Woks have now become important cookware in the kitchen of people who love Asian cuisine. And out of many different qualities of a wok, one famous material is carbon steel. A carbon steel wok is naturally nonstick. And the benefit of cooking food on a nonstick surface is it will require less oil or butter. Therefore, you can cook delicious and healthy Chinese at home.
While nonstick surface prevents sticking of food, carbon material ensures heat is transferred evenly on the wok. Also, carbon is known to tolerate high heat without distorting the surface. And most of the Chinese and Asian delicacies require high heat for cooking food. So the best quality carbon steel wok will transfer heat evenly as well as prevent the surface from turning black.
Generally, a wok is round in shape but now when the people are using it at home over the gas stove, their shape is a bit modified. Apart from the round base, you’ll find flat bottom carbon steel wok that sits perfectly over the gas stove or induction. We’ve included both the types of wok in our review list so that you can select the best model for you. Check out the best carbon steel wok reviews below and make food like a pro.
Best Carbon Steel Wok
Here are our top 10 picks and carbon steel wok reviews for you to choose from.
1) Joyce Chen 22-0060 – Best Pro Chef Flat Bottom Wok Uncoated Carbon Steel, 14-inch
Toss and turn noddles easily with Joyce Chen carbon steel wok. This 14-inch cookware is great for household use for a family of 4. It’s 2.0 mm heavy-gauge carbon steel body distributes heat evenly in all directions. Besides, it maintains a high temperature that is a must while making Chinese food.
The rounded sides will keep the ingredients inside while you toss them either with hand or spoon. Whereas, the flat bottom, 14 inches in diameter is easy to use on gas stoves. This particular Jayce Chen 14-inch carbon steel wok is ideal for electric or gas ranges. Therefore, you have the freedom to cook food on whichever surface you feel comfortable on.
Joyce Chen 22-0060 comes uncoated, which means you’ll have to season the wok before using it. Not to worry as a seasoning is no big deal. Simply rub 2 tablespoons of cooking oil over the entire interior surface of wok and heat it for about 10 minutes on medium flame. Now tilt the wok over the burner so sides and bottom heat as well. Remove it from heat and let the wok cool. Repeat this process 3 to 4 times for the best cooking experience.
- Heavy-gauge carbon steel body will not crack or break within a few uses
- Stay-cool phenolic handles let you toss and turn ingredients easily
- An additional handle on the front stabilizes and simplifies transport
- Suitable to use on both gas or electric stove
- A loop on handle for hanging storage
- The flat bottom is easy for home use
- You need to wash and season wok before using it for the first time
2) Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen Flat Bottom Carbon Steel Wok with Lid and Stir Fry Spatula, 14-inch
While some recipes do not need a cover, many of them need a lid to cook food properly. And Helen Chen’s flat bottom wok with a lid helps you with those recipes. The 14-inch flat diameter sits securely on any stovetop. Its versatile nature lets you use gas, electric or induction cooktop, whichever you are comfortable with. While flat bottom cooks food evenly, high-domed lid retains the heat. Therefore, the food gets cooked quickly and evenly with the lid on.
The cooking surface of the spun carbon steel wok collects a natural patina over time. This, in turn, creates that coveted non-stick cooking performance. And unlike, plastic or polymer handle, this Helen Chen 14-inch wok features bamboo handles. Such handles provide high-heat resistant as well as are cool to touch. Thus, you can grab them without wrapping a cloth around to toss the ingredients.
- The flat-bottom design sits securely on the stovetop as well as works well on gas, electric or induction top
- The lid retains heat and prevents splatters
- Includes a 13-inch bamboo spatula
- Budget-friendly price tag
- Backed by a lifetime warranty against manufacturers defect in workmanship
- The unit is sturdily riveted, thus, the handles won’t loosen with time
- Includes a recipe booklet with several delicious wok recipes
- Both the wok and lid must be washed by hands only
- The handle does get a bit loose with time
3) Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok (14 Inch, Round Bottom)
If you’re a big fan of the traditional style cookware then this hand-hammered carbon steel wok is for you. Instead of flat bottom, it has a round cooking surface. This round bottom wok is great for making Chinese food as it gives a lot of surface area to toss and turn ingredients smoothly. If you already know how to use a wok then you might not even need a spatula while making certain food such as noodles, fried rice, etc.
