If you’ve never used a wok, then you’ve probably missed out on cooking some delicious meals. A wok is large, bowl-like pan that concentrates heat and cooks food quickly at a high temperature with relatively little oil. You can use a wok to stir-fry, boil, stew and boil food, and if you add a rack and a cover, you can use it as a steamer, too.
Woks may all look the same but in reality, they are not. For example, the material used to make them, how they are made, if they have one long handle or two short ones, if there is a round or a flat bottom – all of these factors contribute to the different woks available.
If you are considering using a wok for the first time or are looking to replace the one you have, finding the one that’s best for you can be confusing. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the best woks you can buy online. And if you’re still not sure, scroll down to the bottom of the article to find out what to look for before purchasing a wok.
1. Top Pick: Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok
Traditionalists tend to be resistant to change and prefer to follow the actions and routines of the past. For some that involves searching out quality merchandise manufactured with care, like a wok that is fashioned after those forged thousands of years ago in China.
The Pow Wok is a heavy 14-inch, round-bottom wok made from 15-gauge hand-hammered carbon steel, similar to those original woks of long ago. It has a long wooden handle that makes moving the pan over the heat easy and safe. There is also a helper handle on the other side that can be used to carry the pan to the table or to hang the clean wok on a hook on the wall.
A hand-hammered wok creates the perfect environment for stir-frying, since the slight indentations left by the hammering pattern allow you to push cooked food to the sides of the pan as you add ingredients to the center without the food on the sides slipping down.
While many people prefer a round-bottom wok, these are not suitable for a flat electric or flat induction surface and should only be used on a gas stovetop, wok burner or open fire. The wok also needs to be properly seasoned to avoid rust.
- Made of hand-hammered 15-gauge carbon steel
- Long wooden handle
- Helper handle
- Takes some time to learn how to season and maintain wok
- Flat bottom not suitable for induction or flat electronic stovetops
2. Runner Up: Bielmeier Wok Pan 12.5″ Wok with Lid
This 12.5-inch wok from Bielmeier is smaller than our number one pick, but it has a few interesting extras that make it a good option.
Perhaps the first major difference is that the carbon steel of this wok has undergone nitriding, a process that contributes a non-stick quality to the surface. And while that is helpful to keep food from sticking, the reality is that pan is still made from a metal that is prone to rust, so it must still be seasoned after it is washed and dried to keep that rust away and to improve the non-stick properties of the pan.
The next thing to notice about this wok is its flat bottom. This makes it compatible with all stovetop surfaces including electric, ceramic, halogen, induction and gas. The wok comes with a wooden lid, a spatula and a loofa pot brush and here’s another really cool feature: you can remove the handle and pop the wok into the oven, as it is safe to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
This wok also makes an ideal gift for the home chef in your life.
- Nitriding craftsmanship to avoid rusting
- Made of carbon steel
- Comes with a lid and spatula
- Removable handle
- Needs to be seasoned regularly
- No helper handle
3. Best Budget Pick Flat-Bottom: Kenmore Hammond Flat Bottom Carbon Steel Wok
Not everyone has a lot of money to try new things out in the kitchen. We get that and have included this flat-bottom wok that is affordably priced and a good option for anyone on a budget who wants to delight in Asian cooking from a trusted brand in cookware.
This 14-inch flat bottom wok from Kenmore is convenient because it works on any heat surface including gas, electric, ceramic and induction stoves. It is made from heavy gauge 1.8-mm thick carbon steel that retains and evenly distributes heat for great cooking results whether you choose to stir-fry, steam, deep-fry, or even just quickly heat up last night’s dinner.
The wok also has a heat-resistant long, double riveted acacia wood handle and a helper handle on the other side. And while this affordable wok does not come with a lid or other accessories, it is a great starter wok for anyone eager to try their hand at this form of cooking.
- Made from heavy gauge carbon steel
- Long handle and helper handle
- Flat bottom
- Hand washing recommended
- Needs to be seasoned regularly
4. Best for Beginners: Joyce Chen Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok Set
If using a wok that comes with a lot of accessories seems inviting but a bit intimidating, too, then it’s best to begin your woking journey with a classic set of the basics.
