Traditional paella pan is what you may need to nail your paella cooking. However, if you’ve come this far, it’s because you want to buy a paella pan but have some doubts. I will explain the different types and which are the best for you to take a good decision.
What is a paella pan?
The container in which the paella is cooked is called paella or paella pan. In the Valencian language, the word paella means frying pan; and it was the frying pan that gave the name to this typical Valencian recipe.
In Valencia today the word paella is still used to refer to the frying pan, while in most of the Spanish territory it is called paellera. Both names are valid.
I will speak about Paella or paellera indistinctly for the recipient and paellero as the support and burner that is used to make the paella.
In this post, we are going to talk about the types of paella that are usually used in Valencia to make an excellent paella.
How to Choose a Paella Pan?
Do you want to cook paella but you don’t dare because you don’t know how to choose a paella pan? Which size would be enough to make rice for everyone? Is the paella pan I have good or will I have to buy another one? Will I be able to make it with the paella pan I have?
I will help you to find the best paella pan for your needs
What size paella pan to serve 12? 8? or 10?
What size paella pan to serve X people do you have to buy? Will Before choosing the material, it is necessary to decide the size that we want to buy.
The final result of the paella will depend a lot on the size of the paella pan. Keep reading our recommendations because many paella recipe websites never talk about this vital aspect.
The recommendations for the size of the paella pan are suitable for all types of materials that we will talk about later on, such as polished steel, stainless steel, enameled or induction.
The paella measures are designed for a certain number of people and portions, the measure of the paella pan is measured in all manufacturers by the diameter of the container.
How to measure a paella pan?
The paella diameter that is measured to calculate the number of servings is the top part of the paella pan, not the one at the base of the paella.
Each cook has his preferences depending on the amount of rice he wants to prepare. Normally it is recommended that the thickness of the rice of a paella once finished is somewhat below the rivets of the handles of the container (about 2-3 cm).
How big a paella pan do I need?
The diameter is more important than it looks. The best Valencian paella comes out when you cook a layer of fine rice and that is achieved by using the recommended diameter of each paella, as we said above, at least should be below the rivets.
When you cook paella with a small paella pan, always, it comes out with little flavor and many times with a dough of overcooked rice. If the paella is very large the rice does not cover the entire base of the paella and does not reach the edges but it ends up great.
I mean, if we can choose, it is better to exceed the size than staying small. In the case of pasta paella, I stayed a bit small but at least the taste was nice.
Table of paella pan diameters according to people.
In this table, you can see the relationship between the diameter of the paella and the number of servings for which it is recommended. When choosing a paella, it is better to be guided by this table:
Diameter (cm) / servings
- 20 cm (7,9″) – 1
- 28 cm (11″) – 2
- 30 cm (11,8″) – 3
- 32 cm (12,6″) – 4
- 34 cm (13,4″) – 5
- 36 cm (14,2″) – 6
- 38 cm (15″) – 7
- 40 cm (15,7″) – 8
- 43 cm (17″) – 9
- 46 cm (18,1″)– 10
- 50 cm – 12
- 55 cm – 15
- 60 cm – 18
- 65 cm – 22
- 70 cm – 26
- 80 cm – 32
- 90 cm – 50
- 100 cm – 70
- 115 cm – 85
- 130 cm – 100
I have to admit I usually exceed the rice amount so I can keep one serving in the frezer, for example seafood paella when it is not creamy.
What is the best type of paella pan?
If you are looking for information about the best type of paella pan we will help you find it. Once the size is clear, it’s time to choose the material. Each type of paella pan has its advantages and disadvantages that we will explain below.
The time has come to choose the best material and type of container we want to buy and we are presented with the option of choosing between polished, stainless steel or enameled paella pan. The polished ones have the color of the steel (a gray tone), the stainless ones have a brighter metal color, and finally, the enameled one has a layer that covers it of black color, like black paella.
Each type of paella pan has its advantages:
- The polished steel paella is the traditional and most economical
- The enameled paella has an enamel that protects it from oxidation and requires no maintenance, is our favorite!
- The paella of special thickness has a greater thickness of the steel, indicated for intensive uses as in restaurants, bars, etc.,
- The stainless steel or stainless steel paella does not need maintenance and is also indicated for those who seek the most spectacular presentation for its mirror finish and finally the family of special paellas for induction.
All the paellas have in common that they can be used in our gas burners or on firewood. But let´s go in-depth. What type of paella pan is best?
Polished Steel Paella Pan
It is the original paella pan, according to most chefs who are experts in paellas are the best tasting, and in fact in restaurants in Valencia where the best paellas are served use the container of this material.
