The paella pan is commonly used to make a Spanish dish called paella, which is essentially where its name comes from.
A true paella pan is a wide and round cooking vessel. It is completely flat and has sloping edges. An interesting feature of the pan is that it does not come with a lid.
The Paella pan’s shape helps in ensuring that the rice cooks in a nice thin layer. Thus, most paella pans have a larger diameter instead of being deep.
This allows the maximum amount of rice to touch the base of the pan, enhancing the flavor of the final dish.
However, the downside is that the Paella Pan is only suited to make Paella.
So, it’s totally understandable if you are not prepared to spend your money on this cookware to prepare just one dish!
Here are some Paella Pan substitutes that can help you make this delicious dish without investing money on the pan.
List of Paella Pan Substitutes
Even if you do purchase a Paella pan, you are likely to not get much use out of it. It will most probably end up sitting in your kitchen cabinet for except maybe one or two days every year.
You might be wondering how it’s possible to get that evenly cooked rice and taste without a Paella pan.
But, if you’re willing to make some modifications to the ingredient list and cooking time, you can definitely make scrumptious Paella without a Paella pan.
These Paella pan substitutes listed below can help you save money without sacrificing the taste.
Option #1 – Stainless Steel or Aluminum Skillet
If you don’t own a paella pan, you can easily make Paella in a stainless steel or aluminum skillet. However, you just need to make sure that the skillet is shallow with a wide base (minimum 13-inch).
An excellent tip when using a skillet to cook Paella is to cook in two skillets rather than one. All you have to do is split the ingredients in half to ensure that they cook evenly.
Option #2 – Wok
There is a common misconception amongst people that a Wok isn’t suitable to cook Paella. However, this is just a myth that holds no truth.
The Paella pan is flat and has a large surface area that makes cooking quick and swift. These features equally apply to a Wok which makes it a good candidate for cooking Paella.
The sloped lips of the Wok allow you to cook food like sausages, chicken, shrimp, and set them aside. Then, you can cook the vegetables and finally prepare the rice in the Wok to make a mouthwatering Paella.
Option #3 – Dutch Ovens
Another great Paella pan substitute is the Dutch oven. With this cookware, you can easily cook even and tender rice that is bursting with flavors.
This is because the heavy base of the Dutch oven makes a perfectly toasted layer of rice.
However, on the flip side, it’s quite difficult to get the best Socarrat using a Dutch oven. A great trick to overcome this problem is to use a cast iron Cocotte.
This cookware will allow you to get the crunchy Paella crust at the bottom.
Option #4 – Hotel Pans
If you need to cook a large quantity of Paella and are searching for an alternative to the Paella pan, you should opt for a hotel pan.
If you are making the Paella in a hotel pan, you will have to cook the rice in a separate pan, the vegetables in a separate pan, and the other ingredients in another separate pan.
Once these three components are individually cooked, you’ll have to mix them together in a single pan.
Ideally, you should do it in a pan that has a flat base, rather than a round one.
Option #5 – Shallow Sauté Pan
A 4 quart or larger shallow sauté pan is an excellent option for making an appetizing dish that is oozing with flavors.
Similarly, a wide-based sauté pan with a depth of 3 inches is also suitable for making Paella.
Plus, it’ll be perfect if your sauté pan comes with a long handle and a helper handle on the other side.
Avoid covering the Paella while it’s cooking. However, you can place the lid after you take the dish out of the oven so that it doesn’t get cold.
Option #6 – Frying Pan
A frying pan is staple cookware in all homes. The good news is that this essential pan makes for a great Paella pan substitute. Just ensure that the frying pan you use has a diameter of at least 10 inches.
The best thing about using a frying pan is that you can make different types of Paella in it, such as seafood Paella or vegetable Paella.
When using a frying pan, you need to be very careful in picking the right ingredients to make the authentic Paella dish.
For instance, you will need high-grade saffron, round rice, extra virgin olive oil, etc.
The technique to cook Paella in a frying pan is slightly different than cooking it in a Paella pan. Firstly, you will have to cook seafood or vegetables and set them aside in a bowl.
Next, you will have to add rice. After around 5 minutes of adding rice, switch the flame to medium heat.
Keep the flame on medium till around 3 – 4 minutes and then increase it again for approximately 5 minutes. This helps in achieving the perfect and crispy Socarrat.
Option #7 – Combination of Rice Cooker and Shallow Pan
If you don’t have a Paella pan or any of the cookware listed above, you can simply use a rice cooker along with a shallow pan to make Paella.
Start off by cooking the rice in the rice cooker. Meanwhile, sauté all the other ingredients in a wide, shallow pan and keep them aside.
Once this is done, add the vegetables and rice to a single bowl and fluff them for a few minutes. Lastly, add in the seafood along with a small quantity of water.
Keep the mixture on medium heat for some time to toast the rice from the bottom.
Recipe to Make Paella Without a Paella Pan
Here is a simple recipe for you to make a delicious Paella without using a Paella Pan.
- 2 yellowfin tuna fillets (cut into cubes and seasoned with salt and pepper)
- 25 green beans chopped into 2-inch pieces
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 medium tomato grated
- 14 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 12 cup cooked lima beans
- 1 tsp smoked paprika powder
- 214 cups water
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 12 tsp saffron threads
- 1 medium lemon
- 1 cup round rice
- Sea salt pinch
- Black pepper pinch
- Heat a 10-inch frying pan on medium flame and add 14 cups extra virgin olive oil. After 2 – 3 minutes, add tuna cubes to the pan and stir them. Once the tuna changes its color to brown, remove it from the pan and set it aside in a bowl.
- Add green beans to the same frying pan and sauté them for 3 minutes. Make a well in the center and add the minced garlic cloves and stir for 2 minutes. Then add in the grated tomato along with the lima beans, smoked paprika powder, and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt. Continue mixing until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Add cold water to the frying pan, then add the saffron threads along with a pinch of salt. Next, add rosemary and gently mix. Once the water comes to a boil, add round rice and lightly stir the mixture so all ingredients get distributed evenly. After this, avoid mixing the rice and just lightly shake it occasionally.
- After exactly 4 minutes of adding the rice to the pan, add in the prepared tuna that was set aside in Step 1. After 3 minutes of adding the tuna, switch the flame to medium heat, and let the mixture simmer for 3 – 4 minutes. By now, there should be very little water left.
- Now to get the socarrat, increase the flame to high heat for 5 minutes. Then, remove the pan from the flame and cover it with a dishcloth. After 5 minutes, remove the dishcloth.
- Voila! Your Paella is now all ready. Dish it out in a serving tray and garnish with lemons.
It’s literally this simple to cook Paella without owning a Paella pan.
Last Few Words
Remember, whenever you use a Paella Pan substitute to make Paella, don’t cover the pan. The dish is supposed to be cooked without a lid to allow the moisture to escape.
This helps to keep the rice tender.
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