Carbon steel paella pans are the best pans to get that perfect sear without the rice or seafood sticking to the pan, and help you nail that perfectly cooked paella – every time.
In this post, you’ll find the top 5 traditional paella pans for the enthusiastic home cook, how we picked them, the benefits of carbon steel for cooking paella, and how to season and care for paella pans.
This post may contain affiliate links, at no extra cost to you.
Let’s dive right in!
- Which Pan Is Best for Paella?
- What Size Paella Pan Do You Need?
- How Do You Choose a Paella pan?
- The Top 5 Carbon Steel Paella Pans
- How to Season & Clean a Carbon Steel Paella Pan
- Carbon Steel vs. Stainless Steel Paella Pans
- Paella Pan FAQ
Which Pan Is Best for Paella?
Carbon steel is the traditional cookware material for paella pans in Valencia (on the east coast of Spain), where this delicious dish originates from. In fact, every Valencian kitchen has at least one polished carbon steel paella pan.
This pan is not completely flat, but slightly concave at the bottom, created by prickling the bottom of the pan with small dimples. Maintaining a carbon steel pan is fairly easy: After each use, wash and thoroughly dry the pan and then rub it again with oil.
And the best news?
Carbon steel pans are usually cheaper than stainless steel and enameled carbon steel pans. And with proper care, you can use them for years.
However, these traditional carbon steel pans usually need some seasoning before the first use and some maintenance (though not frequent) – to ensure they don’t rust. Also, they are not dishwasher safe.
👉 In a Hurry?
See our short comparison table, below you’ll find the complete paella pans reviews.
|Paella Pan||Best for||Cooktops||Price|
|Garcima 15" Pan||Best authentic|
|Stovetop, oven, grill, open fire (over tripod)||✅ Check Price on Amazon|
|Lodge 15-inch Carbon Steel Skillet||Most versatile||Gas, electric, ceramic glass, grill, oven, open fire, induction||✅ Check Price on Amazon|
|BK Black Carbon Steel Paella Pan||Most Lightweight||All cooktops except microwave||✅ Check Price on Amazon|
|Made In Blue Carbon Steel Paella Pan||Best for High Heat||All cooktops||✅ $99 at MadeIn|
What Size Paella Pan Do You Need?
Paella pans come in a variety of sizes, from 8″ (20cm) to 60″ (150cm), which is big enough for serving 25 people. The size of your paella pan depends on the number of meals you want to prepare.
Choose a pan that can comfortably feed the number of guests you are about to feed. Don’t get a pan that’s too small or too big, or your guests might end up fighting over the scraps or getting lost in it.
|Paella Pan Size (inches)||Paella Pan Size (cm)||Servings|
|14||36||2 to 4|
|15||38||3 to 5|
|16||40||4 to 6
Ideal for home cooking
|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 ideal size for home cooking (4-6 people) is a 15″ or a 16″ carbon steel paella pan. If you want to invite a few friends over, you’ll need an 18″ or a 22″ pan, which is big enough for 7-12 people.
For sizes from 18″ and more, you’ll need a paella burner or tripod for an open fire.
How Do You Choose a Paella pan?
Choose your paella pan according to its material (carbon steel is traditionally used), your cooking surface (for induction use flat bottom pans only), and the size according to the number of people you want to feed. Look for sturdy handles because you don’t want it to giggle when you serve, and make sure it looks nice since it’s used for serving.
The larger the pan, the thinner the rice layer will be, which translates into a better paella.
The Top 5 Carbon Steel Paella Pans
Through our research, we found the 5 best carbon steel paella pans, including the best value one, the best budget pick, and the best paella set for outdoor cooking.
Let’s kick things off with the most authentic one:
1. Garcima Paella Pan Best Authentic
- Weight – 2.42 pounds
- Cooktops – stovetop, oven, grill, open fire (over tripod)
The Garcima authentic Spanish paella pans are our top 2023 choice for cooking paella at home.
They come in all the sizes you’ll need (13-inch for 4 people, 15-inch for 6 people, 18 inches, and 26-inch for outdoor cooking for 10-12 people).
Garcima is a family-owned company from Valencia that has been making carbon steel paella pans for almost a century. It is now considered the leading manufacturer of paella pans in Spain.
The Garcima paella pans have the traditional design and dimple bottom (that helps with uniform heating) and two riveted handles, that remain cooler than the pan.
They can be used on a gas stove, a grill, a gas burner, and an open fire tripod, but not on an induction cooktop.
Garcima Paella Pan Pros & Cons (According to Consumers)
- Authentic family-made manufacturer from Valencia
- Handles stay cool
- Great cooking performance
- The dimpled bottom prevents the use on induction
- must be seasoned to prevent rusting and improve performance. If it does rust – a few passes with steel wool take it right off.
✅ Available on Amazon ($25) and Walmart ($24)
👉 If you need the best paella pan for outdoor cooking and serving more than 8 people, choose the one below:
2. Garcima Mediterraneo Paella Pan Set Best for Outdoor Cooking
- Weight of burner – 13.32 pounds
- Recommended pan size – 16-inches
The 14-inch burner fits paella pans up to 20″ in diameter, and has two rings of flame that you can control independently with its own knob. However, they connect to one tank and you can not split it into two tanks.
The burners run hot even on the lower setting so you’ll have to be careful not to burn the food, and use it on the lower setting to simmer.
The sturdy tripod is 30 inches tall and the complete set is very easy to assemble and use out of the box, so you can easily take it apart and bring it to parties outside your home.
The Garcima carbon steel paella pan that comes with this set can also be used for stews, beef dishes, and stir-fries, and not just delicious, authentic paellas.