The hand-hammered look of the Craft 14-inch round bottom wok is our favorite feature. Not only does it look good but high-quality carbon steel material distributes heat evenly. As a result, each bite of the food is well cooked. While this round wok is best for stir-frying food but besides, you can also deep fry, steam, and smoke ingredients. Thus, it is a versatile vessel.
This carbon steel wok is 1.8 mm thick and can last a lifetime if properly seasoned. Yes, like cast iron cookware, this one too needs proper seasoning before you can use it. Craft includes an instruction booklet that guides you on how to season the carbon steel wok properly. Once seasoned, you can use the vessel on high flame to stir fry vegetables for your noodle night.
- No need to remove handle before tempering
- Hand-guided hammering by professional in China
- Healthy materials used in the construction
- Suitable for open fire
- Best carbon steel wok for stir-frying under $50
- Non-slippery wooden handle
- Steel helper handle won’t burn when you use stir fry over high heat
- Not suitable for flat electric or flat induction stove
4) Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen Carbon Steel Wok Stir Fry Pan, 12-inch
While some use the only stovetop for cooking, many people use a different heat source. And if you’re unsure which heat source you’re gonna use then get Helen Chen’s 12-inch carbon steel wok. Thanks to its flat bottom design that supports the use of multiple cooking surfaces. You can use kitchen stovetop, gas, induction or electric cooktop. Such versatility of the product makes it worth buying.
Making this carbon steel wok involves the use of environmentally-friendly materials. While carbon steel is recyclable, the bamboo handle is sustainable. Speaking of the handle, the 2-tone bamboo is heat-resistant for comfortable use. Plus, it does not get very hot even if the flame is on high. You can toss ingredients without wrapping a cloth around your hand before grabbing the handle.
Initially, the color of wok looks like that of steel or aluminum. But on using it for a couple of times, the color will change to black. Not to worry as this is not an issue but a common phenomenon. In fact, this black patina provides a smooth and stick-resistant surface to let you cook food conveniently And no sticking of food means easy cleaning.
- High-quality carbon steel wok for home use
- Rust will not harm the performance of the cookware
- Provides a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects in workmanship
- Includes full use and care instructions for first-time buyers
- The bamboo handle is both heat-resistant and environment-friendly
- Suitable to use of multiple cooktops
- No helper’s hand
- Handle loosens with time
5) Joyce Chen 21-9978, Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok, 14-inch
Stir fry like a pro with Joyce Chen 21-9978 classic carbon steel wok. This 14-inch unit with a flat bottom is ideal for your kitchen. It supports the use of multiple heat sources like gas, electric or induction stovetops. So if you prefer electric heating instead of fire then Joyce Chen is for you. And not to worry about varied performance as it will always deliver the best results no matter which supported heat source you use.
The double-riveted handle does not loosen after using the vessel for a couple of times. Besides, the birch-wood handles remain cool even if the flame is high. Both the long and opposite helper handle stay cool to touch so that you can cook conveniently. A gentle curve on both the handles provide a comfortable grip while stirring and tossing.
Curved cooking interior promotes proper stir-frying. The wide top and narrow bottom allow for frying with less oil than with a straight-sided pan. Hence, you can cook healthy at home with Joyce Chen 21-9978. Plus, the size is enough to feed 4 people easily.
- Cool-to-touch handles on both sides eases cooking
- The great depth allows ample room to cook a whole fish
- You can stir, simmer or deep fry food with this 14-inch carbon steel wok
- The curved sides diffuse heat and extend the cooking surface
- The lightweight of the cookware is easy to maneuver
- Safe to use on multiple heat sources
- It catches rust quickly on the area where there is no proper seasoning
- Acidic food such as lemon, tomato, vinegar must be strictly avoided with this particular unit
6) Best 14 Inches Carbon Steel Wok with Helper Handle (Flat Bottom) – USA Made
If you’ve never used a wok before then it is better to buy a unit with helper handle. While the long handle gives you proper grip while cooking, the helper handle on the other side eases serving and storage. Unlike straight long handle, it is a bit curved at the joint. This curve helps in better stirring and tossing of ingredients. Therefore, not many ingredients will fall out from the cookware even if you’re trying hand tossing for the first time.