This four-piece set from Joyce Chen comes with a recipe book, so it is an especially good choice for you or as a gift for a friend if you have no idea what or how to cook in a wok. It also includes a 14-inch wok made from thick 1.5mm gauge carbon steel for fast, even heating and of course, like other woks made from carbon steel, it must be seasoned after each use to avoid rust.
The wok has two handles – a long one and a helper handle on the opposite side, each of which are made from stay cool birch wood. You also get a no-stick steel dome lid with a wood knob that is perfect for steaming and retaining heat, moisture and nutrients. Finally, the set is completed with a 12-inch bamboo spatula.
- Ideal set for a beginner
- Made of heave gauge carbon steel
- Comes with a domed lid, bamboo spatula and recipe booklet
- Comes gift-boxed
- Only suitable for gas or electric cooktops
- Hand wash only
5. Best Stainless Steel: Cooks Standard Stainless Steel Multi-Ply Clad Wok
The first few picks on our list are made from carbon steel, which is a popular choice for anyone who loves cooking with a wok. However, there are many advantages to using a wok made from stainless steel, especially when it’s carefully crafted in a way to enhance even heat distribution.
This 13-inch wok from Cooks Standard is made from multi-ply clad 18/10 stainless steel. What is multi-ply clad stainless steel and how does it make a difference? Multi-ply refers to the three-layers of metal in this wok– an exterior and interior layer of stainless steel and an alloy aluminum core along the bottom and the sides that contributes to its fast, even heating and efficient heat distribution.
Plus, you get all the other conveniences of cooking with stainless steel including no rusting, no seasoning after each use, a brushed exterior that resists scratching plus the versatility of using it on any stovetop.
The wok has two solid stainless steel riveted handles and a stainless steel dome lid. It is also dishwasher safe and oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Made of two layers of 18/10 stainless steel and an aluminum core
- No need to season after each use
- Suitable for all cooktops
- Oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
- Dishwasher safe
- More expensive than other models
6. Best Gift Set: Leidawn 12.8″Carbon Steel Wok
If you are just starting out and setting up your kitchen or you are looking for a great gift for a wedding, anniversary or housewarming, you may want to consider this wok set that comes with a number of accessories to help you or a friend ease into the world of woking.
It all starts with a 12.8-inch flat-bottom wok made of black carbon steel that has a nice nitride honeycomb design on the interior to prevent food from sticking to the surface. It comes with a flat wooden lid for those times you want to steam your food, one long wooden handle, and eight essential accessories: a slotted turner, a ladle, a spatula, a skimmer, a solid spoon, a slotted spoon, an egg whisk and a pasta server.
With everything included, you can use this carbon steel wok set to stir-fry, sear meat and pan-fry, braise, boil, steam, deep-fry – pretty much anything your chef’s heart desires.
- Carbon steel nitride 12.8-inch wok
- Comes with eight accessories
- Has a wooden lid
- Makes a great gift
- No helper handle
- Some people may already have some of the accessories
- Hand wash and season after each use
7. Best Electric: Aroma Housewares AEW-306 Electric Wok
Yes, there is such a thing as an electric wok and for some people, it’s a great option over a traditional carbon steel wok used on a stovetop. It is especially useful for anyone who doesn’t even have a stovetop like college students living in a dorm or for anyone traveling in an RV that only has a one-burner cooktop.
An electric wok can be so convenient and this one has everything you need to cook authentic Asian dishes. The large five-quart capacity wok from Aroma Housewares is made from durable and heavy-duty cast aluminum to handle the high temperatures, heats up rapidly and maintains the kind of heat needed for stir-frying. The interior surface is also protected with a non-stick coating so you can use less oil.
This wok also comes with a high-domed tempered glass lid with an air vent, which makes it easy to monitor the progression of the food, a steaming rack, a tempura rack and extra-long chopsticks to use when deep-frying. It has a cool-touch base and two grip handles on each side and when it comes to cleanup, the wok detaches from the base to be washed by hand or put into the dishwasher.
