How to Select a Wok for College Students

by Bob | Last Updated:  October 20, 2020
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When I went to an engineering college (MSOE) in Wisconsin, I roomed in a dorm with 4-5 other students. I can remember that each of us took turns cooking. Sometimes it was a struggle to see what we could bring to the table.

One thing was for sure, we all loved Chinese food. On the weekends, we would all chip in, go shopping, and buy groceries for the week. Since we all loved Chinese food, we decided on cooking most of our meals in a wok. There were hundreds of recipes available for wok cooking, so this was a plus.

Cooking with a wok is easy, and it is a healthy way to prepare food.  You can cook any mix of meat and vegetables that you like.

A wok is probably the most efficient piece of cookware in anyone’s kitchen. Most students do not have large kitchens with space to store a lot of pots and pans, so a wok is the perfect solution for kitchens with limited space.

Aluminum, cast iron, stainless steel and carbon steel are the usual metals used in woks. Aluminum woks are inexpensive, but there are health risks in using aluminum.  It is important to eat healthy, so I had to be sure that the wok was safe to use.

Here are the features I looked for in a wok:

  1. Carbon steel construction
  2. Large enough to cook for five people
  3. Works well on gas stoves 
  4. Helper handles
  5. Reasonable price
  6. Sturdy construction

Carbon Steel Woks

Stainless Steel Woks

I suggest you consider a flat-bottomed wok made out of carbon steel. Flat-bottomed woks will work great on any stove, and carbon steel is the best material for a wok.  Utensils, such as Chinese spatulas and strainers, are very helpful in wok cooking.

Another recommendation is the Helen Chen 12-inch Flat-Bottomed Carbon Steel Wok. This wok is perfect for one or two people.

This wok is very well made and will give you many years of service. The handle is bamboo, which makes it cooler on the hands. Check Amazon for availability and price. This wok also has excellent reviews.

Here are some other accessories that will complement your wok cooking experience.

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Wok Spatula

High on the list of accessories is a wok spatula. The spatula that I recommend is TableCraft 32405 Bamboo Handle Wok Spatula, 14.5-Inch.  This stainless steel wok spatula has a bamboo handle, which is cooler than a wood handle.  It comes with great Amazon reviews. Check it out.

Wok Domes (Lids)

This Joyce Chen 31-0066, 13.5-Inch Nonstick Steel Dome Lid for 14-Inch Woks has a birch knob and is non-stick inside and out. The diameter of this dome will fit perfectly on your 14-inch wok. The rolled edges on the dome will help add strength and prevent you from cutting yourself on the sides of the dome. The non-stick surfaces of this dome make cleaning a breeze.

Another good wok dome choice would be this USA MADE Aluminum Dome Wok Lid / Wok Cover, 13-Inches, (For 14″ Wok), 18 Gauge.

What I like about this wok lid is that it has:

Out of all the inexpensive wok covers, this is my favorite. Check Amazon for availability and price.

Wok Whisks

To clean your wok, I recommend this 7″ Cleaning Whisk available from Amazon.

Wok Oils

What oil you use in your wok depends on whether you are seasoning your wok or cooking.

Wok Seasoning Oil

Many kinds of oil can be used to season carbon steel woks. Perhaps the best oil is Avocado oil. It seems to be a favorite oil among many professionals for seasoning carbon steel cookware. You want to follow the instructions that come with your wok to correctly season it.

Wok Cooking Oils

Cooking oils for woks are a personal choice. I use avocado oilcoconut oil, or peanut oil. You can use any oil, as long as it has a high smoke point.

Related Questions

What is the best cookware for college students? The best cookware for college students is cookware that is safe, effective, and easy to clean. Carbon steel cookware fulfills all those criteria..

What is the best college cookware set? I would not recommend any particular cookware set. Since there is usually limited kitchen space at college residences, I would recommend at least a carbon steel wok and a carbon steel fry pan. With these two pieces of cookware you can cook thousands of different meals.