The 6 Best Paella Pans for Any Gathering

These paella pans are party ready whether you are a beginner or a professional.

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Mixed Vegetable Paella Recipe
Aubrie Pick

There's something meditative about making paella, whether loaded with meat, shellfish, or vegan. Choosing the best paella pan, saffron, and bomba rice is all part of an excellent paella, and the intention is significant. 

Chef Josue Pena of the Spanish restaurant The Iberian Pig in Atlanta has made more paellas than most. "In our culture, rice is a very important part of a meal. Any meal you have rice. That translates into my experience." Pena's kitchen turns out all sorts of paellas in various sizes every night. "We like carbon steel pans,” says Pena, “They're excellent and cook evenly. You don't want a hot spot on the left side, like, you know, a steamy spot on the right side. And that's something you could get if you use an aluminum pan or maybe even a stainless steel pan." Pena also recommends a pan with a flat bottom. Commercial-style pans are more rounded, which is awkward on most traditional stoves. 

Since paella is generally flexible with ingredients, there are several ways to select your proteins. You can go vegan without animal protein or load it up with squid and shrimp. No matter which paella recipe you choose, the right pan is critical.

Best Overall

Garcima 16-Inch Pata Negra Restaurant Grade Paella Pan

Garcima Pata Negra Paella Pan


The Garcima Pata Negra Paella Pan is great for any party, whether you have made paella before or not. This carbon steel pan is the most common type of paella plan you'll find in Valencia, Spain — paella's birthplace. Since it is carbon steel, it requires more maintenance than others, including seasoning and ensuring it is completely dry before storage. It serves four to six people and fits well over most standard large stove burners. Since professional-grade steel is extra thick, it has exceptional heat conductivity and can be used in an oven or over a charcoal or gas grill. 

Price at time of publish: $56

  • Diameter: 16 inches
  • Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Material: Carbon steel

Best Splurge

Mauviel Copper Paella Pan

 Mauviel Copper Paella Pan

Williams Sonoma

The Mauviel Copper Paella Pan is a bona fide splurge for francophiles or copper devotees. Copper is known for its heat conductivity, a shoo-in for a great paella. The copper and stainless steel construction is heavy-gauge at 2mm for superior temperature control. Since it is deep enough to layer, you can add multiple ingredients to the non-reactive stainless steel-lined interior. The stainless steel is easy to clean and keeps looking new. The pan’s riveted bronze handles make it stunning enough to take from oven to tabletop. We’d use this for various purposes beyond paella. 

Price at time of publish: $530

  • Diameter: 16 inches
  • Weight: 7.4 pounds
  • Material: Copper

Best Value

Machika 12-inch Enameled Steel Skillet

Machika Enameled Steel Skillet


While the Machika Enameled Steel Skillet is an excellent choice for beginners due to its price, it is also one our editors use at home. We like that these pans are inexpensive and available in different sizes. We have a few that fit in the oven, so we can make other versions of paella to accommodate guests with food restrictions or allergies. The enameled coating makes it easy to wipe clean and is also excellent for conducting heat quickly. Since the pan is so thin and durable, it is easy to handle and will last you years to come. We also love the bottom’s dimpled design, which aids in browning and condensation. 

Price at time of publish: $20

  • Diameter: 12 inches
  • Weight: 1.85 pounds
  • Material: Enameled carbon steel

Best Carbon Steel

Smithey Ironware Carbon Steel Party Pan

Smithey Ironware Carbon Steel Party Pan


Blacksmiths hand-forge Smithey Ironware's Carbon Steel Party Pan in Charleston, SC. Their carbon steel party pan is the perfect paella pan for those who prefer more than single-use cookware. The 17-inch pan is enormous, with oversized helper handles, making it easy to take from the kitchen or fire to the table. Not only can this cook up a mean paella or fry a carton of eggs and a package of bacon at once, but it is also a great serving piece. Smithey recommends it for functions where cooler appetizers, such as oysters on the half shell, can sit on a bed of ice and seaweed. The options are endless; you can even engrave it for yourself or as a gift. The party pan comes pre-seasoned, and the care is similar to cast iron. Just make sure it is dry after washing.

Price at time of publish: $400

  • Diameter: 17 inches
  • Weight: 9 pounds
  • Material: Carbon steel

Best Paella Kit

Matiz España Deluxe Authentic Paella Kit with Traditional Pan and Ingredients

Matiz España Paella Kit with Traditional Pan and Ingredients


If you'd rather have someone else do all the legwork, passing up a paella kit like this Matiz España Paella Kit is hard. It comes with a traditional carbon steel pan and everything you need to make a spectacular paella for a party of four to six people. The superior quality ingredients come directly from Spain, including saffron, sofrito, pimentón, paella bomba rice, Olivar olive oil, piquillos, and piparra peppers. The kit also comes with a recipe booklet and step-by-step instructions on how to make the perfect paella–even if it's your first time. 

