Which cast-iron wok is best?
It’s possible to cook delicious Chinese cuisine in the comfort of your own home, but to do so, you need the proper tools. This starts with a healthy dose of curiosity about flavor combinations and spices and ends with a wok. Woks are the building block of Chinese cuisine.
Carbon steel might be more widespread, but cast iron holds heat and is a durable piece of cookware. If you are looking for a high-quality cast-iron wok from a trusted brand, the Lodge Pro-Logic Wok is the best choice.
What to know before you buy a cast-iron wok
Pre-seasoned vs. unseasoned
A cast-iron wok has a nonstick surface, but whether that happens right out of the box or over time is up to you.
- Pre-seasoned: Pre-seasoned woks are ready to go when you unpack them, but the factory pre-seasoning can be unreliable and may need to be repeated at home.
- Unseasoned: Raw cast iron must have thin layers of oil repeatedly baked into its surface at low heat to become nonstick. This requires patience, but it is good to know how to do it.
The size of your walk will dictate how many people you can cook for. This is generally measured in diameter, with 14 inches being a good size for a household of four to six people.
Another measurement to consider is height. Wide but shallow woks can be tricky when it comes to keeping vegetables in the pan. A taller wok works better for frying, too.
Loop vs. long-handled woks
Loop woks in the Cantonese style feature two handles, while other woks feature one loop and a long handle.
A loop wok might be best if storage space is tight, but if you are a chef who likes to use a handle to toss food instead of stirring, a long-handled wok is the best option.
What to look for in a quality cast-iron wok
While traditional carbon steel walks have rounded bottoms propped on a cooking ring, modern cast iron features a flat base. This lets you cook on an electric or gas stove without adding an accessory. This also keeps the wok stable if you use it to serve.
While a lid is not strictly necessary, it can be handy to keep your stove and countertop clean. A lid can also be used if you plan to fry food in your wok or want to use your wok as a steamer.
Some cast iron woks come with accessories that can include:
- Cooking utensils (e.g., spatulas and cooking spiders)
- Grips to protect hands
- Cooking ring
How to season a cast-iron wok
If your wok does not come pre-seasoned, here’s how to do it.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Wash and dry your wok.
- Use a paper towel to completely coat your wok with a thin layer of unsaturated fat cooking oil such as vegetable oil, canola oil or olive oil.
- Place your wok in the oven upside down and bake for 30 minutes. You can place a layer of aluminum foil underneath the walk to catch any drips. If the pan starts to smoke, open a window and press on.
- Carefully remove the wok and repeat this process three or four times.
How much you can expect to spend on a cast-iron wok
The size of the wok and the quality of the cast iron affect its price. Expect to spend $25-$100.
Cast-iron wok FAQ
Can you use frozen vegetables in the wok?
A. For best results, let all of your vegetables come to room temperature before adding to the walk. Frozen or refrigerated vegetables bring down the temperature of the wok which can lead to uneven heating and cooking. Since the whole point of wok cooking is to keep the heat high and the cooking times short, even a drop of a few degrees can affect your final result.
How do you care for a cast-iron wok?
A. As with all cast-iron cookware, a cast-iron wok requires some special care.
- Do not use soap on your wok.
- For stuck-on food, add salt and scrub with a plastic scrubber.
- Rinse and dry completely before storing.
- If your wok is no longer nonstick, repeat the seasoning process.
What’s the best cast-iron wok to buy?
Top cast-iron wok
What you need to know: This wok is generously sized and made by one of the best brands for cast-iron cookware.
What you’ll love: It’s a 14-inch wok with loop handles and a flat base for even cooking and stability. It can be used on a gas or electric range without a ring to keep it steady. It’s heavy and retains heat for a long time.
What you should consider: The larger the wok, the heavier it will be, and this one is no exception.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top cast-iron wok for the money
What you need to know: The extra height keeps the stovetop tidy when moving large amounts of vegetables around.
What you’ll love: The handles are wide on this 14-inch wok, and the base is flat and stable. The design is rustic and modern, perfect for cooking and serving. It is available in five finishes, one of which comes with a bamboo lid.
What you should consider: Some users noted a metallic odor after washing the wok.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: The stylish cedar lid and extra-wide handles are a bonus.
What you’ll love: It’s a 12-inch wok that’s perfect for cooking for one or two people. The wooden lid fits well and prevents spatters while cooking. It is designed to be stable on the cooktop and works as a serving vessel, too. Extra-wide handles let you grip the wok as you cook.
What you should consider: The wooden lid is prone to cracking over time and requires hand washing to keep it intact.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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