Our Top Pick for 2019: Eastman Outdoors Deep Dish Carbon Steel Wok
There is nothing like fixing some delicious sesame chicken and fried rice at home. It can be made in a frying pan, but a wok has a few advantages that you may want to take advantage of. This uniquely shaped skillet is great for evenly distributing heat across the surface. In addition, stir frying your food takes a lot less oil than deep frying or pan frying does. Which wok is the best option for creating perfectly fried rice? Well, many seasoned cooks will tell you that carbon steel woks are the way to go, but there are other features to consider as well. Let’s take a look at some pre-purchase considerations and review a few top picks to help you choose a carbon steel wok for your home.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
#1. Eastman Outdoors Deep Dish Carbon Steel Wok
View it on Amazon: $59.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Our gold pick for carbon steel woks is a great model that is designed to be mainly used in outdoor situations. The Eastman Outdoors Wok is great for cooking over a propane burner or an actual fire pit, so it is the ideal tool to use while camping in the wilderness, cooking out at a park, or enjoying great food at a tailgate party. It can be used on a gas stove, as long as you have the ring to support it; however, it is best in an outdoor environment. One of the reasons that this wok is not great for cooking indoors is the fact that it has a rounded bottom, which cannot be used on an electric stove.
The wok has a 22 inch diameter, and it is about 15 inches high, which gives this wok a deep dish aspect that will allow you to cook for a crowd. It is only eight pounds, so it is easy to maneuver when you are stir frying a dish. The wok is fitted with two Cantonese style handles that are square in shape. These handles make it easier to lift the wok at any time during the cooking process. The shape of this wok gives you a cooking area that is six inches deep, which is more than enough space to cook for a dozen people or more. This wok will need to be seasoned before it is used to prolong the life of the wok and prevent it from rusting. It should be cleansed with soap and warm water; no rough abrasive scrubbing sponges should be utilized to clean the wok.
When it comes to the reviews of this large outdoor carbon steel wok, there are only 15 available on Amazon to review, but out of the ones that can be seen, 14 of them have been rated with positive four or five stars. Many of the consumers who gave testimonials expressed how easy the wok is to clean and how great it can stir fry the food, especially after the wok has been used a bit. Here is an example of one five star testimonial: “There are several types and sizes and you won’t go wrong with this one. It is very well made and exactly as it is described in the aid. You won’t go wrong getting this wok if you learn how to maintain and cook with it. Remember, you must season this wok as you would any cooking dish. It is a great wok for the price.”
#2. Wok Shop 14 Inch Carbon Steel Wok w/ Helper Handle
Our silver pick is a wok that is more for home use, whereas our gold pick was designed as a way to feed large crowds of people. Created by a family owned business that has created quality products for over 40 years, this Wok Shop carbon steel wok is a durable solution that can cook enough food for six to 12 people. It is 13 inches long, 10.5 inches wide, and six inches high, so that means that it has a cooking depth of about four inches. Weighing in at about seven and a half pounds, you can expect little difficulty tossing and stir frying in this 14 inch wok.
This wok features a flat bottom, which means that it can easily be used on electric stovetops as well as gas ones. It also is a great wok to use on a grill, as the flat bottom will prevent it from wobbling as you cook. The unit features a large wooden handle on one side that makes it easy to toss the food you are cooking, and there is also a helper handle that is located on the other side of the wok that makes it easier to pick up the cookware. Both of the handles are welded into place to ensure that they are secure. This wok will need to be cleaned and seasoned properly before it is used to prepare a meal, as the liquid coating that is already on the wok needs to be removed. This will also help prevent the wok from rusting in your cabinets.
When it comes to the reviews of this Wok Shop wok, there are about 125 reviews on Amazon, and 82 percent of the consumers who rated this product deemed it worthy of a positive four or five star rating. Overall, the consumers love the size of this wok, as it is perfect for feeding a family. Here is an example of one customers experience with this wok: “When it came it took several scrubbings with Bar Keeper’s Friend and soap to get the machining oil off it. Then we started working on building up a protective coating using chives and onions outside on the BBQ burner (doing this outside is the way to go). We have been using it about six months now and the inside is a beautiful golden brown color and it works well. I love how responsive it is and the size is just right. We clean it with a plastic scraper and never any soap.”
