Given the variety of meals that can be prepared with paella pans compared to regular pans, it can be vulnerable to grease buildup.
Like all pans, paella pans also get dirty, whether they’re non-stick or not. But, it is crucial for every home cook to know how to clean paella pan the right way to preserve its longevity.
With time and consistent use, the surface of a paella pan can become textured, making burns more likely to occur. Paella pans must be cleaned separately from your regular cookware because they have a specific and strict washing routine.
Plus, if paella pans are not cleaned according to the routine after each use, their quality reduces swiftly.
Different Methods to Clean a Paella Pan
In general, pans that are used to make a wide range of dishes, such as a paella pan, need to be cleaned thoroughly after each use. Hot water is best for loosening up grease and grime for deep cleaning pans.
Other than that, there are several different ways to clean a paella pan. Here are a few that work exceptionally –
Method 1 - Overnight Hot Water Soak
If you've just finished making dinner, or have made a large amount of food, then the best way to clean your paella pan is to let it soak in hot water overnight. Here's how to do it -
Step 1- Remove Remaining Food
Scrape off any clumps of food from the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula. You need to make sure nothing is left on the pan that can clog up the sink drain. This also means pouring the excess oil into your garbage can instead of the sink.
Getting rid of most of the grease and grime with your spoon will also save energy trying to scrub it off with a sponge later. So, take your time.
For zero waste, transfer the leftovers into a bowl for later.
Step 2 - Fill the Pan with Hot Water
Boil water in a pot or kettle, and then pour it inside the paella pan. Fill it up just below the brim. You can also dunk the entire pan inside a small tub, but it won't be necessary.
Leave the pan filled with hot water inside your sink overnight or for about 6 hours. This will soften any stubborn food bits and loosen the oils.
Step 3 - Wash
Dump the dirty water carefully into the sink. If the pan has any chunks of food stuck to it, use a steel strainer for this step.
Rinse the pan with tap water a few times, then start scrubbing it with a soft-scrub sponge. Use about a teaspoon amount of dishwashing liquid or cleaner and gradually increase the amount after each rinse if you need to.
Step 4 - Pat Dry
With a clean and dry dish rag, wipe the water off the pan. Ensure the pan is dried thoroughly using the rag to avoid any wet spots. You must dry the pan immediately after washing it and never leave it to air dry as it will become vulnerable to corrosion.
Once the pan is completely dry, use a teaspoon or less of vegetable/olive oil to coat the pan thinly. This helps the pan retain its quality and fight rust.
Method 2 – Steel Scrubber and Lukewarm Water
For cleaning your paella pans after use, this method is the quickest and easiest way to do it. Some of the steps are similar to our previous technique, but this one requires much less time. Here's how to do it -
Step 1 - Remove Excess Food
Scrape the food residue off the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula. Transfer it to a bowl for leftovers or toss it in the garbage. Make sure there are no bits left that can clog up the drain. Pour out any excess oil into the garbage, or dab the surface with a thick paper towel.
Step 2 - Add Water
Put your pan directly under the tap of your sink. Pour about a cup of lukewarm water onto the surface of the pan. Make sure the water isn't scalding hot, as you will have to use your hands in it.
Tip the pan gently at all angles to let the water cover the entire surface of the pan. You can leave the water to cool a little for 2-3 minutes; this will also help loosen up the grime.
Step 3 - Start Scrubbing
Add a small amount (about a teaspoon) of dishwashing liquid onto the surface of the pan. With your steel scrubber, start scrubbing the pan in circular motions. As the steel is abrasive, make sure to not push down too hard on the scrubber or use it too quickly.
Once most of the grease and grime has come off, you can dump the water and repeat this step with regular tap water until the pan is completely clean.
Step 4 - Pat Dry
Gently pat the washed pan with a clean dishtowel. Make sure there are no wet spots, and the pan is thoroughly dried. Please do not leave the pan to air dry; immediately pat dry the pan after washing it.
To prevent corrosion, add a few drops of olive oil or vegetable oil and coat the paella pan with it.
Method 3 – Vinegar and Baking Soda
If there is burnt food stuck on the pan, then a great way to get rid of it without eroding the surface is to use white vinegar and baking soda. This is how it's done -
Step 1 - Clean Off Residue
Dump any leftover food stuck to the pan into the garbage. Pour out all the excess oil as well. Once most of the grime is gone, you can proceed to the next step.
