Best Woks

Best Woks

best woks

8 Best Woks, According To Kitchen Experts And Reviewers

It’s much more than stir fries. Amazon Getty Images Woks have been around for 2,000-years, dating back to China’s Han Dynasty. The word “wok” means “cooking pot” in Chinese, and the pans are used for a variety of cooking tasks. Although woks can only be used for stir-fries (in the U.S.), any food that has a central heat source and large consistent cooking area is possible with them. Woks can also be used for cooking. A wok can be used for cooking, braising, soup making, deep frying and even steaming. Woks typically have round bottoms with smooth, rounded edges. This allows for fast heating and even distribution over a small flame. They typically have long handles that allow them to be shaken during cooking, sometimes eliminating the need to stir at all. A few modern styles have lids to steam and finish food. Although most woks can be made from carbon steel, some woks come with non-stick, cast iron, aluminum and electric woks. Experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances Lab selected the top woks according to user reviews and the brands we love. We also considered our expertise in cooking tools. To cater for every kind of chef from novice to professional, we selected a variety. We love woks with flat bottoms and simple cleanability that can be used right on your stovetop. Below are our recommendations for the most popular woks.

best woks

We have a few top picks for woks

best woks

How To Pick A Wok Material

The first woks were constructed from cast iron, making them sturdy and durable. However, they are heavy to lift. These woks have been made with carbon steel which is more durable than cast iron and lighter to hold.

Carbon steel is a special type of steel with a higher concentration of carbon then other types of steel. The carbon steel pans are also lighter than the stainless steel ones. All carbon steel woks require seasoning because they can rust quickly. Because they are easy to use, carbon steel woks can heat up fast (some as high as 700°F), are nonstick and light enough that you can pick them up easily with just one hand.

The heating process for stainless steel may take longer than that of carbon steel but it is more efficient and can be heated evenly. Because stainless steel is heat-resistant, it can brown food just like carbon steel. However, this will take longer. It does not come with a nonstick coating so stainless steel will require more oil to cook than the carbon steel. Stainless steel woks tend to be very heavy, so it will be difficult to toss the food in the air to get the wok hei flavor. None of our top-rated stainless steel woks were outperformed.

Nonstick woks are very good for beginners. It is possible to adjust to the wok’s sloping sides. You may also practice using one or two hands to toss the nonstick material. And, best of all, it doesn’t stick! When using nonstick cookingware, there are some restrictions. The wok should never be heated over high heat. It must also not smoke. Nonstick woks were easier to use, took less time for food to brown and had less oil.

Cast iron can be heavy so you will need to use two hands when picking up your cast iron wok. Cast iron woks share the same properties as cast-iron pans but offer a wider surface to heat food. The cast iron wok is easy to use with a spatula/wok turner. But, it doesn’t move as a result of its weight. Cast iron can heat slowly. However, once it’s heated up the cooking process is quick due to its superior heat retention. The cast iron has a natural nonstick coating that is cured by proper seasoning.

One note on handles: Not all woks come with wooden or metal handles. Some of the handles can be either round or angled. We prefer woks with wooden rounded handles to maintain a good grip while holding the wok in one hand, and using the other hand with a spatula to transfer the food onto a plate. The metal handle can become slippery and dangerous when hot food is being transferred onto a plate.

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best woks

Here’s How We Tested

Mammafong preseasoned carbon steel wok amazon is our top pick. It’s beautifully made. You will find a wok that is flat on the bottom, with a diameter of approximately 4 inches (which can be used in any type of stove), and sides that are gently sloping. There’s also a wooden handle to keep it cool. The manual suggests seasoning even though the wok was already preseasoned. You can brown your vegetables and chicken almost instantly in this wok, which has a flat bottom that heats up to 500 F. The wok’s turner was smooth and easy to use during stir-frying or tossing. This prevents us from hitting the bottom of the wok, which can cause damage to the seasoning. The chicken teriyaki marinade didn’t stick. It was delicious! This carbon steel wok was cleaned immediately with hot water and a scrub brush.

