In recent years, stir fry has really taken off in popularity, not only in restaurants but among home cooks as well.
With the wide range of flavorful, quick, easy-to-make stir fry recipes available online, it’s easy to see why!
If you’re looking for a new way to make convenient, healthy meals at home (and who isn’t?), you owe it to yourself and your family to get one of the best woks for stir fry.
Whether you’re cooking for yourself or a large family, stir fry offers a fast, fresh, healthy alternative to eating out or to preservative-laden frozen meals.
However, in order to make proper stir fry, you first have to make sure that you have the right equipment.
While a large pot or frying pan might do for the occasional stir fry cook, if you’re really going to do it right, you’re going to need a wok.
Thankfully, there are a wide variety of high-quality woks available at a reasonable price.
5. Lodge 14 Inch Cast-Iron Wok
Unbeknownst even to many wok users, for years traditional Chinese woks were made of cast iron.
It combines that centuries-old tradition with Lodge’s more than 120 years of experience producing high quality, durable cast-iron cookware.
The Lodge 14-inch, pre-seasoned, flat-bottom wok represents a fantastic value that, if properly maintained, will be making your family stir fry for decades or even generations to come.
The Lodge cast iron wok can be found on Amazon.
- 14-inch size is slightly larger than 13-inch woks but creates a lot more cooking area
- Oven safe
- Despite flat-bottomed exterior, interior of wok is still rounded at the bottom for more authentic stir fry
- Pre-seasoned cast iron comes ready-to-use
- Cast iron does require some additional care compared to other materials
- Does not include lid
- Not dishwasher safe (Cast iron needs to be dried immediately after washing to avoid rust)
- Cast-iron cookware is heavier than other cookware, which can be difficult for some cooks
4. Cooks Standard 13-Inch Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Wok
This 13-inch wok pan from Cooks offers a stainless steel exterior with an aluminum core. It is dishwasher safe, and it can be placed in the oven at on high heat (up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit). Unlike some other woks we looked at, the Cooks includes a stainless-steel, domed lid.
While the flat bottom of the Cooks wok’s exterior better accommodates most cooktops, the interior of the wok also is flat, which is less ideal than a rounded bottom when it comes to making stir fry.
The Lodge cast iron wok, by comparison, has a flat exterior bottom but a rounded interior bottom, a combination we find ideal.
This Cooks wok can be found on Amazon.
- Dishwasher safe
- Oven safe up to 500 degrees
- Includes lid
- Flat-bottomed interior cooking surface not optimal for stir fry
- 13-inch size is smaller than some other woks
3. T-fal Specialty Nonstick Jumbo Wok
This large 14-inch jumbo wok from T-fal is a low-cost, lightweight option for the casual home cook who would like a wok capable of preparing the occasional stir fry.
While the nonstick interior and exterior surfaces make the T-fal easy to clean, individual users may differ on whether they prefer a chemical-free cooking surface that might require a bit more elbow grease to scrub clean.
The T-fal wok can be found on Amazon, at less than half the price of some of the other woks on our list.
- Budget friendly price
- Lightweight aluminum design
- Large 14-inch size
- Flat-bottomed (rather than rounded) interior cooking surface less ideal for authentic stir fry
- Feels more flimsy than other woks
- Only oven safe up to 350 degrees
- Won’t hold up to frequent or long-term use
2. TeChef Art Pan Wok
This 12-inch, Teflon-coated wok from TeChef (also available in 9.5-inch size) features a print design on the interior bottom that shows exactly how much oil to use, without the need for a measuring cup.
While it is smaller than the 13-inch and 14-inch woks we looked at, some home cooks may find the smaller size sufficient for their cooking needs and easier to fit in the cupboard.
While individual consumers may vary in their views on nonstick coatings, this TeChef wok features a new form of PFOA-free Teflon, which the manufacturer says has been deemed safe for cooking by regulatory agencies around the globe.
The Aubergine Purple color, which supposedly signifies joie de vivre and the everyday splendors of life, also may appeal more to some buyers than others.
The TeChef Art Pan 12-inch wok can be found on Amazon.
