We love woking and making stir fry dishes. We took the best carbon steel woks from our collection and tested them so you can better decide on the best one for you. In this article, you will find the complete guide and find out why the following wok is the best carbon steel wok you can buy:
- Carbon steel,
- 14 inch,
- 1.2mm thick,
- hand hammered
- with wooden handle
- round bottom and
- deep base wok
Continue reading why this is the best choice for you. But if you are in a hurry, you can check the latest price for the best carbon steel wok.
Woks come in a variety of materials, but if you want to make authentic Asian cuisine, like Thai fried rice, or fried noodles, then the carbon steel wok is the one you should get. If you use a carbon steel wok, you also need a good source of heat, firstly for seasoning the wok and second for making dishes. If the temperature is not high enough, the result will not come nearly to what you can expect from a stir fry dish.
What is the best material for wok
From many types of materials that exist, carbon steel is the best material to choose.
Carbon steel woks
All steel is carbon steel. Carbon is one of the things that makes it steel, as steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. So every single pot or pan or anything else that you own that is made of steel is “carbon steel.” Adding carbon is the process that turns iron into steel. Carbon steel pans have higher heat conductivity and lower thermal mass, making heat control much easier.
It combines the best features of nonstick, stainless steel, and cast iron cookware into a single pan. Carbon steel is also a staple in professional kitchens for a good reason.
Carbon still is the best and also traditional material used for making authentic woks. It heats up fast if you have the right source of heat. The heat spreads evenly through the wok. Cleaning is straightforward, and it usually takes only hot water and oil to clean the wok. Carbon steel woks are getting more and more popular. In the past, the seasoning was the problem because it was hard to find the heating source for seasoning. Nowadays, you can buy pre-seasoned carbon steel wok on amazon and can start using it right away.
The downside of carbon steel wok is that you can’t wash it in a washing machine and that you need to maintain it, so it doesn’t rust. Both these things are very easy to do and only take a minute or two to do it. You can check here how to wash and maintain it properly.
If you decide to get a carbon steel wok, this is the best one you can find: Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok
Cast iron woks
Cast iron woks tend to be very heavy. Since the essential technique for preparing stir fry dishes is tossing, it will be tough to do this with a heavy cast iron wok. The benefits of cast iron wok are that it retains heat very well, but it requires time to heat up. Both carbon steel and cast iron woks must be seasoned to get the nonstick coating. For easier food prep in cast iron wok, you can use a wok spatula or turner and wok ladle.
If you decide to get a cast iron wok, this is the best one: Lodge P14W3
Stainless steel woks
Stainless steel woks take some time to heat and have a proper distribution of heat throughout the wok. They are very heavy, thus hard to handle as opposed to carbon steel woks. The material is durable and does not season. Usually, stainless steel is dish dishwasher safe, but do check the manufacturer’s label if your wok is.If you decide to get a stainless steel wok, this is the best one: Cuisinart 726-38H
If you use teflon coated or nonstick cookware for your stir fry on high heat, it would be poisonous to you. At temperatures 570°F (300°C) and higher, teflon starts to break down and releases toxic chemicals that are bad for your health. Since most wok dishes are made at temperatures higher than this, we do not recommend buying a nonstick wok for your favorite Asian dish.If you decide to get a nonstick wok, this is the best one: Calphalon 1877054
What kind of carbon steel wok should I choose
There are different sizes and shapes of carbon steel woks to choose from. We tested four different woks to give you the right information so you can decide on which one you will get for your favorite stir fry dish.
The best size of carbon steel wok
Carbon steel woks usually measure from 12 to 16 inches. When you are deciding on the size, you should always consider how many people you will cook for. We do not recommend you prepare for more than four people at once in the wok, because the quantity of food will also determine the result. Too many ingredients in the wok tend to make everything soggy and watery if you don’t toss them on extreme heat all the time.
It is tough to prepare a good stir fry if you have too many ingredients in the wok. You can still do it, but you will need to cook in batches by stir-frying the veggies, meat, and other ingredients separately. For a family of four, a 14 to 16 inch carbon steel wok is the best choice you can get. You will be able to make a single portion or a dish for four with a wok this size.
Machine made, or hand hammered made carbon steel wok, which one is better
Here is the difference between machine made wok hand hammered wok:
There is not much difference between these two woks. One is made with a machine using a hydraulic press, and the other one also gets altered manually.
