They have been around since time immemorial but one thing is for sure, woks are here to stay. Whether you need them for stir-frying, deep-frying, baking or even steaming, these pans have the potential to add fun to your cooking.
But to ensure that you get an uninterrupted cooking experience, it’s important to invest in the best carbon steel woks available. What sets an average wok from an above average one though?
- Shape: flat vs round bottom
- Handles: long vs short handles
- Lid: With lid vs without lid?
We’ll talk about all these factors in detail a bit later. But first, let us focus more on the top list of steel-made woks and whether or not they are worth all the hype.
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Carbon Steel Woks
Not all cooking pans on the market are guaranteed to provide you with the optimal cooking experience. So, to ensure you get good value for your money, here’s our selection of the leading woks worth pondering on.
1. Joyce Chen 14 Inch Carbon Steel Wok 22-9938 10 Piece Set
Whether you are stir-frying, steaming or cooking tempura, the Joyce Chen 14 Inch Carbon Steel Wok Set 10 Piece 22-9938 has everything required for preparing Asian Cuisine. It is, therefore, a great starter set for a newbie in Asian Cuisine.
The ten-piece set was manufactured by Joyce Chen an organization founded by Joyce Chen who is famous for having started a Chinese restaurant in Cambridge Massachusetts in the year 1958.
The set includes a 14“Excalibur Wok and its lid, a Tempura rack, a 12” Bamboo Spatula, Table Chopsticks, Cooking Chopsticks, a Steaming Rack, a Rice Paddle, 12″ Bamboo tongs, and a Recipe Booklet.
Of importance, the wok is crafted from 2.0 mm carbon steel for durability; in addition, the inside is non-stick. Just as importantly, the handles are long, wooden and heat resistant for easy control when cooking. The wok is designed with a loop for convenient storage.
- It includes nine essential items needed in preparing Asian Cuisine plus a recipe book
- Heat resistant long wooden handles
- A 25-year warranty
- Detachable handles on the wok
- Non-Stick cooking surface
- The wok needs regular seasoning to hold up
2. Craft Wok 14 Inch Traditional Chinese Hand Hammered Carbon Steel
This wok, like other carbon steel woks, does a better job of making Asian cuisine than an iron skillet. It is hand hammered by Chinese professionals in Guangzhou. With a round bottom, it is not to be used on induction stoves and flat electric stoves.
It is manufactured from 1.88mm commercial grade, carbon steel, which distributes heat evenly and is durable. At 14 inches, it is quite a standard size to suit a kitchen with ordinary cooking needs. The wok weighs 4.39 pounds which is quite heavy.
The wok has two handles, the main handle, and a helper handle. The main handle is long, wooden and removable while the helper handle is made of steel.
The good thing is that the wooden handle is hygroscopic and non-slippery for good control when cooking. Indeed, the helper handle has a loop which helps in secure storage.
- Helper handle works as a hanging loop
- Removable wooden handle
- Professionally hand hammered
- Ergonomic wooden handle
- The wok is made from a durable material
- The round bottom makes it impossible to use it on induction stoves and flat electric stoves
- It requires to be maintained through regular seasoning
3. Mauviel 11.8″ M’Steel Wok Carbon Black Steel
The Mauviel 11.8″ M’Steel Wok is an excellent piece of work manufactured by Mauviel, a French company. The wok has a unique design and is made from high-quality materials. It is suitable for boiling and frying foods.
It is quite a high-end wok.
It is an 11.8 inches wok which is a small size and ideal for making meals for a small family. Made from extra thick 1.2-3mm black carbon steel, it is very sturdy and a good heat conductor.
Weighing 6 pounds, the work is also weighty. The inside surface is designed to be non-stick making it easy to cook and clean.
Because it has a flat bottom, it can be used on any kind of cooking surface including induction stoves, gas, electric among others. Worth noting is that the wok has metallic handles which get hot when cooking food.
- A good heat conductor
- It is durably constructed
- The flat bottom makes it convenient to cook on many cooking surfaces
- Non-stick inside surface
- Non-heat resistant handles
- Small in size
- It has to be seasoned regularly
4. M.V Trading 14 Inches Carbon Steel Wok USA Made
Featuring a flat bottom for maximum heat conveyance, the M.V Trading 14 Inches Carbon Steel Wok also has other benefits to make it a worthy kitchen investment.
