Great for flipping food
Removable silicone handle
Heat safe to 500 degrees
Aluminum is reactive
Heavier than you might expect
Must be hand washed
We purchased the Winco Aluminum Stir Fry Pan so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
Nothing's better than a quick yet tasty dish whipped and pan-seared. Chicken Chow Mein, anyone? Yet when life happens (always), and our schedules are jampacked (also, always), sometimes a chow on imitation second-rate version made at home will just have to do the trick.
It’s been a while since I’ve cooked in a bare aluminum pan, so I was curious what the Winco Aluminum Stir Fry Pan could do that my everyday cookware couldn’t. Since it’s designed to make a good stir-fry, I stocked up on foods for stir-frying and fajitas, and I also planned to test it with pasta and sauce.
Made from heavy-gauge aluminum, this pan was heavier than I expected. Not so much that I couldn’t use it comfortably, and I certainly was able to flip food—which the high side walls made much easier—but this isn’t a lightweight pan for someone with poor grip strength.
The pan has a flat bottom, but the sides are very rounded leaving a small flat zone. When placed on the center of one of my burners, it sat comfortably, but if it was off-center it sometimes wanted to tip because of that small bottom.
The handle is securely fastened to the body with rivets. There’s a removable silicone sheath on the handle, but I wouldn’t have known it was removable until I read it. It certainly didn’t feel like it was going to slip off on its own. I tugged at it a bit and it didn’t move, so I gave up. I don’t see a reason why I’d want to remove it, but if it gets damaged somehow it’s good to know that it could be replaced.
This pan is built mostly for restaurant use, and it can handle oven heat to a whopping 500 degrees. Still, it’s not ugly and would look good in any kitchen. And you can make that restaurant-quality steak that might rival Longhorn (and their prices). That's always a plus.
This pan is built mostly for restaurant use, and it can handle oven heat to a whopping 500 degrees.
Material: All aluminum, all good
The pan is made from 3003 aluminum, which is essentially a mostly pure form of aluminum with manganese for strength. It also has good corrosion resistance, but it’s still a reactive metal, so it’s not something I’d simmer tomato sauce in for a long time. On top of this durable material, the pan is 4 millimeters thick, so it’s definitely sturdy.
Heating Capacity: Fast to heat and cool
Aluminum is a reactive metal, which means that it heats and cools quickly. That’s what you look for in a pan where it’s crucial to be able to rapidly change the heat during cooking, like stir-frying where you’d want to quickly lower the heat or remove the pan from the burner to keep the food from burning. However, because the pan is so thick, it does retain heat more than something like a thin crepe pan.
Performance: Great for stir-fry
As expected, this pan heated quickly, and because of the shape, the bottom was the hot spot, with less heat up the sides, much like a wok. In fact, you could think of this as a mini-wok, since it’s at its best for stir-frying and other active cooking.
I used this for all sorts of stir-frying and sautéing of different meats and vegetables. Left in the pan, the bits and pieces sometimes seemed to stick, but a quick flip or swirl loosened them from the pan.
Because of the high curved sides, it was super-easy to flip foods like your noodles before sliding them into a Ramen bowl—it would be a great pan for a beginner to learn the technique before moving on to flipping foods in a shallower pan.
Besides being handy for cooking vegetables, this pan was also a great tool for working with pasta. I used it to combine a short pasta with vegetables and a light sauce and all it took was a few flips before I was ready to slide the food into a bowl for serving.
Although I was skeptical about using the pan for acidic foods, I also used it for combining some spaghetti with a red sauce. Again, the pan made it easy to mix the two. Keeping in mind that aluminum can react to acidic foods, I kept the cooking to a minimum, but it didn’t take long to get the pasta, sauce, and a little pasta water to work their magic. I emptied it onto a serving platter right away, and the pan was unharmed.
Cleaning: Hand wash only
This pan absolutely must be washed by hand, and never in the dishwasher. Fortunately, it was easier than I expected. I thought the pan might start acquiring a patina, like well-used aluminum baking sheets, but instead, I was able to wash out food debris easily, even when the pan seemed pretty well browned after some serious stir-fry cooking on high heat.
To prevent warping the pan, it should be completely cooled before washing, but I found that deglazing the pan with a bit of water helped the cleanup later. It should also be dried after washing to prevent the formation of limescale buildup.
If food is stubbornly stuck to the pan, it’s suggested that boiling water in it with a bit of vinegar can loosen the food, then it can be washed and dried normally. I didn’t need to do that, and I’d probably start with plain water since I’m still skittish about acidic food in an aluminum pot.
While aluminum can discolor or oxidize, it can be renewed with a little effort. It’s not hard, but the upkeep isn’t as easy as taking care of stainless steel cookware.
In fact, you could think of this as a mini-wok, since it’s at its best for stir-frying and other active cooking.
In the vast world of cookware, this pot is definitely affordable at just about $40. Since it doesn’t have a nonstick coating, it should last nearly forever with the right care.
Winco Aluminum Stir Fry Pan vs. T-fal A80789 Nonstick Jumbo Wok
If the Winco stir fry pan is good, would a larger pan like the T-fal A80789 Nonstick Jumbo Wok be better? The larger size of the T-fal means it can handle more food, but the large size also makes it a bit more difficult to handle on the stove. And while the nonstick surface means cleaning is easy, it also means that it needs delicate handling and less heat. Overall, we’d pick the Winco pan. It’s not the perfect pan for everything, but what it does, it does well.
Worth a try.
This is a great little pan for all kinds of stir-frying and other hands-on cooking. At the price, it’s worth giving it a try to see if it’s the pan you’ve been looking for.
- Product Name Aluminum Stir Fry Pan
- Product Brand Winco
- MPN ASFP-11
- Price $41.02
- Weight 4.89 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 11.31 x 11.31 x 3.5 in.
- Material 3003 Aluminum, 4.0mm thickness; removable silicone handle