The 14-inch flat bottom wok is designed to sit directly on an electric stove. Set the maximum temperature on your electric stove as this cookware performs best when the temperature is high. If not electric stove, then you can also place this flat bottom on the gas stove. So yes, the unit is versatile just like many others on the list.
4-inch depth of the carbon steel wok lets you cook a good quantity of food at once. Whereas, the 14-inch diameter is sufficient to cook for 6 to 12 people, depending upon the recipe. But before cooking, you need to season the wok at least 3-4 times for the best performance. Doing so will darken the interior but that’s what carbon steel material is supposed to do.
- It is completely safe to season the carbon steel wok on an electric stove
- Size of the cookware fits perfectly on a standard American stove
- Deep enough to fry up to 6 chicken thighs
- The natural, blonde wooden handle gives you great control over the cookware
- Suitable to use on both gas and electric stove
- Loop hook on end eases hanging storage
- Designed for rapid, even heating and cooling
- The seasoning on an electric stove is a tie consuming process
7) Best 16 Inches Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Wok with Two Side Handle, 14 Gauge Thickness, USA Made
Many traditional carbon steel wok does not comprise of a long handle at all. Instead, they feature 2 loop handles just like this 16-inch wok. This cookware is best if you want to go all traditional. The entire body of the cookware including the handles are made of the same material, carbon steel. Therefore, the cookware will last for a lifetime if seasoned and used properly.
Beginners or first-time buyers will find it a bit uncomfortable to work with such a design. This is because you can’t touch handles directly with hands as they get super hot. Also, you need to take care not to stir too vigorously as it will move the vessel from the stove. And you do not want to spill food over the countertop. But using this 16-inch round wok will not be a problem for experts or people with some experience. In fact, they find such design more comfortable than long handle design.
- The heavyweight of the unit will keep the cookware steady in its place while you saute or stir fry ingredients
- Riveted side handles are eases cooking and storage
- Great unit to carry with you while camping
- You can conveniently season the round wok as there are no wooden parts that would burn
- Safe to use on both electric and gas stove
- Depth of the unit is enough to feed up to 12 people
- Will last a lifetime
- Absence of long handle might be uncomfortable to use for some people
8) Best Carbon Steel Wok For Electric Induction and Gas Stoves (Lid, Spatula, and Seasoning Video Guide Included)
If you prefer an electric stove or induction cooktop over gas then this carbon steel wok is for you. The shape of the cookware is such that it fits perfect on flat cooking surfaces. Be it electric, induction, gas range or other heat sources, you’ll get the best results every time. Not only is this a great cookware to cook food but also good in looks. Unlike, steel or aluminum color, this is a black carbon steel wok.
But black exterior does not mean it comes seasoned. You need to follow the wok tempering method just like you do with other carbon steel woks. What we like the most about this unit is the printed hammered texture. This pattern looks gorgeous and will enhance your cookware collection. Besides, it retains heat and cooks well on a high flame which the main purpose of buying a wok.
The wok pan comes with a wooden lid and a stainless steel spatula. While the wooden lid is helpful in smoking and steaming ingredients, steel spatula smoothly saute, toss and stir-fries. So you get a complete set of carbon steel wok with lid under $100 with an additional spatula.
- Flat bottom wok sits perfectly on numerous cooking surfaces
- You’ll find a number of delicious carbon steel wok recipes on their youtube channel
- Video guide for proper seasoning and care of the cookware is available
- With proper care, it will exhibit non-stick qualities and last for years without any issue
- Includes a lid and spatula for convenient cooking
- Printed hammered texture is unique and looks well on in your kitchen cookware collection
- All products are tested to be generally accepted as safe
- No additional handle
- A bit heavy to toss and turn ingredients smoothly
9) Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok – 14 Inch, Round Bottom by Chef’s Medal
Traditional carbon steel wok is round and hand-hammered. So on the list, we’ve included this Chef’s Medal cookware that is designed completely traditional. All its ingredients are safe for cooking as well as environmental-friendly. The thick carbon steel material transfers heat evenly whereas, the bamboo handle is sustainable. Therefore, which is far better than nonstick pans that contain PFOA and PTFE, chemicals known to harm the environment and humans.