Round bottom vs. flat bottom carbon steel wok, which one is better
Round bottom wok
Round bottom woks are mostly used throughout restaurants and home woking enthusiasts. Its shape ensures even distribution of heat. The round bottom of the wok is also the closest to heat source, thus ensuring the most heat where needed the most.
The downside of round bottom wok could be that you can’t use it on a regular stove. That is why wok rings were invented. By using a wok ring, you can use your round bottom wok on a regular cooktop or burner.
Flat bottom wok
The features of the flat bottom wok are almost the same as with the round bottom one. When using a flat bottom wok, it is a bit more difficult to toss and turn the ingredient using a wok spatula. But the best part of a flat bottom wok is that it can be used on a regular electric cooktop or even induction cooktop. You should always keep in mind that the heat source with electric and induction cooktops are not as high as with a wok burner, so it is best to make small portions of stir fry at once.
Which thickness of carbon steel wok is the best
The thickness of carbon steel woks can vary from 1.0 mm to 1.8 mm. The thickest woks tend to be very heavy, and it is much more difficult to handle a 14 inch and 1.8 mm sized wok than a 14 inch and 1.0mm sized wok. The problem you will have if you buy a wok that is 1.8mm thick is that it will be tough to toss the food in it.
So, we recommend that you get a wok that is 1.0 mm to 1.2 mm thick. This kind of wok thickness will also allow you to heat the wok more quickly if your temperature source is not that strong. If you decide for 1.8 mm thick wok, you need to have a wok burner, otherwise stir fry dishes will come out bad.
Here is a comparison of 1.8mm thick wok and 1.2mm thick wok:
Best wok burner and temperature for stir fry in a carbon steel wok
As mentioned in this article, it is crucial to have an extreme source of heat to make a good wok stir fry. The best thing you could get is a good wok burner like this one Thunder Group IRFS001 5B. But we can get some good results also with a regular gas cooktop or outdoor portable propane burner if you stick to some basic guidelines of wok cooking at home.
- Make mise en place
- Preheat your wok to very high temperature
- Bring your ingredients to room temperature
- Stir fry in batches if you are making stir fry for several portions
The temperatures are measured in BTUs (British thermal units)
- Gas cooktop – 3000 to 5000 BTUs – Frigidaire
- Regular outdoor portable propane burner – 7000-8000 BTUs – Coleman Portable Butane Stove
- Wok burners – 100000 BTUs – Thunder Group IRFS001 5B.
Seasoning of carbon steel wok
If you want to get a natural nonstick coating on your carbon steel wok, the wok needs to be seasoned. You can do this with a wok burner, or you can do it the oven. The easiest and fastest way is with wok burner. Following are the steps for seasoning your wok with wok burner:
- Put the raw, unseasoned wok on your wok burner
- Turn your wok burner on high heat
- When wok starts to change color and smoke comes out of it, turn it to get the seasoning on the whole wok
- After you seasoned put it in a sink and pour hot water and some soap in it
- Scrub the wok with scouring pad and rinse with hot water
- Put it back on wok burner on high heat, so the water evaporates completely
- Pour in some oil and incorporate it in a wok with a paper towel or cloth.
- Heat it back to smoking point and repeat the process with oil a few times.
What is the best way to clean and maintain a carbon steel wok at home, so it doesn’t rust
Usually, when you use carbon steel wok at home, you don’t wash it right after you plate your dishes. So, in the end, you are left with a cold and dirty wok. How to clean this wok properly?
If you are dealing with burned food on your wok, you should check out my post on how to clean carbon steel wok with burned food.
First, put it on your burner or heat source and heat it. When the wok is hot enough, and it gets to the smoking point, you need to clean it with hot water.
Be careful here because hot wok and water will produce a lot of steam, and you could get burned. To clean it, use a regular sponge and some soap. The one thing you shouldn’t use for cleaning are scouring pads, any scouring pads as these tend to damage the nonstick coating of your wok.
Now that the wok is clean put it on your burner again. This time we are evaporating any excess water that is on the wok. When the water evaporates, take some oil, flaxseed is best, but you can also use vegetable oil. Pour a little oil in your wok and take a clean cloth or paper towel and rub that oil on to the surface of the wok.
We want a nice thin layer of oil in the wok. We don’t want to see any drips or runs. Now that you are done heat it to the smoking point again and take it off. Apply excess oil that is left on your paper on to the bottom of the wok. And that is it, it’s a simple process, and if you use it, your wok will last forever.
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