Best for Beginners: Calphalon Premier Nonstick Wok Amazon

Calphalon Nonstick Wok is much lighter than the standard carbon steel one. This flat-bottom wok has a handle made of metal. It is similar to a regular wok, but has gentle sloping edges that allow it to curve during stir-frying. As it is nonstick this wok should only be used with non-metal tools. The metal handle on this wok isn’t rounded, so there is a good grip while stir frying or transferring food onto the plate or cleaning. It was easy to handle with one hand. Chicken teriyaki was a chicken dish that had caramelized pieces on it. The sauce covered each chicken piece and stayed in the wok. It is a bit pricey so cook it on medium heat.

Best nonstick wok and budget-friendly: T-Fal Amazon Nonstick Wok

T-fal Nonstick Wok is one of the most lightweight woks we have worked with. This wok has a simple flat bottom with a gentle slope, similar to a traditional wok. The manual says to clean, dry with a towel, and season the wok even though it is nonstick. To season the wok before it is used, heat on medium heat 1 minute. Then, pour a thin layer neutral oil over the top. Heat again on medium heat 1 minutes. It took the wok a few minutes to heat enough to caramelize or brown the chicken. While the stir-fried vegetables came out a bit less crispy than in other woks it was still delicious. To cook the food, this wok may take an additional 5-10 minutes. This wok can be used to cook nonstick food and is very affordable.

Yosukata Carbon Steel Wok Amazon is the best carbon steel (and budget-friendly)

The Yosukata Steel Wok manual contains detailed information regarding wok Hei and wok Chi, as well as the preparation of the wok for cooking. This manual is unique in that it includes the most advanced technique for seasoning carbonized steel woks. Stir-frying chopped aromatics (such as ginger, scallions and potatoes) is a good way to eliminate the metallic taste from dishes you have already cooked. A factory coating protects your wok during transport. This can be removed in just 3 minutes with some elbow grease. In terms of cooking time, the wok heats up at 750 F within 4-5 minutes. Because the wok is very hot, both the chicken and the vegetables cook quickly. The vegetables become crisp tender because of the heat. Once the teriyaki had been added to the wok it was completely dry and could not stick to the pan. It then glazed the chickens and vegetables. Vegetables and chicken are far more reminiscent of wok-hei chicken teriyaki, which is prepared in nonstick skillets. The wok cleaned easily; there was no stickiness from the seasoning. We just needed some hot water to clean the pan.

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best woks

Joyce Chen Classic Carbon Steel Wok is The Overall Best Wok

Joyce Chen is known for making high-quality kitchen tools. The brand’s scissors have a loyal following. It should not be surprising that the wok surpassed all others to claim the title. A flat bottom with a diameter of 14 inches makes it the ideal size for your home’s kitchen. This 1.5-millimeter-thick, carbon steel makes it sturdy, but also easy to handle, cook with and clean up is a breeze. It’s easy to imagine me reaching for it several times a day.

This wok can be used by anyone who loves woks. The ideal nonstick skillet for you if you are looking for an easy-to-use, large and round pan that is safe and clean. If you don’t, this might be the wrong product. You can still get great results with the Joyce Chen Wok if your are prepared to care for the wok and take time seasoning it. The wok was perfect for stirring-frying. It also has the ideal shape for flipping food. The included steel lid was domed and has a wooden knob to keep it cool. This wok is great for steaming. Due to its high walls, which protect you as well as the stove from oil splatters from the pan, this makes a great deep fryer.

The Joyce Chen classic needs to be prepared before being used. This is a standard procedure for all woks. To prepare the wok for use, boil a small amount of water. After it has cooled, wash it in warm soapy water. Next, rub it down with some oil. Heat it on medium heat for 10 minutes. Finally, wipe any oil off the pan and remove any dark spots. Then you repeat the oil-heat-wipe procedure a few more times, to ensure your cooking surface is prepped for use. This is one of the simpler and easiest seasoning methods I used. It also gave me a great protective coating that made the woks easy to clean and cook. The wok has been praised by reviewers for its ability to produce a nice patina and last years with good maintenance.

best woks

What to Look for in a Wok

Wilson Tang (Chef and Epi Contributor) lists a wok among his essential equipment. He notes that a wok makes it easy to prepare dim sum. American gas stoves and induction cooktops tend to be flat-topped, so he recommends a flat-bottomed wok. If you do opt for a traditionally-shaped wok, you’ll need a wok ring to keep it upright on a flat stove; this is an inexpensive round piece of metal that holds your round-bottomed wok in place and keeps it from tilting and sliding on a level surface. Do some measuring before you buy a wok ring to ensure it will fit both your wok and your stovetop.