Price at time of publish: $95

  • Diameter: 15 inches
  • Weight: 10.35 pounds
  • Material: Carbon steel

Best Outdoor

Garcima 20-Inch Tabarca Paella Pan Set with Burner

Matiz España Paella Kit with Traditional Pan and Ingredients


For more advanced paella cooks or people who love cooking outside on the fire, the Garcima Tabarca Paella Pan Set comes with everything you need to make a gorgeous paella for a get-together. The kit includes the paella burner, the paella pan, and the supporting legs. The traditional Valencian double gauge carbon steel pan is oversized at 20 inches with sloping sides so the rice cooks evenly and evaporates enough to create the crust on the bottom. Since the pan is so thin and lightweight, it is easy to maneuver and shimmy the pans as needed. The red-painted helper handles have enough clearance to fit even the most oversized hands. 

Price at time of publish: $130

  • Diameter: 20 inches
  • Weight: 17.31 pounds
  • Material: Carbon steel

Factors to Consider


We recommend a pan of around 15 inches to serve four people efficiently. You can make multiple paellas or one large one. If you are hosting a large party, use the following guidelines to determine the size of the pan you need: 

  • 16-inch pan: 4 to 6 servings
  • 18-inch pan: 6 to 8 servings
  • 22-inch pan: 8 to 12 servings 
  • 26-inch pan: 12 to 20 servings
  • 32-inch pan: 20 to 40 servings 


Paella pans come in various materials. The most common options are cast iron, carbon steel, copper, and stainless steel. Most carbon steel paella pans must be seasoned, and cast iron is not ideal because it retains too much heat. Nonstick pans won't get enough dryness to create the socarrat, the signature crispy rice crust that develops on the bottom of a paella. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is a paella pan?

    A paella pan is a broad, shallow dish with slightly flared sides. It usually has two helper handles that enable you to safely take it in and out of the oven or off the fire. They're usually made of metal and have a flat bottom, often dimpled to enable better browning and evaporation. It must be broad, shallow, and ideally oven-safe.

  • Do I need to season my paella pan?

    Some paella pans need to be seasoned, so if that is an extra step you don't want, pay attention to the care instructions. "Seasoning creates a nonstick film. It's important whether it's carbon steel or cast iron," says Pena. "I think many people skip this and think they can just put it on the burner, start cooking with it, everything sticks, and everything burns."

  • Do I need to put a lid on my paella pan?

    You want as much evaporation as possible to get a nice crust on the bottom of your paella pan. If you need to help with some ingredients, you can loosely tent it with foil but ensure it's vented so the steam can escape. "There are people that towards the end of the cooking process, they'll throw in like a parchment paper or aluminum foil," says Pena. "I like to smooth everything out somewhat without smashing and breaking the grain. I lightly compress it, keep everything tight, and let it finish steaming off. In many situations, I've seen people leave a lid on too long, and then suddenly, it's overcooked."

  • Do I need a paella pan to make paella?

    You don't need a paella pan to make paella (though, of course, it’s preferable) — it just needs to be a shallow and broad dish with a two-inch depth. "I've been in situations where you walk in the kitchen, they're expecting a paella in, and the closest thing to that is a rondo pan," says Pena. "It's a wide, shallow sauce pot and looks very similar to a paella pan."

  • Can you use a paella pan on the barbecue?

    Absolutely. Just check the manufacturer's specifications to ensure it can withstand the heat. There are special paella pan burners you can attach to a propane tank. The outdoor option is excellent if you want to minimize the smell of cooking seafood inside or have the paella be the centerpiece of your next party. We've even done paella on our Big Green Egg with excellent results. "The only thing with that is knowing your fuel source and how it burns versus a stovetop burner or oven," says Pena.

Our Expertise

Jennifer Zyman is a Senior Commerce Writer for Food & Wine and a former restaurant critic with a culinary school degree and over 15 years of food writing experience. Her work has appeared in Atlanta Magazine, Bon Appetit, Eater Atlanta, The Kitchn, Local Palate, National Geographic, Simply Recipes, Southern Living, and Thrillist. She used market research, culinary experience, and expertise from Executive Chef Josue Pena of The Iberian Pig in Atlanta to write this story.

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