Best Carbon Steel Wok [Top 5 Woks for Great Meals]


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It is well-known that a wok is used for Chinese cuisine, but this is not all that it can be used for.

Using the best carbon steel wok will help you use less oil (which is healthier) and cook meals to perfection due to the uniform distribution of oil over the wok’s surface.

However, you don’t need to spend a huge amount of money to get the best wok you can. There are some woks out there that are ridiculously expensive, but there are also some amazing bargains.

In this post, we outline which carbon steel woks are the best.

Why Should I Use Carbon Steel? 

Copper, stainless steel, and aluminum do make excellent woks. Despite this, Asian chefs prefer to use carbon steel. Why would they? This is partly due to the durability of the material and the effective nature of carbon’s heat conductivity.

Even heat distribution is critical when you are creating a signature deep-frying meal at home or stir-fry dish. Carbon steel is able to handle these methods of cooking really well, as well as steaming.

Prolonged exposure to heat will ruin your cookware eventually. This durable material can withstand such exposure for longer. Below we look at various aspects of a wok you should consider before you buy.

Material

As outlined above, this is an important aspect of any cookware you purchase. Stainless steel is not great where you will be using high heat. Foods tend to get stuck to the surface, making stirring and cooking very difficult.

Also, steel is heavy; hence, steel-made woks are cumbersome to move around, so using them for cooking with will make the process tiresome.

Method of Manufacture

How your wok was made determines whether it is of good quality or not. Some of you may recall those older woks that were hammered into shape. It may surprise you to know that these are actually some of the best woks around.

Basically, they are handmade steel pans that have been hammered into shape.

During the process, the hammer leaves indents that mean you can stir your food without it spilling. Unfortunately for us, it is difficult to find these readily on the market.

Some woks are stamped. These are made up of thin sheets of carbon steel. The sheets are left entirely smooth and are molded into circular shapes.

The main disadvantage of this is that stirred food has nothing that can hold it in place, and so it will spill. They are very cheap and available readily.

Spun woks are made using a lathe. The lathe patterns the surface much like those you can see on hammered woks, so they are great when stirring food. However, they are more expensive. 

Shape of Your Wok

The shape is key to your wok’s function. It determines how your wok holds on a stovetop. The wok should be able to stand on your stove but should have a large enough surface area to hold more food.

Additionally, consideration should be given to the type of stovetop you have. You need something that is compatible with your gas or electric stove.

If you do want a relatively flat bottom, you will still need to give consideration as to depth. We found that a depth of 14 inches was ideal, alongside a 5-inch flat bottom.

This shape allows you to easily flip your food and still sits comfortably on the stove.

The Handle

The handle is critical while you are cooking. You will be flipping your food multiple times and need to hold on to something sturdy on the pan when you do this.

Longer handles are usually found on modern flat woks. They also have a smaller helper handle at the other end. This is similar to a skillet. The more traditional ones will have two steel handles to the side. We found that longer handles are much easier to work with.

Best 5 Carbon Steel Wok 201​9

#1 Classic Series: Joyce Chen 21-9978 

This lovely Joyce Chen wok has a diameter of 14 inches and comes with a 25-year warranty, which shows how confident the manufacturers are with this product. 

The surface of the wok is smooth, scratch-free, and handles very well. Made of carbon steel, the interior of this product is non-stick.

It has a relatively thick wall at 1.5mm. It has a steel body and birch wood handles. These handles make it easy to pick up and flip. There is a large handle on one side, and a smaller “helper” handle directly opposite it. So this is another reason why it is ideal for flipping.

The wok is flat at the bottom. This means that you can use this on electric, gas, and induction cookers. While it is quite smooth, the curved sides stop food spilling out of it when you flip or turn it.

Like with most kitchen cookware, the wok has an oil coating on it when it arrives. This has been applied to prevent any rust forming during transit and storage. This coating needs to be scrubbed off with soap and water.

After that, avoid using soap to clean the wok as this will strip the wok of its qualities. To clean, just use warm water and a damp cloth. Seasoning will also help to keep it in great shape. Additionally, this will retain the non-stick feature.

The wok is dishwasher safe, but we advise that you stick with warm water and a cloth to keep it in great condition for longer. It only weighs 3lbs, so it is not too heavy, but it is not so light either.

Pros:

  • Durable and high-quality material
  • Works on induction, electric or gas stoves
  • Birch wood handles prevent hands from getting burned
  • Made with carbon steel (added strength and excellent heat distribution)

Cons:

  • Bottom was quite hard to clean.

#2 14 Inches Carbon Steel Wok with Helper Handle and Flat Bottom

This Carbon Steel wok is heavier than most, due to the 14-gauge steel carbon. The flat bottom sits nicely on almost any stovetop. Managing this heavy wok is easy due to its wooden handle. The little helper handle is handy when preparing large family meals.

