Best Wok to Cook With
Want to master the art of stir-frying? If so, you’ll need a wok. Learn what makes the best woks stand out from the rest and see our picks for the new best wok available for sale.
What You Should Look for in a Wok
There are so many different kinds of wok out there. Non-stick woks, stainless steel woks, carbon-steel woks, cast iron wors, and even electric woks are commonly used in wok cooking. However, as you can tell from our reviews, not all woks are the same and don’t produce food the same. Some are just better than others and while there are dozens, if not hundreds, of options out there, only a few hit all the right points. Here are the features we considered when selecting the best cooking woks on the market:
All woks should be round with steep sides and traditional woks also have a rounded bottom. However, this rounded bottom isn’t ideal for most modern stoves, particularly those with a flat ceramic cooktop. A simple wok ring can solve this problem, but if you don’t want to purchase additional equipment or simply want a wok that woks with your stove the way you have it set up now, you can choose a flat-bottom wok.
In theory, flat-bottom woks don’t offer the exact same stir-frying facility as a round-bottom wok, but if you choose a model with the right design, this shouldn’t be a concern.
Stainless steel isn’t a great material for a wok—it isn’t naturally non-stick and that can cause some serious problems (and require the use of a lot of oil) for effective wok cooking. Plus, stainless steel tends to be quite heavy, which makes it less than ideal for the active tossing cooking style associated with this type of cooking tool.
This means that cast iron and carbon steel are the two best materials for a wok. Cast iron is the classic choice for a traditional wok and carbon steel is a modern material that you should consider if you want the lightest, sturdiest wok you can find. Though cast iron is a reliable cooking material with excellent non-stick properties, it’s sturdiest when it’s thick and thickness leads to heaviness, which is, again, not what you should get from a wok. Still, it’s worth considering so we’ll discuss a cast iron option below for you to try out.
Tossing and jiggling are vital for keeping food moving in the wok so it doesn’t burn. This is the heart and soul of stir frying—you have to be able to hold onto the wok and move it around as you cook. This means your wok should have a long, heatproof handle made of a material such as wood or cool-touch plastic. Ideally, the wok will have another, short handle, also made of a heatproof material, opposite from the long handle so you can easily lift and carry it.
Best Wok Reviews
Joyce Chen 22-0060
Made from uncoated carbon steel, this flat-bottom wok hits all the points we outlined above, featuring heatproof plastic handles, including a large stirring handle, plus a lightweight construction and high, sloping sides that will make it easy to dance your ingredients around in the pan. The 14-inch size is just right for active stir-frying and the pan slopes gently to its flat bottom so you get as much of that valuable curved side surface area as possible as you cook.
When purchased brand new, this Joyce Chen Pro Chef carbon steel wok arrives with a protective coating you must remove, after which you’ll season the pan using heat and oil. This seasoning forms a natural non-stick coating from polymerized fats. Though you should be careful to avoid removing this non-stick seasoning, the myth that you can’t clean seasoned metal isn’t accurate. Avoid heavy abrasives and don’t stick it in the dishwasher. Other than that, you’ll be able to wash with dish soap and water as normal, making upkeep simple and easy.
This cast iron wok breaks one of the rules we outlined above—it doesn’t have a long handle for stirring and its two side handles are made from the same heat-conductive cast iron as the rest of the pan. However, Lodge, one of the most trusted names in cast iron cookware, clearly had their heads on straight when they designed this wok. It’s not intended for lifting and stirring—it’s too heavy for that. This means that the handle would be moot even if it was there, so if you tend to prefer to move your arms and your body as you stir-fry rather than moving the pan, this one’s a good choice for you.
The Lodge P14W3 cast iron wok has a flat bottom, but that flat bottom is more like a built-in pedestal for a round-bottom wok. This means you can set the pan flat on your stove without wobbling, but the actual bottom of the wok itself is perfectly rounded. This is smart design and, though the bottom foot is pretty small, it might take a while for this wok to become perfectly heated, meaning it’s a good solution to a common issue and a great compromise for those who insist on cast iron cookware.
Additionally, this one’s pre-seasoned, which is ultra convenient for those who don’t want to worry about adding their own nonstick coating. Just make sure you have two pot holders on hand to grab the handles on either side of the wok so you don’t burn yourself.
Joyce Chen 23-001
Described as a lightweight cast iron option, this Joyce Chen wok also features a flat bottom with generously curved sides. This wok is a fantastic choice for anyone who wants to balance classic wok design with the demands of a modern kitchen. Pre-seasoned and ready for action after a quick wash, this wok isn’t as good as either of the options listed above.
However, if you want a combination of the two, this is the wok for you. Some customers have complained that the pre-seasoning flakes off so you may need to be careful with how you wash the pan. Treat it like you would a self-seasoned cast iron pan by avoiding heavy abrasive cleaners (no steel wool allowed) and be sure to add a light coating of vegetable oil after each use so you can maintain and build upon the existing seasoning.