Spanish Cooking Pots & Cookware

Essential Utensils and Cookware for Spanish Cooking

I live in Spain, and I’ve enthusiastically embraced the Mediterranean Diet and the principles of Spanish cookery. The Mediterranean Diet is known to be one of the healthiest eating plans around, and Spanish cookery relies on a few good quality ingredients, often cooked in one pot, which makes for simple cooking and not too much washing up.

Of course, you don’t have to live in Spain to cook Spanish, but wherever you are in the world, there are a few essential kitchen items which will make your Spanish cooking adventures simpler and give an authentic look to the finished dishes. Here’s my list of essential utensils and cookware for the Spanish kitchen.

Paella Pan

No Spanish kitchen is complete without a paella pan, which the Spanish call ‘paella,’ the same name as the main dish that is cooked in it. Paella pans can be made in polished steel, aluminiun non stick, copper and enamelled steel, but the one most widely used in Spain is the polished carbon steel pan. These are characterised by their red handles, which are coated with heat resistant paint. This means the pan can be used on the hob, burner or oven, making it the most versatile of the many paella pans available.

I have 3 paella pans – a small one which is mainly used for making tortillas (Spanish omelettes), a medium sized one one which holds a paella for 4 people, and a large, party-sized paella pan. The large one is also handy if I have several visitors, and want to poach or fry a large number of eggs at once.


If you’ve ever been to a Spanish market, you’ll see lots of brown glazed terracotta dishes, from small, 4″ diameter ones, up to 12″ diameter. They also come in rectangular shapes, and they are cazuelas. Most Spanish kitchens will have a whole shelf of cazuelas in different shapes and sizes, because they are so versatile as to be almost indispensible.

Cazuelas are made from an ancient process which means the are stronger and thicker than most other types of pottery.

They are safe for use in the oven, on the hob and in the microwave, and you can pop them in the dishwasher after use. Cazuelas are good looking enough to use for table service, and because of their density, they will keep food hot for several minutes after removal from the heat source. Use for cooking and serving tapas, roast vegetables, baked fish, empanadas (Savoury pies) – almost anything can be cooked and served in a cazuela.


A plancha is a cast iron hotplate, ridged one side and smooth on the other, for cooking meat or fish. The plancha is usually round, with handles at the side, so it can be taken straight from stove to table if you wish. Spanish ladies prefer to cook steaks and fish on a plancha because it seals the food very quickly, keeping the food moist and succulent. To test if your plancha is hot enough to cook on, drip some water on it. If the water droplets dance over the surface, the plancha is ready for action.


Pucheros are deep terracotta casserole dishes, made in the same way as cazuelas. Many Spanish recipes are based on peasant food, so stews and casseroles feature prominently in the Spanish diet. Pucheros are preferable to regular casserole dishes, as they prevent the liquid from evaporating during cooking. Many Spanish recipes feature chickpeas or beans, and if there is not enough moisture, they don’t swell to their full size.

Olive dishes

No tapas meal is complete without a dish of olives, and for the best presentation, an olive dish is a must. These are round, deep sided terracotta plates, with two integrated wells – a narrow one to hold cocktail sticks to spear the olives, and a wider one to hold olive stones.


Grater bowl

Many Spanish recipes call for grated tomato, and the easiest way to do this is to use a grater with an integrated bowl. Choose a grater bowl with a rasp (fine grater) to make it easier to make aioli (garlic Mayonnaise). Place the mayonnaise in the bowl and grate the garlic straight into it.

Garlic rasp

This is a fine grater on a handle, rather like a potato peeler, with a cover to catch the food, or you can buy small terracotta bowls with integrated ceramic rasps. Use for citrus zest, garlic, nutmeg and cinnamon – all of which figure prominently in Spanish recipes.

Olive oil jug or bottle

Olive oil goes into most Spanish food and, as if that wasn’t enough, the Spanish love to drizzle extra oil on bread, fish and salads. Jugs and bottles are available with specially shaped pouring lips so you don’t drown the food in oil.

Sangria jug

Spain means sangria, and it’s worth investing in a proper jug to serve your sangria in the Spanish way. The pouring lip is shaped so that the fruit and ice remains in the jug to keep it cool on the table. Sangria jugs come in various sizes, but it’s worth buying a big one, so you don’t have to keep making more. The longer the fruit sits in the sangria, the better the flavour.

Electric juicer

This is an optional extra, but as citrus juices figure in a lot of Spanish recipes, it’s a real time saver. I wouldn’t be without my juicer, as we enjoy freshly squeezed local orange juice every morning. What a great way to start the day!

With these basics, you’re ready to cook all things Spanish. Buen Provecho!


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