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The 4 Best Paella Pans For Delicious Valencian Dinners

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To perfect your favorite paella recipes, you need a reliable pan on hand. The best paella pans are made from carbon steel, which heats up quickly and evenly — and works on stoves and over open flames. That said, it's a material that does require more hands-on maintenance, so you can consider other options if you're not a seasoning kind of person. You'll also need to determine the size of your group, so you can make enough of that delicious socarrat (aka the crispy rice that everybody fights for at the bottom of the pan) every time.

Size

This characteristically wide, shallow pan's diameter dictates how much paella you can make; it’s helpful to consider how many people you’ll want to feed since these traditional pans can range from single-serving all the way up to measuring several feet wide for feeding big families. For most, a 15-inch or 16-inch paella pan is best as it serves up to six people. An 18-inch pan serves about six to eight. For a party of 12, try a 22-inch pan (or even larger), though this size is better for outdoor cooking.

Material

Durable carbon steel is traditional for paella pans. Similar to cast iron, carbon steel pans require regular seasoning (to prevent rust), but over time that process makes them nearly nonstick. Carbon steel pans retain heat well, adjust to changes in temperature easily, and they can go directly from the stovetop to the oven (although they can't be tossed in the dishwasher). However, for a lower-maintenance option, there are also stainless steel and enameled steel models that are easier to clean and don't require ongoing care. Stainless steel paella pans are typically made with one-ply construction which means they heat up quickly but won't be able to deliver as even of heat distribution, which ultimately might affect the crispiness of the rice. Enamel cookware is a cinch to clean but may chip over time.

Heat Source

Choosing the largest paella pan to fit your heat source⁠ — be it a stovetop burner, grill, oven, or fire-pit ⁠— allows for a thinner rice layer, which helps create its signature socarrat. However, paella pans don't always work with electric or induction stovetop burners because their bottoms aren't always perfectly flat.

With that in mind, it's time to shop for the best paella pan. I've also included the best rice for paella, so you can get cooking.

1
The Overall Best Paella Pan

Reviewers love this beautiful, 15.75-inch carbon steel paella pan's even heat distribution for turning out consistently great paella. The vertical handles make it easy to grab and maneuver, and as one reviewer noted, "I am very pleased with the craftsmanship, weight, and look of this pan -- worth every penny!" It can be used on electric, gas, or induction heat sources. With a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, it's no wonder it's the best paella pan according to America's Test Kitchen, too. You can also score it both in a smaller, 14 1/8 inch size and a larger 17 3/4 inch size.

Helpful Review: “Great Paella Pan. I use this on our gas grill and my Paella turned out great. The instructions to season the pan was easy to follow. So far the pan has been good and holds us well. Very wellmade."

2
A Large, Budget-Friendly Enameled Steel Option

For a more low-maintenance, budget-friendly option, take a look at this enameled steel paella pan that's made in Spain. This 18-inch paella pan's enamel coating is black with white speckles, rust-proof, and easy to clean. The pan comes with recipes, tips, and care instructions — although note that it's quite large to use inside on a single burner. The pan material can be used on a stove top, oven, gas barbeque grill or open flame, according to the brand. This paella pan also comes in a 16-inch version.

Helpful Review: “Awesome! Great quality. Be sure you have a cooking area large enough to handle the large diameter of the pan. I used 3 burners and rotatedi it every couple of minutes. Easy to clean."

3
A Stylish, Stainless Steel Paella Pan With Elegant Gold Handles

With a dimpled bottom and gold handles, reviewers love how beautiful and functional this 16-inch stainless steel paella pan is. The same brand as the enameled pick, this pan, made of a mirror-finished, high-quality 18/8 stainless steel, is also made in Spain, and is safe for use on the stovetop, oven, or grill. Stainless steel is generally dishwasher safe, though washing it by hand may be kinder over time to increase longevity. The handles are horizontal with a slight upward tilt, and the pan comes with recipes, tips, and care instructions. Choose from the featured 16-inch size or go with the smaller, 10-inch or very large, 32-inch size.

Helpful Review: “This pan exceed every expectation I had. It is gorgeous!! Plus it is beautifully made, heavy and has gold handles which definitely add to the beauty of the product. I would definitely recommend it to any”

4
A Carbon Steel Pan That's Big Enough To Feed A Crowd

At 22 inches wide, this large paella pan easily serves a dinner party of 12. This carbon steel with dimpled bottom fits over a 23-inch kettle grill, but it's too big for most conventional home ovens. For the stovetop, you can do so on four closely spaced burners — just be sure to rotate the pan frequently. The carbon steel is extra thick and heavy duty enough even for restaurant kitchens. The handles aren't vertical, but they do tilt upward enough to make moving the pan around a little easier. The pan comes with a couple recipes and tips for making great paella. You can also buy this pan in a medium, 13 1/2 inch size, that can be used on the stovetop, grill, or oven.

Helpful Review: “Wow! This was certainly a professional grade paella pan!...I love using it out on my grill for big parties. Everyone always impressed.”

5
Nice To Have: Rice For Making The Perfect Paella

You need the right pan and the right rice for paella. Bomba is a short-grain rice traditionally used for paella, and this product from Spain is highly rated on Amazon. Reviewers love this rice's quality and its ability to absorb broth for extra flavor. Just over two pounds of bomba rice arrive in a burlap sack that one home cook reports was enough for two paella dinners for six.

Helpful Review: “I recently purchased a paella pan, and most of the recipes that I reviewed online suggested using authentic Bomba rice. Not wanting to cut corners on my first attempt at making Paella, I used one entire bag (4 cups) for my first batch at a recent family dinner and the results were stellar! Long after all the seafood had been picked out of the left-overs, people were still eating the flavorful rice. It doesn't get soggy and really retains all of the wonderful flavors of the dish. We even managed to achieve the desirable soccarat [...]!”