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How to Choose the Best Paella Pan for You

Wondering how to choose the best paella pan? This article will help you get the right size, material and type of paella pan for you and your cook top.

How to choose the best paella pan for you!

I love cooking, and eating, paella, especially this Shrimp and Chicken Paella.  To do it right, I needed to have the best paella pan to work with.

Thankfully, my husband did some research before buying my first paella pan for my birthday. He found that there are a lot of options available and he chose the best paella pan for us. 

If you want to know how to choose a paella pan, so this article has information to help you find the best paella pan for you!

This delicious Shrimp and Chicken Paella is made with broccoli, carrots, and asparagus; then it is topped with the creamy, nutty flavor of Manchego cheese.

So, how do you choose the best paella pan for you?

How to choose the best paella pan for you?

First of all, you have to decide on the size of the pan, or multiple sizes if you are cooking for different numbers of people. 

You’ll also want to consider what type of pan is best for you.

Then you will also need to pick the right style that works with your cook top.

Which Paella Pan Size Should You Choose?

There are many paella pan sizes available.  The size of paella pan you should choose depends on how many people you typically serve. 

Here are the most common options:

Size (Inches) Size (Cm) Servings
14 36 2 to 4
15 38 3 to 5
16 40 4 to 6
18 45 5 to 8
22 55 7 to 12
24 60 12 to 20
26 65 14 to 22
28 70 16 to 25

The most popular pan sizes are between 14 and 16 inches, and all of those are able to serve 4 people. If you typically serve 4 people, then you can either get a 14, 15 or 16 inch pan. I suggest getting the 16 inch pan, because you are going to want leftovers! Yum!

If you are serving a crowd, then you need to consider a large paella pan. Just make sure it will fit on your cook top or purchase an outdoor tripod as discussed below.

What Type of Paella Pan Should You Choose?

The most popular paella pans are made out of three different material makeups.  This choice will be based on your personal preference and the properties of each.

Carbon Steel Paella Pan

Carbon steel is the traditional material for paella pans in Spain. It has the highest thermal conductivity of the three types which makes heating fast and even.

These traditional paella pans are similar to an iron skillet and need seasoning before the first use and more maintenance after cooking to ensure it doesn’t rust.

Here is a restaurant-grade, 16-inch carbon steel pan from Garcima, a top maker of authentic paella pans, made in Spain.

Enameled Steel Paella Pan

Enameled steel paella pans are popular because they don’t rust.  They are made by coating a carbon steel pan with a thin layer of enamel.

Thermal conductivity of an enameled steel pan is not as good as a carbon steel pan, but cleaning and maintenance are easier.

You will need to be a little more careful handling and using the enameled steel pans as you can easily chip the enamel, which will then cause them to rust.

Here is a 16-inch enameled pan from Garcima.  Made in Spain.

Stainless Steel Paella Pan

Stainless steel paella pans are also popular because they don’t rust, you don’t have to season them before using them, they are easy to maintain and you don’t have to worry about chipping them.

Also, their shiny surface makes them a great to serve on the table and hang in your kitchen.  Quality stainless steel paella pans are made of 18/10 or 18/8 stainless steel.  I don’t recommend buying an 18/0 version because it is not very corrosion resistant.

The thermal conductivity of a stainless steel pan is about a third of a carbon steel pan.  So, cooking in it means you need more even heat under the paella, which can be a little more work.

We use these two paella pans and use them over 2 gas burners and rotate them a quarter turn about every 30-60 seconds.  They work great and they look great. This is our smaller pan: 16-Inch Stainless Steel Paella Pan from Garcima and our larger one: 18-Inch Stainless Steel Paella Pan from Garcima.

What Style of Paella Pan Should You Choose for Your Cook Top?

Gas Cook Top

For a Gas Cook top, any of the paella pans will work.

Electric, Ceramic or Induction Cook Top

For these cook tops, you will need a paella pan with a flat bottom, so that you get a good transfer of heat. Paella pans that are designed for outdoor cooking or gas cooking have a rounded bottom, which won’t work well on these types of cook tops.

In addition, for induction cook tops, you will need to use one of these induction paella pans:

  • A carbon steel pan with a flat bottom
  • A flat bottom, enameled pan that the manufacturer says will work with an induction cook top
  • Or a stainless steel pan with a magnetic plate built into the base of the pan specifically for an induction cook top

What if You’re Cooking for Large Parties?

If you are cooking paella for large parties, then look at getting a large outdoor paella tripod kit that includes the stand, burner and paella pan.These kits use a typical outdoor gas grill propane tank.  You may need to purchase a hose with the right fitting from your hardware store to connect it to the burner. 

Complete Paella Kit

Here are a few different sizes you can order from Amazon:

Paella Pan, Paella Burner and Stand Set – Complete Paella Kit for up to 14 Servings

Paella Pan, Paella Burner and Stand Set – Complete Paella Kit for up to 16 Servings

Paella Pan, Paella Burner and Stand Set – Complete Paella Kit for up to 22 Servings

Paella Pan, Paella Burner and Stand Set – Complete Paella Kit for up to 25 Servings

Paella Pan, Paella Burner and Stand Set – Complete Paella Kit for up to 40 Servings

Does the paella pan need a lid?

The paella pan doesn’t need a lid because paella is traditionally cooked uncovered. Many recipes do call for the paella to be covered during the final resting period off the heat, and this is easily done with aluminum foil.  However, some people do want paella pan lids and you can find various Paella Pan Lids here on Amazon.

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  1. I would like a recommendation for 4 on a gas stove and then a recommendation for outside as much as 16 people

  2. I bought an 11.75″ Matfer carbon steel pan, then immediately bought a 15″ Lodge carbon steel paella pan. I was shocked at the difference between the two surfaces and wish I would’ve stumbled upon this website sooner! The Garcima pan you showed aligns better with what I wanted to purchase, thank you for the info!