Think of stir-fried meals, Chinese food, and warm tortillas and the first thing that probably comes to mind is a wok. A wok is an indispensable kitchen essential. You use it to warm tortillas, steam veggies, and dumplings, cook Chinese dishes, toss a salad, scramble eggs, fry chicken, fry beef, roast coffee beans and steam seafood. And while you can still use a frying pan to whip up a sumptuous stir-fry meal, you simply cannot get the same results.
However, with so many woks on the market, finding one that suits your fancy can become an uphill task. You have to choose the right material, design and size and other features that ensure your meals turn out nothing short of impeccable.
Don’t worry though.
We have done all the heavy lifting for you. In this article, we are going to review 10 best woks for cooking in 2018. Ours is an unbiased review that will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed purchase decision.
Choosing the Best Wok to Buy
On the surface, choosing a wok might seem like a fairly easy and seamless affair. After all, how complicated could it be to walk into a store and pick the first wok you set your eyes on? However, nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, you’ve got to consider where to buy a wok – online or in a shop – and then you’ve got to compare models. The truth is choosing a suitable wok from dozens of models is no easy feat. To whittle down the selection we have narrowed down a few things that you need to keep an eye out for.
Woks are made in several different ways. Some are stamped, others are spun and yet others are hand hammered. Each construction method impacts the final product in a different way. For instance, stamped woks have an extremely soft surface that pushes food to the center of the wok whereas spun woks and hammered woks have a rougher texture and indentations that make it easy to push food to the sides while frying.
Woks come in different shapes and sizes. A typical diameter would range anywhere between 10 to 16 inches whereas much larger diameters may be as large as 36 inches in diameter. If you are torn between the size of wok to choose, just remember that larger sized woks are a little more difficult to handle whereas smaller woks may barely have enough room to accommodate a meal for the whole family.
A lid might not exactly be your idea of an important feature to keep an eye out for. And I’d probably agree with you if we were talking about some other cooking tool. However, with a wok, a lid is an indispensable necessity. It allows you to steam and cook your meals inside with minimal oil rather than having to fry all your meals.
Now, while some woks come fully equipped with a matching lid, some models don’t. So, when shopping around for a suitable wok, this is definitely something that you need to be on the lookout for.
Woks usually have one or two handles. If you choose to go for heavy wok, you should consider getting one with two handles to make it easier to maneuver the pan. However, a functional wok with a long handle should do just fine too.
Type of Wok
There are basically four main types of woks. Carbon steel woks, anodized aluminum woks, stainless steel woks and cast iron units.
Carbon Steel Woks
- Carbon steel conducts heat well so it heats quickly and evenly.
- It offers a natural nonstick surface.
- It is durable.
Cast Iron Woks
- The surface is naturally nonstick.
- It takes a little bit more time to heat up and cool down once it’s hot.
- It tends to be a bit heavy and a little difficult to maneuver.
Stainless Steel Woks
- Stainless steel is quite durable and will in most occasions give you years and years of service.
- Food tends to stick onto the stainless-steel surface, so you might need to use a little more oil.
Anodized aluminum woks
- Distribute heat well enough.
- They are pretty light and fairly sturdy.
- They are treated with a nonstick coating to make the pan easy to use and clean.
Anodized aluminum takes a while to heat up.
- They have a nonstick surface and so you don’t need to use much oil.
- Nonstick woks don’t get hot enough to brown foods.
- They are treated with a nonstick coating that helps make cleanup a breeze.
- The chemicals used in coating nonstick woks have been associated with health risks.
After the type of wok, size, material and handle the next most important thing to consider is the price of the wok in question. As with any other item, wok prices vary widely depending on the material and size. However, you’ll be sure to find a good enough wok that gets the job done with between $25 to $85.
Best Woks for cooking in 2018 Reviewed
Cate Maker Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Wok
Founded in 1914, Cate Maker is probably one of the oldest brands on the block. This high-end Italian cooking brand has all the hallmarks of a high-quality brand and specializes in providing one-stop kitchen supplies including cooking utensils, pots, tableware, kitchen accessories, knives and other electric appliances.
