A smaller paella pan is the versatile vessel you didn’t know you needed.
Published Dec. 17, 2020.
For more information on paella pans, see our review of the best paella pans.
After testing full-size paella pans, we fell in love with the winner, the Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Paella Pan, 15¾ inch, which proved to be the perfect specialty vessel for making Paella on the Grill. (We ordinarily use a roasting pan, which has a similar footprint.) Matfer Bourgeat also makes a slightly smaller version, the Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Paella Pan, 14⅛ inch. We’re pleased to say that we like this pan just as much as the big one, if not more. It’s made from the same thick carbon steel as the larger version, so it’s got the same great heat retention and conduction. And its large handles make it easy to lift and maneuver. You’ll still need to season and maintain the pan to keep it from rusting, but to us, that’s a reasonable price to pay for superior performance and longevity.
As we learned when we talked to our resident paella expert, Cook’s Illustrated Senior Editor Lan Lam, a few adjustments are necessary if you’re going to make paella in it. Because it’s smaller, with about 26 square inches less surface area, you’ll have less socarrat overall. You will also have to cook the paella a touch longer, as the layer of rice will be thicker than in the larger pan. But the end results will still be delicious.
This pan’s size also makes it versatile. Because it’s smaller, it fits better on stovetop burners but still has lots of wide-open surface area, making it an excellent substitute for a griddle or wok. Depending on how big your burners are, you may still have to move the pan around a little to keep it evenly heated, but less so than with the larger paella pan. We made double batches of perfectly browned grilled cheese sandwiches and pancakes and turned out great fried rice in it. Its sides were also more than 2 inches tall, high enough that we could shallow-fry chicken cutlets in it, a nice bonus. You can also use it in the oven as a roasting pan; roast chicken made in it was browned and beautiful.
We still think that the larger paella pan is best if your main priority is to make our paella recipes, but the smaller version is also great and can be used for many more cooking applications.
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