The wok is crafted from unseasoned heavy 14-gauge carbon steel. The material heats up quickly and also cools down quickly. The wok is 14 inches, 4” deep and weighs 5.2 pounds, making it quite a standard size for preparing small to medium sized meals.
The two wooden handles are not heat conductors, making it easy to stir the food while cooking. To maintain it in good shape for long, it should be hand-washed and dried immediately to prevent it from rusting. Two other sizes are available namely a 12 inches and 16 inches model to suit different cooking needs.
- Wooden handles are more ergonomic
- A flat bottom can work on many cooking surfaces
- Other sizes on offer
- It is a standard size
- The wok distributes heat evenly and heats up fast
- It has to be seasoned before use and regularly after that
5. Helen’s Asian Kitchen 4 Piece Set 14-inch Carbon Steel Wok
This set will inspire you to get started in preparing Asian Cuisine. The Helen’s Asian Kitchen 4 Piece Set 14-inch Wok, includes a 14-inch wok, a lid, a spatula, and a recipe book.
The 14-inch wok has a 6-inch flat bottom and is crafted from 1.6mm carbon steel. The flat bottom makes cooking it on many cooking surfaces easier.
Just as importantly, the wok is made elegant by the bamboo handles which are also heat resistant for easy handling. More so, the helper handle has a loop for convenient storage.
- Includes four items, a wok, lid, spatula, and recipe book
- Heat resistant handles
- Easy to store, thanks to a loop on the helper handle
- Elegant design
- The wok has to be seasoned regularly
- The wooden handles need extra care and to be moisture free
- Just like all carbon steel woks, it reacts to acidic foods like lemon
6. Joyce Chen 14-inch Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok 21-9978
This is a good option to consider if you want a budget wok. It is a 14-inch wok devised from 1.5mm gauge carbon steel; consequently it cooks fast and distributes heat evenly. Besides, the material is durable.
Furthermore, the wok has a flat bottom and can be used to cook on various heat sources including electric, induction stove tops and gas too.
Just as importantly it has two birch wood handles, one long one, and a shorter helper handle. The handles are comfortable to hold when cooking because they remain cold. However, the wok is not oven-friendly because the handles are not removable.
- It is very inexpensive
- The flat bottom makes it convenient to on various heat sources
- Birchwood handles are non-heat transmitters
- The wok is made from natural carbon steel that distributes heat fast and evenly
- It has to be seasoned well to perform
- It is quite reactive to super-acidic foods
- Wooden handles need proper maintenance to hold up
7. Craft Wok Big 16 Inch Carbon Steel Wok Hand Hammered 731W87 Canton Style
You will appreciate the size of the Craft Wok Big 16 Inch Carbon Steel Wok when preparing large high-heat stir fry meals. At 16 inches, the wok can cook food for more than 12 persons. Apart from its large size, the wok has other equally good highlights.
Manufactured from a sturdy 1.8mm carbon steel, it is also a hand hammered wok; consequently, it is durable and distributes heat evenly. And although it has metallic handles which are not so ergonomic, nonetheless, they are very durable.
The wok weighs 5.4 pounds, which is pretty large and requires a big storage space, but with a strong peg, the loop in the handles can be used to store it conveniently.
However, it has a round-bottom which doesn’t stand well on inductions stoves and electric stoves.
- It is a big size for cooking large meals
- Crafted from a robust material
- It cooks fast and distributes heat evenly
- Loop for storage
- It is made of carbon and needs to be seasoned well and regularly
- It reacts to acid food like lemons
- Non-ergonomic handles
- The round bottom prevents it from being used on some cooking surfaces like induction stoves
8. Ecolution 14″ Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok EHKB-9136
Did you know that carbon steel woks have an added advantage of adding irons to your food during cooking? You can use the Ecolution 14″ Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok to prepare many Asian dishes including crispy vegetables, seared proteins, and stir-fries. The work is made from high-quality carbon steel for durability.
Because the wok is crafted from carbon steel, it is great at heat retention. Besides, the interior has a PFOA free non-stick coat. The non-stick coating makes cooking and cleaning easier. The wok is fitted with double welded handles for durability.
The handles are long for easy control when cooking. Further, it has a flat bottom for conveniently cooking on many heat sources including gas, electric cooking, inductions stoves among others.
What’s more, it comes at a low-cost.
