If you’ve had enough of ordering Chinese takeaway maybe its time you invest in one of the many best woks available and cook your favourite dish at home. A good wok is a versatile cooking pan that can be used to cook and prepare an endless range of food dishes and it is the perfect cooking vessel for stir-fry’s, deep-frying, steaming, and even indoor smoking. Once you have used a wok you will find yourself reaching for it for time and time again.
Not all woks are the same, there are cast iron woks, carbon steel woks, stainless steel woks, electric wok, and Asian woks, each one of these have their own pros and cons and choosing the best really boils down to personal preference and what you will be cooking the most in the kitchen.
The best woks tend to be made from cast iron or carbon steel and will improve with age as they become seasoned overtime and if cared for and maintained they can last for decades.
Best Wok Brands
Like all of the best cookware you will find some manufactures that are better than others and weeding out the worst can sometimes be a challenge.
The good news is that when it comes to choosing the best wok to buy there are a handful of brands that produce some of the best woks that deserve a place in your kitchen. Calphalon, Lodge, All-Clad, Cuisinart, Joyce Chen, and The Wok Shop are some of the top contenders and produce some great woks. Below I have handpicked some of my favorites to help you make the right choice when choosing your new wok pan.
Best Type of Wok
As I mentioned previously the best woks are generally made from either carbon steel or cast iron and these types are the preferred among the serious Chinese chefs. If you are looking for an everyday wok, or if you have a set budget maybe one of the other alternatives will be a better option.
Cast Iron Wok
Cast iron is going to be one of the best options and offers an excellent nonstick surface once properly seasoned. Cast iron woks can take a relatively long time to heat up and cool down but once they are at your preferred cooking temperature they will outperform almost any other wok. One of the problems with cast iron woks is that they can become brittle and fragile if the cast iron is too thin and they can also crack if cold liquids are placed directly inside a hot wok. Another drawback of cast iron is that they are heavy and extremely cumbersome to lift.
Carbon Steel Wok
Carbon steel is going to be the best wok option for almost all of you reading this. It heats up evenly and quickly, it’s durable, inexpensive and is responsive to the slightest of heat changes on your stove top allowing for precise cooking. Like cast iron, carbon steel woks will improve overtime and once correctly seasoned you will have a wok that will be your best friend in the kitchen allowing you to cook and prepare your favorite food dishes with ease. When choosing a carbon steel wok try and get one that is at least 2mm think (14-gauge), these are far more durable and will not bend if pressed on the wok walls.
Electric woks are a great alternative to traditional wok pans. They allow you to control the temperature of your wok via a dial directly on the electric wok. Electric woks are really best suited for students, anyone with limited cooking space in their kitchen, or for anyone that cannot get their stove tops to reach high temperatures. Electric woks can be found in the same materials as regular woks such as stainless steel, or carbon steel.
Stainless Steel Wok
You may think that those shiny stainless steel woks are the best to buy, but to be honest most of them are a waste of money. Stainless steel woks take a long time to heat up and cool down and are heavy which makes them extremely difficult to control and move, which is not ideal if you are cooking stir-fry. Also almost all foods will stick to a stainless steel wok, especially chicken and other protein rich foods. If you are on a tight budget stainless steel woks may be a good option as they tend to fall under the budget price bracket.
What to Look For When Buying a Wok
The best woks are made typically in three ways, you have traditional hand hammered woks, spun woks and stamped woks.
✓ Hand hammered woks are one of the best options when choosing the best wok to buy. The hammered finish on the wok surface lets you push cooked food up the side of the wok pan to keep warm while at the same time allowing you to continue cooking other ingredients in the center of the wok.
✓ Spun woks offer the same advantages of hand hammered wok pans, allowing you to easily store and keep your cooked food warm on the sides of the wok. Spun woks tend to be inexpensive and are made on a lathe which gives them a unique circle ring pattern.
✓ Stamped woks are extremely cheap and tend to be made from low-gauge steel which makes them flimsy and prone to hot and cold spots. Stamped woks are mass-produced using a thin a piece of metal which is then pressed over a mold. They tend to be completely smooth which means that you do not get the same benefits of pushing your cooked food up the wok pan walls to keep warm.
Best Wok Reviews Some of my Favorites
Still confused? Don’t worry I have picked out three of the best woks to buy that I feel deserve a prime place in your kitchen.
Joyce Chen 14-Inch Carbon Steel Pro Chef Flat Bottom Wok
When it comes to buying the best wok it doesn’t get much better than this. Coming in at under $50, this flat bottomed carbon steel wok is a steel. It’s constructed of heavy gauge carbon steel that is 2.0mm thick (which is the professional weight) and features a preferred flat bottom and is 14-inches in diameter, making it perfect for cooking on electric or gas ranges.
The riveted heat-resistant helper handle stays cool and offers more control plus makes stabilizing the wok a breeze. This wok requires pre-seasoning before you can use it; the Joyce Chen wok is extremely inexpensive and is my top wok choice.
Cooks Standard Multi-Ply Clad 13-Inch Stainless-Steel Wok with Dome Lid
The Cooks Standard wok is our top pick for the best heat conductor; the multi-ply clad stainless steel wok has an aluminum core that helps to cook your food evenly and responds to temperature adjustments on your stovetop quickly.
At 13 inches it is the perfect size for any home kitchen cooking small portions of food. The solid stainless steel handles and been crafted to stay cool even on the hottest of stovetops by using Cooks Standard’s air-flow technology. This Cooks Standard wok also comes with a tight fitting lid that forms a dome over the wok trapping in heat and moisture. You can simply place this wok into your dishwasher for easy cleaning and it can go directly into your oven at up to 500 degrees F.
Mauviel M’Heritage 11.8-Inch Copper Wok with Bronze Handle
If money is no object and you want to buy the Rolls Royce of woks then the Mauviel M’Heritage Copper Wok is going to be the best wok for you. This wok is a piece of art and some might say it’s too good to use!
It has been manufactured from 2mm thick copper that conducts heat incredibly well, and features a non-reactive stainless interior lining that is durable and holds up to heavy use and cleans easily. The handles have been crafted from bronze and fixed firmly in place with sturdy rivets.
For a wok of this standard you’d expect nothing more than a lifetime warranty! If you want to know what the best wok to buy is, you might have just found it!