Garcima Paella Set Pros & Cons (According to Consumers)
- Great customer service, the company will replace the pan if you have any problems
- No wind guard on the flame so it can go out at any time and there is nothing to secure the pan to get it perfectly centered on the burner (without standing on your head to see it).
- Does not come with a regulator hose
✅ Available on Amazon ($119) and Walmart ($98)
3. Lodge 15-inch Carbon Steel Skillet Most Versatile
- Weight – 6.42 pounds
- Cooktops – gas, electric, ceramic glass, grill, oven, open fire, induction
Lodge has a line of carbon steel pans, one of them is an excellent 15-inch paella (made from 12-gauge American carbon steel) pan that is preseasoned with natural soybean oil, with sloping sides, and 2 riveted handles made from pure iron.
We recommend not relying on the pre-seasoning and adding seasoning yourself before the first use. This way, the pan becomes somewhat nonstick with a bit of use.
The darker it gets, the better it becomes. It may appear a bit rough-textured, but it gets smoother with use.
Lodge Carbon Steel Pan Pros & Cons (According to Consumers)
- Heavy-duty construction, made to last for decades
- Works with any cooking surface except microwave ovens.
- You can cook many other foods with this pan, including big pieces of meat.
- Great value for the price
- Made in the USA
- Handles made from pure iron require the use of mittens to avoid burning your hands.
✅ Available on Walmart ($80), same price on Amazon
4. BK Black Carbon Steel Paella Pan Most Lightweight
- Weight – 5.29 pounds
- Cooktops – All cooktops except microwave
The BK carbon steel paella pan is durable enough for outdoor cooking and develops a naturally nonstick surface as you use it. The handles are made from cast iron and offer a sturdy and durable grip.
The pan is pre-seasoned and ready to use out of the box, and you only have to remove the thin silicone wax coating that protects it by washing it. Many users claim that this is amazingly nonstick – from the first use.
Black carbon steel is stain-resistant, corrosion-resistant, and highly durable.
It is safe up to 600 F and can be used over all surfaces, including open fire and induction.
BK Paella Pan Pa Pros & Cons (According to Consumers)
- Pre-seasoned properly
- The most lightweight 15-inch pan you’ll find
- Some buyers claim that the wax coating was hard to remove and the pan needed seasoning after the removal
✅ Available at Food52 ($70), and on Amazon (same price)
5. Made In Blue Carbon Steel Paella Pan Best for High Heat
- Cooktops – all
- Weight – 4.4 pounds
We love the Made In blue 13″ carbon steel paella pan, mainly because the 2 mm thick blue carbon steel (made in France) can tolerate heat up to 1200 F without bending or warping, so you can take it on your next camping trip.
Plus, the pan has sturdy handles that make it easy to grip when stirring or transporting it from stovetop to table.
Blue carbon steel is the very same material that makes the brand’s continuously sold-out frying skillet –
Made In Blue Carbon Steel Pan Pros & Cons
- 45-day trial and free shipping for returns
- Extra sturdy blue carbon steel
- Excellent customer service
- You’ll have to remove the wax layer carefully
- The pans are not dishwasher safe
✅ Available at Made In ($99 with free shipping on returns)
How to Season & Clean a Carbon Steel Paella Pan
Before the first use of your carbon steel paella pan, fill it with soapy water and 1 spoon of salt, and boil the mix for 2 minutes. After drying it, pour a few drops of olive oil (this is Mediterranean cooking after all), and use a paper towel to coat the inner bottom and sides of the pan with a thin layer. Remove excess oil if needed.
After each use, clean the pan by hand (like every other pan you have), dry well with a cloth, and season with oil the same way, before storing it.
This process will increase the pans’ longevity.
Carbon Steel vs. Stainless Steel Paella Pans
Carbon steel pans conduct heat quicker and more evenly than stainless steel and have a naturally non-stick surface. They are thinner and lighter than stainless steel – without compromising on durability and longevity. ‘ The thin and lightweight carbon steel makes them easy to transfer to a dinner table, and you can safely use metal cooking utensils – without scratching or damaging them.
You can use carbon steel paella pans on almost any cooking surface, including gas stoves, ovens, grillers, and open fires, and they perform extremely well over a paella burner.
👉 RELATED: Cast Iron vs. Carbon Steel Pans – What Should You Choose?
Paella Pan FAQ
Is a Carbon Steel Pan Safe for All Cook Tops?
The best cooktop for the traditional, slightly curved paella pan is a gas stove. For electric, ceramic, or induction, you’ll need a flat-bottomed paella pan, so you’ll get a good heat transfer. Most carbon steel pans can tolerate at least 600 F and can be used over an open fire as well.
Can a Carbon Steel Paella Pan Rust?
Yes, a carbon steel paella pan can rust if you don’t care for it properly. It is a type of iron that is prone to rusting when exposed to moisture and air.
To prevent rust, keep the pan dry and oiled. Don’t let it soak in the sink for hours. Store it in a dry place and avoid exposure to moisture and humidity.
If rust does creep up on the surface, you can usually remove it with a mixture of baking soda and water.
These tips will help extend the lifespan of your paella pan and make it your loyal companion for many paella parties to come!
What Else Can You Cook in a Paella Pan?
Other than paella, you can use carbon steel paella pans as a roasting pan (searing steaks, chicken cutlets, and roasts), in place of a wok, as a griddle for bacon, pancakes, and breakfasts, and even for cooking over an open fire when you go camping.
What is the Largest Paella Pan?
The largest paella pan we’ve found is a 60-inch pan – truly a giant paella pan – that can only be used on a large outdoor grill because it won’t fit into an oven. This large paella pan can feed a small village and weighs more than 60 pounds. It costs thousands of dollars.
For home cooking, in an oven, the largest is usually 17 or 18 inches. A large outdoor grill can usually handle up to a 26-inch pan.
The KM Team