarrat is a thin layer of the crunchy, caramelized paella rise at the bottom of the pan. And the color of caramelized rice is like a color of fired clay tiles.

This crust is essential for a good paella because of the special flavor. Enjoy you paella and Bon Appetit!

 

How to Wash a Carbon Steel Pan?

Proper cleaning and maintenance of carbon steel paella are important for long use and durability of your pan.

  • Splash the water on the paella and let it soak for several hours. This will soften the burnt food scraps.
  • Remove the food scraps with the spatula.
  • Scrub the pan using hot water, liquid plate detergent and abrasive cleaning pad or steel wool.
  • Rinse the pan well and dry it with the towel.
  • Splash a small amount of olive oil into the pan.

Use a dry paper towel and grease thoroughly the inside and outside of the pan.Your pan is now prepared.

  • Wrap the pan in the paper if you don’t plan to use it for a long time.

Watch a video about caring for a carbon steel paella pan after cooking:

 

 

 

 

References

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalonia
  • https://neutrium.net/heat_transfer/thermal-conductivity-of-metals-and-alloys/
  • http://www.matferbourgeatusa.com/resources/product-info/How-to-Season-Your-Black-Steel-Pan_1.pdf
  • http://vollrath.com/vollrathUniversity/Product-Training/Professional-Cookware/Seasoning-Carbon-Steel-Pan.htm

 

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