These are the advantages of the polished paella pan:
- ✓ They are the cheapest of all types and are very resistant to shocks.
- ✓ As they have no surface treatment or metal they are much more resistant to shocks and falls.
- ✓ They are used for gas fires (both butane and city gas) and firewood.
These are the drawbacks:
- ✓ The main drawback is that they can rust after scrubbing and they cost quite a lot to clean. It is advisable to dry it very well and spread it with a little oil after each use to avoid this oxidation.
Stainless Steel Paella Pan
They have the same characteristics as the steel paellas we talked about earlier, but as you can see in the photo they have a special shine and are very nice. They have a slightly higher price than conventional steel. They are used for gas fire (both butane and city gas) and firewood.
These are the advantages of the stainless steel paella pan
- ✓ They clean better
- ✓ They do not need any maintenance
These are the drawbacks:
- ✓ They are more expensive
Enameled Steel Paella Pan
They are paellas made of steel and are covered with ceramic enamel that gives the property of stainless steel and are also very easy to clean. They are used for gas fires (both butane and city gas) and firewood.
These are the advantages of the enameled paella pan:
- ✓ The paella does not rust and does not release cinder when made open fire.
- ✓ Very easy to clean
- ✓ Can be used in the oven
These are the drawbacks:
- ✓ They are a little more expensive
- ✓ It is necessary to be more careful with the blows so that the enamel does not bite.
Paella pan for induction
The types of paella pan we have talked about so far are not suitable for induction. Induction paellas are perfectly flat to optimize the contact surface and thus work perfectly on an induction worktop.
Finally, in the case of paellas for induction, there are paellas from 32 cm (4 persons) to 40 cm (8 persons). Much larger paellas are difficult to find, especially because there are no larger inductors with a diameter of 38-40 cm.
How to use a paella pan?
If you wonder how to use a paella pan you are not alone. We have to admit that this pan is a compact kitchen gadget that can suffer a lot, but it can’t stand everything. There are things that should not be made with a paella.
This mechanical prodigy has physical limits that by pure ignorance and ignorance are exceeded too many times.
Can you cook paella in a cast iron pan?
The traditional paellas are still cast iron and steel. In all these years it has have accumulated experience and developed technology at the highest level, but the traditional paellas are still cast iron and steel.
It is true that there are other ceramic containers, non-stick, glazed, for induction or glass-ceramic, with the appearance of paella, but they are not, nor are we very interested in authentic lovers.
Much of the magic of paella is found in its armored steel soul, a material capable of transmitting all the power of fire, with its bravery and measure at par.
What shouldn’t we do with paella?
Never and under no circumstances should a huge quantity of wood be set on fire or all the rings of the burner be lit to the maximum with the empty container. Because it will immediately become deformed and will no longer return to its original state. The same is advised with other types of heating.
The larger the diameter of the paella, the more it will tend to twist if it is put on fire without following some basic recommendations:
The first and main one: absolute control of the fire, especially when starting to cook the paella. When we sauté we only have oil in the center and the rest of the paella reaches very high temperatures. At that time the risk of deformation is high.
There is a belief that spreading salt around helps prevent it from bulging. It is absolutely false.
If the paella is used for other purposes such as frying eggs, peppers, sardines or onions. This is very common in typical Valencian lunches. Keep in mind that the best result will be obtained with medium heat; you can heat the oil well, but unless you cover the whole base of the paella, it should be done on a moderate heat.
It is fundamental to level the Paella before starting the heating. Under no circumstances should the empty container be placed on the fire. If the intention is to use the paella as an iron, previously it has to be lightly spread with oil inside and outside to better support the fire.
Archimedes said: “Give me a point of support and I will move the world” In the case of the paella it would be… Give me good support and I will resist better. The trivets or irons on which the Paella has to be sustained must provide it with a stable base.
If you cook with firewood you have to avoid concrete blocks or bricks to fix them, because instability and deformation are guaranteed.
If we are going to use gas we must have a diffuser of the same proportions that the Paella that we are going to use.
Can you use a paella pan in the oven?
The lovers of finishing off the paella in the oven, or those who also use it to make “arroz al horno“, is very likely to be deformed, because the bottom curved outward is its only point of support.
The paella is a container that is used with a weekly frequency in the Valencian houses, basically on Sunday. Once finished using, it should be washed and dried perfectly (never outdoors) and before storing, spread with oil to avoid rust.
This simple explanation should accompany all paellas that are given to a non-expert. The vast majority of them end up in the garbage because the laymen do not know what to do with them when they rust.
How to care for paella pan?
How to season a paella pan
Seasoning a new paella pan in very important. Although the current paellas are much better built than the old ones, it is advisable to keep basic and generic care
- The first thing you have to do is remove the sticker from the paella.
