I have a slightly concave steel paella pan, but I want it to get a nice even heat from my flat glass top stove. Has anyone had and solved this problem? First thought is to try to use some aluminum foil to take up the space and (hopefully) conduct the heat well to the pan.

Once I have my solution, what is a good and easy way to test it? Thinking of testing with a sprinkling of flour and see that it browns evenly

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    DO NOT USE THE ALUMINUM FOIL! It is not designed to be conductive, and will most likely catch fire. – FuzzyChef Jun 30 at 2:50
  • Perhaps some gas ring reducers – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Jun 30 at 10:13
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    Aluminum foil did not catch fire-- maybe the stove is not hot enough, but also there is no flame (electric stove under glass) – kevins Jun 30 at 10:21

I have one of those pans, and I also have a glass top electric stove, and the answer is that you can't use the pan on the stove. Not only does it not make good contact, an electric stove is incapable of the rapid temperature changes you need for proper paella, particularly the blast of heat at the end to make the proper socarrat (brown crust).

I recommend that you instead get a portable butane stove, like the one I use, and use that for your paella-making.

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    That burner looks great! I suspected that this project would end with me simply buying a burner, thanks for the recommendation – kevins Jun 30 at 9:16
  • You're welcome! And yeah, I really recommend that burner, it's probably the best portable butane burner you can buy. – FuzzyChef Jul 6 at 5:30

I did some experiments testing how badly uneven the heat would be without interventions using flour. Answer: bad.

I ended up raising the pan up using a metal grill, and inserting pieces of aluminum foil to reflect and reduce the heat in the areas with too much browning. It is not perfect--the hotspot was still there, but much more spread out, and the result is that you also lose a lot of the heat of the stove, but it was still enough to sauté and rapidly boil broth.

Here are some photos showing the process.

Before intervention

Grill with aluminum placed to reduce heat to hotspots

After intervention

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  • Nice test. You'd still need to worry about setting the foil on fire if you actually cooked with it that way. – FuzzyChef Jul 6 at 5:32
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    @FuzzyChef I cooked two paellas this way, no burning foil (I even re-used the foil for both times). I think it did not bun because there is no flame, and the element is hidden away by the glass, but who knows. I would not recommend anyone to try this, since it's true that it could be dangerous, but it worked for me at least. – kevins Jul 6 at 16:04
  • So why didn't you create a concave "dish" out of the foil? that seems like it would fit the pan better. – FuzzyChef Jul 12 at 5:50
  • @FuzzyChef That was my first thought. But I quickly realized that the aluminum, rather than conducting the heat, was actually blocking/reflecting the heat. So a matching shaped dish of aluminum would have actually exacerbated the problem, since it would require more aluminum exactly where the pan is farthest from the heat source. So I did ta few iterations of the flour burning experiment and applied the foil tactically where the hotspot was. – kevins Jul 13 at 6:39

There's no way to fully rescue it, but you may gain some performance by placing it on a carpeted floor & standing in it. Some judgement/guesswork/experiment will be required, else you will have to turn it over & repeat.

Put a towel or similar inside it so you don't get it dirty, of course & something on the floor.

It's not a perfect solution because once the pan base has bowed, it's always going to be too big for the rest of the pan surrounding it, but if you're lucky you can get a rough approximation.

Personally, I've been doing this with cheap pans for decades, usually to fix oil pooling badly, but I've never needed 100% accuracy because I'm on gas.

BTW, screwed-up aluminium foil is going to be a lousy heat-exchanger, probably worse than just the air gap.

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  • Actually the Paella pan is brand new--not bent with time. It is designed to be used with a propane burner, which is why the concave nature of it is not normally a problem. – kevins Jun 29 at 16:32
  • That just makes me think you bought the wrong one. Why not exchange it for the right one? – Tetsujin Jun 29 at 16:44
  • It's actually a high quality pan. I can't exchange it, but, as far as I know, it's not "the wrong" pan, it's that paella is not cooked on a stove. I don't think I would get better mileage on my stove with another paella pan. The answer is quite likely that I can't cook anything evenly with this pan on this stove, but I was curious if people had ideas anyway. – kevins Jun 29 at 16:48
  • Well, the 'fix' is to flatten the base - but if it was intentionally manufactured bowed, then you've got little to no hope of beating it flat. I'm not sure why "paella is not cooked on a stove"… I'm pretty sure that's how every housewife is going to cook it at home. If you Google Image 'paella pan' 95% of them are flat-based. – Tetsujin Jun 29 at 16:53
  • Tetsujin: the cheaper enameled steel ones are generally flat, and that's what one would use on an electric store, although frankly I'd suggest using a standard frying pan if that's what you have. The carbon steel ones, like kevins has, are slightly bowed on the bottom; it's not apparent from a picture, but it's pretty clear if you had one in your hands. Those are intended to only ever be used over a wood fire or gas flame. – FuzzyChef Jul 6 at 5:34

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