Making paella: everything you need to know
Paella is a staple dish in Spanish cuisine that's made using rice and a variety of assorted ingredients, including chicken, vegetables and spices like saffron and paprika. It's signature toasted base, known as socarrat, is achieved by turning the heat up in the final stage of cooking without allowing it to burn.
The key to a successful paella base lies in the baking pan. A paella pan is specifically designed to help you reach paella perfection every time with a flat circular bottom and shallow sides that enables maximum contact between rice and pan.
Shop a wide range of paella pans by leading brands at Kitchen Warehouse with various sizes, materials and features to suit every skill level and style of cooking.
Paella pan serving size guide
The size of your paella pan will depend on how many people you intend to serve. The most common sized pans range from around 30cm-40cm as this will typically feed a family of up to six. If you have a larger family, go bigger. The Pyrolux Industry Blue Steel Paella Pan is a top choice at 45cm, as is the Garcima Carbon Steel Polish Paella Pan at 46cm which can serve up to 10 people. For smaller households of one to three people, the Garcima Carbon Steel Polish Paella Pan is 28cm and perfect for serving multiple generous portions or a single serving with leftovers!
Types of materials and construction options
Paella pans can be crafted using a variety of materials, each with their own unique properties. The one you choose will depend on personal preference. The most popular types of material used include:
Carbon steel - A carbon steel paella pan is traditional as it has superior heat conductivity and offers fast and even heating. These pans will need to be seasoned before and after each use.
Enamelled steel - Enamelled steel pans are non-stick, rust-proof and easier to clean and maintain as they don't require seasoning or special maintenance.
Stainless steel - A stainless steel paella pan is very durable, rust-proof and easy to clean as it is typically dishwasher-safe.
Cast iron - Cast iron pans provide even heat distribution which is essential when cooking paella. They retain heat for longer so you will need to remove the paella from the heat a few minutes before it is finished to prevent overcooking.
Let's talk about heat source
The type of paella pan material you choose will determine which heat source you can use to cook your paella. The important thing is that the heat source covers the entire pan base to ensure even cooking.
Type - Our paella pans are suitable for all stovetops, including induction, as well as ovens and outdoor cooking on open campfires and BBQ grills.
Size - Most paella pans should be able to fit the biggest burner on the stovetop. If your pan is larger, try using two elements or cook outside on an open flame. The Garcima Paella Gas Burner is the ultimate solution for cooking paella outdoors with a gas burner, stand and 46cm carbon steel paella pan for impressing your friends and family!
Maintenance, cleaning and care
A cast iron or carbon steel paella pan will need to be hand washed and seasoned before each use to retain its natural non-stick surface. Other pans, such as stainless steel and enamelled, can generally be placed in the dishwasher for cleaning.
Other kitchen utensils to consider when purchasing a paella pan
These cookware items, utensils and kitchen gadgets will help you to create wonderfully authentic dishes from around the world:
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What is special about a paella pan?
Paella originated in Spain and is praised worldwide for its aromatic fragrance, texture and flavour. A paella pan has a flat, wide base and shallow sloping sides that allows the rice to cook evenly in a single layer and form the toasted, golden crust that every good paella should have. You can find quality paella pans at prices lower than RRP at Kitchen Warehouse by trusted Australian and international brands including Pyrolux and Garcima.
What is the difference between a paella pan and a skillet?
The biggest difference between a paella pan and a regular frying pan or skillet is the size. A paella pan will typically have a much larger surface area so that the rice can be cooked in a thin layer and develop a crust. The wide base and shallow sides allows the pan to have as much contact as possible with the stovetop to promote faster evaporation of liquid. While a paella pan is the first choice for making this Spanish staple, you could also use a large frying pan with a flat, wide base.