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How Do I Choose the Best Wok with a Lid?

Alex Newth
Alex Newth

Choosing the best wok with a lid is similar to choosing a regular wok, except there are a few more considerations — and, perhaps, fewer options — because of the lid. A wok with a lid should be large enough for your needs, and the lid should be slightly smaller than the wok. There are both flat and round woks and, while round is more traditional, the flat one may be better for certain cooking conditions. Traditional woks come with two metal handles, but they also are available with wood or bamboo handles that do not get as hot during use. Several types of metal can be used to make a wok and its lid, and each has different properties.

Size is one of the most important aspects when choosing a wok with a lid, because a larger wok allows you to cook more at once. If the wok is going to be used for home purposes, then a 10- to 14-inch (25.4- to 35.5-centimeter) wok may be large enough. Woks that will be used in a restaurant should be substantially larger to accommodate more food, and one that is from 20 to 30 inches (50.8 to 76.2 centimeters) likely will be best. The lid should be from 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) smaller than the wok to allow the lid to properly cover the wok and not interfere with the pan's handles.

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

A wok with a lid can come with either a rounded or flat bottom, and you should choose the bottom based on how you are cooking. If you are using a stovetop or anything with electronic components, then rounded woks can push heat back into the components, causing them to break. In this case, flat woks keep the stove from being damaged. Open areas such as a coal pit or a gas stove should not suffer the same problem, so rounded woks can be safely used on these.

Two equally sized metal handles are common on woks that have lids. These two handles make it easier to lift the wok, but this mostly is useful if you are cooking in a large area. If you are cooking on a stove where lifting is not a priority, then a wood or bamboo handle may be best, because it does not heat up as much when you are cooking.

The metal used to make a wok with a lid changes the wok’s properties. For example, carbon steel typically is a good heat conductor but can get sticky; cast iron is very heavy, but it conducts heat well and is non-stick; aluminum is expensive, durable and usually good with heat. You can use the same metal for both the wok and the lid, but you also can mix and match to get your preferred qualities in each.

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    • Shrimp and noodle dish stir-fried in a wok.
      By: torsakarin
      Shrimp and noodle dish stir-fried in a wok.