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8 Best Woks, According to Kitchen Experts and Reviewers

For so much more than just stir-fry.

Best Woks
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We updated this guide in January 2022 to ensure all products previously vetted by the Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute were in stock and correctly priced. We also added a new pick, the Breville Electric Wok, and interviewed Grace Young, the James Beard Award–winning author of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge and The Breath of Wok, for tips on using a wok.


Woks date back 2,000 years to the Han Dynasty in China. The word "wok" means "cooking pot" in Chinese, and the pans are used for a variety of cooking tasks. While woks are best associated with making stir-fries in the U.S., any food that benefits from a centralized heat source and large, consistent cooking area can (and should!) be cooked in a wok. That means woks can be used for braising, making sauces, soups, deep frying, steaming and more.

Woks traditionally have rounded bottoms (that tend to require a wok ring to help stabilize) and very smooth, rounded edges, perfect for heating quickly and evenly over a small flame. They typically have long handles that allow them to be shaken during cooking, sometimes eliminating the need to stir at all. Some contemporary styles come with lids that help with steaming and gently finishing food. While many woks are carbon steel, there are also cast iron, nonstick, aluminum, electric and stainless steel woks.

We’ve tested more than 100 lines of cookware over the years in the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab. Here, we’ve rounded up the best woks based on user reviews, our favorite brands and our categorical expertise on cooking tools. We chose an assorted variety catering to every type of chef, from the novice home cook to the professional. Our top-recommended woks are easy to clean and feature flat bottoms so they can be used on the average home stove.

Here are our picks for the best woks in 2022. Read on for tips on using a wok from Grace Young, James Beard Award–winning author of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge and The Breath of Wok, as well as information on the best materials for woks and accessories and tools you may need.

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        Best Overall Wok
        Signature 12-Inch Wok
        Calphalon
        Calphalon
        Now 15% off

        • Flat bottom design is easy to use
        • Hard-anodized aluminum is durable, dishwasher-safe and can be used with metal utensils

        • May be heavy for some

        Made from heavy-gauge, hard-anodized aluminum, this nonstick wok is durable, but still easy enough to maneuver. It features a flat bottom so it won't be hard to position on your stove. We like the extra-sloped edges and comfortable handle, which make tossing foods simple. The Calphalon wok can be used with metal utensils and is dishwasher safe, though we recommend using silicone-tipped or wooden utensils and hand washing to preserve the nonstick coating. It can also go easily from stovetop to oven since it’s oven safe up to 500°F.

        Best Value Wok
        Classic Series Nonstick 14-Inch Wok
        Joyce Chen
        Joyce Chen

        • Carbon steel heats fast
        • Doesn't need to be seasoned due to nonstick coating
        • Wooden handles stay cool through use

        • Needs to be hand washed

        This nonstick wok is made from carbon steel and has a nonstick coating, which means it heats up fast and responds to changes in temperature well, but you don't need to worry about seasoning it or caring for it a particular way. The wooden handle is designed to stay cool during cooking, while the helper handle makes transporting to the table easy. Since food does not stick to the surface it makes cleanup easier, but we recommend skipping the dishwasher, which can wear down the nonstick coating quicker and cause the wooden handle to age faster.

        Most Versatile Wok
        12-Inch Wok
        HexClad

        • Nonstick, heavy-duty and sturdy
        • Heats quickly
        • Dishwasher safe

        • More expensive than some others
        • Needs to be seasoned before use

        This wok is very versatile thanks to its stainless steel build and patented laser-etched hexagon design, which makes it nonstick. It delivers heavy-duty heat like a carbon steel wok, can be used and washed like a stainless, but cleans up like a nonstick pan with little effort (if used properly). When road-testing this pan at home, our expert found it got very hot quickly.

        The wok can be used with metal utensils and tossed in the dishwasher. The nonstick finish appears on the outside of the pan, as well, to add to the aesthetic and to help prevent any blemishes that come along with stainless steel's natural wear and tear. HexClad's wok is sturdy but relatively lightweight and easy to handle. It offers a large surface area. It can be used on gas, electric or induction stoves and in the oven up to 500°F.

        Best Carbon Steel Wok
        Blue Carbon Steel Wok
        Made In
        Made In

        • Thicker-than-average metal for high heats
        • Oven-safe up to 1,200ºF

        • Needs to be seasoned before use

        This Made In wok is 12 inches in diameter and 2 millimeters thick, while most woks are 1.5 or 1.25 millimeters. It's designed for the highest heat and can be used on any stovetop. It's also oven safe up to 1,200°F! This wok does not arrive seasoned, so you have to put in a little work before using. However, because it can achieve high temperatures, it can properly sear meats and vegetables to achieve a deeper flavor.

