Looking to buy a cast iron wok? You’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll discuss the history of the wok, its uses, types of woks, and our recommendations. Follow our advice, and you will be cooking like a professional in no time!
The Best Cast Iron Wok on the Market
We recommend the Klee Pre-Seasoned 14″ Wok.
Top Reasons This Wok Wins:
- It is Durable.
- It is Versatile.
- And it is Affordable.
It is also one of the only cast iron woks that comes with a 100% money-back guarantee, making it perfect for anyone who is new to cast iron or wok cooking.
Honorary Mention #1
The Lodge 14″ Cast Iron Pro-Logic Wok deserves a shout-out for also being a reliable, high-quality cast iron wok. It is by far the most popular cast iron wok available, and therefore no discussion of the subject is complete without it.
The only downside is that it does not come with a lid and other accessories have to be purchased separately.
Honorary Mention #2
For the best value, turn to the Cast Iron Jim Beam 12″ Grilling Wok. While it is a little smaller than the Lodge or the Klee, it is also significantly cheaper and still well-reviewed.
The History of Woks
The wok is a versatile cooking vessel that has been used by the people of China and other parts of South East Asia for thousands of years.
Its distinguishing features are its rounded bottom and high sides; the wok was traditionally used in a small fire pit that had coals on all sides.
Woks are prized because they can be used with almost every type of cooking method, including:
- And Steaming.
Of course, they are also famously used to make stir fry.
As more people have become interested in home cooking and international cuisine, woks have developed a niche following in many Western countries.
Busy people like being able to make “one pot meals” in their wok, which reduces clean up time. They also like that most woks are also typically large enough to make enough food for dinner as well as lunch the following day, which helps to reduce the amount of time spent cooking.
Side Note: Western woks, unlike traditional ones, tend to have a slightly flattened bottom making them more stable on a common range or induction stovetop.
What Can You Cook with Woks?
No, seriously, you can make pretty much anything in a wok.
Many people think that woks are only used for stir fry, so they think they don’t need one. After all, you don’t invest in a nice piece of cookware for a meal you make only occasionally.
Contrary to this assumption, however, the wok is popular precisely because you can use it for pretty much everything, including popular Western and international dishes.
For breakfast, you can make yourself some scrambled eggs with fried vegetables.
For lunch, you can easily roast some salmon fillets and asparagus.
For dinner, you can prep some homemade chili and only use one pan while you’re at it!
Of course, you can also use your wok as an excuse to try new recipes you are less familiar with making. For example, you can learn to replicate the vegetable Pad Thai you love to get from the restaurant down the street. It can be fun and help you to save money if you make Asian and Asian-inspired dishes in your own home instead of getting take out several times each week.
Woks can be used to roast and toast, boil and broil, stew and brew, and everything in between; they were traditionally meant to be an all-in-one cookware, and that is how they are still used.
Cast iron woks are especially versatile since they can also be put in the oven or used to cook over an outdoor fire making them great for camping.
So, whether you are an educated foodie, a busy parent, or both you will be sure to love all that you can make with your wok. It is also worth noting that you can also make foods to fit any diet; whether you’re a vegan, a carnivore, or a regular old omnivore, woks are perfect for making both the foods you eat every day and dishes for special occasions.
What Kind of Woks do Restaurants Use?
If you are going to use a wok, you probably want to make sure you are using something authentic. Many people start their search for a new wok by considering what type of wok a typical restaurant uses, especially if they love the taste of Chinese food and hope to make some copy-cat dishes.
When we think of a restaurant-grade stove top, we tend to think of a gigantic hot surface the size of a kitchen table. In our mental image, the chef is probably warming up some hamburgers on one side and frying eggs on the other side.
When those orders are done, he will scrape the grease into a catch tray at the front of the range, add oil to the top, and start again with the next few orders.
Needless to say, this system differs from the 2-4 electric or gas ranges most of us have in our personal kitchen.