It has a nonstick surface that makes it easy to cook with fewer fats and a gorgeous ergonomically designed handle that’s quite comfortable to hold. Costing $52.90, this might not be the most affordable wok but it is a cut above the rest in as far as performance and build go and therefore would be a worthy investment any day anytime.
Highlights of the Cate Maker Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Wok
- Magnetized induction stove base for even heat distribution and instant heating.
- Nonstick interior surface that allows food to slide off making clean up a breeze.
- Gorgeous ergonomically designed handle.
- See through glass lid that makes it easy to monitor food as it cooks.
Calphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Flat-Bottom Wok
Calphalon is certainly no stranger to the kitchen scene. Having dealt with culinary tools from1963, Calphalon not only brings years of experience to the table but also innovation and high-quality kitchen tools that can stand the test of time. Taking cues from traditional woks, this contemporary 10-inch hard anodized aluminum wok features a stylish modern design that matches the style and design of just about any kind of kitchen space and remarkable everyday performance.
I also particularly like the fact that it has a rather deep bowl and burner sized bottom that keeps direct heat contained for when you need to sauté or sear your meals.
You’d think that you would probably have to pay top dollar for this but the Calphalon Contemporary wok costs just $54.99. And considering it offers exceptional durability and is easy to clean up after use, you’ll agree that $54.99 is a small price to pay for all its advantages. Not to mention it is backed by a lifetime warranty and is oven safe too.
Highlights of the Calphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Flat-Bottom Wok
- Durable triple layer PFOA free non-stick surface that ensures food doesn’t stick to the sides.
- It is dishwasher safe.
- It can be used on electric, gas, halogen, electric ring and glass-ceramic stovetops.
- It is backed by a lifetime warranty.
- It has a wide cooking surface that’s ideal for cooking.
Lodge P14W3 Seasoned Cast Iron Wok
Coming to the next pressure cooker on our list – the Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Wok. Made of 100% cast iron, this wok retains heat much better making it easier to cook food in minutes. It also has a flat bottom which makes it ideal for cooking on pretty much any type of cooking surface. Perfect for cooking generous amounts of food, this contemporary style wok will prove to be a perfect ally if you are looking at cooking a meal for more than two people. As an extra perk, the wok is also designed with two loop handles that offer a safe and secure grip and cast iron properties that provide superior heat retention and even heating to ensure your food cooks properly.
Highlights of the Lodge P14W3 Seasoned Cast Iron Wok
- Nonstick surface that ensures food doesn’t stick to the sides hence making cleanup a less tedious task.
- It has a sturdy base that remains stationary atop the stovetop.
Bruntmor Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Wok
Whether you want a modern look or a classic rustic look, you can have the best of both worlds with the Bruntmor Pre-Seasoned Cast Wok. Featuring wide handles that make it easy to achieve a comfortable and secure grip, Bruntmor is not only the perfect centerpiece for your kitchen space but also the perfect ally if comfort and convenience are top on your list of priorities.
Costing just $35.99, this uniquely designed wok features large loop handles for easy handling and cast iron properties that provide superior heat retention and allows for even heating.
Highlights of the Bruntmor Pre-Seasoned Cast Wok
- Nonstick finish that makes food slip right off to make cleanup easier.
- Ergonomically designed handles that provide a safe and secure grip.
- Gorgeous design that makes it the perfect centerpiece for your kitchen space.
- It has a nice attractive black hue that blends with the kitchen décor almost seamlessly.
Home N Kitchenware Collection Ceramic Marble Wok
According to Home N Kitchenware, this ceramic marble wok is one of the best woks for cooking in 2018 and among the most advanced woks on the market. And we couldn’t agree more. Costing 37.95, the Home N Kitchenware drives a good bargain. It has a nonstick surface that makes cleaning up a breeze and is quite handy around the kitchen thanks to its high-quality build.
Highlights of the Home N Kitchenware Collection Ceramic Marble Wok
- It is durable and can last for years if well maintained.
