Woks to Make Your Best-Ever Stir-Fry

Embrace the wok life. You’ll never look back.

byEdmund Torr|
Woks to Make Your Best-Ever Stir-Fry
Look forward to flavorful, evenly cooked veggies. Unsplash/Clem Onojeghuo

The wok, a round-bottomed pan made from thin metal, originated in China centuries ago—but it’s still just as useful today. The large cooking surface along with the thin metal allows it to get scorchingly hot, but also to change temperatures rapidly, compared with a cast iron pan. Here’s what to look for in your new stir-fry staple.

This pan is a great introduction, but you’ll need a ring to use it on a standard stovetop.

The basic wok shape—very tall, curved sides, and a large interior—has been altered and modified and exists in all kinds of forms now. There are different materials, different coatings, different handle designs and placements, and more. But a standard round bottom is key to making stir-fry. The design distributes heat evenly, doesn’t warp and makes it easy to use wok ladles and spatulas.

With a flat bottom, this pan doesn’t require a ring.

Nonstick pans certainly have their uses, but the coating will flake off when exposed to super high heat, which you’ll want to use with a wok. Instead opt for carbon steel, which can handle the heat.

Naturally Nonstick
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This product boasts one long handle, which isn’t, strictly speaking, traditional—but it does make it much simpler to operate.

Once you have your carbon steel wok, you’ll want to season it. “Seasoning” in this case means burning oil into the wok at very high heat, over and over again. This gets tiny particles of the oil stuck to the pan itself, and they’ll stay there forever, as long as you don’t scrub them off. This provides a nonstick coating of sorts—but one that won’t come off while you cook. Simply rinse with hot water and a soft sponge or towel after use.