- Large capacity wok
- Electric model doesn’t need a stovetop, just an outlet
- Made from heavy-duty cast aluminum
- Includes dome lid, steaming and tempura racks, chopsticks
- Non-stick coating
- No temperature marking on the heat control dial
- No indicator light to know when the wok has reached desired heat
8. Also Consider: KRX Carbon Steel Wok Pan
The final item on our list is a carbon steel wok that comes with some interesting accessories that may appeal to the home cook who not only loves to stir-fry, but also takes pleasure in the art of making steamed dumplings.
The versatile 12.8-inch flat-bottom wok is similar to others in that it is compatible with all cooktops including electric stoves, induction cookers and gas stoves, and can be used for a variety of cooking methods from stir-frying and searing to braising. However, what sets this one apart is the large steaming rack.
Some woks come with small steaming racks that hook to the side of the wok. In this case, the large steamer fits into the top of the wok and is perfect for steaming tender dumplings or larger quantities of vegetables or even fish. The clear glass lid makes it easy to monitor the cooking process whether you are steaming or frying.
The set also includes a spatula and an anti-scalding clip.
- Hand-hammered carbon steel wok
- Flat bottom suitable for all cooking surfaces
- Includes a large steamer, lid, spatula and anti-scald clip
- No helper handle
- Needs to be seasoned
What to look for when purchasing a wok:
A wok is a great way to experience Asian cooking, and it also a versatile pan that can be used for many cooking styles including searing, braising, deep frying and steaming. And while it might sound like an easy task, actually finding the right wok for you takes a bit of research. Woks do seem to look and perform the same, but to a seasoned chef, there are differences that affect one’s cooking and cleaning style. Below we examine some of the factors to consider before buying a wok so that you will be happy with your purchase.
Material: As noted in the description of our listed products, there are only a couple of materials that are used to make a wok, but which one you choose will make a difference in how you use and care for it.
Carbon Steel: This is the most popular material used to make a wok, and one that was used when woks were first invented in China thousands of years ago. It is used by professional chefs because it heats up quickly and distributes that heat evenly, qualities that are essential for successful stir frying, which uses a small amount of oil heated to high temperatures.
Within the category of carbon steel is also the construction of the wok itself. Hand-hammered and nitriding are two examples. Hand-hammering creates small indentations on the surface of the interior that contribute to foods holding onto the sides of the wok while the chef cooks other foods in the centre. Nitriding carbon steel gives the interior of the wok a honeycomb effect that gives it more of a non-stick surface.
But the universal downside of carbon steel that some home chefs don’t like is the time it takes to maintain the wok to keep it non-stick and free of rust. The pan has to go through a few steps to pre-season it and then after each use, it has to be hand washed, dried by hand, and then seasoned again, each and every time. Many people don’t have the time or patience for this but if they don’t follow the maintenance, the wok will end up rusting and lose any non-stick properties.
Stainless Steel: This is another option that people like, mainly because it is so easy to use. A stainless steel wok is easy to maintain and clean, goes into the dishwasher and doesn’t need to be seasoned. However, make sure the wok is constructed from quality stainless steel, preferably with an aluminum core for even heating.
Handle: Many woks only have one long handle, which is all you really need. It’s important to make sure the handle is heat resistant; ones in wood are a good choice. In some cases, a wok will have a smaller, grip-style handle on the other side. While it is not essential, this handle can be useful when carrying a wok heavy with food. It also can be used to hang the clean wok on a hook for easy storage.
Lid: Some woks come with a lid. While not essential, it is a good accessory to have if you want to steam food in the wok. There are flat lids, domed lids, wood lids and tempered glass lids, and which one you use will depend on your style of cooling. A tempered glass lid does have the advantage of you being able to monitor the progress of your cooking without lifting it and letting steam escape.
Steamer: Having a steamer for your wok is only necessary if you intend to steam food. There are different kinds – smaller ones that hook onto the side of the wok and larger ones that fit right inside – and which you choose will depend on what you intend to steam. If you do use a steamer, make sure your wok has a lid.
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