Choosing the Best Carbon Steel Wok for Authentic Asian Cooking

Are you looking to skip the exorbitant prices of your favorite Asian-style restaurant?  Would you like to be able to cook delicious stir fry or deep fried Asian-inspired dishes from the comfort of your own kitchen?

We have reviewed four of the most popular and best-selling carbon steel woks on the market today, and highlighted the advantages and drawbacks of each pan.  We have also put together a Carbon Steel Wok Buying Guide, in which we will outline and explain the various features and characteristics you should consider when buying one of these woks for your own personal use.

Our Quick Answer: What Is The Best Carbon Steel Wok in 2018-2019?

Joyce Chen 21-9978, Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok

Made from 1.5 millimeter gauge carbon steel, the body of the Joyce Chen 21-9978, Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok is strong enough to handle all of your Asian inspired cooking needs.  Boasting 14 inches in total diameter, the round wok is plenty big; and the natural Birch wood handles allow you to manipulate and maneuver the pan without worrying about burns or hot spots.

The Joyce Chen 21-9978, Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok can be used on all types of cook tops, including gas and electric stoves and even induction based cooking ranges.  The wide pot and narrow bottom of the wok allows you to cook with less oil, making every stir fry-type dish that much healthier.

Once the Joyce Chen 21-9978, Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok is properly seasoned it will provide months worth of great cooking before it needs to be seasoned again.  The flat-bottomed wok is perfect for cooking meats, vegetables and even tofu; and although it is not recommended for the dishwasher, it cleans very easily by hand using warm, soapy water.

Pros

  • Durable.  Made from the toughest carbon steel, the Joyce Chen 21-9978, Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok is very durable and long-lasting.
  • Versatile.  Thanks to its flat-bottom design, the wok can be used on a variety of different cook tops—gas, electric and induction—as well as charcoal and gas grills.
  • Birch wood handles.  The handles of the Joyce Chen 21-9978, Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok are made from Birch wood rather than metal, making it easier to maneuver the pan without worrying about getting burned.

Cons

  • Hard to clean. The flat-bottomed design that makes the Joyce Chen 21-9978, Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok so versatile also makes it slightly hard to clean.

 

14-Inch Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Wok

Made with heavy duty, durable, corrosion-resistant 14-gauge carbon steel, the 14-Inch Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Wok is the ideal cooking vessel for all your Asian cooking needs.  Thanks to its flat bottom, the wok can be used on a variety of indoor cook tops as well as on gas and charcoal grills.  Incredibly easy to handle, the wok boasts a wooden side spool handle that makes commanding the wok incredibly easy.

The wok comes completely unseasoned, and is thus designed for rapid, even heating and cooking regardless of the heat source.  Users will need to entirely season the pot before use, and it is not recommended to use the dishwasher when cleaning it.  Instead you should hand wash the wok immediately after use and allow the pan to air dry to protect the seasoning. The large 14-inch size of the wok, coupled with its flat bottom, makes it perfect for glass top electric stoves, and large enough to cook for 5-7 people.

Pros

  • Easy to maneuver.  Thanks to the steel handles and their placement, it is easy to command the 14-Inch Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Wok.
  • Even-heating.  The carbon steel from which this wok is made leads to even heating throughout the cooking process.
  • Budget-friendly.  The 14-Inch Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Wok is the perfect wok for the budget-conscious consumer.

Cons

  • Hot handles.  Because the handles on the 14-Inch Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Wok are made of steel, they can become very hot.
  • Needs regular seasoning.  Due to its makeup and design the wok needs frequent seasoning.

 

Ecolution Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok with Soft Touch Riveted Handles

Featuring a non-stick coating that is PFOA-free and BPA-free, the Ecolution Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok with Soft Touch Riveted Handles is an eco-friendly wok that is safe for the consumer and the environment.  Due to its unique and well-designed shape, the wok is perfect for both deep frying and stir-fry.  Its flat base adds greatly to the wok, which also enables it to sit directly on the burner, maximizing the heat in the pan.