- Then, turn on your paella pan or gas cooker and place the paella.
- Add water up to the height of the rivets and let it boil to check the thermal stability and always with the paella supported on a stable and uniform surface
- Once the water is boiling, let it boil for a few minutes (about 10), until the water is no longer clear (a sign that the wax is dissolving in the water).
- Then discard the boiling water (with care to burn you) and scrub the paella, with warm water and soap and scrubbing hard enough to remove any remaining wax.
- Scrub both inside and outside of the paella.
- Once it has been scrubbed, rinse it with water and dry it either with kitchen paper or with a cloth. But it has to be dry.
Once cleand and dry, rub a small amount of vegetable oil on the pan to prevent rust. That’s recommendable only in the case of iron or steel paella pan.
Never heat the paella if it is empty. It is necessary to avoid completely the thermal shocks in the paella that could lead to permanent deformation of the same one, this is more important the greater the size of the paella. Examples of thermal shock would be adding cold water in an empty paella that has been previously heated.
How to care for polished steel paella pans
Polished steel paellas require special care to keep them in the best conditions and avoid oxidation. Before the first use, it must be thoroughly washed to remove the manufacturer’s special anti-rust layer. This can be done with hot water and soap.
Although it is better to heat some water in the pan with a splash of vinegar, simmer for 10 minutes or so, and then rinse. Be sure to dry the paella well and then cover the inside with a little vegetable oil. This seals the surface to prevent oxidation.
How to clean steel paella pans?
This type of paella should be cleaned by hand (they are not dishwasher safe). Do not air dry. As this is a product made of steel to keep them in perfect condition once dried should be coated with a thin layer of vegetable oil to prevent oxidation and should be stored in a cool and dry until next use.
I recommend that you keep it wrapped in paper, inside a plastic bag.
By the way, if you forget to close the paella and it oxidizes before its next use, don’t worry. Simply remove the rust with a ball of steel wool (it comes off easily) before use.
When cooking with polished steel paellas, do not leave the paella empty over direct fire for more than a few seconds. The metal could overheat, which could cause a dark stain on that part of the paella.
How to care for steel enamel paella pans
Made of steel, they are coated with a black and white mottled enamel, so oxidation will not be a problem. They are easy to clean and store and do not need oil after use. The enamel coating facilitates the cleaning and maintenance of the paella.
How to clean steel enamel paella pans?
Enamelled steel paella can be cleaned in a dishwasher but will last longer if cleaned by hand. The easiest way to do this is to fill the dirty paella in half with water and let it rest for a couple of hours or all night.
Then pour in the water and use a soft sponge and dish soap to clean the residue. It will clean up easily. We recommend this glazed paella instead of the polished steel paella pan, if you are not going to use it regularly.
How to care for Stainless Steel paella pan
This type of paella is almost as maintenance-free as steel enamel paella. They do not rust and do not require any special cleaning. When cleaning them, avoid the use of steel pads to avoid scratches. Soaking the paella in water will make cleaning easier.
How to clean stainless steel paella pan?
Stainless steel paella can be cleaned in a dishwasher but will last longer if cleaned by hand. The easiest way to do this is to fill the dirty paella in half with water and let it rest for a couple of hours or all night. Then pour in the water and use a soft sponge and dish soap to clean the residue. It will clean up easily.
Stainless steel paellas heat up and cool very quickly. This is good for making paella, but keep in mind that you should not leave an empty stainless steel paella on direct fire. If an empty (or almost empty) paella is left on high heat for a long time, the paella may become discolored or deformed. But as long as there is broth or food in the paella that absorbs the heat there are no problems.
Burner/cooker Maintenance Tips
Cleaning should be carried out when the appliance is cold. It is recommended to use a cloth dampened with soapy water, carefully to avoid water entering through the outlets of the gas. It is then dried and stored in a clean, dry place protected from dust. The enamel layer that covers the paella pan facilitates maintenance.
If only the inner ring is used, it is recommended to protect the outer ring to avoid obstructions.
Maintenance tips earthenware pots
- The clay pots must be taken care of the blows, which break them easily.
- Before using the first time, keep the casserole in warm water for 5 minutes.
- Always cook at low heat for continuous and gradual transmission of heat.
- When cooking, always keep the broth in the bottom.
- Do not subject to sudden changes in temperature.
Tips for the maintenance of enameled cast iron paella pans
Its vitrified enamel layer avoids having to cure the plate and facilitates its maintenance. Use a soft sponge and dishwashing soap to clean the residue. It will clean easily.
Wash it with soap and water before first use to remove possible dirt from the manufacturing process.