Best Woks for Your Kitchen
Like a great skillet or classic saute pans, a wok or stir fry pan should be a part of a well-stocked kitchen. The best woks are designed to quickly sear, deep fry, steam, boil and stir fry just about anything. This guide will introduce you to a variety of wok materials and styles. It will give you tips on how to choose the best wok for your recipes, accessories that make wok cooking easier, plus cleaning tips.
A wok is a very efficient piece of cookware. It distributes the heat source quickly throughout a large surface area, cooking food evenly with a minimum amount of oil. Used skillfully, wok cooking will preserve peak flavors and textures of foods, keeping their vitality and nutrients intact.
Fresh and fast cooking is the beauty of having a carbon steel wok in your kitchen's go-to tool box. One of the best woks available, carbon steel options handle high temperatures very well, making them perfect for searing meats and cooking vegetables fast. They're also durable, oven-safe and rust-resistant.
Some of the best wok pans are made of stainless steel. A lightweight and popular choice, a stainless steel wok can handle the high temperatures needed for most stir fry dishes and capture the flavors of acidic foods. You’ll need to use more oil to prevent sticking, especially for meats.
Woks with a non-stick coating work well for light frying and stirring. They work better with lower temperatures and are dishwasher safe. Use them with high-heat plastic utensils because they can scratch easily.
Choose an aluminum wok with some weight to it. Woks made of aluminum have great heat conductivity, get hot fast and can handle heat for long periods. They are good woks for sticky foods but not for acidic ingredients.
Durable, beautiful cast iron makes one of the best wok pans available. Since it retains heat long after the flame is gone, it’s ideal for cooking thick meats to perfection. This campfire staple is budget-friendly but requires more maintenance than other woks.
Who said hard-working good woks can’t look great, too? Enameled woks hold heat well and make short work of most dishes. One of the top woks you can buy, they come in a variety of colors, can go from stove to table and are easy to clean.
Wok handles vary, depending on the region the wok style originally came from. Cantonese-style woks have a short, small handle perfect for light frying. Typically found on Northern Asian-style woks, a single long handle makes it easy to mix food in the pan while cooking. Some traditional woks found in professional kitchens have one short handle and one long handle. This gives the cook the option to flip and serve food seamlessly.
Consider how many people you typically cook for to decide the best shape, width and height of your wok pan. Flat-bottom wok pans measure 4 inches to 6 inches wide. Round bottom wok pans vary in size. Some are 14 inches to 16 inches in diameter and more adequately transfer heat to the sides of the pan. Smaller woks, 12 inches or less, are ideal for cooking one to two servings for a single or two-person household.
A 14-inch wok is the most popular and will allow you to cook for up to four people. A larger wok will feed more people and provide more servings; however, it will be harder to store and may not fit on your stovetop burners as easily. No matter the size of the wok you choose, deeper is not always better. Four to five inches in depth is more than adequate for most wok cooking.
Enjoy cooking more with the right wok accessories.
- A metal spatula makes it easy to flip and turn ingredients quickly.
- A lid will lock in the flavor of your food and is essential to keeping your cooktop clean from any splatter.
- A wok ring stabilizes a round bottom wok, especially if it has a long handle. It also helps manage heat distribution throughout the pan.
- Always season or cure a wok and lid (if necessary) before its first use, even if it comes pre-seasoned. Depending on use, your wok may need curing periodically.
- Clean your wok after each use. Mildly rinse with cold, soapy water. Use plastic or non-abrasive scrubbers to prevent scratches.