Wok – Guide to Choosing and Using!

Want a Wok? Top 3 Designed Just For You

Love Your Wok And The Craft Of Cooking

The best wok for you depends on what type of stove you have.

Gas Stoves

A Gas Stovetop Does More Heat Than Other Appliances

If you have a gas stove (or an induction stovetop), the best woks to buy are the Klee Cast Iron Woks. It’s versatile, it’s durable, and it comes with a full money-back guarantee.

Your gas stove will be able to generate enough heat for this large, sturdy cooking utensil, and you will be able to make delicious meals in it for generations to come.

Electric Stoves

Kitchens With An Electric Stovetop Sometimes Have A Glass Surface

Unfortunately, electric stoves do not get quite as hot as gas ones. Don’t despair though! You can still make tons of delicious dishes over your electric stove with Lodge Cast Iron Mini Woks.

This pre-seasoned pot is only 9 inches in diameter, ensuring it will heat up evenly even on an electric stovetop.

No Stove?

Kitchens Without a Stovetop Can Still Use Electric Woks

Don’t fret! There’s a wok for that! Presto Stainless Steel Electric Woks are perfect for traveling and for small apartments. You can still cook like a champion with the precise temperature controls and the utensils that come with it.

Unlike most electric cooking tools, this one is not coated with a chemical, non-stick coating, so it will last you a long time!

Woks: From Professional Cookers to Small Kitchens and More!

This article will introduce you to everything you need to know in order to start cooking amazing meals with a high-quality wok!

Wok History

Old Woks Construction is Different Than What's In Season

Woks originated in China and South East Asia where they were used to cook almost every meal. Today, many still associate woks with Eastern-style foods. More and more people, however, are discovering that they too can cook almost every meal with these high-quality cooking pots.

What Can You Make with Woks?

It would probably be easier to list what you cannot make with a wok because, honestly, you can make pretty much anything you want. It is perfect for braising, roasting, boiling, steaming, and grilling.

Stir Fry Isn't The Only Bowl Of Food To Make - Learn Other Recipes

In addition, cast iron woks can go in the oven, so they are a great way to convert your favorite meals into “one pan” dishes!

Wok Materials

If you just started looking at woks and are confused by all of the different types available, you are not alone! We will break them down for you so that you can make the best choice for your culinary adventure.

Cast Iron

Season Your Cast Iron and Make Sure to Splatter Oil All Over

Cast iron is the classic choice. It heats up evenly, provides a seasoned flavor to food, and it lasts forever. Seriously, you will be able to make your cast iron cookware into a family heirloom if you take care of it!

Cast iron cookware sometimes gets a bad reputation as “finicky” because it needs to be seasoned and has to be washed in a particular fashion. While there are countless YouTube videos explaining how to do both, it may be worthwhile for those who are new to cast iron to get a pre-seasoned pan.

Prevent Rust On Cast Iron Bowls and Frying Pans

To wash your cast iron cookware, you actually have to do less than you would for a regular plate or bowl, and this is what throws people off. You will have to clean your cast iron wok shortly after you finish cooking with it, preferably while it is still warm.

All you have to do is wipe it down with a special scrubber and warm water. Avoid using soap if you do not want your next meal to taste like soap. If there is some really stubborn food, you can put some water in your cookware and then boil that over the stove to help loosen it.

Removing the Season Coating on Cast Iron With Water Soaking Can Damage the Metal

Whatever you do, do not let your cast iron pan soak in water. This will make it rust! You should also not put it in the dish washer.

Cook With Cast Iron Bowls to Craft Up a Cookers Dream

Finally, make sure you completely dry your cast iron with a paper towel or dish cloth before putting it away. Again, this is to prevent rust.

This little bit of extra care will go a long way in ensuring your cast iron lasts for many years!

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is actually a lot like cast iron, and that is probably one of the reasons it vies for the top spot as the most popular wok material.

Carbon Steel Woks Are Heated on Electric or Gas Stovetops

Carbon steel distributes heat very well, ensuring that your food cooks evenly. It can withstand high temperatures, making it a great candidate for high-heat wok cooking.

I Love My Carbon Steel Frying Pan

Like its cast iron cousin, carbon steel will last forever if you take care of it correctly. Unlike cast iron, however, it is hard to find pre-seasoned carbon steel woks and pans. You will probably have to invest in some seasoning oil and watch a few videos to ensure your carbon steel wok is ready for cooking.

You can clean carbon steel in much the same way as you would clean cast iron. Do not let it soak in water, and do not run it through the dish washer.

A Wooden Helper Handle Helps to Cook on Carbon Steel Woks

So, what is the main difference between the two materials?

