Stir it up with these next-level woks

You'll need to go deeper than a flat-bottomed pan to cook a real Chinese meal.

Wok filled with stir-fry on stove
Who doesn't love stir-fry?Clem Onojeghuo via Unsplash

If you're serious about cooking Chinese food, you need a wok in your kitchen. Traditional Chinese stir-fry requires high heat, fast cook times, and minimal oil. The shape and design of a traditional wok (with a small, round bottom and tall, sloping sides) helps bring out the intensity of the herbs and seasoning of each dish—and prevents your stir-fry from flying onto your stovetop. From traditional woks to non-stick alternatives, here are some burning-hot options for your kitchen.

Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok

Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok
Handcrafted carbon-steel wok for cooking.Amazon

If you’re looking for an authentic, classic wok, this is it. The Craft Wok is hand hammered in Guangzhou, China, and is beloved by professional Chinese chefs. It’s made out of 15 gauge (1.8mm) carbon steel, which is about eight pounds lighter than cast iron and just as durable. It has a non-slip wooden handle for easy maneuvering during cooking, and a shorter metal handle for lifting or storage. Because it’s lightweight, you can easily pick it up to toss your vegetables while you cook. Once you break in your new wok, nothing will stick to the bottom—just remember to season it with oil. This wok works with gas stoves only. Electric or induction stovetop? Look below.

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Wok

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Wok
Sturdy cast iron option for all stove types.Amazon

Cast iron, like carbon steel, can withstand and maintain high temperatures. It’s much heavier than carbon steel—this one weighs almost 12 pounds and is made out of 100 percent cast iron. The flat bottom works for any cooking surface: It excels with the high heat ranges of gas, but also performs on electric or induction stoves, provided you give it plenty of time to pre-heat first. This wok is pre-seasoned with vegetable oil, but you’ll want to continue to maintain it as you cook (no soap!). Given that it's a cast iron pan, it works just as well for non-Chinese cooking. Keep it on your stovetop and use it for everything.

T-fal Speciality Jumbo Wok

T-fal Speciality Jumbo Wok
A budget-friendly, non-stick starter wok.Amazon

This easy-to-use, non-stick wok is a great way to test your aptitude for stir-fry if you’re a beginner cook (or just beginning to try Chinese cooking). It’s dishwasher and oven safe, made out of lightweight aluminum with a non-stick coating, and can be used for regular forms of sautéing, simmering, or poaching. Please note: Non-stick pans won’t be as durable as our other options, and won’t stand up to very high heat. If your favorite Chinese dishes are sauce heavy Americanized staples like General Tso’s Chicken, this will work fine. Otherwise, save up for carbon steel or a cast iron wok.

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