Step 2 - Add Water and Vinegar
Pour about a half-cup each of water and white vinegar into the pan. The ratio of water to white vinegar is 1-1, so pour equal parts of both, considering the size of your pan.
The water helps to dilute the white vinegar and makes it less harsh on the material of your pan.
Step 3 - Boil the Diluted White Vinegar
Bring the pan over to the stove. Set the heat to medium and bring the white vinegar and water mixture to a boil. Once the mixture starts to boil, let it be for about a minute, then turn off the heat.
Transfer the pan to your sink and carefully dump the dirty water into it.
Step 4 - Add Baking Soda
For this step, we recommend putting on a pair of rubber gloves.
Put a tablespoon of baking soda into the pan. With a scouring pad, gently scrub the baking soda onto the pan's surface. The baking soda and the traces of white vinegar will help lift the burn marks and remove all the stains. You might notice a brown residue forming, which means the stains are lifting.
Afterward, rinse out the pan with regular tap water.
Step 5 - Pat Dry
Do not leave the pan out to air dry. Once you've washed it, pat it dry with a clean dishtowel immediately. Then, you can add about a teaspoon of olive oil and coat your pan with it using a paper towel to prevent corrosion.
Paella Pan Maintenance Tips for Long-Lasting Use
Taking care of sensitive cookware such as paella pans is crucial as they are vulnerable to corrosion. However, there are many things you can do to make maintaining the pans much easier. Here are a few tips -
Clean Before and After Use
With carbon steel paella pans, it's highly recommended to wash them thoroughly right out of the box. The pan has a coating from the manufacturer, which must be removed. So, hot soapy water alongside a little cider vinegar will do the trick. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, and then rinse.
All paella pans need to be cleaned right after use to prevent staining. If there's no time to clean, fill it up with warm water and leave it aside for a couple of hours or overnight.
Dry Immediately After Use
Right after you're done washing the pan, it's crucial that you pat it dry with a dish towel or rag. Leaving the wet pan out will make it more vulnerable to corrosion than it already is. Plus, recent studies show that leaving cookware wet will attract more bacteria, so dry them off as soon as you can.
After the pan is all dry, pour a teaspoon of olive oil or vegetable oil onto the surface and coat it using a wadded paper towel. The oil coating will prevent rust from forming.
Don't Leave Empty Pan Over Heat
Carbon steel paella pans are very thin compared to other paella pans substitute. If the pans are left over direct heat for more than a few seconds, they will have burn marks on the bottom. It heats up very quickly, so you cannot leave it unattended for too long.
Dark splotches or burn stains can be removed using a mixture of white vinegar and water, then a tablespoon of baking soda. Check out the third solution in our How to Clean Paella Pan section for more details.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you care for a carbon steel paella pan?
Carbon steel paella pans heat up quickly and can develop burn stains if left unattended. Always wash the pan before and after use thoroughly. Dry the pan right after washing it and coat with a little bit of olive oil on both sides to prevent rust.
Should paella pan be seasoned?
Yes. All carbon steel paella pans require a special type of seasoning before they can be used.
Are paella pans induction safe?
Induction cookers heat up fast, so we suggest using an enamel paella pan rather than the traditional carbon steel one.
Do carbon steel pans rust?
Yes, carbon steel paella pans are vulnerable to rust because of their thin material. To prevent corrosion, never let your pan air dry and wipe it dry immediately after washing. Coat it with a thin layer of olive or vegetable oil to seal it from rust.
How do you get the rust off a steel pan?
Rinse the pan thoroughly with water, then cover it with baking soda. Let the pan sit for a little over an hour. Afterward, use a soft-scrub sponge or scouring pad to scrub off the rust from the pan gently.
Finally, rinse off the pan and dry it with a dishtowel. Thinly coat with olive oil to prevent further corrosion.
Simply put, paella pans are much more sensitive to damage than other cookware, so they require extra care before and after use. It's very important that you clean them separately using a different washing method than your other pots and pans to prevent corrosion.
To understand the instructions fully, skim through our how to clean paella pan section before trying out a method. These pans are a bit difficult to clean, but if you take your time with the steps, they're bound to last way longer.