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A wok is a great tool to have when cooking Chinese cuisine, particularly because of how great it is for stir-frying. It spreads heat more evenly and requires less oil than a typical frying pan, for starters. Woks are also versatile: they can be used for deep-frying, steaming, and smoking. These advantages make it easier to cook Chinese food, as well as food from other cultures. It's important, however, to buy the right wok, as they come in all shapes and forms: from those with flat or round bottoms to those made from cast iron or carbon steel.
Here, our top woks for your kitchen.
Easy to store
Dishwasher and oven safe
May be too small for families
Short handle gets too hot to hold
This wok is about as far from traditional materials as you can get—which makes it great for the modern cook in a contemporary kitchen. It’s made from heavy-gauge hard-anodized aluminum with three layers of nonstick coating on the cooking surface for durability. And of course, the nonstick coating helps prevent the food from sticking and burning, which is a risk when stir-frying.
"Thanks to its compact size and hard-anodized aluminum exterior, the pan heats up incredibly quick and its curved sides retain heat to ensure even and speedy cooking," our tester reported. This wok has a flat bottom that’s a bit larger than the bottom of a traditional wok so you get plenty of heat in the center for stir-frying. You can use it on any gas or electric stove, but since it’s made from aluminum, it won’t work on an induction cooktop. It includes a domed cover for steaming, or you can use the wok for simmering, braising, or frying.
This is available in a traditional 12-inch and a smaller 10-inch diameter. The sides have a steeper slope than some woks, so it’s more compact for storage. This is a great starter wok for someone who doesn’t have ample storage or who prefers a pan that’s not quite so specialized.
This wok is oven-safe to 450 degrees and dishwasher safe. It has one long handle with a hole for hanging.
"It’s just the right size for single cooks or those with limited cabinet space." — Caroline Goldstein, Product Tester
Big enough to cook several portions at once
Dishwasher and oven safe
Handle stays cool to the touch
May be too large for small living spaces
Not as attractive as other woks on the market
Woks are not typically expensive pieces of equipment, but this one is particularly wallet-friendly. The large 14-inch wok is great for cooking large family meals, while the nonstick cooking surface makes it easy to use and clean since food won’t stick. According to our tester, "even the most stubborn ingredients—like thinly sliced mushrooms, diced onions, and grated garlic—slid right off without leaving any residue or burn marks."
This wok is made from aluminum, so it’s lighter in weight than steel woks. It’s oven safe to 350 degrees, and it’s also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. A large wok can be a bit difficult to fit into a dishwasher, but this is nonstick inside and out, so it’s easy to wash by hand, too.
Since this is made from aluminum, it can’t be used on an induction cooktop, but since it has a flat bottom, it can be used on any gas or electric stove. It has a long handle, and a helper handle that makes it easy to use and move, and the handles are covered with silicone for a stay-cool comfortable grip. The inside bottom has a flat cooking surface that’s more typical in modern woks.
"It’s ideal for feeding families, prepping for parties, and batch-cooking your weekly lunches." — Caroline Goldstein, Product Tester
Comes with a lid for steaming
Dishwasher and oven safe
Tough to remove stains
This 12-inch wok has an aluminum core inside of dual layers of stainless steel, so it heats evenly, provides fast browning, and it can be used on any type of cooktop, including induction. The exterior is brushed stainless steel for an elegant look, and since it’s stainless inside and out, you can use metal utensils in it with no problem.
This comes with a tempered glass lid, so you can use it for steaming or other cooking purposes, and you can watch what’s cooking. Both the pan and lid are oven safe, so you can finish a dish in the oven, or keep it warm for serving. The pan is also broiler safe.
This wok has a flat bottom inside and out, so it can be used on any type of stove. It has one long handle and one helper handle, so it’s easy to use and easy to move. However, our tester warned, "Every scratch, burn, and grease mark is clearly visible—even after a good soak."
"With its aluminum core, the Calphalon Triply Stainless Steel Wok heats up quickly, intensely, and evenly across the entire cooking surface." — Caroline Goldstein, Product Tester
Great for making large meals
Lots of maintenance required
Difficult to store
Carbon steel is a very traditional material for woks, but it has some downsides that a home cook needs to be aware of. Like cast iron, carbon steel needs to be seasoned to keep it from rusting and it can’t be washed in a dishwasher. When this wok is hand-washed, it needs to be dried immediately and oiled before storing to prevent rust. A well-used carbon steel wok will turn black from use and will become more and more nonstick over time.
When carbon steel is heated, it emits a metallic odor that some cooks find objectionable. This odor becomes less noticeable as the wok is used and seasoned over time. Carbon steel woks are often sold with a protective coating that must be removed before the wok is seasoned before its first use. It’s important to read the specific instructions included with the wok for the proper way to remove the coating.
This wok is made from cold-forged carbon steel with two riveted loop handles and a very traditional round bottom. You’ll need to use a wok ring to hold it on your gas stove. It won’t work well with other stovetops since the round bottom won’t make contact with the heat.