- Individuals and/or couples may prefer the smaller 12-inch design, which takes up less storage space
- Lightweight aluminum design
- Features extra heavy gauge base and thin walls
- 12-inch size may be too small for larger families or groups
- Aubergine Purple color is less universal than silver, black, or gray
- Does not feel as solid as some other woks at this price point
1. Helen Chen’s Flat Bottom Wok
This 4-piece wok set designed in collaboration with celebrity chef Helen Chen includes a large, 14-inch, carbon-steel wok; a domed, metal lid; a 13-inch bamboo spatula, and a booklet of stir fry recipes. While we like the solid feel of the 14mm carbon steel, the Helen Chen line of woks also offers a 12-inch size and a nonstick option.
The 14-inch, carbon-steel Helen Chen flat-bottom wok can be found on Amazon.
- 4-piece set includes wok, domed metal lid, bamboo spatula, andrecipe book
- 1.6mm carbon steel gives a solid, durable feel
- Not recommended for dishwasher use
- Wooden handles are not oven friendly
- Requires initial seasoning toprevent against rust
- Flat-bottomed (as opposed to rounded) interior cooking surfaceis not our preference
Woks and Stir Fry FAQ
Here are some of our readers’ most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) when it comes to woks and stir fry:
1. What is a wok? Why is it better for stir fry than the pots and pans I already own?
Stir fry is a Chinese cooking tradition dating back hundreds of years. While recipes vary widely, most stir fry depends on rapidly cooking food at an extremely high temperature, which requires near-constant movement of the ingredients within the pan to avoid burning.
As a result, woks usually are designed to reach high temperatures quickly and evenly, while their shape tends to be wide and relatively shallow with a rounded bottom to better accommodate the regular “stirring” of the contents (oftentimes, with just a flick of the chef’s wrist).
Pans with flat bottoms and perpendicular sides, like those more often seen in traditional Western kitchens, are less ideal than woks for this style of cooking.
While often associated with stir fry, woks have remained popular throughout the years because they can accommodate a variety of cooking techniques. Traditionally, Chinese chefs also have used woks for deep frying, steaming, and even boiling.
2. What is the best material for a wok to be made out of?
As with other forms of cookware, woks come in a wide range of materials. On our list of the best woks for stir fry alone, there are woks made of cast iron, carbon steel, stainless steel, and multiple varieties of aluminum.
As this demonstrates, there is no single best material for a wok to be made out of, and which wok is best for you will depend on how you intend to use it and your lifestyle.
For example, casual home cooks looking for the quickest and easiest option might prefer a nonstick wok with a lightweight aluminum design that is dishwasher friendly, while enthusiasts may enjoy seasoning their cast-iron woks and giving them the bit of extra care they require.
3. Is it better to have a flat-bottom or round-bottom wok when cooking stir fry?
Traditionally, many of the best wok pans have featured completely rounded bottoms on their interiors and exteriors, which requires a special rack or grate above the flame to hold in place.
In order to better accommodate most contemporary cooktops, the vast majority of woks sold today feature flat bottoms, meaning they can rest sturdily on gas or electric cooktops.
However, even among these woks with flat-bottomed exteriors, some such as the Lodge cast-iron wok, retain a rounded bottom on the interior cooking surface similar to a traditional wok. This eliminates “corners” where food and sauce can get stuck and not move as freely.
As with selecting which material is best for your wok, the shape of the wok also is largely a matter of personal preference and cooking style.
While individual preferences may vary based on one’s personal feelings about (for example) durability versus a lightweight design or the importance of being dishwasher friendly, for our money (and our mouths) we’ve decided to go with the 14-inch cast-iron wok from Lodge as our favorite among the five models on our list.
From the fact that traditional Chinese woks were made of cast iron, to this being the only wok we tested with a flat-bottom exterior but a rounded-bottom interior cooking surface, to the legendary Lodge name and family-heirloom level reputation for durability, this highly affordable walk could realistically have your family enjoying stir fry for generations to come.
While each of the models we looked at had its own advantages and disadvantages, as cooking enthusiasts, we actually enjoy the small amount of extra care and maintenance the Lodge cast-iron wok requires, especially knowing that with the right care, it will stay in great shape for decades.
No matter which of our 5 woks for stir fry you decide is right for you, your lifestyle, and your budget, we are confident that you’ll be having fun cooking fresh, healthy, delicious stir fry for your friends and family in no time. You might even find yourself wondering what took you so long to join the stir fry craze in the first place!