The Ecolution Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok with Soft Touch Riveted Handles boasts a high heat transfer, which lends itself to even cooking.  The wok can be used on electric, gas and glass ceramic stovetops; and the lifetime warranty serves as a strong indication of the great confidence the Ecolution Company has in this product.

Pros

  • Wooden handles.  The long wooden handles on the Ecolution Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok makes for easy handling.
  • High heat transfer.  The high heat transfer associated with this wok leads to even cooking.

Cons

  • Non-stick coating can wear off.  According to more than a few users, the non-stick coating can chip off after many uses.

 

Carbon Steel Wok Buying Guide

If you have decided you need a carbon steel wok to help you make creative and yummy Asian inspired dishes, there are a few things you need to know before making a final purchase.  In this Buying Guide we will discuss some of the factors and characteristics of which you should be aware when shopping for a carbon steel wok for your family.

Why Does Carbon Steel Work So Well in a Wok?

Although there are many materials from which woks are made, including aluminum, copper, stainless steel and more, most Asian chefs swear by Carbon Steel in their woks—and for good reason.  Why do they always turn to carbon steel?  First, Carbon Steel is an incredibly durable material.  There’s a reason why many of the carbon steel woks of today have a lifetime warranty or a limited lifetime warranty—it’s because these things are truly built to last and they do a great job at resisting rust and corrosion as well as chips and dings.

The second and perhaps best reason for owning a carbon steel wok is their amazing ability to transfer heat.  Stir fry and deep fried Asian specialties call for a pan that is extra hot.  This helps cook the meat and veggies in record time, without burning the outside.

Heat distribution is essential when you are making a signature stir-fry or deep-frying food in the house. Carbon steel handles it all like a pro, and it does well with steaming too.  And as far as the durability issue goes, exposure to heat can absolutely ruin your cookware, and so it helps that this material can really take a beating and promise you years of hassle-free cooking.

Handles

The handles on a carbon steel wok come in a variety of sizes and are located at various points along the pot.  Many traditional carbon woks come with no handles whatsoever, but this can make it very difficult to transfer your food to serving bowls and plates.  Other carbon steel woks have handles on either side of the pan.  These work well when transferring food, but because they are located so close to the heat source and the wok itself, they tend to get very hot.  To ease that heat many manufacturers have created side handle woks with wood handles—like Birchwood—which resist heat and make it easy to manipulate the pan.  Finally, there are carbon steel woks that have both side handles and a “helping handle” that is long and located far away from the heat source—like the handle on a frying pan or skillet.  This is incredibly handy when making stir fry, allowing you to mix the ingredients using nothing but the handle.

The Shape of Your New Carbon Steel Wok

Do you know the shape you prefer in a carbon steel wok?  These Asian-created pots typically have a wide opening and the pan tends to gets narrower as it reaches the bottom, like a reverse triangle.  However, woks take on different shapes at the bottom.  Some woks have a concave bottom that allows you to cook more food at one time.  However, these can be hard to use on electric ranges and grills due to their shape.  For best results, we suggest you go with a flat-bottomed wok.  Flat-bottomed woks are great for stir-fry and deep-fry, and because of their shape they can be used on all types of cook tops, including electric, gas, induction and even charcoal and gas grills with ease.

Ease of Cleaning

Carbon steel woks are traditionally very easy to clean.  Most carbon woks have to be seasoned before you can use them.  Because of this, it is not recommended that you place these pots in the dishwasher, as the seasoning can wash off.  Fortunately, most carbon steel woks feature a non-stick coating that makes hand-washing the cookware a breeze.

Warranty

Last but not least, we recommend you look for a carbon steel wok with a lifetime or limited lifetime warranty.  Carbon steel is an incredibly durable material.  As such, these woks can often be fairly pricey.  So if you want to make sure you are getting the most bang for your cookware buck, be sure to choose a wok that you know will remain in the family for generations to come.

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