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Last updated: February 27, 2021
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Carbon steel woks are a popular option among cooking enthusiasts around the world. The main credit goes to the safety aspect of using this material in the cooking process since there’s no toxic elements involved in manufacturing its utensils, it is considered one of the most hazard-free materials to cook with. It can retain heat well and work for a variety of cooking temperatures. In fact, the best carbon steel wok will give you perfect cooking results every time and a performance that lasts a lifetime when cared for properly.
Carbon steel woks come with their own design elements such as a variety of weights, thicknesses and diameters. Some models feature a long wooden handle with others present a more traditional design with two metal handles. What you decide to purchase for your kitchen will be determined by your cooking preferences and how many people you most often cook for. You can even find models that come with a lid for added convenience when simmering.
So, if you are serious about cooking a fair bit of Chinese food in your kitchen, when why not invest in a quality carbon steel wok. With a little help from our experts you can be sure you get the right utensil for your culinary adventures. Here, we have compiled a list of the best carbon steel wok options first presented in a comparison table, followed by in-depth reviews of each product. If you still have more questions about getting the right wok, then look through our comprehensive buying guide to address any concerns.
The French company Mauviel is well known among cooking professionals for providing quality cookware products for nearly 200 years, including this list’s editor’s choice.
The M’Steel Black steel wok is a professional grade and heavier duty utensil that will prove to be a great investment for home or commercial use. With a solid thickness of up to 3 mm, it’s heavy for a traditional wok, but sturdy. You can be sure this wok will cook your food evenly and do its job in the kitchen for a lifetime. It will also be able to withstand very high temperatures when stir-frying quickly or cooking over an open flame.
The wok has a flat bottom, making it suitable and safe for all stove types.
At a smaller diameter of 11.8”, this wok can handle multiple quick batches, but not a family serving all at once. The weight of the wok is well balanced with the two tightly attached iron handles, one helper handle and one 9” long handle.
To protect this wok from damage or rust before your first use, it comes covered with beeswax for protection. The only gripe with this feature is the extra hot water and effort it takes to remove it from the surface, but after that you’ll have a great working wok making your time worthwhile.
To top it off, your M’Steel carbon steel wok will come with a lifetime limited warranty.
What we liked:
Flat bottom suitable for all stove types
Sturdy and durable build
What could be better:
Carbon steel makes it heavier than traditional woks
The 22-0040 Pro Chef Flat Bottom Wok comes from Joyce Chen, a company that’s popular for its high standard woks and other Chinese cookware. This particular carbon steel wok sticks out among others with its thicker surface and especially tough non-stick coating, making it the best non-stick carbon steel wok on this list.
Made of 2 mm thick carbon steel, this flat bottom wok is heavier and more durable, as well as more stable on any cooking surface. The 14” diameter means the wok can easily cook batches of food for 3 to 4 people at a time.
You can be sure this product was made to last, and stay non-stick for just as long. It comes equipped with Excalibur reinforced non-stick coating which is tough enough for even metal cooking utensils. Even the most stubborn residue can be removed from this wok’s surface. This makes it great for frying without issue.
The stay-cool phenolic handles are long and comfortable enough for you to hold and move the wok comfortably without getting too hot.
Though the wok can withstand higher temperatures, is recommended that the longer handle be removed, as it can be prone to softening and potentially becoming loose.
What we liked:
Flat bottom surface works on any surface
Extra strong non-stick surface
Heat-resistant phenolic handle
What could be better:
Handle can become loose and a potential hazard with higher temperatures
If you’re looking for a quality wok that’s durable, reliable, and saves you the trouble of seasoning before use, then look no further than the pre-seasoned carbon steel pow wok from Timoneylove. This traditionally handmade wok has already been pre-seasoned with vegetable oil by its makers so you can get straight to using it.
Hand-hammered and 1.8 mm thick, the wok is strong, durable, and needs no chemical non-stick coating due to the indentations from hammering. The large 14” diameter lets you cook larger batches easily.
The wok is round bottomed and is most suitable for gas stoves. It can be used on induction surfaces but would require you to hold it more carefully while cooking.
The hand-welded wooden handle is guaranteed not to fall off or become loose when used, and adds a nice visual touch. You really get the look and feel of a traditional wok with this product from Timoneylove.
Like any wok that should last, this wok needs special procedures and maintenance. After each use, you need to make sure to dry any water droplets manually to prevent rust and increase longevity.
The Timoneylove pre-seasoned carbon steel pow wok is a traditional and reliable wok that will cook evenly and last. On top of that, it comes pre-seasoned which is why we nominate it the best pre-seasoned carbon steel wok you can find.
This carbon steel wok from M.V. Trading is a durable and user-friendly choice. Available in sizes up to an impressive 16 inches, this wok is our choice for the best carbon steel wok for batch cooking.
Its size can hold and endure cooking greater amounts of food for over 12 people. With a carbon steel body at 1.5mm thick, it’s light enough to maneuver and heavy enough to remain stable when on a stovetop. The wok is well balanced with a long wooden handle that provides better grip and control when moving it. It stays cool and won’t burn your hands when over hot surfaces. The wooden helper handle provides full control. The thickness allows for quick heating and even cooking throughout.