While carbon steel is one of the most traditional wok materials, casual home cooks might find the care and seasoning to be more than they want to deal with unless they’re passionate about wok cooking. At 16 inches, this is also a large wok that will take quite a bit of storage space.
Includes handy tools
Heats quickly and evenly
Nonstick surface adds convenience
Handles can become loose over time
This 14-inch wok combines traditional carbon steel construction with a premium nonstick surface that’s safe for metal utensils, so it doesn’t require the finicky care of an uncoated wok. However, wood, nylon, or silicone utensils will help extend the life of the nonstick surface.
The wok has a long maple wood handle and a helper handle that look attractive and stay cool during cooking. It also includes a domed lid.
This is great for a first-time wok user since it includes the many of the tools needed, including a tempura rack, a bamboo spatula, bamboo cooking chopsticks, six pairs of bamboo dining chopsticks, a steaming rack, bamboo tongs, and a bamboo rice paddle.
This pan should be hand washed without any abrasive pads or cleaners. It should not be washed in the dishwasher. Because of the wooden handles, it is not oven safe.
Easy to clean
Nonstick surface deteriorates over time
This pre-seasoned cast iron wok offers the benefits of cast iron cooking combined with lightweight construction. It’s large enough to cook dinner in a single batch, whether you’re making fried rice, stir-fry, or fajitas, yet it’s much lighter than traditional cast iron woks so it’s easy to lift, move, and store. This model has stainless steel handles but is also available with Bakelite or wooden handles as well.
Since it comes pre-seasoned, you can start using this wok right away, but the surface gets even more nonstick with additional seasoning and use. This should be hand washed.
Heavy duty construction
Pre-seasoned and ready to use out of the box
Flat bottom does not require an adapter
Lodge is known for its long-lasting cast iron pieces, and this wok is no exception. This is a sturdily-built, heavy pan that retains heat beautifully and will help you achieve the restaurant-quality sear that is hard to achieve without a high-BTU flame. It has a flat bottom that allows it to sit on top of a gas burner without the adapter ring needed for round-bottom woks. With a 14-inch diameter, this wok is large enough to quickly cook your favorite stir-fry dishes for a crowd. Since cast iron requires seasoning to protect its surface, this model comes pre-seasoned with 100% vegetable oil—all you'll have to do is maintain it.
The large handles make it easy to transport and maneuver, but since they are also cast iron, you'll have to be mindful of their temperature at all times. It is also quite heavy, weighing in at nearly 11 pounds, so it might be a bit cumbersome to bring out and put away if you plan on using it often. That being said, Lodge pans are fairly inexpensive and deliver quality way above its price point.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a food writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats, specializing in all the latest cookware and kitchen gadgets.
Caroline Goldstein, a lifestyle writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats, personally tested three of the woks on this list, putting them through the paces in her NYC apartment to evaluate their functionality, design, and ease of cleaning and storage.
Our Guide to Cooking With and Buying a Wok
If you cook a lot of Chinese food, you may be debating if you need to buy a wok.
The answer is yes and no. You don't absolutely need a wok to create satisfying meals. Nonetheless, the bowl-shaped utensil is the one piece of equipment that you really should consider purchasing if you want to get serious about Chinese cooking.
A wok has numerous advantages over the frying pan. It distributes heat more evenly, requires less oil, and ensures that food tossed during stir-frying lands back in the pan and not on the stove. A good kitchen knife can take the place of a cleaver, and rice can be boiled in a saucepan instead of steamed, but it is hard to find a satisfactory substitute for a wok.
Choosing the Right Wok
Once you've decided to add a wok to your supply of kitchen equipment, you'll want to shop around to choose the best model. Originally, all woks were round-bottomed and made of iron since they were designed to be used with the traditional Chinese wood stove. Gradually, the iron was replaced with carbon steel. Today, there are all types of woks on the market: aluminum, copper, stainless steel. Many chefs still prefer the traditional carbon steel wok, but find what works for you.
There have been a few other innovations designed to make the wok more compatible with western ranges. Since the 1960s, round-bottomed woks normally come with a "collar," which is a circular device with holes to allow for the transfer of heat. It ensures that the wok is evenly balanced over the heat source. While people with gas stoves often prefer not to use it, the collar should definitely be used if you are cooking with a round-bottomed wok on an electric stove. Your best option when cooking on an electric range is to purchase a flat bottomed wok. Round-bottomed woks can reflect heat back on the element, damaging it.
Traditionally, the wok came with two metal handles, making it easy to lift in and out of the stove. Modern woks that have one long wooden handle, like a skillet. This gives you more leverage for moving and tilting the wok and eliminates the need for a potholder. As for size, woks come in a variety of sizes (restaurants may use woks that are several feet across) but a 14-inch wok is a good size for home use.
Seasoning and Cleaning Your Wok
It is very important to season your wok before trying it out for the first time. Seasoning removes the preservative oil manufacturers place on the wok to prevent it from rusting, replacing it with a light coating of cooking oil. It is also important to properly clean your wok after each use. Given the variety of woks on the market today, it is difficult to give a general set of instructions on how to season and care for a wok. The best thing you can do is pay careful attention to the manufacturer's instructions.