I Unlocked My Wok's Full Potential With This Surprising Cooking Task

You need the Circulon SteelShield Wok for your next movie night

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Circulon Wok

The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie 

This post is part of our 'This Is Fire' series, where our editors and writers tell you about the products they can't live without in the kitchen.

While woks might be considered a specialty bit of cookware, this Circulon hybrid stainless-steel wok has become an everyday pan in my kitchen, living on the stove so I can grab it for almost all of my cooking. But the real surprise with this wok—and yes this sounds a little wacky—is how well it works for popping popcorn.

Circulon SteelShield Wok With Glass Lad

Circulon SteelShield Wok With Glass Lad


What We Like
  • Hybrid surface cleans easily

  • Top window lets you see what’s cooking

  • Browns food well

  • Excellent for popcorn

What We Don't Like
  • Takes a lot of dishwasher space

  • Takes significant storage space

But before we get to cooking, I have to talk about the design. Wow, this thing is pretty. The curved lines, shiny surface, and unique curved handle make this wok something you don’t mind having on the stove when company stops by. It’s practically a decoration.

stir-fry in wok on stovetop

The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

But looks aren’t everything; this also has useful features. There’s a hybrid of nonstick and stainless steel inside, with the raised concentric metal circles Circulon is known for. This means that when you’re using a spoon, tongs, or a spatula in the wok, the tools are going to touch the stainless steel instead of the nonstick material, keeping the nonstick safe from scrapes and scratches. Sure, you can still gouge it if you go after it with a knife or fork, but spoons and spatulas shouldn’t be a problem. Since the stainless steel can attain high heat, it’s good for searing and browning, yet it also manages to be nonstick.

The hybrid interior isn’t the only way this wok diverges from classic form and function. While traditional woks have a small bottom surface, this one is wider, but it still has the gently sloping sides and wide rim. Thanks to that wider bottom surface, more food can sear or brown at once, but it can still be pushed to the edges and up the sides to get away from the highest heat.

The real surprise—and the thing I’ve used this wok for more than anything else—is popcorn.

The real surprise—and the thing I’ve used this wok for more than anything else—is popcorn. The stainless steel gets hot enough to heat the oil (or my favorite for popcorn: ghee) and it heats the corn evenly, thanks to the wide bottom that can hold a lot of corn in a single layer. The glass in the center of the wok lid might be my favorite part, since I can watch the popcorn popping. 

Not only is popping corn fun in the wok, it does a better job than my microwave popper or a saucepan, leaving surprisingly few un-popped kernels. Then, when it’s done, the wide surface makes it easier to sprinkle salt and seasonings on top, so they’re dispersed more evenly. A quick mix, and the popcorn is ready for serving.

Popcorn in the Circulon SteelShield Wok

The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

That’s not to say that I use the wok exclusively for popcorn. It’s also excellent for making any kind of stir-fry, fajitas, or other dishes that need to cook quickly while stirring. I’ve also used it for reducing sauce, once again because the wide, open pot aids evaporation. I’ve used it to make pasta sauce, then added the pasta to the wok for quick mixing. And, like traditional woks, it’s great for steaming, too. Heck, I’ve even used it for cooking pasta, simply because it was handy, and it worked just fine.

While this wok is dishwasher safe, it’s a pretty big piece that takes a lot of space in the washer. I normally wash it by hand, which is easy to do. Even when I made fajitas recently and there were browned bits stuck to the stainless steel, I just needed a sponge and a bit of dish soap to clean it completely.

Circulon SteelShield Wok

The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

Material: Stainless steel interior, 3-ply clad construction with induction plate, hybrid stainless steel and nonstick interior | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | Oven Safe Temperature: 500 degrees | Induction Compatible: Yes| Warranty: Limited lifetime

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Donna Currie is a Colorado-based writer who has found her niche writing about kitchen gear and cooking products for over a decade. Beside writing for The Spruce, she has written for Serious Eats, The Wall Street Journal BuySide, and multiple print publications. Besides writing about cooking gear, she has also developed recipes, and is the author of Make Ahead Bread, a cookbook dedicated to easier bread making.