#3. Ken Hom Carbon Steel Wok
The Ken Hom Carbon Steel Wok, which is our bronze selection, is a great piece of cookware that is part of a line of cookware that has been around since 1986. It is designed to be compatible with all types of cooking surfaces, so it has a flat bottom, which enables it to be used on electric ceramic and induction cooking surfaces. In addition, it can also be used on gas stoves and outdoor cooking sources as well. This wok is 20 inches in length, 12 inches in width, and about five inches in height, which makes it a 12.25 inch wok. The same wok is also available in a 13.5 inch size as well. In addition, this piece of cookware weighs a little less than three pounds, so it is easy to maneuver while you are cooking without injuring your wrist or dropping the food that you are cooking. The carbon steel is a 1.8 millimeter gauge, which makes it a durable product that is capable of standing up to the high heat often felt by woks. It also offers optimal heat transference across the surface.
The Beachwood handles on this unit are riveted into the wok to ensure that they are securely in place. It features Northern style handles, which means that there is a traditional long handle on one side to maneuver the wok and a second, smaller one on the opposite side to help you pick up the unit. This Ken Hom wok is designed to be hand washed only to ensure that it lasts for many years. It must also be seasoned before the first time you cook with this wok. In addition, it also comes with a ten year warranty in case any issues arise with the wok.
Insofar as reviews for this piece of cookware are concerned, 18 of the 23 reviews that are written on Amazon have been rated with a star quality of at least four of five stars. Most of the non-positive reviews focus on the fact that the device can rust when it is not properly seasoned, so make sure to complete this process before using the wok. Here is an example of a great five star testimonial from a happy customer: “I was so excited when I received my Carbon steel wok pan!! My favorite part is the wooden handles!! No more burning my fingers woohoo. This non stick pan is simply the bee’s knees of pans!! This pan is super heavy duty and extremely durable!! This is an every kitchen must have!! I cook EVERYTHING in this pot.”
#4. Cook Pro Professional Heavy Duty Carbon Steel Wok
Stir frying an Asian favorite in your wok at home is a great way to impress your family and friends. If you are ballin’ on a budget, the good news is that most carbon steel woks are actually priced at a lower price point, but if you need one that is more budget friendly, then try our final pick, which is the Cook Pro carbon steel wok. It is design to be a durable option that is great for evenly distributing heat, so the carbon steel is about 1.0 millimeters thick.
The wok features a 14 inch design that has a height of almost four inches high, so that will give you plenty of space to cook for a family of four to six individuals. In addition, this unit only weighs 2.8 pounds, which makes it the perfect weight for tossing the ingredients in a stir fry, and maneuvering the wok without incident. It is designed with a flat bottom to ensure it can be a versatile piece of cookware that can be used on various cooking surfaces. It has two wooden handles to protect your hands from the heat of the metal, which are fashioned in the Northern style. This wok does have a non-stick coating, but it should still be seasoned before it is used to cook food to better protect the cooking surface.
Review-wise, our budget pick has received positive ratings from 14 out of the 16 reviews that are available on Amazon. Many of the reviews express an appreciation for the low cost and high quality of this piece of cookware. Here is what one reviewer had to say about this wok: “It may be carbon steel, but despite not being obvious in the description, it is still coated with a non-stick coating. It is not a traditional carbon steel wok. However, it does work very well for the price; everything I’ve made has been great.”
There are three main materials that you can find a wok to be crafted from. We are talking about carbon steel woks specifically in this write up, but let’s break down each type so that you know all of your options.
• Stainless steel is the worst option that you can purchase. The pan will take a while to heat, and once it does it will not produce an even heat. Stainless steel woks tend to be heavy, which makes tossing a stir fry difficult. In addition, food tends to stick on the surface of a stainless steel wok, which will effectively ruin many fast cooking dishes.