        Best Non-Traditional Wok
        12-inch Ultimate Pan
        Anolon
        Anolon

        • Utilitarian design can be used across kitchen tasks
        • Hard anodized aluminum is durable yet lightweight
        • Slip-resistant handle

        • Does not have a second helper handle
        • Not dishwasher safe

        While this Ultimate Pan from Anolon might not look like a wok, it can be used for everything a wok is used for. It's made of hard anodized aluminum, which means it heats up quickly and is lighter than carbon steel and cast iron — while still being durable. It can also be used with metal utensils. We love the large surface that reminds us of the pans we use frequently and that we can easily shake it around: The handle is slip resistant and comfortable to hold.

        Best Nonstick Wok
        Classic 12½-Inch Wok
        Scanpan
        Scanpan

        • Nonstick, thanks to ceramic-titanium technology
        • Dishwasher-safe and oven-safe up to 500ºF

        • May be heavy for some

        In previous cookware tests, we found that Scanpan's nonstick quality is very good, so we feel confident recommending this nonstick wok. It has a ceramic-titanium coating, which prevents food from sticking, and the titanium makes it very strong and long-lasting. We love how versatile Scanpan is with its ability to brown, braise, sear and deglaze.

        The wok is made of pressure-cast aluminum, which can be used with metal utensils and placed in the oven up to 500°F. It's also dishwasher safe with a lifetime warranty. The pictured wok is 12.5 inches, but it also comes in a smaller, 11-inch size.

        Best Cast Iron Wok
        Perfect Pan
        Staub
        Staub

        • Dishwasher-safe
        • Includes a stainless steel rack that attaches to the pan
        • Chip-resistant enamel finish

        • May be heavy for some
        • Expensive

        Although Staub does not technically call this a wok, its high sloped sides and heat retention ability make it ideal for stir-frying, searing, sautéing, browning and deep frying. It also has gorgeous chip-resistant enamel which comes in four colors and can be used on all heat sources, including outdoor grills and induction.

        It has a clear glass lid and also a half-moon stainless steel rack that attaches to the pan so you can set items on it while you cook. It has hundreds of reviews online with a 4.8-star rating, and many shoppers say they use it for stir-fry, heating soup, making risotto and deep-frying.

        Best Electric Wok
        Breville Stainless Steel Electric Wok
        Breville
        Breville

        • Can be used on a counter or tabletop
        • 15 heat settings
        • Dishwasher safe

        • May be heavy for some

        With this wok, you can save space on your stove by using it on the countertop or have fun using it on the kitchen table with everyone gathered around. It’s made of thick stainless steel, though some reviewers find this wok heavy when it’s time to move it for cleaning and storage.

        It also has 15 heat settings up to 425°F so it can be used for more than stir-frying. It comes with a tempered glass lid that allows you to see inside, and all parts are dishwasher safe except for the temperature probe and power cord.

        How do you season a wok?
        ghi line

        Before cooking with a carbon steel or cast iron wok, you'll need to season it to make sure food doesn't stick. To season:

        1. Scrub the wok with soap and water after you unpack it to remove any machine oils. (These oils help prevent rusting in transit.)
        2. Heat the wok over high heat for 10 minutes. During this time, the color may change, but this is normal.
        3. Once the entire wok is very hot, using tongs if needed for safety, use a dry paper towel or hand towel to rub the interior surface with a high-smoke-point oil, such as canola or vegetable oil.
        4. Wipe away any extra residue and allow the wok to continue heating for five minutes. During this time, it'll likely change color more, but again, this is normal.
        5. Let the seasoned wok cool completely.
        6. In addition to the steps above, Young suggests using your wok for cooking bacon and deep frying which will accelerate the development of the patina.
        How to use and cook with a wok
        ghi line

        ✔️ Use a high-smoke-point oil. If you’re going to use your wok at high temperatures, use an oil that can withstand the heat without burning like grapeseed, peanut or canola oil.

        ✔️ If using a seasoned wok, preheat it before cooking. If you don’t preheat the wok, the ingredients will stick. To check whether your wok is at the proper temperature for stir-frying, says Young, “heat the empty wok until a bead of water vaporizes within one second of contact, being careful not to overheat.” Take note, if using a nonstick wok, you’ll want to use a lower temperature to prevent the nonstick coating from getting ruined.