Cooks Standard 13-Inch Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Wok
Nothing beats being able to whip up a delicious meal at home. And with the Cooks Standard Stainless Steel Wok, things just became a little easier. Beautifully designed to blend in with the kitchen décor, this multi-ply wok features an interior and exterior layer of premium grade stainless steel with a multi-element alloy aluminum core for fast even heating. In addition, it has a secure fitting lid that traps heat, nutrients, and moisture to ensure efficient cooking.
As part of Cook’s standards, the collection incorporates three layers of clad metal that ensure tip-top performance and superb results with every meal. So, if you were thinking of getting that stir-fry order at the restaurant around the corner, maybe this might change your mind.
To top it all up, it has ergonomically designed stay cool handles with air flow technology that keeps the handle cool for a more comfortable hold.
Highlights of the Cooks Standard 13-Inch Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Wok
- It has a brushed surface which makes it perfectly safe to use on top of any type of stove.
- It offers outstanding versatility meaning you can use it both on a stove and in the oven.
TeChef – Art Pan 12″ Wok
If you’re looking for something a little more affordable, the TeChef Art Pan Wok costs just a little under $40 and would make a remarkable choice. Reminiscent of a high-quality wok that costs an arm and a leg, TeChef offers durable nonstick cookware that makes cooking healthy food a fun and easy affair. It has a steel base that distributes heat evenly to ensure that the food cooks uniformly. In addition, the cookware is uniquely designed and decorated and incorporates a Teflon Print Design Technology that provides a safer and innovative method for applying color and prints. Not to mention it has a patented design that helps spread heat evenly across the bottom and all the way up to the sides.
Highlights of the TeChef Art Pan 12″ Wok
- It has a nice attractive purple hue.
- It is quite durable
- It can be used on any type of cooktop.
- It has a non-stick surface that prevents food from sticking on to the sides.
T-fal A80789 Specialty Nonstick Jumbo Wok
The T-fal wok is one that you’ll definitely fall in love with. Being one of the top woks for cooking in 2018, it has an elegant black hue and a durable aluminum construction for fast and even heating. It also comes with a nonstick coating inside and out that facilitates an effortless cleanup time.
If you’re worried about convenience and grip, well don’t be. The T-fal Jumbo Wok features a long ergonomically designed stay-cool handle that facilitates a more than comfortable grip and is versatile enough to do pretty much anything from searing, steaming, boiling, pan frying, sautéing, deep frying and boiling foods. It is also oven safe for up to 350 degrees and dishwasher time to allow for a rather seamless cleanup process.
Highlights of the T-fal A80789 Specialty Nonstick Jumbo Wok
- It has a large capacity that makes it ideal for cooking family sized meals.
- It has a limited lifetime warranty.
- Aluminum construction for fast and even heat distribution.
Cook N Home 12-Inch Nonstick Stir Fry Wok Pan
Cook N Home is one of the best non stick woks out there. It offers an affordable solution for all your cooking problems and boasts of among many things a high-quality build that lasts for years. It is made of thick gauge aluminum that ensures there’s even distribution of heat so that your food can cook in a matter of minutes and a nonstick surface that facilitates an easy cleanup. In addition, the wok has riveted ergonomically designed handles with a stay cool feature that makes it both comfortable and easy to hold without potholders. It’s one of the best wok pan models on the market.
Highlights of the Cook N Home 12-Inch Nonstick Stir Fry Wok Pan
- It works on gas, electric, induction, halogen, glass and ceramic stovetops.
- It has a thick gauge aluminum that prevents hotspots.
Joyce Chen 21-9978, Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok
Whether you want to whip up a healthy Szechwan beef and broccoli stir-fry, fried rice, tofu or a vegetable stir fry, having the right tool for the job makes your work infinitely easier. And the Joyce Chen Classic Carbon Steel Wok is definitely one of the top woks worth having in your arsenal.
Probably one of the oldest brands on the block, Joyce Chen has been offering quality Chinese cookware for decades, supplying many Chinese restaurants in the country. And the Classic Series 14-inch model has to be the best yet. This flat-bottomed wok is the perfect combination of size, features, and function and delivers remarkable results with every meal. It features a long Birchwood handle and side helper handle for easy lifting and has curved sides that diffuse heat and extend the cooking surface. In addition to being ergonomically designed, the handles have a stay cool feature that makes it fairly easy to remove the wok from the burner without having to use a potholder.
