Cook's Illustrated

Which Wok Should You Buy?

Because this is America’s Test Kitchen, we’re always questioning our assumptions. For years, we’ve tweaked and adapted conventional stir-fry recipes to achieve delicious results in a nonstick skillet instead of a wok, the traditional cooking vessel. Since American stove burners are flat, we aimed to get more contact with the heat source by cooking on the broad, flat surface of a 12-inch skillet rather than the smaller bottom surface of a wok. Recently, we decided to take another look at woks.

There was a lot to learn: You can buy woks in a range of materials, shapes, (2010). She and other experts advised us that carbon-steel and lightweight cast-iron woks are the top choices for cooks. These materials transfer heat efficiently, so they sear foods most effectively. As we’ve learned from testing cast-iron and carbon-steel skillets, these metals also acquire seasoning over time—the cooked-on oil naturally makes them more and more nonstick. With a well-seasoned wok, we would be able to retain the benefits of a nonstick skillet’s slick surface.

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