When it comes to woks, however, restaurants use cooking ware that is similar to what you would use in your personal kitchen. Most American Chinese and American Southeast Asian restaurants do not have a traditional outdoor pit for cooking, instead using their woks on a range stovetop just like you would.
Depending on the typical volume of orders, restaurants will use several woks of several different sizes all at once. Most woks designed for home kitchens are 14 inches or smaller in diameter, while restaurant grade woks are available from 14-30 inches in diameter.
Note that although a 30″ wok might sound great, and you can get one from a restaurant supply store, your typical kitchen range is unlikely to have enough power to properly heat the whole pot. A 14″ wok will be plenty large enough for most families.
The Klee Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 14″ Wok
If you have been thinking of investing in a high-quality wok, look no further than the:
Klee Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 14″ Wok.
It receives our number one recommendation because of its great material quality, durability, and user-experience.
It is designed to last for life and be convenient for making pretty much any meal.
The best thing about the Klee Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron is:
Money-Back Guarantee On Every New Wok!
If you do not love it for any reason, Klee will give you a full refund with no questions asked. This money-back guarantee may be especially enticing for those of you that are new to cast iron.
Many people are put off by cast iron because they think it is heavy, finicky, and difficult to care for, but once you learn how to use cast iron utensils, you can never go back to cooking with anything else.
Cast Iron Woks cook food evenly and are incredibly versatile. You can take the cookware right off the stovetop and pop it straight in the oven, making the use (and cleaning of) multiple pots and pans completely unnecessary!
The Klee Cast Iron Wok also comes pre-seasoned, which means that you can start cooking with it right away. Seasoning a cast iron pan for the first time can take some time and be off-putting for some new users making this another reason why the Klee is a great cast iron wok for people who are new to using cast iron.
The Klee also comes with a wooden lid, so there is no need to buy one separately; this is part of what makes it such a great value.
The Wok Style
Traditional woks had rounded bottoms because they were used with a fire pit. Modern woks, on the other hand, have a flattened base so that they can stably sit on a stovetop.
Most styles still try to preserve the curved interior though. This rounded design allows you to push foods that need less heat further from the bottom of the pan and foods that need more heat towards the bottom, meaning you can cook different vegetables and different meats at the same time without burning or under cooking anything.
A few woks do have a flattened bottom, creating more of a hybrid between a wok and a large cooking pan. Make sure you double check what type of base yours has before making a final purchase.
It is also important to check whether or not your wok comes with a lid. If it does not, you will want to get one so you can steam and boil more easily, and make sure to factor the lid price into your final purchase price if your wok does not come with one.
Other Wok Accessories
- Bamboo Cooking Utensils
If you plan to make Asian inspired dishes with your wok, you will want to invest in some high-quality bamboo cooking utensils for woks. In particular, a rice paddle and stir fry spatula will come in handy. Using bamboo instead of metal will also help to prevent scratches on cast iron woks.
- Spider Strainer
You will also want to get a spider strainer, which is like a giant slotted spoon that will scoop up food pieces but leave water and oil in the pan. These are especially useful when you use your wok to boil or steam.
- Frying Chopsticks
If you want to cook in a really authentic way, get a pair of large frying chopsticks. It may take some practice, but many people find they prefer using frying chopsticks to traditional Western tongs. In addition, if you are planning to do entertaining with your wok, your skills will not go unnoticed.
If you would rather stick with something more familiar, invest in a wok spatula. These are smaller than regular spatulas and have a more rounded bottom so they can easily scrape food at the base of the wok without scratching it. A silicone spatula will be the most flexible and resistant to scratching.
Unfortunately, it is really easy to burn certain foods, like dumplings, if you steam them directly in the wok. Fortunately, if you love dumplings and dim sum, you can get bamboo steamer for your wok. Most sit directly inside the wok and can steam foods at various temperatures without burning them.