- PFOA free non-Stick surface
- It has a flat bottom which makes cooking on many cookers convenient
- Carbon steel is excellent at heat retention and spreads heat evenly
- Ergonomically designed handles
- Not pricey
- It requires seasoning before being used for cooking
9. M.V Trading14 Inches Carbon Steel Wok
The M.V Trading14 Inches Carbon Steel Wok is your go-to for high-heat stir-fried meals because it heats very fast and spreads heat evenly. It is a 14 inches wok, and 4 inches deep which is a standard size for cooking a medium-sized meal.
It features a flat bottom that sits comfortably and directly on an electric grill, electric stove or induction stove.
What’s more, other sizes are available if you need a smaller or bigger version.
It has two metal handles. The good thing with the metallic handles is that they are less delicate than wooden ones.
On the downside, it doesn’t have a long handle, which is usually more ergonomic when cooking because it keeps hands from feeling the heat.
- A flat bottom sits on an electric grill, induction stove or electric stove easily
- Metallic handles are more durable
- It heats food fast and more evenly than stainless steel pans
- Other sizes are available
- It has to be seasoned first before being used
- It has to be kept moisture free for longevity
- A lid has to be purchased separately
10. Town Food Service 18 Inch Steel Carbon Steel Wok
The Town Food Service 18 Inch Steel Carbon Steel Wok combines function, price, size, and other features to make a piece of impressive cooking equipment.
The wok is made from cold forged steel and hand hammered for sturdiness.
At 18 inches, and 5 inches deep, the size is quite big and sufficient for cooking for a party or a large family exceeding 15 people. Additionally, it is hard for food to spill down when cooking in comparison to using smaller sizes. It is four pounds, which is quite lightweight in comparison to its size.
More so, it has a round bottom which cannot be used on some heat sources like induction stoves. In terms of ergonomics, the wok is disadvantaged to have short metallic handles, although long handles can be bothersome when cooking sometimes.
- Durable metallic handles
- It is very big
- It is durably constructed from cold forged steel
- It is reasonably priced
- Short handles are not ergonomic
- Round bottom limits using on some heat sources
- It must be seasoned before being used
The Buying Guide
There is no shortcut to getting a good, budget-friendly carbon steel wok. You have to look at the specific types of features it provides you with.
Flat vs Round Bottom
The debate about the flat bottom and the round bottom has been going on for quite some time. But generally, your best bet is to invest in a flat bottom if you’re cooking with an electric range cooker. This might damage it.
Go for the round-bottomed one if you’re using the conventional methods of cooking.
Long vs Short Handles
The original, round-bottom woks were designed to have small metal ears. That’s because they were designed to be used on the original wood stove. However, if you’re going for a flat-bottom to use on an electric range cooker, your best bet is to go for one with longer handles.
With Lid vs Without Lid?
You can settle for a wok without a lid if you plan to be deep-frying or stir-frying stuff. However, if you know that your recipes are going to improve steaming and simmering, your best bet is a wok with a lid. Generally, woks with a lid make the cooking process easier.
Woks come in different shapes and sizes. The best size to go for depends on the purpose you have for the pan. For a typical home, a 14” pan would suffice.
Avoid going for extremely small pans as they will always limit the amount of ingredients you can handle. Likewise, an overly big wok would overwhelm you for no good reason. So, unless you’re going fully commercial, stick to a medium-sized wok.
The Method Used to Make the Pan
Different methods are used to make the wok and these are hammering, spinning, and stamping. The stamping method is quite popular for creating woks with smooth sides.
However, smooth sided woks are not the best for holding food together. So, you might want to consider going for a pan made using the spinning method. Such typically come with granular sides which allow your food to stay in place.
Lastly, the hammered woks are known for their typical divots or indentations which are caused by the hammer blows. If you want something that looks authentic and can hold your food in place, go for this variety.
Which One Is The Best?
The Joyce Chen 14 Inch Carbon Steel Wok 22-9938 10 Piece Set is in our view the best carbon steel wok variety there is in the market. That’s because it’s available both as a flat-bottom, and round-bottom wok. So, you can choose the appropriate one depending on the kind of stove you’re using.
The good thing with woks is that they are generally affordable and durable. So, if you want to get the most from your kitchen, make sure you get one of the popular non-stick woks listed above. This might just be the game-changer in your culinary experience.