• Cast iron will also take a bit of time to heat up, but they are much better at providing a non-stick surface. One of the main issues with a cast iron wok is that it can be heavy, which makes stir frying more difficult.
• Carbon steel is the best type of wok you can purchase. The surface is heated rather quickly, and the even heating of the wok gives you an even cooking temperature over the entire surface that will be non-stick if it is properly cared for.
One of the main considerations to make is regarding the size. How many servings will you be making at once in the wok? Do you need a wider wok, or do you plan to use the depth of your wok as additional space? The size of your wok is completely up to you, so think about your needs and consider which size is best for you.
The inside of a wok can be fashioned in a few different styles. Each of the three has positive and negative aspects, so it is up to you to decide which is best for you.
• Stamped – This is created by cutting small circular patterns from the wok to create a smooth surface. The surface that is created is a difficult one to push foods to the side of the wok, as it will most likely just slide back down, but it is a good option for creating a smaller side that can be cooked all at once.
• Hand Hammered – These are mostly rounded bottom models that have been hammered by hand to create an uneven pattern on the surface where you can push your food when new ingredients are added to the wok.
• Spun – These types of woks are hand spun of a lathe, which produces circle-like patterns that offer the same effect as the hand hammered option. This style is often found in flat bottom woks.
Woks come in a few different shapes, so it is important to consider which will work best for you and your kitchen. A rounded bottom wok is a great option, but not if you are cooking on a traditional electric stove. In fact, it can even be difficult to use on a gas stove. To properly use a rounded bottom wok, you will need to utilize a wok ring. If you decide on a flat bottom wok, you may find that it is too flat for many wok cooking techniques. The idea wok is one that has a flat bottom with rounded sides. Try to shoot for a flat area that is about four to five inches in diameter.
The handles are important, as they are what you will use to help move and flip the food inside the device. There are two styles of handles to choose from, which are the Northern style and the Cantonese style. The Northern style wok has a large handle on one side of the wok and a smaller helper handle on the other. With the combination of a small handle and a larger one, you will be able to easily lift the entire wok and toss the food inside of it during the cooking process. The Cantonese style wok features two smaller handles on either side of the wok. This is also a great option, but the smaller handles give you less leverage to flip the food as it is cooking.
Maintenance and Care
The longer you cook with a wok, the better your results will be. A new wok will not be seasoned and coated effectively enough to produce a perfect meal, but it will be sufficient until it matures and learns how to properly stir fry your food. A new wok will have a coating on it to prevent it from rusting. The first step is to remove this film and properly season the wok. To do this you must thoroughly scrub, rinse, and dry the wok. The best way to dry a wok is to heat it over low heat until there is no water left in the wok.
Next, make sure you windows are open, and turn up the heat. Once the wok evaporates a drop of water in a second or two, then you need to remove the wok from the heat and add two tablespoons of oil. Coat the wok with the oil, and once it is cool enough, then you can rewash the wok and put it back on the heat. Stir fry scallions and ginger in the wok to add aromatics to the surface, and then wait for the surface to become a light yellow or brownish color. Remove the wok from the heat and discard the scallions and the ginger. Let the wok cool, and then wash it with only hot water; no soap. Dry the wok over low heat once again before actually cooking in the wok. Coating the interior with a thin layer of oil will help prevent rust from forming on the wok.
When you are cleaning after use, only scrub it when absolutely necessary. Typically, a soft sponge and hot water is sufficient. Repetitive use of the wok will break down the polymers in the surface of the metal. The wok will gradually change from silver to yellowish brown, and then eventually to black, and that will render the surface completely non-stick, which is our goal for the wok.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Many seasoned chefs who use woks will tell you that an expensive wok is not the solution to creating a delicious stir fry; it is having a wok that is made from carbon steel, which is one of the cheaper wok options that you can purchase. In addition to this feature, you will need to consider things like the size, the shape, and the handles. Take a look at our top selections, and if they do not mesh with your style, then review our pre-purchase considerations to help you decide on a wok that will feed your family for years.