Our Guide To The Best Paella Pan: From Carbon Steel To Cast Iron

Here are our top picks of the best pans for this quintessential dish.

Paella pan

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

Paella is the beating heart of Spanish cuisine, and we are here to help you find the best paella pan to help you master this iconic dish. The best pan can elevate your paella from a simple rice dish to a symphony of flavours, perfectly crisping the bottom layer while keeping the top moist and succulent.

Paella is a dish composed of rice, meats, seafood, and spices that hails from the Valencian region of Spain. This dish, celebrated for its vibrant flavours and colourful presentation, demands a unique cooking technique. A paella pan's wide, shallow design ensures even heat distribution, allowing the rice to cook uniformly. The signature 'socarrat' or crispy bottom layer of the paella is achieved best when cooked in a traditional paella pan. This crusty element can be achieved with the right frying pan that can retain and distribute heat effectively.

Best Paella Pan At A Glance:

• Best carbon steel paella pan: Samuel Groves Paella Pan - View Offer on Amazon UK
• Best stainless steel paella pan: Stellar 30cm Paella Pan - View Offer at Harts of Stur
• Best cast iron paella pan: SKU Black Star Iron Serving Pan - View Offer at Kuhnrikon

While the paella pan is a master of its craft, you can cook paella in other pans, such as a skillet pan, if necessary. Paella pans also come in a variety of types. From traditional carbon steel to enamelled cast iron and even stainless steel, each brings its own flair. Whether you're looking for that authentic rustic touch or a modern twist, there's a paella pan tailored to your needs.

When choosing the right paella pan, consider the size, material, and compatibility with various heat sources. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a home cook looking to experiment, the right frying pan can make all the difference.

Best Paella Pan

Best carbon steel paella pan

Samuel Groves' traditional-style pan, made in England, is available in various sizes. While it's compatible with all heating sources, including induction and BBQs, it's not dishwasher-safe and requires hand washing, so keep that in mind. The pan is also ideal for searing, browning, grilling, and making delicious paellas. It's oven-safe and ready for all hobs types, so you can cook just about anywhere.

Customer review: "Great pan. Well made and I’d guess virtually indestructible. Bought for use in a wood-fired oven, which it is perfect for."

Pros

  • Made from traditional carbon steel with great conductivity
  • Suitable for all heating sources, including induction and BBQ
  • Designed for durability

Cons

  • Not dishwasher safe; requires hand washing

Best budget carbon steel paella pan

Paella pan
Price: £18 (was £26)

www.procook.co.uk

The ProCook Paella Pan, measuring 38cm, is specifically designed for family or group servings. Constructed from durable carbon steel, it features a non-stick lining to prevent food from sticking or burning. While it's compatible with most hob types, it's not suitable for induction or hot plate hobs. It's dishwasher-safe and can withstand oven temperatures up to 260C, making it an excellent all-rounder. The product also comes with a 1-year guarantee.

Pros

  • The non-stick lining ensures food doesn't stick or burn
  • Made from durable carbon steel, it is suitable for most hob types
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Oven safe up to 260C.

Cons

  • It is not compatible with induction and hot plate hobs
  • No reviews

Best large carbon steel paella pan

KitchenCraft World of Flavours Paella
Price: $38.69

Achieve the perfect paella with this pan from KithchenCraft's 32cm paella pan from the World of Flavours range. This versatile cooking tool is suitable for paellas, risottos, and other dishes. Made from robust carbon steel, it's designed to resist warping or buckling. The pan's non-stick coating facilitates low-fat cooking and simplifies the cleaning process too. It comes with a 12-month guarantee, so you can rely on it's longevity.

Customer review: "Used for frittata and Spanish omelette. I start on the gas stove and finish off under a medium grill. Saves me from having to turn the food upside down onto the same saucepan in order to finish off on the stove. I have used the pan for a while. Seems well built."

Pros

  • Versatile use for various dishes
  • Made from tough carbon steel with a non-stick coating
  • Comes with a 12-month guarantee

Cons

  • Thinner on the bottom of the pan

Best stainless steel paella pan

Stellar 30cm Paella Pan
Price: £94.96 (was £113.25)

www.hartsofstur.com

Stellar's 30cm stainless steel pan is adaptable and efficient. Perfect for paellas and more, it has been designed with premium quality stainless steel and has a mirror-polished finish. The pan's hot forged base ensures even heat distribution, making it compatible with all hob types, including induction. It's also oven-safe up to 240°C.

Customer review: "As with all other Stellar products top Quality. Purchased some 8000 range cookware 16 years ago and have been adding to my collection since, glad they still make the same range. Purchased from Harts of Stur as I have several times in the past, great service very helpful, will always make them my first choice for cookware."

Pros

  • Suitable for all hob types, including induction
  • Made of mirror-polished premium quality stainless steel
  • Dishwasher and oven safe up to 240°C w
  • Lifetime guarantee

Cons

  • Some may find stainless steel harder to cook with

Best value stainless steel paella pan

Judge Speciality Cookware
Price: $85.26

Stainless steel is robust and easy to cook with once you get the hang of it, and this paella pan by Judge's Speciality Cookware range is a fantastic piece of kit to collect for your kitchen arsenal. Constructed from stainless steel and features a Thermic Induction-Ready base for even heat distribution. It comes with a well-fitting lid, making it ideal for simmering dishes. The pan is versatile and suitable for cooking, pan frying, and serving. It's compatible with various hob types and is oven-safe. Plus, the vented handles provide a cooler grip, improving safety during use.

