Once you learn how to season a paella pan, you’ll be ready to craft restaurant quality paella at home
A traditional paella pan is crafted of high quality carbon steel. Carbon steel paella pans are the go-to choice of the world’s best paella chefs because of their unique combination of heat conductivity, heat responsiveness, heat tolerance, and stick resistance.
Cast iron isn’t used to make paella pans because of its heaviness and lack of heat responsiveness (which can lead to overcooking). Stainless steel is common in cheaper paella pans, but its lack of stick resistance and lessened heat conductivity make it hard to achieve tender, chewy rice and crunchy, savory socarrat (the caramelized layer of rice at the bottom of the pan).
For perfect rice and socarrat every time, carbon steel is key.
Just like with cast iron pans or any other carbon steel pans, a carbon steel paella pan needs to be seasoned before it can be used. Here are 8 easy steps that will result in a perfectly seasoned carbon steel paella pan.
How to season a paella pan
1. Thoroughly wash your paella pan with hot, soapy water.
A new Made In Paella Pan has a thin film of oil on it that was applied to prevent rusting from occurring during transit. It is food safe, but be sure to wash as much off as you can to ensure a blank slate for your seasoning.
2. Line a sheet pan with foil, place it on the bottom rack of your oven, and then preheat your oven to 400-450 F.
The specific temperature depends on the smoke point of the high-smoke-point oil or wax with which you’re seasoning (most fall in the 400-450 F range). Make sure your oven temperature is at or slightly above this smoke point.
3. When your oven has finished preheating, place your dry and empty paella pan over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes.
This will ensure it’s completely dry and open up the microscopic pores of your paella pan’s carbon steel.
4. Remove your paella pan from the heat and then carefully use a paper towel to coat the entire inside of your paella pan with a very thin & smooth layer of your oil or wax.
Less is more — using too much oil or wax here can lead to a failed seasoning. You want just enough where your entire surface is shiny and coated; there should be no visible oil or wax streaks/droplets.
5. Very carefully place your paella pan upside down on the center rack directly above your lined sheet pan. Leave it in the oven for one hour.
Don’t be alarmed if you see a little smoke — this is just part of the oil polymerization (seasoning) process.
6. After the hour is up, turn off the oven and leave your paella pan inside until it has completely cooled.
You’re done! At this point, you can either repeat the seasoning process to build up your seasoning or get cooking.
You can expect your paella pan to look a number of different ways after it’s been seasoned. Every carbon steel pan responds to seasoning differently, which makes every one unique!
Now that your pan has been seasoned, it’s ready for use! As it ages, it will only get more stick resistant, easy to clean, and reliable.