Woks to Make Your Best-Ever Stir-Fry

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

Cooking vegetables in a wok
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.

Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok with Wooden and Steel Helper Handle (14 Inch, Round Bottom)
This pan is a great introduction if you want to go full-on classic—but you’ll need a ring to use it on a standard stovetop.Craft Wok

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.

Carbon Steel Wok For Electric, Induction and Gas Stoves (Lid, Spatula and Seasoning Video Guide Included)
With a flat bottom, this pan doesn’t require a ring.Souped Up Recipes

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.

Pre-Seasoned Carbon Steel Wok Pan - 14 “ Woks and Stir Fry Pans - Chinese Wok with Round Bottom Wok - Traditional Chinese Japanese Woks - Black Steel Wok
This product boasts one long handle, which isn’t, strictly speaking, traditional. But it does make it much easier to use.Yosukata

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.

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