The biggest difference is probably the weight. Cast iron is heavy, and many people, especially older folks and those with mobility issues, have trouble lifting it. Carbon steel is lighter, so it is easier to do the classic “wok toss” and take your wok with you when you travel.

Electric

No stovetop? No problem!

Electric Woks Are Sturdy and Versatile

Electric woks are great for people who do not have a stove or who plan to make multiple dishes at once. They tend to be more expensive than traditional woks because they come with more bells and whistles, including lids, utensils, and customizable heat control.

Most electric woks are easy to clean and bring with you when you travel. As an added bonus, many can be used in much the same way as a slow cooker!

Makers of Electric Woks Have Many Styles and Series

Be careful when shopping for an electric wok, however, as many are covered with a chemical non-stick coating, which brings us to the last wok material

Non-Stick Pans

Everyone loves non-stick pans, right? They’re easy to clean! They’re lightweight!

And they’re cheap! In every sense of the word.

A Professional Never Uses Non-Stick Bowls or Frying Pans

Non-stick pans are basically the refined sugars of the cookware world.

Sure, it may be cheaper to buy a donut instead of an egg if you order breakfast. But which is going to keep you fuller for longer? Which will give you more nutrients?

Non Stick Surfaces and a Knife Do Not Go Together

If you get the donut, you are going to be hungry again sooner and get less nutrition. If you go with a non-stick pan, you are going to be back on the wok market very soon and unhealthy in the meantime.

Basically, non-stick pans are covered with a chemical coating that prevents food from sticking. Many people like this because it means they need to use less cooking oil, which can cut down on the calorie content of the food.

There is evidence that these chemicals can be toxic, and yet people cook their food right on top of them! You can cut down on the calories of your food while making it healthier and tastier if you just cook with oil and then strain it before serving.

You Can't Season A Non-Stick Surface

In addition, non-stick pans are not meant to last. The non-stick coating chips easily, and the pans are usually made of low-quality materials. This is why they cost so much less than durable cookware made out of carbon steel or cast iron.

Non-Stick Coating Can Peel and The Pieces Can Be Toxic

Your kids and your grand-kids will be using your well-cared for cast iron or carbon steel woks; your non-stick pan will be in the trash within a year.

Save yourself the time, money, and health risks. Do not buy non-stick cookware.

The 3 Best Cooking Woks to Buy Right Now

Again, the best one for you will depend on the type of stove you have.

Klee Cast Iron

The Klee Cast Iron Wok is the best choice for anyone who has a gas stove, and it is our top pick overall.

Klee Cast Iron Wok With Wooden Lids, Heats on Gas or Electric Stovetops

We love cast iron cookware because it provides an even cook and if you take care of it properly, cast iron can last forever.

You Don't Need to Season This Cast Iron Wok to Make Stir Fry

The good news is that the Klee comes pre-seasoned and has an unconditional money-back guarantee. If you do not love it for any reason, the company will give you a refund or replacement. This makes it the perfect wok for people who are new to cast iron as well as those who have been using it for decades.

The Klee also comes with a lid, which makes it a good value and allows users to get started with more of their favorite dishes more quickly.

Klee Woks Comes With Two Helper Handles and Their Wooden Lids are Professional Quality

We especially recommend combining this wok with a high-heat gas stove. Traditional woks were used over a very hot fire pit. You will get the best flavors when you use a cast iron wok over high heat.

Lodge Mini

If you are stuck with an electric stove, however, do not despair! It is still possible to take advantage of the versatility woks have to offer. In fact, you can even take advantage of the durability of cast iron!

The Lodge Mini was designed to be perfect for electric stoves, people who live in small spaces or by themselves, and those who travel frequently.

Lodge Cast Iron Wok's Smaller to Fit All Kitchens But Does the Same Thing

Lodge may be the most famous name in cast iron, and there’s a reason! Their products are incredibly well-made, and all of them are made at their family-owned foundry in Tennessee.

You will be able to get your Lodge Mini hot enough to cook all of your favorite meals and still get the benefits of cast iron. It’s a win-win!

Cook a Full Meal in This Frying Pan Even Without Any Helper Lids

Presto Electric

What if you have no stove or will be traveling all the time? Consider an electric wok!

Presto Electric Wok Heats Evenly to Prevent Burning Food

Unfortunately, most electric cookware contains a chemical non-stick coating that will make subpar food and can even wear down pretty quickly. The Presto Electric Wok, however, is made of stainless steel and contains no such coating, making it one of the best investments in the electric cookware market.

This Electric Wok Has a Steel Surface Which Can Be Deep Cleaned in Dishwasher - Easy as Laundry!

Electric woks tend to be a bit pricier than regular ones because of their precision heat settings and the fact that they come with accessories. For example, the Presto comes with a lid and a wok spatula.

You can also treat your electric wok like a slow cooker, meaning there is less hands-on time for you.

Restaurant Woks

Perhaps you are interested in getting a wok because you have spent far too much money getting takeout from the fabulous Chinese restaurant down the road. You may be asking yourself how you can make authentic-tasting copycat dishes.

Professional Duty Kitchens Use Woks to Cook
The process starts when you get and use the right woks.
Professional Cookers Learn to Cook with Many Woks At Once

Most chefs at restaurants will be cooking with multiple woks at the same time. They have an advantage over home cooks insofar as they have multiple, powerful burners.

Some restaurants allow customers to watch the chefs cook because it is quite a spectacle. The flames will lick the cookware as the chef tosses the food high into the air then neatly catch its all within the wok.

Learn Information To Cook with Woks for Versatile Meals

And what kind of wok are they using? It’s not like their using a ™ (trademarked) wok!

It actually varies from chef to chef, but most prefer carbon steel or cast iron. Chefs agree that these generally heat up in a uniform way, can handle high temperatures, and last forever. In fact, the more they use them, the more seasoned the woks get, enhancing the flavors of the foods cooked in them.

Better Than Cuisinart is Using Multiple Woks Together

If you have a restaurant you really like, ask the chef what kind of wok he or she prefers. Chances are they will be quite passionate about their answer!

Wok’s Designs

In addition to material, there are a few other ways in which one wok can vary from another. We will go over some of the most common variations so you know what to look for when making comparisons.

Handles

There are two main handle designs for woks.

We Highly Recommend Two Smaller Handles on Woks to Cook With

The first is two small, loop handles on either side. Most of our wok recommendations include this traditional shape because it makes it easier to perform the “wok toss.” That is, it is easier to stir food by using the wok itself to toss the food into the air and catch it as it falls. Woks with this shape are also smaller and easier to store.

Frying Pan Helper for Handles

Another advantage of woks with loop handles is that they are typically only made of one type of material. This means they will be easier to clean, and you do not have to worry about the handle wearing out before the rest of the pan. Since the handles are metal, however, you will probably need to invest in some removable silicone handle holders so you don’t burn yourself while using your wok!

Many Prefer Having a Helper Handle When Frying with Woks

The other common wok shape includes one small loop handle and a regular skillet handle on the other side. Sometimes the skillet handle is made of wood or covered with plastic, and sometimes it is made of the same material as the rest of the wok.

Even though this design is less traditional, many Western users like it because it allows them to incorporate more of their familiar cooking techniques into wok cooking.

Base

There are also two main types of wok bases.

Woks traditionally had a rounded base because they were used in outdoor fire pits. This allowed for even heat distribution and the development of traditional cooking techniques such as pushing foods up the sides as they cooked.

Rounded Bottom Woks Need Specially Designed Surfaces to Cook With

The downside of cooking with a rounded bottom in a Western kitchen, however, is that it will not sit flat on your gas or electric stovetop. Fortunately, there are some special attachments that you can buy to make the wok stable on a Western range.

Many people, however, are put off by the extra money and steps needed for that. Additionally, rounded woks can be difficult to store since they do not stand on their own.

Most Metal Can Have Flat Bottoms for Stovetops

For this reason, many Western woks have a flattened based that sits more easily on a gas or electric stovetop.

Lids

Cook With Lids to Make The Perfect Stir Fry

Some woks come with a lid, and some do not. They are, however, necessary if you want to take full advantage of all your cookware has to offer, including the ability to boil and steam food.

For this reason, it is important to consider whether or not a lid is included when you evaluate the price. If it does not, make sure you factor it in.

Utensils

In addition to cleaning utensils and a lid, you will need a few other tools to help you make delicious foods with your new cooking pot.

Spatula

No Need to Search for Wok Spatulas
  • Regular spatulas are usually too large to properly reach food at the bottom of a wok. Wok spatulas are specially designed to have a smaller, rounded top that is perfect for getting food off of the rounded sides. We recommend using silicone ones so that you do not accidentally scratch your pot.

Spider Strainer

Steel Baskets for Steaming, Boiling, Frying, and Browning
  • Wok cooking typically requires a lot of liquid, and a spider strainer can help make sure you do not end up serving your guests soggy lakes of food. These special strainers are like large, flattened slotted spoons that make sure you scoop out perfectly cooked foods instead of lots of oil and water.

Meat Scissors

For Plants and Meats Alike, These Metal Scissors are Better than Knives
  • If you plan to make classic stir fry, you should invest in a good pair of meat scissors. These enable you to get small cuts of meat that will cook evenly and add more flavor to your stir fry and similar dishes.

Don’t eat meat? You can use meat scissors to quickly and easily chop up vegetables such as carrots and green beans.

Frying Chopsticks

Wooden Frying Chopsticks for Kitchens and Cookers
  • Want to impress your guests? Consider using frying chopsticks when you cook. They are like regular chopsticks, except longer and more substantial. With a little practice, you can use them to quickly turn whatever you are cooking in your wok.

Many people find that, after they get the hang of using them, they actually prefer frying chopsticks over spatulas.

Bamboo Steamer

Like dumplings? Dim sum? Steamed vegetables, meats, and fish?

Steaming Wooden Baskets to Cook Together

If you try to steam food directly in your wok, you will likely end up with something that is not quite fried and not quite steamed. If you put a bamboo steamer in your pot and cook your food however, you will effortlessly end up with restaurant quality steamed foods.

Easy as Browning Cookies is Steaming Plants in Baskets
  • The steamer is also a great option for people who do not like cooking with a lot of oil. It’s a great way to use just water when cooking with your wok.

Silicone Handle Holders

Attach Plastic Handle Holders to Your Wok Keep From Burning Yourself
  • You will need to get silicone handle holders if you are using a wok with two loop handles. These small grips stay in place while you cook and will help keep your hands cool when doing a wok toss. Additionally, they can be easily removed and cleaned.

Cookbook

Many Learn to Love What They Cook Through Books
  • Sometimes you need inspiration. This is where a cookbook for woks helps. A good book will also give you techniques for getting the best flavor from your wok regardless of what dish you make.

Induction Stovetop

  • Induction cooking is the future. It’s a safer, more efficient way of heating up pans that actually provides a more even cook to food. Especially in woks. There really are no downsides!

Induction ranges are still pretty rare, and most people are equipped with gas or electric. Fortunately, however, portable induction stovetops are relatively inexpensive and do not take up too much counter space.

An Induction Stovetop is Designed to Heat Evenly - Many Kitchens Want Them

Basically, induction works by using magnets to make a pan heat up. There’s no open flame or heat source. The pan itself gets hot. In fact, you can even touch the stovetop and not burn yourself!

Separate Electric Appliances and Cooktops Can Be A Helper

If you haven’t tried cooking with induction, we definitely recommend it! When you combine a high-quality wok with induction techniques, you will never go back to your old cooking methods!

Complete Systems

A complete wok system contains everything you need to start making meals. Typically, they include a wok, a portable stovetop, a lid, and other cooking utensils.

Our Recommended Complete Wok System

We recommend combining the following to make the best complete system:

That’s it! With these tools, you will be all set to start entertaining, traveling, selling food out of a food truck… the possibilities are endless!

Techniques and Tips

While you can make both Western and Eastern dishes in a wok, you will need to adjust your technique just a little bit in order to get the best tasting dishes.

  • Make sure your wok is hot. Traditional woks were placed directly on hot coals, and you will get the best results when you honor that tradition and cook over high heat.
Oil in Woks Season The Frying Pan and Keeps Food From Burning
  • Use oil! This will prevent your food from sticking to the wok. It will also ensure a better, more authentic taste. If you do not want a ton of oil in your finished dish, consider straining the excess oil when your food is done. You should also remember to use an oil with a high smoke point if you are cooking over high heat.
  • Use the rounded sides. Put the food that needs the most heat at the bottom and push food that needs less heat up the sides.
Prevent Splatter When Doing the Wok Toss
  • Practice the “wok toss” for stirring food. To do this, simply push your wok forwards and upwards so the food goes up in the air in a small arc. It’s probably best to try this a few times with a salad on the countertop before working with hot food over a hot range. Once you master this technique, you will not only impress your guests with the cooking spectacle, but you will also ensure that even the smallest pieces of food are cooked evenly on every side.
  • Take care of your wok! If you do not, it could rust, develop scratches, or lose its seasoning.

Your Next Steps

So what do you have to do to make stunning meals?

  1. Buy a high-quality wok, such as the Klee Cast Iron Wok.
  2. Decide on a dish, then gather and prepare your ingredients.
  3. Make sure you have all the tools you need and that your new pot is seasoned.
  4. Begin!

Bon Appetit!

Overview

Which woks will give you the best results?

Our favorite are the Klee Cast Iron Woks because it is a high-quality, durable utensil that comes with a lid and a money-back guarantee.

We also recommend the Lodge Mini for people with less powerful range and the Presto Stainless Steel Electric Wok for those without a regular stovetop.

It's Not Just Decorating - Love What You Cook In Your Wok

Any one of these will help you reach new destinations in your cooking adventures. And remember, woks aren’t ™ (trademarked), so there’s all sorts out there to try! Enjoy!