If you’re in the market for the best wok, you’d think it would be a simple as heading out to the store or going online and picking the cheapest and best looking, right?
Sorry to say but you may have to put a bit more thought in than that, but don’t be worried, shopping for a wok is very simple when you know exactly what to look for.
- Our Pick for The Best Wok
- Types of Woks
- Top 5 Product Models – Wok Reviews
- The Remaining Woks in the Top 10 List
- Buyer’s Guide – How to Select a Wok
Our Pick for The Best Wok
- A good alternative
- Easy to use
- Handles are cool to touch
- Complaints of stickiness
- Mid Grade Material
We’ll help provide you with information on the types of woks available, which brands are the best in the wok market, we’ll share with you wok reviews of the top 5 woks on the market now, and follow it up with a buyer’s guide on considerations to make before purchasing a wok.
A wok is one of the most versatile pieces of cookware you will probably ever own and buying the right one will ensure that you get the best results out of it.
Types of Woks
A wok isn’t only a cooking vessel that is strictly for use when cooking Asian food. Woks are great for many other types of cuisines and spread heat evenly, use less oil, and allow you to stir fry, deep fry, and steam food! Woks are often differentiated by the type of material they are made out of which is why we’ll break down the types of woks here into 4 categories: carbon steel, stainless steel, cast iron, and copper. There are also 3 types of wok manufacturing which we will touch on as well.
A carbon steel made wok will heat faster and more evenly, is durable and inexpensive. Carbon steel is the best choice when selecting a wok.
The second best to a carbon steel wok is one that is cast iron. Over time, when seasoned after purchase, these woks will naturally become non-stick if you continue to care for the properly. A cast iron wok will hold its heat well and can be heated to maximum without worry of damage to the cooking surface. For a wok that will outlast most, is sturdy, and extremely durable, cast iron is a safe bet.
A downside of cast iron is that it can take very long to heat and cool down and tends to be extremely heavy.
The most inexpensive of all the woks, however if you’re looking for a wok that will be non-stick for life, this won’t be the best. Although many stainless steel woks will claim to be non-stick, this coating will wear off with time; there is also a potential health risks from chemicals transferring from the pan to the food. Stainless steel is light and great for handling and is an extremely good conductor of heat.
You will find copper woks on the market but they are often not as popular as woks made from other materials. The great thing about copper is that the heat distribution is quite even and it heats up rather quickly; it also reacts rapidly to changes in temperature. Disadvantages to this type of wok are that it will most likely not last as long as the rest and is easier to scratch or damage.
- Traditional Hand Hammered
Cookware brands recognize that it’s almost essential to have a wok pan as part of their product range as it’s without a doubt one of the most versatile pieces of cookware anyone can own. Let us provide you with some background on 3 of the most reputable brands in the kitchenware market.
As the name states, T-fal (internationally known as Tefal), has been a world leader in non-stick cookware since 1954 when they invented the 1st nonstick frying pan. The name Tefal is a combination of the two words, Teflon and Aluminium, which are both materials used to create their non-stick cookware. The Tefal Corporation, a company with origins in France, was founded in 1956 and since then have been creating products driven by innovation in function and design.
T-fal cookware is aimed to make the kitchen experience more enjoyable and easier without compromising on results. Consistently in introducing new trends is what keeps T-fal at the top of the competition when it comes to cookware, specifically in non-stick.
Although not as common of a household name as T-fal or Cuisinart, Calphalon is still an incredibly strong brand which produces a variety of kitchenware made from high quality materials. Founded in 1963, and purchased by the Newell Corporation in 1996, Calphalon labels themselves as an ‘approachable culinary expert in kitchenware’; they do well in providing reliable products at an affordable price. Consistently innovating and following the needs and desires of the consumer, the Calphalon brand has been able to keep up with its competitors and offer products in line with the best on the market.