- Handle Holders
Most cast iron woks have cast iron handles, so if you do not want to burn yourself while cooking, consider getting iron wok handle holders. Sure, you can wear oven mitts, but that will mean you have to constantly take them on and off as you alternate between shifting the wok and shifting the food.
If you are new to cooking with cast iron and looking for inspiration, you will want to get a wok cookbook. A good one can teach you the techniques you need to cook your favorite dishes in a wok while also inspiring you to try something new.
- Scrubber and/or Scraper
Finally, make sure you get cast iron cleaning materials, specifically a good cast iron scrubber which will remove food without scratching or unseasoning your wok. You can also work with the combination of a scrubber and a iron pan scraper, but make sure anything you get is specifically designed for use with cast iron!
Woks, like other cookware, come in a variety of materials, including cast iron, hammered steel, and non-stick. There are also electric woks available that do not require a stovetop for use.
As mentioned above, cast iron is a great option because you can use it on both the stovetop and in the oven, and they are also incredibly sturdy and heat evenly.
It is true that cast iron tends to be pretty heavy, so it may be worth getting used to cooking with some smaller cast iron pans before moving on to a very large wok if this is of great concern to you.
Cast iron has unfortunately developed a terrible reputation for being difficult to clean and care for. Reviews for all cast iron products include ones from people who destroyed their pan when they tried to clean it. The truth is that the real problem is over cleaning, which is what can and will ruin your cast iron cookware.
Most people are used to cleaning regular dishes and pots and pans made from steel or non-stick materials. If, however, you clean your cast iron in the same way, it is not going to last anywhere near as long as it should.
For starters, cast iron does not need to be washed with soap; this will lend a slightly soapy taste to everything you make after that. It also cannot be left to soak overnight or it will become rusty. Cast iron is also not dishwasher safe.
Instead, to properly care for your cast iron cookware, invest in a cast iron scrubber and use it to remove any excess food immediately after cooking.
You can boil a little bit of water in the wok or pan to loosen any especially clingy food bits, and then thoroughly dry the pan with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Finally, rub oil over the inside of the pan to keep it seasoned, scrape off any excess oil, and you’re ready to cook again! The process is really not too difficult, and when done properly, will keep your pans working like new for years to come.
Many people like hammered steel because it is familiar. You can clean it in a more traditional way, it is incredibly lightweight, and it is typically much less expensive than cast iron while still being reasonably durable.
It is important to note that you always need to make sure you use some kind of oil when cooking with hammered steel pots, pans, and woks. Otherwise, food will cake onto the inside, and you will be miserable as you try to scrape it off.
Hammered steel is also a really good value. While cast iron will probably outlast your grandchildren, high-quality hammered steel should still last many, many years. Since the price tag is usually a little lower than cast iron, hammered steel is generally seen as a good investment.
Like electric skillets, electric woks heat up when you plug them in and are usually made of stainless steel or non-stick materials.
Typically, an electric wok is a bit more expensive than one that you can put on your stovetop because most of them come with special features, including highly specific heat settings. Most also come with lids and other accessories.
Electric woks are great if you need to use your stove top for other purposes or if you want to ensure a very even cook on your food.
The Truths about Non-Stick Cookware
Yes, non-stick cookware can be incredibly tempting.
It is cheap, it is lightweight, it is easy to clean, it does not require cooking oil… what’s not to love?
Believe it or not, everything.
Non-stick cookware is a terrible investment, and it will leave you with sub-par food and endless frustration. It is basically the equivalent of a disposable plate for pots, pans, and woks.
Let’s start with the nature of non-stick cookware. To make it “non-stick,” manufacturers coat the wok or other pot with Teflon or a similar material, which can be toxic at incredibly high temperatures, and, unlike oil, it is not food.
Teflon coating is also easily scratched by cooking or cleaning utensils and these scratches can accumulate rust and cause uneven cooking.
They are also prime locations for bacteria development. This is one of the main reasons that non-stick cookware has a relatively short life. Even though it is less expensive, you will need to buy new cookware again very soon if you go with non-stick.
It is a much better investment and better cooking experience when you use cast iron or hammered steel instead of non-stick cookware.
Complete Wok Systems
A complete wok system comes with a wok, a lid, and tools. It may also come with an induction stovetop.
Cooking with Induction
Cooking with induction is especially popular for wok users. While a traditional gas or electric burner will heat anything that is on top of it, an induction stovetop uses magnets to make the pan itself heat up.
Most induction cooktops are lightweight and portable, and are also less likely to burn food since there is no open flame.
Fortunately, cast iron is compatible with induction cooking.
Unfortunately, they are not usually sold with an induction system as often as other materials are. For example, there are induction stove tops that are sold with non-stick pans that have special magnetic bottoms as a set. If you want to use cast iron with an induction stove top, you usually have to buy the two pieces separately.
If you already love cooking with an induction stove top, there is no reason to switch back to the traditional range when you start cooking with a wok! Keep doing what you are doing.
If you haven’t tried cooking with induction yet, you may want to soon. Combining the control of induction with the advantages of a cast iron wok is a great way to up your cooking game. Your taste buds will thank you.
Best Wok System
Are you ready to cook the best meal of your life?
We’ve put together our recommended best cast iron wok system for you, including everything you will need to prepare memorable dishes and effortlessly entertain with your cast iron wok.
- Klee Cast Iron Wok with Lid
- Silicone Wok Spatula
- Bamboo Tools
- Frying Chopsticks
- Spider Strainer
- Induction Stove Top
- Wok Cook Book
Wok Techniques and Tips
Remember that you will need to use some different techniques when cooking with a wok than you typically use when cooking with regular pots and pans. Keep the following things in mind:
- Woks, especially cast iron ones, are meant for high-heat cooking. Make sure you turn your stove top on a high-heat setting, especially if you are using an electric burner.
- It is best to use a lot of oil when frying in a wok since you don’t want things getting stuck to the sides and burning. Even one small piece of burnt food can ruin the flavor of an entire meal. Plus, it makes cleaning an iron wok a million times easier. Always make sure you preheat the oil before adding food and use an oil with a high smoke point since you will be using high heat.
- It may take some time to perfect “the wok toss,” which is the classic move where you hold the wok by the handles and push it forwards and upwards to flip the food. It’s okay if you don’t get it right the first time you try, especially when you are working with heavier cast iron woks. Sometimes it is better to practice the wok toss with a salad when your wok is off the heat so there is less pressure and less of a chance of burning yourself. Then, once you have mastered it with salad, try doing it while cooking.
- In addition to the wok toss, you can also use your wok spatula to stir food around in your cast wok when frying. Make sure you work quickly so food doesn’t burn! The best technique involves making the food tumble over itself because you don’t want to just push it around.
- Cook in batches. Even though your iron wok may seem huge, you need to make sure you cook just a little bit at a time if you want even results.
Your Next Steps
If you have decided to give cast iron wok cooking a try, do the following:
- Buy a high-quality wok.
Our favorite is the Klee Pre-Seasoned Wok because of the unconditional money-back guarantee. The Lodge Cast Iron Wok and Jim Beam 12″ Cast Iron Wok are also great choices.
- Buy high-quality tools.
You will be able to make many more dishes when you have the right cooking tools, which include a spider strainer and wok spatula. You will also need to make sure you have a cast iron scrubber so you can keep your wok working for years to come.
- Decide what to make and gather your ingredients.
You can stick with some of your old favorites or use a cookbook to inspire you to make something new.
- Give it a go!
Your dinner awaits!
It really is that simple!
We highly recommend the Klee Cast Iron Wok as the best cast iron wok choice for most people because it is high-quality and has a money-back guarantee. If you are new to wok cooking or cast iron, this guarantee should give you some peace of mind.
With a little bit of practice, you will be making meals for every occasion in your wok. Happy cooking!