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A paila is a type of cookware that in several Spanish-speaking South American countries refers to a large shallow metal pan or earthenware bowl which oftentimes is also used as a serving plate for the foods prepared in it.

Dishes served in clay pailas are often prepared in the paila itself by way of baking in an oven.

By extension, the word paila is also used for the dishes that are eaten from it, such as paila marina and paila de huevo. An advantage of the clay paila is that clay retains heat well and keeps foods warm.

Ecuador and Colombia[edit]

Preparing helado de paila, in Ibarra, Ecuador.

In addition to being used to prepare the traditional Ecuadorian pork fritada, the large shallow and heavy copper paila which is used in Ecuador is also used throughout the country and in the department of Nariño in Colombia as an "ice pail." This is performed by placing the bowl on ice and adding ingredients such as fruit, which is stirred to form a variety of ice creams and sorbets.

Chile and Peru[edit]

A paila marina in a paila.

In gastronomy, Chilean and Peruvian clay pans are used to cook cornbread and other specialties such as pan or "pan marina."


In Bolivia, especially in the Cochabamba region, paila is used to cook chicharrón (pork cracklings).

Other uses[edit]

The "paila" also refers to a Latin percussion instrument, also called paila criolla, "timbal" or "timbaleta". It is composed of two metal cylindrical drums, with a patch on the upper parts. It is usually accompanied by bells and woodblocks. It is frequently used by salsa bands.

In Chile the word paila refers to something vulgar. It is basically used to poke fun at people with large or very pronounced ears.

In Colombia the word is used to express that something is bad, ugly or undesirable.


Caldillo de congrio served in a paila
Caldillo de congrio served in a paila
Paila marina is a common seafood soup in Chile and other South American countries.
Paila marina is a common seafood soup in Chile and other South American countries.


  • Sendoya Ramirez, Pedro José (1952). "Dictionary of the Great Indian Tolima." Minerva Editorial LTDA. R498.6 R15d 19 ed. (Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango).