How Do I Choose the Best Cast Iron Wok?

Misty Amber Brighton

A cast iron wok can be different weights and sizes, and the right one can depend on a number of factors including your budget and individual needs. It can be a good idea to think about the type of stove you might use this metal wok on. This classic wok could have a long handle on the front of it or smaller ones on either side. A long handle can make it easier to move the wok while on top of the stove, but handles on the side can be more convenient when carrying the pan.

Shrimp and noodle dish stir-fried in a cast iron wok.
Shrimp and noodle dish stir-fried in a cast iron wok.

The trait most often associated with a cast iron wok is weight. Many people have a misconception that this pan is always very heavy; however, this is not necessarily the case. One of these types of woks may be only slightly heavier than a stainless steel or aluminum one or it might be an extremely heavy model. A lighter weight wok could be easier to use, but a heavy one might keep food hot longer. Heavier units are normally more expensive, but may also last longer than lighter models.

Unlike an electric device, using a cast iron wok requires a stovetop or grill to provide heat. This means that knowing where you might use this pan can be helpful when you are trying to make a purchase. You should make sure the bottom of the unit is about the same size as the burner, if you are cooking on a stovetop. It is helpful if the bottom is flat, as this will allow food on the bottom of the wok to heat evenly. The wok should fit nicely in the center of a grill and have enough clearance on all sides to allow for turning this pan while cooking.

A cast iron wok could have a long handle on the front of it, and this can be an advantage if you also plan to use the wok as a regular skillet from time to time. If this handle is made from wood, you will be able to hold onto this section while you are cooking. Even so, many cooks like to use a wok in a more traditional manner by turning it from side to side when preparing food. Handles on the side could make this easier to do. With this type of pan, you can easily remove it from the stove when you are finished, thereby using the wok as both a cooking and serving dish.

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