Customer review: "Fantastic product, have been looking for a pan to cook paella & this fits the bill perfectly, Also good diverse pan with cooking other dishes & easy to wash. No complaints."

Pros

  • Made of stainless steel with an induction-ready thermic base
  • Versatile use for cooking and serving; comes with a well-fitting lid
  • Suitable for all hob types and is oven-safe

Cons

  • Vented handles might not provide the best grip for some users

Best cast iron paella pan

Made in Switzerland, this heavy gauge iron pan is designed for longevity. Suitable for a range of cooking methods, it can be used on the hob, under the grill, and in the oven. The traditional paella pan shape, combined with two side handles, ensures ease of use and storage. For optimal performance, it's recommended to season the pan as per the provided instructions.

Customer review: "Love the quality, design and price. It will be a prized item which will out live me."

Pros

  • Durable, heavy gauge iron pan suitable for various cooking techniques
  • Compatible with all hob types, including induction
  • Designed to develop its own non-stick properties with proper seasoning

Cons

  • Best for more advanced home cooks

Best small cast iron paella pan

Manufactured in France, the STAUB 26cm Cast Iron Fry Pan offers exceptional heat distribution and retention thanks to its cast iron construction. It's suitable for preparing main courses for up to four people, is very versatile, perfect for both savoury and sweet dishes, and is compatible with all hob types, including induction. Its additional features include two short handles and a micro-grill surface. Ideal for hob-to-table serving, it's a modern, rustic pan that's built to last.

Customer review: "I love it, no doubt. it's much better than Le cruest iron pan. I bought another bigger size as well."

Pros

  • Exceptional heat distribution and retention due to cast iron
  • Suitable for all hob types, including induction
  • Scratch-resistant and easy to clean

Cons

  • Two short handles might make it challenging to handle for some

Best enamelled steel paella pan with various sizes

Garcima
Price: $22.00

This excellent value paella pan is made of enamelled steel and comes in a range of five different sizes to fit portion sizes. Measuring up to 65cm in diameter, you can easily make at least four portions of this delicacy for your family and friends. It is also compatible with oven, gas and firewood and comes with two handles for easy handling.

Customer review: "Nice pan, makes a more authentic paella with a bit of crust on bottom. As a result, it will be hard to clean without scraping which will damage the finish. Solution. Is put a bit of biological laundry in it and hot water. Leave overnight and comes off easy the next day."

Pros

  • Can be easier to take care of than carbon steel
  • Five sizes up to 65cm diameter
  • Easy to clean
  • Comes with two handles

Cons

  • Ceramic hob the base doesn't sit entirely flat 

OUR VERDICT: Best Paella Pan

When it comes to the best stainless steel paella pan, the Stellar 30cm Paella Pan stands out. Its mirror-polished premium quality stainless steel construction not only ensures durability but also offers an aesthetic appeal. The pan's compatibility with all hob types, including induction, and its oven-safe feature up to 240°C make it a versatile choice for various cooking needs. The added benefit of a lifetime guarantee makes this a worthy winner.

For those who prefer carbon steel due to its affordability, the Samuel Groves Paella Pan is a winner. The pan is made from carbon steel, which is the most traditional material used for making paella pans. Carbon steel is preferred for its excellent heat conductivity, ensuring even cooking and the perfect crust that paella is known for, and this pan has an excellent range of three sizes to suit your cooking needs.

What to Consider When Buying a Paella Pan

Material:

Carbon Steel: Traditional and most common. It heats up quickly and evenly but requires seasoning to prevent rust.

Enamelled Steel: Easier to maintain than carbon steel and doesn't require seasoning.

Stainless Steel: Durable and rust-resistant but may not distribute heat as evenly as carbon steel.

Cast Iron: Retains heat well but is heavier and requires more maintenance. Cast iron pots and pans tend to be much deeper than regular shallow paella pans.

Size: Consider how many people you'll be serving. Paella pans range from small (20cm), suitable for 2 people, to large (over 65cm) for big gatherings.

Heat compatibility: Ensure the pan is suitable for your heat source, whether it's gas, induction, electric, or open fire.

Handles: Look for sturdy handles that are securely attached. Some pans offer heat-resistant handles, which can be a bonus.

Depth: Traditional paella pans are shallow to allow rice to cook in a thin layer. Ensure the pan isn't too deep, or you might not achieve the desired 'socarrat'.

Seafood Paella Mediterranean diet recipe with shrimp, squid and mussels on rustic green wood

FAQs on Paella Pans

What is a paella pan?

A paella pan, traditionally known as a "paellera", is a wide, shallow pan used to cook Spain's iconic dish, paella. Its design ensures even heat distribution, allowing the rice to cook uniformly. A paella pan is shaped much like a skillet with only short helper handles on both sides and is more shallow than a saute pan.

Can you use a regular frying pan for paella?

Technically you can cook paella in a regular frying pan, although it doesn't distribute heat as evenly as a paella pan. The unique design of the paella pan allows for the formation of 'socarrat', the crispy bottom layer of paella, which is a hallmark of the dish.

How do I clean and maintain my paella pan?

For carbon steel pans, it's best to hand wash with mild soap, dry immediately, and lightly coat with oil to prevent rusting. Enamelled or non-stick pans can be cleaned as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Ellen Kinsey is a Senior Health & Wellness Product Writer for A Modern Kitchen, specialising in sustainable living and healthy cooking. She lives and breathes all things food, travel and wellness.

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