Hsiao–Ching Chou concurs about which material is best: “Your wok should consist of carbon steel. It’s lightweight and heats rapidly, developing a beautiful patina over the years,” she states. They do make nonstick woks but I wouldn’t recommend buying one. You stir-fry with high heat, very active stirring, and high temperatures. This can cause the nonstick surface to become brittle. A higher-quality wok doesn’t necessarily mean a more expensive one. An excellent wok can be purchased for less than $50. Tang warns that traditional flat spatulas will be difficult to fit due to the wok’s curves. It is easy to deep fry in a wok by using the harmonious curves of a wok chuan, or wok spantula.

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best woks

The Tests We Did

Each model I tried had its own specific seasoning instructions. Each model came with its own instructions, which I followed for my initial seasoning. The steps needed to get your wok ready for the next step of cooking. Each wok’s seasoning process was different. Some took hours to prepare, some required just a few minutes of oil and were best done over low heat. The seasoning steps for each model were recorded and noted when the final seasoning was completed.

Stir-frying, the most common cooking method for woks is stir-frying. It is also the best way to check the initial seasoned surface of the models. So it was my first attempt at all three. Each pan was used to make a simple but delicious pork-and-carrot stir fry with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and other condiments. If the wok was flat-bottomed, I cooked with it directly on my gas stove; if it was round-bottomed and came with a wok ring, I used the one included; for round-bottomed woks that didn’t come with a ring, I used a basic model. The ease with which I stirred and tossed the ingredients in the pan, the amount of food sticking to the walls, the quality of the ground meat being browned, and the way each pan handled it were all important factors.

I then filled each wok with 2″ of oil, and started making vegetable tempura. In each pan, drop batter-coated mushroom and carrots. As each wok was different in shape and required different amounts of oil, so I took note how long the oil needed to reach the desired height. I also noted how the construction of each wok aided or hindered the deep frying process: Did tall walls catch splatters? Do wide-mouthed woks make it easier for floating veggies to be turned? What about removing the crispy, sunken bits that have gotten charred? It was so easy to take the oil and transfer it into a disposable container.

*The one caveat is that the two woks I used to test them were not made for deep frying. I only stir-fried and steamed in these woks, and skipped the deep fry portion all together.

Cooking one batch of dumplings with a bamboo steamer was the final test. If my wok included a lid I used it. I also used a small pan lid or standard wok lid depending on what size the wok is. How quickly each model of wok came to simmer, how they fit together, as well how evenly each batch steamed.

After each test, the woks were cleaned. There were cleaning instructions and recommendations for re-seasoning that came with most woks. These differed from one model to the next. Many required gentle hand washing and towel drying. Then, oil was used to quickly season the woks.

Which Wok is the Best to Buy?

Carbon Steel woks is the best option. Chinese restaurants prefer them, and we prefer using them at home as well. Carbon steel is the best choice, no matter if it’s a small or large “powwok” with one handle or two handles. August 13, 2018.

What Type Of Wok Does a Professional Use?

The best wok for professionals Chef Amelia Kang of MaLa Project recommends the Pow Wok, made from conductive carbon steel. “It’s suitable for quick, high-temperature stir-fried dishes,” she says.Jul 22, 2021

Are Nonstick Woks Better?

Over the years, non-stick coatings were developed to resist higher temperatures for stir-frying. Even though they can’t brown food at the same temperature as carbon, they still do the job well and are easier to clean. May 5, 2021

Is A Round Or Flat-Bottom Wok Better?

Are you looking for a round or flat bottomed wok? A flat-bottom wok is the best choice if you’re using a Western electric cooker. Round bottom woks can reflect heat back on the element, damaging it. Flat-bottomed woks can be used with gas stoves. August 12, 2019.

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