Maintains heat well
Handle gets hot near pan
Scratches with metal spatula
No instructions for care provided
We purchased the Calphalon Williams-Sonoma Elite Hard-Anodized Nonstick 13-Inch Wok so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
The taste of food cooked in a wok is that unmistakable flavor and texture that only a wok can produce. Known as the wok hei—meaning the "breath of wok"—this is the taste cooks are after when they use a wok. A traditional carbon-steel or hammered-iron wok takes time, effort, and nurturing to become nonstick and requires constant maintenance. In contrast, an engineered nonstick surface doesn’t require much maintenance or seasoning before use; it is also capable of cooking food with much less oil. But how does the latter compare in terms of imparting that distinctive wok flavor, and is it as versatile as a traditional wok? I like to buy multi-use kitchen utensils and tools, and I wanted to test if the Calphalon Williams-Sonoma Elite Nonstick Wok would deliver on that.
To find out answers to these questions, I fired up my gas stove and set up the Calphalon Elite Nonstick Wok for a few grueling days of sautéing, stir-frying, deep-frying, curries, and making scrambled eggs. Read on to find out the results of my wok test.
Design: Elegantly contoured
The first thing I noticed about the wok was the two riveted handles that made the wok look elegant. They get hot during cooking, however. The wok is deep with a flat base and sloping sides. The base stays firmly on gas and electric stovetops and can be set up on the table for serving. The 13-inch size is generous and handy when cooking for a crowd or meal-prepping food to freeze and use later. The nonstick surface is textured for searing and browning food, and it did deliver on that, but only when making small quantities at a time. The sloping sides of a wok ideally hold food while you keep stir-frying in the center. This was not the case here—the food kept falling back into the center. The low-profile glass lid is clear and lets you see contents during cooking without having to lift it.
Material: Nonstick and hard-anodized with stainless steel handles
The base material of this wok is hard-anodized aluminum, which ensures heat retention and provides uniform cooking. The nonstick material is PFOA-free and is textured for enhanced browning and searing of food. The handles are made from polished stainless steel and are ergonomically designed. Calphalon claims that the triple-layer nonstick surface is durable enough to withstand metal whisks, spoons, and spatulas, but in my testing, I found that not to be the case. The nonstick material scratched at the first instance of using a metal spatula.
Performance: Versatile, quick to heat
I used the wok for everything, from stir-frying to sautéing, deep-frying to making curries and scrambled eggs. I instantly noticed that I used much less oil for stir-frying and sautéing because of the nonstick surface. The stir-fried vegetables had that distinct wok flavor, and proteins like chicken seared well. The wok was able to get to heat up fairly quickly and retained the heat throughout, especially while deep-frying. I also did a dry egg test to check if eggs would release from the wok without using any oil. The first time around, the eggs released with just a bit of dryness around the edges. After a few uses, however, the release was not as clean. But that was not the end of the troubles I ran into with this wok.
The long handle gets really hot, but only halfway to the center from the base. Because only the outside end remains cool, I accidentally burnt my hand a couple of times while trying to lift the wok for tossing food.
One of the key things in a wok is to be able to properly hold it by the handle or handles to toss the food around. The handle, while beautiful, has a big caveat. It gets really hot towards the base, while only the end remains cool. Because of this, I accidentally ended up burning my hand a couple of times while trying to grab the handle to lift the wok. For tossing food or lifting the wok, you need to hold it closer to the base. I couldn’t do this without having to use mittens or a kitchen cloth—defeating the purpose of a long handle. To me, this was more than just an inconvenience; it was a major design flaw. Also, despite claims from the manufacturer that the triple-layer nonstick surface is durable enough to withstand metal whisks, spoons, and spatulas, I found that the surface scratched rather easily, leaving deep marks in the wok.
Cleaning: Very easy
The wok is dishwasher-safe, but it's also easy to clean with hand-washing. A quick scrub with soap and a rinse was all I needed to do after using the wok for stir-frying, cooking sticky sauces, and deep-frying. For a deeper clean-up (after leaving some food in the wok that dried up), I simply put it in the dishwasher, and it came out sparkling clean.
The Calphalon Elite Nonstick Wok retails at around $130. While a higher price point for quality nonstick cookware is not unusual, this price is still very expensive—especially if the nonstick coating gets scratched easily. Buying this would mean that you have to be extremely careful and use this very gently.
Competition: Calphalon Elite Nonstick Wok vs. HexClad Hybrid Wok
HexClad 12-Inch Hybrid Wok With Lid: The HexClad 12-Inch Hybrid Wok With Lid is rather on the more expensive side of the price spectrum (it retails for around $199). But, if you want a nonstick wok that can withstand heavy use and metal spatulas, this is the wok for you. It's made with a patented laser etching design that creates a series of peaks and valleys. The peaks are stainless steel, and the valleys are nonstick. This design allows for rigorous use without scratching the nonstick surface of the wok. Additionally, the wok can also be used on an induction stovetop.
Versatile, but not the best of the best.
The Calphalon Williams-Sonoma Elite Hard-Anodized Nonstick 13-Inch Wok didn't live up to my expectations. With the nonstick surface that scratches despite claims that it's metal-safe, as well as the design flaw in the handles, you may want to look into some other nonstick woks—ones that are either cheaper so the price tag won’t hurt as much, or ones that excel in performance but may be more expensive.
- Product Name Elite Nonstick Wok
- Product Brand Calphalon
- Price $130
- Weight 6.3 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 13 x 4 x 13 in.
- Material Hard anodized aluminum, stainless steel
- What's Included 13-inch nonstick wok and glass lid