Unlike factory-made, this pow wok is hand-hammered. The 1.8 mm thick commercial quality material is hammered by professionals in China. So you get an authentic, high-quality steel wok to prepare your food. But the pow wok requires seasoning before you can cook. It comes with detailed instructions on how to season a round wok so you can enjoy nonstick cooking for the rest of your life.
Instead of loop design at the end, the bamboo handle comes with a hole for hanging storage. And on the other side, is a metal helper handle just like traditional round carbon steel wok have. And between them is a perfect curvature for circulation of heat through the dish.
- 100% handcrafted by professionals in China
- Thick commercial quality material
- Includes instructions to season wok to become non-stick
- Best hand hammered wok for stewing, steaming, boiling, and deep-frying apart from stir-frying
- All environment safe materials
- Bamboo handle with hole for easy storage
- Traditional design and built-up
- Offers a lifetime limited warranty covering defects in material and workmanship
- Needs seasoning
- Prefer using gas stove over flat surfaces like electric stove and induction cooktop
10) Pre-Seasoned Carbon Steel Wok – Best Hand Hammered Stir-Fry Pan (14 Inch, Round Bottom Wok)
If you haven’t used cast iron cookware before then you might not be familiar with seasoning. And the seasoning is a must process before cooking food on cast iron or carbon steel surface. But not to worry as Timoneylove offers pre-seasoned wok that is ready to use soon after unboxing. This cookware is finished by artisans to save your time and effort.
This handmade wok is made of 1.8 mm thick carbon steel. The carbon steel retains high heat and transfers evenly in all directions. Plus, there is no chemical coating on the interior or exterior. And no use of chemicals means less or no smoke while cooking on high flame.
The problem with cheap quality wooden handles is they start to crack or blacken after using the cookware on high flame. But thanks to red eucalyptus handle that is both comfortable and anti-scalding. The wood will not splinter or crack even if the temperature is high. Thus, you can cook hassle-free with this traditional Chinese wok.
- Comes pre-seasoned for quick and convenient use
- Cold forging and hammered by hand makes the material denser
- Hand-welded one-piece metal handle never loosens even after years of use
- Imported red eucalyptus handle is anti-scalding, durable, and comfortable
- Wash and dry the unit with a small fire to prevent rust and elongate life
- Great heat distribution
- Very costly
Just like the majority of other cookware, woks also come in different sizes and shapes. Be it round bottom or flat bottom, below are some common wok sizes. Have a look to know which size suits you the most.
10 inch: Smallest of all, a 10-inch wok is best to cook food for 2 people. It cooks fast, occupies less storage space as well as is easy to maintain.
12 inch: A bit large in diameter, a 12-inch carbon steel wok with a flat bottom is sufficient for up to 4 people. Depending upon the food you’re cooking, it can also serve 6 people. This 12-inch size is ideal for camping when the unit supports an open flame cooking.
14 inch: Most favorable size of many buyers. This is because a 14-inch carbon steel wok is great to cook food for a large family. It gives you enough space to stir-fry, deep-fry, steam or smoke food. You can cook food for 6 to 12 people with a 14-inch wok.
16 inch: A 16-inch size is more common in restaurants and food trucks. It provides large cooking surface that can feed more than 12 people. Many people also buy the wok for home use to cook delicious Chinese and Asain food on special occasions.
Carbon Steel Vs Cast Iron Wok
Carbon Steel is a better conductor of heat in comparison to cast iron. Most Gas ranges don’t have sufficient Heat generation capacity (BTU’s) which is why Carbon steel woks will help you cook food fast and saves you fuel.
Wok cooking requires more heat (BTU) and if you are going to cook a turkey for holidays then try using it over a propane-fueled range(1).
If you are someone who likes to preserve food nature without overcooking it then trying wok cooking. Otherwise, you always have to option to pick cast iron skillets.
For light cooking, you can also go for enameled cast iron braisers as they heat up pretty quickly.
Carbon steel woks are a good choice for people who cook at home regularly. It will help you prepare the food fast and saves money by using less fuel
How to season a carbon steel wok
Seasoning of a carbon steel wok is an important process that must never be skipped. Plus, it does not require special skills for tempering as one can do easily at home. While many buyers prefer seasoning of wok over a gas stove, many units support the use of electric stoves. No matter which method you choose, the seasoning will prevent metal from rust as well as turn the surface nonstick with time. So follow the below steps to season your carbon steel wok easily(2).