        ✔️ Use flavorful ingredients and high heat to achieve "wok hei." Young translates "wok hei" as “breath of wok” and says it’s a Cantonese phrase that’s used to describe a perfectly cooked stir-fry, infused with a delicious, rich, concentrated flavor and smoky aroma. According to Young, it’s a common misconception that achieving wok hei is only about high heat: “If the ingredients are not inherently flavorful, there is no taste to accentuate when stir-frying.”

        ✔️ Make sure all your ingredients are prepped, dried and organized ahead of time. Woks cook food quickly, which means you’ll need everything ready to go nearby, including sauces and aromatics like ginger and garlic. Be sure to evenly chop any proteins and vegetables and have them set aside. Young also stresses that it’s also important to dry your produce well, otherwise you risk a soggy stir-fry.

        ✔️ Don’t overcrowd the wok. Having too much stuff in the wok can cause the ingredients to steam rather than sear. If necessary, cook in small batches, set the cooked food aside to prevent overcrowding and then mix everything together at the end. As a good rule of thumb, Young suggests a 14-inch wok for every pound of food.

        What is the best material for woks?
        ghi line

        Each material type has pros as well as and cons.

        ✔️ Carbon steel is the most traditional material used for making woks and is the best for achieving restaurant-quality stir-fry. Carbon steel woks are Young's choice: They heat up quickly and evenly, and if cleaned and treated properly, they become nonstick over time. Carbon steel woks aren't as popular as they once were since they require seasoning before use. Beginners may find them difficult to use and care for because they need to be seasoned, and ingredients can stick to the wok if not using the right amount of heat. Be careful with washing: It's best not to use soap, and they shouldn't be thrown in the dishwasher. Carbon steel also flavors the food a little, which some people find unpleasant, though others say this means it's properly seasoned.

        ✔️ Cast iron requires a bit more time to heat, but it retains heat very well. Like a carbon steel wok, a cast iron wok also needs to be seasoned before the first use (and as needed) to help prevent sticking, though some are sold pre-seasoned. Like a carbon steel wok, it will become nonstick over time if treated properly. Cast iron tends to be heavy, which may make moving the wok difficult. In such cases, a wok spatula may be used to stir the food; it has a shovel-like design, ideal for moving food around quickly and easily.

        ✔️ Stainless steel woks are gaining more popularity. While stainless steel takes some time to heat, it has good, even heat distribution. Traditionalists are opposed to stainless steel woks because they can be heavy and don't respond quickly to temperature changes the way carbon steel woks do. They're durable, however, and don't need to be seasoned. Stainless steel woks are often combined with other types of metal, like an aluminum core, which help them heat up quicker. They're also usually dishwasher safe.

        ✔️ Nonstick woks are a no-brainer for the entry-level cook: They don't need to be seasoned, and they're easy to clean — just don't use a scouring pad or anything abrasive. They also eliminate the hassle of ingredients sticking to the wok, making them a popular choice. Nonstick woks can't be heated too hot, so it's hard to get a sear on meats and veggies, which means you may not be able to mimic the flavor you would get at a restaurant. Low and steady wins the race with nonstick, which some might argue defeats the purpose of using a wok, which is traditionally used at high heats. Note that you may not be able to use metal utensils with some nonstick woks.

        Wok cooking tools and accessories
        ghi line
        • Wok turner: You’ll need a wok turner or spatula to help move or flip food around in the wok. These are longer than typical spatulas to protect hands from the high heat.
        • Nonstick wok turner: If your pan is nonstick, we recommend using a wok spatula that won’t scratch the surface. Even if the wok says it’s safe for metal utensils, using non-metal tools will help preserve the nonstick surface.
        • Bamboo steamer: Use this in your wok to steam dumplings, vegetables, fish and more. Be sure to check what size steamer will fit in your wok.
        • Spider strainer: This helps remove foods from hot liquid, such as dumplings from deep-frying oil. A slotted spoon can also be used, but spider strainers can pick up larger foods and drain faster.
        • Wok lid: You don’t need a wok lid for stir-frying but it comes in handy if you’re braising, steaming, boiling or anything else where you don’t want liquids to splash — it's even great for popping popcorn.
        • Wok ring: If you purchase a round bottom wok, you’ll need a wok ring to keep it stable on your stove.
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