The interior of the wok is bronze all the way through, as well as being smooth. It’s large and the sides curve, so it holds food well when you flip it.

The wok is unseasoned and heavy. However, you can season it before storage. Since there is no thick oil film on its surface, you do not need to scrub it thoroughly before first-time use. The material can handle rapid heating and cooling, as well as high heat.

The diameter of this wok is 12 inches, and we found it can make a meal for up to five people. As it is 4 inches deep, it allows for easy food turning.

It is heavy weighing in at 7lbs. The wooden handle is great as it does not conduct heat, so you know it will stay cool even with the high temperatures. This wok can be used in the oven, by merely unscrewing the larger handle. Then you cover the helper handle with some aluminum foil or even a wet cloth.

Don’t wash this wok with soapy water. Instead, use warm water and a soft cloth. Season it before you store it to retain the nonstick ability.

Pros:

  • With a flat bottom, it sits directly on grills or electric stoves.
  • Wooden handles allow full control of wok
  • Made with carbon steel (added strength and excellent heat distribution)

Cons:

  • Costly
  • Carbon steel must be cared for to prevent rust.

#3 Ecolution Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok

This is a 14-inch wok which can prepare a meal for up to ten people. But, since it is large, it is a little heavy, weighing a little more than 3lbs.

It has a helper handle on the side, as well as a main handle. The main handle is wooden, which provides better support. The base of the wok is flat and works on various stove types.

This wok comes in black and is pre-seasoned. The oil coating is not that thick or hard to remove. Again, scrub it with warm soapy water and a cloth. When you have removed the film, don’t use soap on your wok again as it will diminish the woks ability.

Carbon steel conducts heat really well, distributing it evenly through the product. It can handle high heat, so it’s okay to use for stir-frying, deep-frying and even to make fish dishes.

The internal non-stick properties will remain intact so long as you care for it correctly. The advantage of non-stick is that it prevents proteins from sticking to the side as they are known to.

With that in mind it should be noted that it is relatively smooth. The sides have a slight pattern created during manufacture. This pattern will prevent food from spilling over by adding a grip.

Once again, the larger handle can be removed. When you receive it, it comes unscrewed anyway. Therefore this wok can be used in the oven. The manufacturer states that the non-stick coat is PFOA free, so it is safe for the environment.

Pros:

  • Easy handling via long wooden handles
  • Ideal for everything, including deep frying
  • High heat transfer ability for even cooking

Cons:

  • Needs a lot of care to maintain the non-stick coating

#4 14 inch Carbon Steel Wok w/ 2 Steel Handles

This carbon steel wok measures 14 inches in diameter and 4 inches in depth. It is designed for cooking large meals.

The manufacturer states that it will cope with cooking for up to 10 people. The flat base conforms to fit nearly all stoves.

The steel handles are useful for those wanting to pop this in the oven. They are big and sturdy enough to fit hands through. Steel conducts heat so you will need oven gloves or a cloth to handle the pan when in use.

It heats up quickly, and it retains heat for as long as it’s on heat. Carbon steel conducts heat well and distributes it evenly to cook food thoroughly. It handles very high temperatures for a long time without losing any of its effectiveness.

As it is made from carbon steel, it is made to last a lifetime. This fact is evidenced further by the manufacturer’s lifetime guarantee. In the user manual, they advise you to cook pungent vegetables with a little oil only until they are charred.

Then you need to dispose of them and wipe the wok clean with the cloth. This is enough to remove the oil film that it comes with.

As you can heat it in an oven, seasoning is easier.

Pros:

  • Easy to flip with large steel handles.
  • Reasonably priced
  • Distributes heat evenly
  • Flat bottom sits on electric stoves or grills

Cons: 

  • Handles get hot
  • Carbon steel needs careful maintenance to prevent rust.

#5 Mauviel Made In France M’Steel Black Steel Wok

This quite expensive 11.8-inch wok is sleek and at the top of the range.

Made of extra-thick carbon steel, it conducts heat perfectly. This makes it the ideal choice for searing foods.

The steel handle might get hot after a while. But since the handle is long, this may take some time. Over time the wok darkens as the non-stick, natural film builds up.

You need to season it before you use it for the first time to orient it towards high heat. Then the aftercare means little or no use of soap.

It works on any stove as it has a flat base. It can even work in the oven once you have unscrewed the long handle.

The large diameter makes it easy to stir and flip food with no fear of spilling it. The wok weighs 6lbs. This makes it great for flipping and searing food. This also means it can withstand high heat for a long time.

Pros:

  • Excellent heat conductor
  • Fits all stoves, including ovens.
  • Long handle means it’s easy to work with
  • Durable.

 Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Too small for its price.

Conclusion

To make the best stir-fry, you need the best carbon steel wok. We believe that we have selected the best woks available on the market today.

With a wok at home, you won’t need to order out each time you crave Asian cuisine. That may be the norm for now, but aren’t you curious to try all the delicious recipes that are available online?


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