Best Paella Pans

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

33 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
418 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best paella pans

Last Updated October 2019

Although it bears the name of a traditional Spanish rice dish, a paella pan can be used to make more than classic paella. In fact, you may find yourself reaching for this versatile skillet frequently. You can prepare everything from eggs to veggies to pancakes in a paella pan.

Paella pans have wide, flat cooking surfaces to make enough room for lots of ingredients. They are also shallow in depth, which promotes the evaporation of liquid for the correct paella texture. Crafted in durable metal, a quality paella pan can last for decades, if not a lifetime.

Whether you are accustomed to cooking in a paella pan or not, a little guidance is essential to choosing one that fits your needs. Our buying guide has everything you need to take into consideration when shopping for a paella pan, including material, size, and price. For our five favorite paella pans on the market, see the matrix above.

If you plan to make paella in your new paella pan, don’t forget the saffron. Saffron is almost as important to this classic dish as the rice. Not only does it deliver a mild yet rich herbal flavor, but it also gives paella its distinctive color.

What is a paella pan?

Paella is a classic Spanish rice dish made with saffron and other spices, vegetables, beans, and different types of meat or seafood. It is best prepared in a wide, shallow pan that melds the flavors together and creates a consistency that isn’t too moist or too dry.

The original paella pans were made for cooking over an open fire. Cooks preferred the shallow depth for spreading rice into a thin layer on the bottom of the pan to maximize flavor and texture. Modern paella pans also have wide, flat bottoms and a shallow depth. And just like the paella pans of yesteryear, today’s models are crafted of durable metals like steel and cast iron that can withstand high temperatures and are suitable for stovetops, ovens, outdoor grills, and open fires.

Benefits of paella pans

Obviously, paella is the most popular dish to make in its namesake pan, and you’ll probably want to give this delicious rice dish a try once you own the traditional cookware. Paella is made with rice as the main ingredient, but from there the options are nearly limitless. Classic Valencian paella is typically made with spices, green vegetables, beans, and meat, but you can customize the recipe by including your favorite ingredients, adding seafood, or making it vegetarian.

Beyond paella, the uses of a paella pan are numerous. Let your culinary creativity guide you in preparing your favorite recipes. Here are a few suggestions for dishes that can be cooked in this special skillet:

  • Stir-fry dishes
  • Fried chicken
  • Omelettes and scrambled eggs
  • Pancakes
  • Sautéed vegetables
  • Jambalaya
  • Curry
  • Pork chops
  • Steaks
  • One-skillet meals
EXPERT TIP

Paella pans are suitable for making a variety of breakfast foods, including eggs, bacon, and pancakes.


Staff  | BestReviews

Key considerations

Before you choose a paella pan, there are some key features to consider.

Material

To withstand high cooking temperatures, well-made paella pans are constructed of tough metal. Carbon steel is the most common and has been used to make traditional paella pans for generations. It heats up nicely, cooks evenly, and is made to last. However, keep in mind that carbon steel pans need to be seasoned to keep them from rusting between use.

Cast iron paella pans also require seasoning and are quite heavy to use. On the plus side, cast iron can handle extreme temperatures and is suitable for cooking over outdoor flames.

If you don’t like the idea of seasoning cookware, enamelled steel is a good choice. Pans made of this material are typically crafted in steel with a baked-on enamel glaze that resists chips, scratches, and other wear. They provide nonstick results and also perform well over high heat.

A more affordable option is a steel pan with a nonstick coating. However, this type of finish is prone to peeling and scratching over time. You’ll also want to be sure the coating is PFOA-free, which means it’s made without certain harsh chemicals that could leach into food.

Stainless steel is also used to make paella pans. With a sleek look and high-shine finish, these pans are as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional. They handle heat well and don’t require seasoning, but stuck-on food can be an issue. Additionally, stainless steel paella pans can be quite costly.

Size

It’s the shallow depth of paella pans that makes cooking paella to perfection, meaning not too dry or too soupy, easy. The depth of most paella pans ranges from 1 3/4 to 3 inches, although some models are shallower or deeper. Just like other types of skillets, paella pans are available in a wide range of sizes, from as small as 8 inches in diameter to as large as 32 inches in diameter.

Handles

Unlike the single handle on a standard skillet, paella pans have loop handles on both sides. The dual-handle construction provides better leverage for lifting heavy dishes. These handles are made of strong, riveted metal to hold up to frequent use.

Lid

Very few paella pans come with lids. That’s because lids are not traditionally used to prepare paella. However, some models do include lids, which come in handy for keeping prepared food warm. Paella pan lids can also be purchased separately and are available in a variety of sizes.

EXPERT TIP

Shallow pans do a great job distributing heat evenly, which is one of the reasons paella pans are so versatile.