As an extra perk, the wok has great depth which makes it a superb choice for cooking a family sized meal and is versatile enough to steam, simmer or deep fry the meal.
Highlights of the Joyce Chen 21-9978, Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok
- It has a wide top and narrow bottom that allows for frying with less oil.
- It has a generous cooking surface.
- It requires a little more maintenance to maintain it in tip-top shape.
- It is reasonably priced.
- Reviews suggest it’s the best work for stir fry for the money.
- There are plenty of variations to choose from. From heavy professional weight to lightweight pre-seasoned woks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you are a novice chef or not, there’s a lot you need to know about woks before you make a purchase decision.
What type of wok is easiest to clean?
Woks are pretty much easy to clean regardless of the type. However, the easiest has to be a nonstick wok. All you have to do is wipe it down and voila! However, carbon steel pans and seasoned cast iron are also naturally nonstick and so it goes without saying that they are also fairly easy to clean.
Can you make other foods other than stir fry?
Yes. You can make a variety of dishes besides stir-fry. Scrambled eggs, fried rice, salad, chicken beef, warming tortillas, roasting coffee beans and steaming seafood.
Are you supposed to clean a wok?
Yes. However, I’ll go ahead and pout a disclaimer at this point. While you should ensure that you keep your wok clean at all times, you should avoid using anything abrasive when cleaning. Say like steel or any cleaner that’s stronger than dish soap. As a matter of fact, you might not even need to use soap at all. By just simply running the wok under hot water and giving it a run by with a cleaning pad, you get your wok all cleaned up for the next meal.
What type of wok should you buy?
Remember the old adage that you get what you pay for? Well, when it comes to woks, things are no different at all. And in this case, while a good carbon steel wok might cost you top dollar there’s just no substitute for a good old carbon steel wok.
Is a stainless-steel wok any good?
No. As much as stainless steel is a darling when it comes to kitchen items, a stainless-steel wok just won’t do. The problem is stainless steel isn’t a very good conductor of heat. And since woks are used to pretty much heat, steam or cook food, you’ll need a material that conducts heat.
Can I use a round bottom wok on an electric stove?
While the type of stove makes a huge difference – particularly one with a wok ring – let’s put it this way: Yes, you can use a round-bottomed wok on an electric stove. However, it’s not optimal. A flat-bottomed wok would be more suitable if you’re using an electric stove? But if you have a propane burner, then by all means. The round-bottomed wok would work perfectly on that.
Is food cooked in a wok healthy?
Wok cooking is perfectly healthy. It is a healthy way of preparing meals especially if you like having plenty of vegetables in your meals. However, you have to limit the amount of sodium and fat ingredients you use and avoid adding a lot of oil or fat to the food.
Plus, foods cook quite fast when fried in a wok and since the ingredients are not overheated, the foods get to hang onto their nutrients to create healthier meals.
Who needs a wok?
A wok is an indispensable cooking tool around the kitchen. It is the perfect ally for stir-fry lovers and can double up as a skillet, Dutch oven or saucepan from time to time. Not to mention, you can also use it to steam vegetables and dumplings too.
Is there any reason why stir-frying with a wok is any better than using any other kitchen tool?
There are plenty of reasons why wok cooking trumps any other tool you could use in the kitchen.
- Stir-frying in a wok allows you to cook meals quickly and easily.
- Since wok cooking is much faster, foods aren’t overheated which means that they hang onto all their heat sensitive nutrients to create a healthier meal.
- When you stir fry in a wok, the food isn’t exposed to excess amounts of heat and so the vegetables you’re cooking still get to retain their color making your food look even more attractive.
- Most stir-fry dishes are comprised of large amounts of vegetables paired with smaller amounts of meat. That allows you to prepare an inexpensive meal
Overall, a wok is a pretty handy tool to have around the kitchen. Any of the above-named woks will no doubt be a handy addition to your arsenal. But as with any other list you’ve probably come across some are no doubt better than others. So, ultimately it all just depends on what your preferences are.