This carbon steel wok has a flat bottom and can work on any cooking surface. It is also suitable for use at high temperatures.
One issue customers have regarding this wok is in the handle and the risk of it coming loose. More often than not, the handle is attached tightly, but it is better to make sure it is fastened well before each use.
What we liked:
Flat bottom suitable for all cooking surfaces
Ergonomically designed wooden handles
Heats quickly and evenly
What could be better:
Requires extra attention and maintenance between each use
The Craft Wok brand focuses on making authentic and traditional carbon steel woks from their place of origin – China. Hand-hammered and assembled by professionals in Guangzhou, Craft Wok provides an affordable traditional wok that’s approved by professional Chinese chefs. It’s an excellent choice for a decent carbon steel wok on a budget, which is why we nominate it the budget pick on our list.
Being hand-hammered, this wok has indentations that make food less prone to sticking and easier to move around. The traditional production means it has a round-bottom and needs an elevated surface like a gas stove for cooking.
The 1.8 mm thick carbon steel allows for a stable cooking temperature and a practical response time to changes in heat. It also has a lighter weight, sacrificing a little sturdiness for easier movement.
The wooden handle has a surface that won’t slip, offering a better grip and control when moving the wok for stir-fry. It’s well fitted with three rivets but also removable if your wok needs to go in the oven. The steel helper handles won’t get too hot for you to hold, even when stir-frying at high temperatures.
The Craft Wok carbon steel Pow Wok will definitely last for many years if maintained well, and is a good choice to consider if you’re looking for a good deal.
What we liked:
Hand-hammered method provides authentic look and traditional feel
Lighter than most other woks, not too heavy
No-slip and removable wooden handle
What could be better:
Not suitable for flat cooking surfaces – gas stove recommended
Things to Consider
Woks are yet another addition to the kitchen some people cannot live without. What a wok can do for you is immense, from stir frying and deep-frying to braising. Getting the right wok is the biggest problem you’ll face since everyone’s cooking style is slightly different and every wok is different as well.
Benefits of a carbon steel wok
Carbon steel is not the only material used for manufacturing woks, but it does seem to give the competition a run for its money. For instance, Teflon woks are extremely popular given their non-stick cooking surface but are not ideal contenders for high heat cooking. Stainless steel woks are non-reactive but you do need to keep an eye out for scorching as stainless steel transmits heat very quickly. Carbon steel woks seem to provide the perfect balance between the two and offer the following benefits:
Carbon-steel is safe to use since it’s non-stick and does not emit any dangerous toxins into the air.
Carbon material is also much lighter than most other materials. You can toss and move around your wok easier.
In addition, carbon steel woks heat up quicker and cool faster so you have better control over your cooking. Some recipes will call for more heat while others need to sit for hours at a time. It can help you cook faster since the wok heats up faster itself.
To make it even better, carbon is a cheaper material than most others so carbon-steel woks are affordable.
Carbon-steel is stronger as well, being both chip and crack-resistant.
So long as you constantly season your wok it’ll stay strong and resilient.
Woks are an investment, so when purchasing a wok, keep in mind that you want it to last a long time. The cheapest models come for around $40-$50. More expensive models come for over $100.
You can go for cheaper models even if you’re looking for an every-day home use wok. Woks typically don’t come made cheap and carbon-steel woks have always been reared to the more affordable selection of woks.
Features to consider while buying the best carbon steel wok
A wok is not just a chunk of metal, but can completely change your perspective of quality cooking. For traditional and enrichened tastes, most professionals turn to woks for performance. If you want to purchase the right wok for either home or work, there are some crucial features to look for.
Heat regulation is a strength for carbon-steel woks. They heat up and cool down very quickly. The best thickness for home use is 1.5-2mm. Among our options listed here, take a look at the Mauviel Made In France M’Steel Black Steel Wok for an impressive thickness going up to 3mm with the Joyce Chen 22-0040 Pro Chef Flat Bottom Wok being a close second at 2mm. Both these types are very well suited for heavier duty jobs.
Obviously, we’re looking at specifically carbon-steel woks so the material in question should be known. If you’re looking for a wok to use at home, a 14” one should do the trick. Larger sizes are better suited for commercial purposes. Anything smaller than this standard size won’t be very useful when cooking family-sized meals.
For more exact measurements; a 12” wok is best suited for a family of 5, 14” woks suit a group of 6-12 people and 16” woks are for parties larger than 12 people. 16” woks would be better for commercial use. 14” woks can accommodate a family and more if you have guests often.
Our pick for batch cooking, the Carbon Steel Wok with Helper Handle offers a wide utensil with a 16” diameter suitable to prepare larger batches of food. It is a utensil that can cater equally well to larger families or even for commercial use. On the smaller side of things, take a look at the Mauviel Made In France M’Steel Black Steel Wok offering an 11.8” diameter, ideal for a small family or even cooking for two.
