Paella in a frying pan

Can You Cook Paella In A Frying Pan?

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If you love Paella like so many others, you may have wanted to cook it out yourself. However, not everyone is a master chef in the kitchen, which can leave many people struggling. It is mainly because not everyone is packing a paella pan in their kitchen arsenal. This begs a lot of people to ask, can you cook paella in a frying pan?

In short, yes. Cooking paella in a frying pan is fine, but it should be close to a paella pan. The secret to the perfection of the dish is its cooking vessel. So, the key is to get an alternative with a large and shallow surface. The adjustment of the cooking vessel and ingredients needs to be well. Besides, the overall cooking is in the hands of the chef.

So, is there more you need to know about cooking paella on a frying pan? Yep, there is a whole lot more! There are different schools of thought when it comes to cheffing this Spanish dish up on a frying pan. Keep on reading to find out how you can cook this meal without using a paella pan.

Do You Really Need A Paella Pan To Make Paella?

Well, it is not necessary that one has to be committed to a pan for a dish alone, and a wide cooking vessel will do the job. But, the substitute must have the same quality as a paella pan. Since it is the ultimate dish of a region in Spain, Valencia, and its name means “pan”. That is why it has its own cooking vessel, but it is not mandatory. 

Now, it is only natural to wonder about the point of making a pan specifically to cook paella. The land of the cooking vessel is where all the ingredients are cooked and combined, and overall shape has a role in making the unique taste. The creation and definition of the dish come from the magic of the pan itself. 

The paella pans have a unique surface area – with shallower and wider space than a regular pan. The depth of the surface allows evaporation of the liquid and forms a crisp crust at the bottom surface. It makes the crust as golden as possible, and it is why paella is more than just a dish. 

The combination of ten to twelve ingredients mixing in a shallow pan is like living in Valencia. Paella is a part of the life and culture in Valencia. 

Can You Make Proper Paella In A Frying Pan?

Most of us wonder whether it is a good idea to make paella without its own cooking vessel. Well, any frying pan will do the job of making a good enough paella. But, it may need some adjustments, so the cooking process and ingredients can work the same way as they would in a paella pan.

The taste and flavor of the dish rely on the surface of the cooking vessel. So, it is essential to pick the right one for this cohesive and beautiful meal. 

Any frying pan would be suitable to make the perfect paella as long as it is a ten inches nonstick. A paella pan generally has a bigger surface than a regular frying pan, and the cooking may get overcrowded. And, overcrowding means it can mess up the texture of the rice. That is why I like to go big on the pan to get a better bite of this Spanish meal.

Changing the pan doesn’t call for a change in ingredients, so it is best to stick to the right ingredients to make a paella. When making paella, it is necessary to include the signature round rice for the dish, high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, and saffron. In every Spanish dish, the quality of saffron plays a big role in the overall golden look and taste. 

Moreover, there are other substitutes that will make paella without changing its taste or flavor. Here are some personal favorites I prefer: 

1. Wok

Many assume that wok may not be the best choice to make paella. However, despite popular belief, it is quite the opposite. In fact, the best paella comes from the largest, widest, and flattest surface. So, what better option is there that meets all those criteria than a wok?

Besides, I have found woks work much swifter and faster. As it lets me keep the already cooked food on a side while I focus on another dish. This way, the rice mixes well with all the other food, making it a perfect paella. Here is how to make Spanish paella on a wok.

2. Saute Pan

A saute pan with a deep surface will bring just about the right taste of a paella. However, I would keep my eye on not covering or putting a lid on paella while it is still on the fire. 

The pan must be at least 3 inches wide and deep, keeping a close substitute to the paella pan. We need a larger shallow and wide saute pan, as it gives a great surface for cooking the dish. Additionally, a great advantage is if the saute pan comes with a long handle. 

How To Make Paella In A Frying Pan?

Anyone would think changing the pan will change the whole way of cooking paella, but it doesn’t. I will breakdown every step of cooking in a frying pan, one by one: 

Step 1: Gathering The Ingredients

Get all the right ingredients for your Paella. These ingredients can include – cloves, extra-virgin olive oil, sweet smoked potatoes, round rice, and so on. Anything that needs to be added on paella, gather them. 

Step 2: Preparing The Pan

The frying pan needs to heat up on medium-high heat. After it has been warm enough, you should add one-fourth cup of extra-virgin olive oil. You should let the oil warm up for a solid two minutes. 

Next, add the seafood cubes into the pan and stir them well with the warm oil. After two minutes, put the seafood away after it has a look between brown and golden.

Step 3: Add-ons

Now, it is time to cook the other vegetables and ingredients with the same oil. Keep a 3 minutes gap as you add each ingredient one by one to the frying pan. It helps mix and combine well. 

Hint: The secret to making the perfect paella is that everything has to be well mixed.

Step 4: Rice Time

Then goes in 2 cups of water, round rice, a pinch of saffron, and any other desirable ingredients, and slowly stir them. Now you have to let the whole thing boil and not touch the rice again for the next 6 minutes.

However, as there is no rule to stir or mix when it’s boiling, I prefer to shake the pan once in a while. 

Step 5: The Last Mix

Now, remember the seafood we set aside? Well, you don’t have to keep them waiting because now you can add them to the boiled rice in the frying pan. After the rice has boiled for a solid nine minutes, it is time to lower the heat to a low medium. 

Lastly, I will simmer the whole thing for another three to four minutes, heat it back to medium-high as there is a little water left. After the rice is caramelized, the paella needs to be covered for about five minutes before it is ready to eat.

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