How Do I Choose the Best Wok Pan?

M.C. Huguelet

A wok pan can be used to prepare stir-fries, soups, curries, steamed vegetables, and an array of other dishes. Just a few tips can take the confusion out of choosing from the wide variety of wok pans available for purchase. When shopping for one of these pans, begin by looking for products that are made from carbon steel and that do not have a non-stick coating. Then, study prospective pans’ designs, ruling out those products that do not have a flat bottom or a handle that will stay cool during use. Finally, to achieve the best results when cooking with your wok pan, look for products that have a textured inner surface.

Most wok pans are ideal for stir-fries, thanks to their wide rim and deep sides.
Most wok pans are ideal for stir-fries, thanks to their wide rim and deep sides.

Generally, a wok pan will be made from one of three materials: cast iron, stainless steel, or carbon steel. While cast iron wok pans can perform well in the kitchen, they tend to be extremely heavy, making them difficult to move on and off of the stove. Stainless steel wok pans often come with a very high price tag and can lack the fast responsiveness to temperature changes required for wok cooking. Many cooking experts agree that carbon steel is the best material for wok pans because it heats up and cools down quickly, is usually inexpensive, and is extremely sturdy.

Woks were originally used over an open flame, and may heat more evenly with a gas range.
Woks were originally used over an open flame, and may heat more evenly with a gas range.

When shopping for your wok pan, you should take care to avoid pans that feature a non-stick coating. This is because wok cooking generally requires extremely high heat, which can cause non-stick coatings to break down and release toxic chemicals. Further, a good quality wok develops a natural coating with repeated use, making a non-stick coating unnecessary.

As you compare wok pans, you will likely find that some pans have a flat bottom, while others have a rounded bottom. Round-bottomed wok pans are generally only suitable for those who have a gas range with a special wok pan burner that holds the pan in an upright position. If you have an electric range or a gas range that does not feature a wok burner, you should choose a pan with a flat bottom.

Another point to consider as you search for a wok pan is handle material. Handles that are made from steel can become very hot during use, potentially causing burns. As such, you should consider only pans with handles made from a material that stays relatively cool during cooking, like wood.

After you have narrowed down your choices to a few wok pans, you should take note of the pans’ interior surfaces. Look for a wok pan that has a textured inner surface. This feature will allow you to shift ingredients to the sides of the wok pan during cooking, a technique that is useful when preparing stir-fries.

Discussion Comments


@raynbow- The problem that you are having with food sticking when you cook in your wok is with your cooking methods, not the wok itself. Three important steps will help you create tasty meals in your wok without them sticking or burning.

First of all, you must make sure that you use enough oil to coat the wok pan. You can use your favorite cooking oil, just make sure that you swirl it around the wok and cover all areas of it before putting food in it. You should also avoid extra virgin olive oil, because it does not work well under the extreme temperatures necessary for wok cooking.

Next you have to make sure that the oil is very hot before you put food in the wok. If not, it will begin to stick as the wok continues to get hot during the cooking process.

Finally, once you put the food in your hot wok pan, you must keep it in motion to prevent it from sticking. Many cooks use a swirling motion of the wok while cooking, while others use a metal spatula or spoon to continually stir the food until it is ready to serve.


I received a nice stainless steel wok pan as a gift, and I am slowly learning to cook with it. The main problem that I am having with it though is that the food often sticks and burns. I admit that I am not the best cook, and I think I need some tips for successful wok cooking.

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