Short timeline of Calphalon kitchenware development:
- 1976, introduction of hard anodized
- 1992, nonstick pans make their debut
- 2001, tri-ply stainless steel is now incorporated into their pans
- 2011, return of commercial hard anodized, upgraded product
Starting off in 1973, this well-known American home appliance brand, which was acquired by the Conair Group in 1989, has continued over the years to keep up their commitment to designing cookware and appliances of lasting quality and reliability. Recognized by many as the company who introduced the most innovative food processor of its time, Cuisinart hasn’t stopped since then, when it comes to delivering products that are based on innovative concepts, compact designs, and practical use.
Cuisinart is a brand that has positioned themselves in the market as one that represents pleasure and lifestyle. Originally focused on kitchen tools, the diverse range of products they manufacture is vast and impressive. Their mission with every product they bring into the market is this; they hope to help you ‘Savour The Good Life’.
Top 5 Product Models – Wok Reviews
Durability, design, and versatility are a few things that separate the everyday average wok from a study all-purpose wok that will outlast all of the others.
The following are the best woks on the market for stir frying, deep frying, and steaming, according to consumer reviews.
Making it to the top of the list, for a number of reasons, is the Cooks Standard Wok; a 13 inch wok with dome lid, made from premium grade 18/10 stainless steel and a multi element alloy aluminum core. The design of this bad boy makes it an ideal winner for consumers mainly for the way it excels in functionality.
Able to provide thorough heat distribution evenly on the bottom and sides, this wok pan almost always guarantees an even cooking for that perfect dish! For a wok that can perform all of the duties one would hope of a versatile kitchen tool, the Cooks Standard won’t let you down.
A bit heavy for some, the only downside of this wok is that it isn’t so easy to lift when trying to sauté food. Other than that, buyers are more than satisfied with the look and function of this wok, commenting that it doesn’t only get the job done but when not in use, looks great hanging in the kitchen.
Other winning features of this wok include the stainless steel handle which is designed with an air flow technology that keeps the handles cooler than normal, meaning there is less likelihood you’ll end up burning yourself. Use this wok on a traditional stove top, including inductions and have no fear when putting it into the oven, the wok itself can handle the heat until 500 degrees F
Everyone has heard of T-fal, the leader in nonstick cookware. Coming in second in customer reviews is the A80789; a non-stick, oven and dishwasher safe wok that is incredibly versatile and one that won’t break the bank. Slightly larger than the Cooks Standard, at 14 inch and made from a durable aluminum, the slightly curved design of the sides ensures that whether you want to stir fry, steam, sear, sauté, boil, braise, deep fry or use it to make your favorite soup, this will be your best one stop shop piece of cookware.
Trusted and used by top Asian chef’s, the T-fal A80789 is loved for its even heat distribution, design, lightweight characteristics, and space capacity to fit enough food to feed an army. Although an incredible wok, if you have a small kitchen and are only cooking for around 2, you may find the T-fal A80789 to be slightly bulky.
This 10 piece wok set eliminates the need to shop around for all your wok accessories and doesn’t leaving you wondering which utensils you can and can’t use on your wok to prevent scratching. What’s great about this wok is that it really holds up against wear and tear and if for any reason the non-stick finish comes off, it’s covered under a 25 year warranty!
Included with the 14 inch Excalibur Wok is a lid, tempura rack, bamboo cooking chopsticks, 6 bamboo table chopsticks, 12 inch bamboo spatula, steaming rack, 12 inch bamboo tongs, bamboo rice paddle and a recipe book to go along.
Another great feature of this wok is its maple wood handles which keep them from collecting heat and thus eliminates the risk of burning your hands while in use.
Purchase this heavy gauge 2.0mm carbon steel wok and you’ll be introduced to what may very well be the closest feeling to an authentic wok experience.
The only downside of this wok is that although it can sustain high heat, it may do so at the cost of durability.
We have covered stainless steel, aluminum and carbon steel woks but what about those of you who are looking for something a bit sturdier. The Lodge P14W3 is one of the best cast iron woks on the market. The 14” Cantonese style wok literally can be used anywhere from induction burners, electric stoves, gas, in the oven, on a grill or over your campfire.
Reviewers love this product because of its generous size and function, often commenting on its incredible ability to maintain heat. The loop handles on either side of the wok also help with ease of lifting and moving around.