Weight and diameter
Weight is important and is something many people overlook. You’ll want a wok as light as it can be. The bulkier the wok is, the harder it’ll be to transport it around. Tossing and manipulating the wok won’t be an easy task if the wok is heavy.
There are two types of bottoms you’ll encounter with woks; a flat-bottomed, and a round-bottomed. Flat-bottomed woks work better over induction stoves, electric and flat grills while round woks perform more efficiently over gas tops.
Your wok’s handle will determine how well you can manipulate your wok while you work. The longer the wok handle, the easier you can toss your food. All our featured models present woks with one long handle and a small helper handle to make lifting or moving the wok easier.
You’ll also want handles that aren’t conductors of heat.
Materials such as wood, plastic, and phenolic are the best handles. Phenolic is the most resistant to solvent cleaners, but it doesn’t tend to be ergonomic.
Cooking surface choice
The type of heating element you will use your wok on is an important factor to consider. This is given the shape of the wok, which can sometimes be hard to place on your stove. Luckily, there are two ways to go about this; you can either go with a flat-based wok or purchase a ring that goes over the stovetop.
The flat-bottomed woks work over gas, propane, electric, induction, and flat-top stoves. If you have a gas or propane stove, you can remove the cast-iron grate and place a ring instead. This ring will better hold the circular shape of the wok.
Dishwasher and oven safe
When it comes to purchasing a wok, there’s no harm in searching for a dishwasher and oven-safe utensil. If it’s dishwasher safe, then your clean-up will be easier each time you use the wok.
Buying a wok that that is oven-safe means you can use your wok in a more versatile manner. You can bake chickens and roasts for a completely unique taste and texture.
Quality items always come with quality assurance. That’s why, before you buy a wok, you’ll want to ensure there’s a warranty to back up your purchase. Things such as the coating peeling off and the wok rusting at an alarmingly fast rate can be covered under a warranty if you can find the right one.
How to season a carbon steel wok
This video will teach you how to season your carbon-steel wok so its performance is at its peak with every use.
Here’s another way to season your wok:
First, you have to wash your wok underneath hot water and with a little bit of detergent. Lightly clean your wok with a stainless-steel sponge or a pad to remove any excess chemical coating there may be on the wok. Ensure you don’t use the abrasive side of the sponge on the interior of the wok, only on the exterior. If you feel it necessary, clean the exterior of the wok as well with hot water and dish soap.
After you have washed your entire wok, rise it thoroughly and then leave it to dry.
Next, it is time to place the wok over the stove. Make sure the temperature on the stove is high heat. Move the wok so that the flames, (if you’re not using a gas stovetop, then ensure the heat of the electric stove reaches the wok) reach the rim and the bottom of the wok. Do this until the entire wok has turned a blue-yellow color.
Now it’s time to coat the wok. Make sure you take the wok off of the stove and turn the heat to medium-low.
Spill 1 ½ teaspoon of oil over your wok so the entire surface is covered. You can use a paper towel to rub the oil, or use a basting brush to brush the oil around.
Once you’ve covered your wok, place it over the stove on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. After you have heated it for ten minutes, take a paper towel and wipe all of the oil off. You should be getting black flakes on your towel.
Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you have no more black flakes coming off on your wok. This could take 5 tries, or it could take fifteen. Depending on the size and thickness of your wok, it will be quicker to season. If you have a thick, big wok, it’ll take longer to season. If you have a thin, small wok, it’ll take a shorter amount of time.
If you feel as though your seasoning has come off, don’t be afraid to do this all over again to perfect the seasoning once more.
There are utensils designed to specifically work with woks. These utensils have much longer handles and aren’t as angled as regular tools. They are built this way to make it easier to maneuver them around the wok.
There are multiple cooking methods you can attempt with a wok. You can deep-fry your food in oil, you can place a rack and some coal to smoke your food, you can roast nuts, braise sauces, and stir-fry rice.
As soon as you purchase your wok, wash it with soap and hot water. This will remove the factory coating from your wok.
After cleaning it out, it’s important you season it. Seasoning strengthens the wok adding to its lifespan. Once you’ve seasoned it, you don’t want to use soap on your wok anymore. If any food stuck on your wok, soak it until it can come off with only a sponge.
Re season your utensil if you ever feel as though the first coating is coming off.
If you’re looking to invest in a top-quality carbon steel wok from a reliable name that’ll last you for generations to come, you should definitely consider the Mauviel M’Steel Black Steel wok. You can be sure you’re getting your money’s worth from a company with over 200 years of crafting expertise.
A great option for fans of non-stick cookware would be the 22-0040 wok from Joyce Chen. The Excalibur reinforced non-stick coating can take on even metal utensils, and make the toughest of residue removable with as little effort as possible.
On a budget, the pow wok from Craft Wok is the best carbon steel wok for the job. You’ll get an authentic hand-crafted traditional wok, all at a bargain price. It’s hard to look away when this wok is used and preferred by professional chefs in China, the place where the wok was invented.