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

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 and oven baking if you use an oven to cook your paella.

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
14362 to 4
15383 to 5
16404 to 6
18455 to 8
22557 to 12
246012 to 20
266514 to 22
287016 to 25

The most popular pan sizes are between 14 and 16 inches in diameter, 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 Paella Pan

Originating from Valencia, the home of paella, a carbon steel paella pan is an ideal choice for those who value tradition and aim to achieve an authentic ‘socarrat’, the crisp rice crust that forms at the bottom of the pan. Carbon steel is the traditional material for paella pans in Spain and boasts the highest thermal conductivity of the three types, which enables rapid and even heating.

Their design, which includes a dimpled bottom, aids in the even distribution of heat, contributing to the development of the desired socarrat. Similar to an iron skillet, these traditional paella pans need seasoning before the first use and more maintenance after cooking to ensure they don’t rust. When using a carbon steel pan, make sure to initially season it with vegetable oil on either an open flame or stove for optimal performance.

However, keep in mind that carbon steel pans are not dishwasher-safe. Therefore, they require careful hand-washing. It’s best to avoid using soap, as it can strip the seasoning off the pan. Instead, scrub gently with a paper towel to remove residue, then dry thoroughly to prevent rusting.

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 Pan

Enameled steel paella pans are a great choice for those who prefer easier care instructions. Unlike carbon steel pans, they’re coated with a thin layer of enamel, making them more resistant to rust and reducing the need for rigorous seasoning. These pans are a favorite among cooks who regularly prepare dishes with acidic ingredients, such as tomatoes and lemon, which can otherwise react with bare metal.

The enamel coating makes this type of pan more durable, but care should be taken when handling so that you do not to chip the enamel, which will then cause them to rust. Despite the lower thermal conductivity compared to carbon steel, these pans still deliver a delicious socarrat, especially when used on a gas stove. Enameled pans can usually be washed with soap and water, but they are not typically dishwasher-safe.

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

Stainless Steel Paella Pan

Stainless Steel Paella Pan

Stainless steel paella pans are a popular choice due to their durability, 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.

They are suitable for various cook tops, including gas, electric, and induction. While these pans have lower thermal conductivity than carbon steel pans, with careful heat management on the stove or oven, they can still produce a good socarrat.

One of the great features of stainless steel paella pans is their dishwasher-safe nature. Just ensure that no food residue remains before placing them in the dishwasher.

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.

Non-Stick Paella Pan

Non-Stick Paella Pan

A non-stick paella pan can be a practical choice for those who prioritize convenience. These pans are often made from aluminum or stainless steel, with a non-stick coating applied. They are ideal for beginners, as the non-stick surface makes it easier to achieve a good socarrat without the rice sticking to the pan. They are also easier to clean, with many being dishwasher-safe.

However, non-stick paella pans are less durable than their carbon steel or stainless steel counterparts, as the coating can wear off over time. Also, they’re not suitable for cooking paella on charcoal grills or open flames, as high heat can damage the non-stick coating.

Here is a 16.5 Inch Non-Stick Paella Pan.

Cast Iron Paella Pan

Cast Iron Paella Pan

Cast iron paella pans, though not traditional, have gained popularity due to their heat retention properties. This can be particularly beneficial when cooking paella in an oven, as the cast iron pan can hold and evenly distribute the heat, ensuring the rice and other ingredients cook perfectly. Like carbon steel pans, cast iron pans also need to be seasoned before first use.

Cleaning involves hand-washing without soap and drying thoroughly to avoid rust. Over time, these pans develop a natural non-stick surface that enhances the flavors of your dish.

Here is a 13-Inch Cast Iron Paella Pan and a larger 16-Inch Cast Iron Paella Pan.

Copper Paella Pan

Copper Paella Pan

A copper paella pan, although less traditional, can be a beautiful and functional addition to your cookware. Renowned for its excellent thermal conductivity, it heats quickly and evenly, essential for creating a delectable rice crust in your seafood paella or any other variant. However, copper pans are usually lined with stainless steel or tin because copper can react with acidic ingredients, altering the flavors of your dish.

Copper paella pans require special care instructions. They are not dishwasher-safe and must be hand-washed with mild soap. Over time, copper can tarnish, but it can be restored to its original shine with a copper cleaner.

Here is a beautiful 18-Inch Copper Paella Pan.

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

Not all types of paella pans are suitable for all cooktops. Here’s a breakdown for each type:

Carbon Steel Paella Pan: Works well on gas and electric stovetops. For induction cooktops, you would need a flat-bottomed version. Also, not all carbon steel pans are induction compatible, so check the manufacturer’s information.

Enameled Steel Paella Pan: Suitable for gas, electric, and induction cooktops. However, similar to carbon steel pans, ensure the bottom is flat for induction cooktops.

Stainless Steel Paella Pan: Works on all types of stovetops, including induction. For best results on induction cooktops, look for pans with a magnetic base.

Non-Stick Paella Pan: Works on gas and electric cooktops, but not all non-stick pans are suitable for induction cooktops. Check with the manufacturer to be sure.

Cast Iron Paella Pan: Cast iron pans are excellent for all types of cooktops, including induction, due to their high heat retention and even heat distribution.

Copper Paella Pan: Typically compatible with gas and electric stovetops, but not all copper pans work with induction cooktops unless they have a magnetic layer added.

Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before using a particular pan on your cooktop, especially when it comes to induction cooktops, as not all pans are compatible.

Which Paella Pans Work in the Oven?

It’s important to remember that not all types of paella pans are suitable for oven use. Here’s a breakdown:

Carbon Steel Paella Pan: Yes, carbon steel pans can be used in the oven, but be sure there are no plastic handles or other elements that could melt or be damaged.

Enameled Steel Paella Pan: Yes, enameled steel pans can also be used in the oven, given the same precautions as for carbon steel pans.

Stainless Steel Paella Pan: Yes, stainless steel pans are typically safe for oven use, and they often have handles that are also oven-safe.

Non-Stick Paella Pan: This depends on the specific pan and its construction. Not all non-stick paella pans are safe for oven use, as high temperatures can damage the non-stick coating. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Cast Iron Paella Pan: Yes, cast iron is typically safe for oven use, and it retains heat very well, making it an excellent option for oven-cooked paella.

Copper Paella Pan: Yes, copper pans are oven-safe. However, they might require more care to maintain their appearance over time due to potential tarnishing.

Regardless of the type of pan, always check the manufacturer’s instructions before using it in the oven. The handles and other parts of the pan may not be oven-safe, even if the main body of the pan is.

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 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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About the Author


Hi, I'm Linda! Welcome to The Wanderlust Kitchen, where I share recipes and travel adventures from all around the world. Here you'll find a world of recipes you can have confidence in. These recipes celebrate authentic food heritage as well as modern techniques and ingredients. Be adventurous and try a new recipe and travel somewhere you have never been before.  Bon Appétit! Bon Voyage!  

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  1. 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!