Staff  | BestReviews

Paella pan prices

Paella pans range from budget-friendly basic models to large, pricey pans. If you choose a cheap pan, it may not deliver the results or longevity you want. You can find quality paella pans ranging from $25 to $135 with features and craftsmanship to fit your needs.

Inexpensive

If you need an affordable paella pan, look for a model that falls between $25 and $45. At this price, you may find that some pans are made of thinner metal or have coatings that could peel with frequent wear and tear, but they generally serve their purpose well.

Mid-range

Most paella pans in the $45 to $65 range are crafted from heavy-gauge, durable metals like carbon steel and stainless steel. You’ll also find some larger pans in this price range.

High-end

Superior craftsmanship is available if you don’t mind paying a higher price. Many paella pans that sell for $65 to $85 are authentic pans made in Spain. Rugged cast iron pans also fall into this price range, as well as carbon steel and enamel-coated models made to resist rust, stuck-on food, and damage caused by high temperatures. Extremely large paella pans that can fit enough food to feed a group of 20 to 40 people are pricier than other models and may cost $85 to $135.

Premium

Some stainless steel paella pans can be quite pricey – as much as $180 to $250. While beautiful, they are impractical for some consumers and not necessarily better to cook in than paella pans made of other metals.

EXPERT TIP

Most paella pans fit perfectly on stovetop burners and can be used like any other cooking pot or pan. Most models are also oven-safe and fit nicely in standard ranges.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Be creative. Don’t limit the use of your paella pan to paella. When you experiment with making other recipes, chances are you’ll find your new pan to be one of the most useful pieces in your cookware collection.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of seasoning your pan. If you choose a paella pan made of carbon steel or cast iron, seasoning it with olive oil or vegetable oil will prevent the development of rust. In addition, seasoning makes removing food from the pan easy and can enhance flavor.
  • Choose the best size for your needs. It’s not a good idea to cram too much food into a paella pan. On the other hand, a pan that’s unnecessarily large can be awkward to use for smaller portions.
  • Keep an oven mitt close by when cooking with a paella pan. The handles get hot, so never try to touch them without protecting your hands.
  • Make it crispy. If you enjoy the caramelized rice, known as socarrat, that develops at the bottom of the pan when making paella, stop stirring the dish during the last few minutes of cooking to allow it to form.

Other products we considered

There are many paella pans on the market to suit various cooking styles and individual needs. The Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet with Two Loop Handles is worth a look because of its exceptional craftsmanship. It’s perfect for cooking over a campfire and even has small pour spouts to make serving easier. It’s made by a top manufacturer of cast iron products and could literally last a lifetime with proper care. However, if preparing large amounts of food is your top priority, check out the La Paella Garcima 32-Inch Enameled Steel Paella Pan, which fits enough food to serve as many as 40 people. It’s crafted in Spain and easy to maintain thanks to the enamel coating. On the other hand, if you are cooking for just two to four people, the brand also makes a 14-inch model that’s just as durable and easy to maintain. The Bruntmor Enameled Cast Iron Shallow Casserole Braiser Pan with Cover is like a paella pan and casserole dish in one. It has the classic paella pan design but includes a lid. It’s made of tough cast iron that’s coated in enamel for easy care.

Are you new to cooking with a paella pan? Some manufacturers include recipes with their pans, which come in handy for beginners.

FAQ

Q. Why do some paella pans have dimples on the bottom?
A.
Paella pans with dimpled bottoms date back centuries. The dimples attract moisture from the food in the pan, which improves texture and flavor. These small indentations can help make some foods crispy. The dimples also promote even heat distribution. Think of a golf ball and how its dimpled surface distributes air for enhanced performance. The dimples on the bottom of a paella pan work in a similar way to spread out heat so that food cooks evenly for the best results.

Q. Can I wash my paella pan in the dishwasher?
A.
It depends on the paella pan you choose. Carbon steel and cast iron pans may rust if put in the dishwasher. Plus, the high pressure of the water and extreme temperatures can remove their seasoning. However, some pans have coatings that prevent rust and make them dishwasher-safe. Always follow the manufacturer’s care instructions for washing your paella pan.

Q. What is the best size paella pan to prepare meals for a family of four?
A.
Either a 16-inch or 18-inch paella pan will suit your cooking needs perfectly. A 16-inch paella pan can fit enough food for approximately four to six servings. However, if you like to have leftovers, choose an 18-inch model that can accommodate six to eight servings.

Q. Can I use a paella pan on my grill?
A
. Quality paella pans made of durable steel are designed to hold up to extreme temperatures. These pans are suitable for a variety of heat sources, including a backyard barbeque grill.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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