One of the best things about purchasing a new Lodge P14W3 is that it already comes pre seasoned from Lodge which means you won’t have to go through the hassle of prepping it yourself!
This may seem like any old 12” aluminium wok pan but look closer and you’ll see that it is the definition of innovation. The Te Chef Art Wok has been coated with 5 layers of non stick coating to guarantee quality and durability.
We know that many of you prefer using woks of cast iron or carbon steel out of fear that as the coating comes off on aluminum, there may be an associated health risk. Let us assure you that with this wok pan, you won’t have to worry about chemicals leaching into your food while cooking. The company created a wok, with their select grade Teflon technology without PFOA to counter the health risks that use to come along with cooking on aluminum nonstick surfaces.
Consumers love this wok for its design and curved sides, which allow for easy access to all areas of the wok for flipping and sautéing food. Heat is evenly distributed to cook food to perfection. Unique to Te Chef, with this pan they have incorporated a forged aluminum material with thin walls and 3.5 mm thick bottom which is what creates the even distribution of heat.
The main downside noticed by users of this wok was that it couldn’t be placed in the oven.
The Remaining Woks in the Top 10 List
Buyer’s Guide – How to Select a Wok
When selecting the best woks, you’re going to want to take a few important things into consideration. The main areas to look at when buying a wok is the type of material, shape, and handle. As mentioned above, you will also need to decide between a traditional hand hammered, stamped, or spun wok; personal preference will determine your selection.
Woks are made from a variety of materials; carbon steel, stainless steel, cast iron, and copper. For further details, refer to the above section ‘Types of Products’ for a refresher on the differences. When looking at the different materials and trying to decide the best wok for you pay close attention to the heat capacity and conductivity of each of the materials.
If going with a carbon steel wok, make sure you look for one that is 14 gauge (2mm thick) steel. When cared for well, a carbon steel wok will last an incredibly long time. All in all, we recommend selecting a wok that is made of carbon steel; the performance and durability is unmatched to the other materials out there and will not only heat quickly but will maintain its heat throughout.
For those of you who are looking for some weight and strength to your wok, a cast iron wok will be everything you’re looking for. With cast iron, you won’t have to worry about hot spots developing on your wok; this will help ensure even cooking. Another great advantage of going with cast iron is that you won’t have to worry about chemicals being released and flavors being imparted on your food.
Stainless steel will be a good choice if you’re not planning on using your wok too much and you’re simply looking to have one around in case you decide to whip up a stir fry one day for example. For an inexpensive wok to use a couple times a year, stainless steel may suffice. Copper could be an alternative to stainless steel if you’re looking for a superior product that is lightweight and with good heat conductivity.
Choosing the right shape of wok will depend on the type of cooking range you plan to use it on.
If you are using an electric range, you will want to buy a flat bottom wok. A slightly rounded bottom wok will be better suited for a gas range.
Fully rounded bottom woks are great for stir frying but we wouldn’t suggest you buy one unless you are using it on a range with a wok insert.
– Look for a wok that isn’t too flat on the bottom. A completely flat bottom wok won’t function as a wok in the sense where you can move food in and out of the high heat zone. Rather than stir frying for example, you maybe just end up steaming your meat and vegetables.
– Buy a wok with a 4-5 inch flat bottom area with sides that gently slope and extend roughly 12-14 inches. This design will ensure you’ll be able to have enough access to high heat areas where you can sear as well as have space to flip the rest.
Cantonese-style woks: These woks have two small handles positioned on either side of the wok.
Northern-style woks: This type of wok will have a larger longer handle on one side and often a small handle directly opposite, called a helper handle.
* If you’re looking for an easy to handle wok, going with the Northern-style will guarantee ease of handling when stir-frying. The helper handle will allow you to easily lift the wok as well.
In the end, deciding on the wok for you will be determined by how often you plan on using it, if you are using the wok on a gas stove open flame, which range you will be cooking with it on, and which features you desire. In general, carbon steel is your best bet for a great wok that will heat quickly and maintain its temperature evenly throughout. Woks with flatter bottoms will also be better for your stove than those that are completely curved. Finally, for easy handling, choose a Northern-style wok.