- Scouring pad
- Mild detergent
- Paper towels
- Oil for seasoning
- Wash the cookware using a mild detergent and scouring pad right after unboxing. Doing this will wash off dirt and protective chemicals.
- Rinse it thoroughly and with the help of paper towels rub the surface dry.
- If you observe black residue or oil in your paper towel then scrub it again until you can feel bare steel only.
- After drying it with paper towels, now its time to put carbon steel wok on high heat. ( A 12000 to 15000 BTU burner will be great)
- You’ll see the carbon steel will first yellow-orange and then start to blue. This method is often called blueing. A properly cleaned surface will produce very little to no smoke.
- Move the wok slowly to blue steel from all sides.
- Once you see beautiful blue on all sides, let the carbon steel wok cool.
- After letting it cool, turn on the fire again but this time set the knob on medium flame.
- Now with the help of paper towels and tong, oil the entire cooking surface. You can lower the flame if a lot of smoke emergers.
- Repeat the above step until you see no black residue on the paper towel. It will take you nearly 3-4 rounds.
Is carbon steel better than stainless?
Stainless and carbon, both are types of steel. But there are a few dissimilarities between them which makes them ideal for certain uses. Firstly, let’s talk about stainless material. The stainless steel has a high chromium content. This chromium layer provides protection against rust and corrosion. This makes stainless steel ideal for use in areas with naturally high humidity. Frequent wet and drying of stainless material will not harm its quality.
Then there’s carbon which is strong and durable than stainless. This is because of atom arrangements of carbon in combination with different alloys used in its composition. And impressive strength of high-carbon was used in making swords and other weapons. But now people love to have them as cookware as carbon lasts long with minimal care. Although it is not as rust-resistant as stainless, it is highly durable and strong.
Is carbon steel wok good for cooking?
If you’ve ever traveled to Asia you’ll see many 5-star restaurants and local vendors use carbon steel wok to make famous Asian foods. The round bottom shape and carbon steel material make it ideal for cooking many Asain delicacies. Not only they look great on the stovetop but they possess a high-temperature tolerance. Unlike Teflon that releases toxic chemicals on high temperatures, carbon steel wok remains all-safe to cook even at 500º.
In addition to exceptional strength, carbon steel woks are naturally nonstick. With proper seasoning and multiple uses, your new carbon wok can turn beautifully nonstick. And the best part is, it will not lose its nonstick abilities with time as Teflon. In fact, the surface will become more and more smooth with each use. All such qualities make carbon steel wok best for cooking.
Why do chefs use carbon steel pans?
Not only in Asia but chefs around the world use carbon steel pans for cooking various food. From frying eggs to baking cake, you can make breakfast, lunch, and dinner easily on the carbon steel pan. So what makes it so special? Firstly, the credit goes to carbon material that is naturally nonstick and improves its nonstick abilities with use. With each use, you’ll feel less need to spray oil on the surface. This natural nonstick patina is not harmful even at high temperatures. This allows you to place a wok over the full flame and it will distribute heat evenly without sticking food.
Another reason why you’ll find carbon steel pans in any restaurant is because of its flat-bottom. Flat-bottom is great for even frying of egg, bacon, and browning of the meat. Plus, you can use metal spatulas to flip the food over which are a strict NO with ceramic and Teflon cookware. This provides flexibility to chefs and makes carbon pans their favorite.
Carbon is slightly heavy than stainless steel and so do its cookware. You’ll feel a carbon skillet bit hard to move than lightweight stainless. This is again great for sauteing foods at high temperatures where you can vigorously stir ingredients without being afraid of pan falling down the stove. Durability, flexibility and nonstick ability are the reason why chefs prefer cooking on a carbon steel pan.
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Wok cooking is fun and quick and you might ask why you have not included
Carbon steel woks are affordable and easy to use. And the best part is, they are free from the harmful chemical nonstick coating and still delivers performance similar to nonstick. Besides, few models feature 2 handles that help the user with proper turning and tossing of ingredients. Also, the carbon steel material can last for a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. So make a place for the best carbon steel wok in your kitchen and make delicious recipes.