7 Best Carbon Steel Woks – Reviews & Buying Guide

Best Carbon Steel Wok

A good wok helps you to cook Chinese food as easily as you should and it also helps you to poach, braise and deep fry stuff. But when it comes down to the different stir-fry wok pans out there, most Asian chefs swear by a carbon steel wok.

It's the material composition that makes all the difference. Both cast iron and carbon steel include carbon in their makeup but carbon steel has a lower percentage of carbon than cast iron.

This makes carbon steel more pliable, leading to lighter and better-curved wok pans while retaining its fast and even heat distribution properties. Carbon steel woks are also cheaper and can easily form their own non-stick coating.

In this carbon steel wok review, you'll get a list of the top carbon steel wok pans in the market, plus an in-depth buying guide to help you make the right choice.

7 Best Carbon Steel Woks – Reviews

Product Name

Image

​Features/Benefits

Rating

Current Price

1. Craft Wok Hand-Hammered Traditional Chinese Wok


Craft Wok Hand-Hammered Traditional Chinese Wok

The perfect round-bottomed traditional wok, hand-hammered by professionals in Guangzhou China. If you desire the wok used by Chinese chefs, then here you are

4.3

2. M.V. Trading 14-Gauge Flat-Bottomed Carbon Steel Wok

M.V. Trading 14-Gauge Flat-Bottomed Carbon Steel Wok

Combining a high-quality construction with a modern style, this wok offers you the best of both worlds. It features a flat bottom and is available in sizes from 12 to 16 inches

4.1

3. Joyce Chen Pro Chef Carbon Steel Wok

Joyce Chen Pro Chef Carbon Steel Wok

A modern and stylish flat-bottomed wok, coming from the most iconic name in stir-frying and woks in the western hemisphere, Joyce Chen, the inventor of the flat-bottom wok

3.8

4. Joyce Chen 4-Piece Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok

Joyce Chen 4-Piece Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok

Get the best of Joyce Chen with this 4-piece set, including a wok, its lid, a bamboo spatula, and a recipe book. That's everything you need to get Asian cooking, plus the wok has beautiful birch-wood handles

3.3

5. Helen Chen's Flat-Bottomed Carbon Steel Wok

Helen Chen's Flat-Bottomed Carbon Steel Wok

Helen Chen is another name in the world of woks and Asian cuisine and presents you with this 4-piece, which has everything you need to dive into the world of stir-frying

3.4

6. Ken Hom Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok

Ken Hom Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok

Ken Hom offers yo a range of woks with non-stick coating, which makes it unnecessary to season the woks before use. They are available in different sizes, including 8, 11, 12.5, and 14.5 inches

3.2

7. Sur La Table Carbon Steel Wok

Sur La Table Carbon Steel Wok

A simple and modern wok, designed beautifully for lovers of style and comes with a lifetime warranty

4.0

1. Craft Wok Hand-Hammered Traditional Chinese Wok

The choice of professional Chinese chefs

Editor's Rating:  (4.3 / 5)

Craft Wok Hand-Hammered Traditional Chinese Wok
  • Size: 14 inches
  • Thickness: 15 gauge (1.8 mm)
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs

For the best professional carbon steel wok, you need a wok pan that's as traditional as possible and that's what Craft Wok offers here. It's made in China by Chinese professional wok makers in Guangzhou, and they are hand-hammered.

This gives you a pan that can easily hold part of your food when you need some space. The pan itself measures 14 inches across and features a round bottom to truly make it traditional.

It comes with a long, wooden, northern handle, plus a smaller helper handle and the entire pan weighs just 4.4 pounds, making it lightweight enough for most people to swing with just one arm.

One downside of this pan is that it's made in such a traditional way that it looks quite old and definitely out-of-place in most modern kitchens. But if you want a real wok pan, then you've got it.

Pros:

  • Hand-hammered by Chinese wok-making professionals
  • A completely traditional Chinese wok pan
  • Includes a long wooden handle and a helper handle
  • Made using 15-gauge carbon steel
  • The best carbon steel wok for serious stir-fry chefs

Cons:

  • Being traditional makes it look old
  • Its round bottom is not for most stoves

2. M.V. Trading 14-Gauge Flat-Bottomed Carbon Steel Wok

Quality meets style and a flat bottom

Editor's Rating: (4.1 / 5)

M.V. Trading 14-Gauge Flat-Bottomed Carbon Steel Wok
  • Size: 12 - 16 inches
  • Thickness: 14 gauge
  • Weight: 6 lbs

The problem with round-bottomed wok pans is that they can't fit on most flat stove-tops, especially electric ones. To enjoy the advantages of a round-bottomed wok, therefore, you'll need an appropriate stove or wok ring.

M.V. Trading presents you with the best flat-bottom carbon steel wok here. It's designed for those with flat stove-tops to also enjoy stir-fry cooking in a wok.

Unlike traditional wok pans, this one comes with lots of fancy design, giving it a modern and trendy look that fits beautifully into any kitchen.

The downside of this wok pan is the lack of a round bottom which makes a wok ideal for many cooking methods like boiling and deep-frying. Still, its flat bottom makes it usable by many and so it's a big trade-off.

You can get it in any of 3 sizes, including 12, 14, and 16 inches, to match the number of people you plan to cook for at a go. Do note anyway, that the larger versions cost more than the smaller ones.

Pros:

  • Very stylish and modern design
  • Flat bottom works on most stovetops
  • Made using thick 14-gauge carbon steel
  • 4-inch depth provides enough cooking space

Cons:

  • It's rather heavy at 6 pounds
  • Flat-bottomed woks are second best

3. Joyce Chen Pro Chef Carbon Steel Wok

A modern wok pan for modern stir-fry chefs

Editor's Rating: (3.8 / 5)

Joyce Chen Pro Chef Carbon Steel Wok
  • Size: 14 inches
  • Thickness: 2 mm
  • Weight: 4.1 pounds

Joyce Chen is an iconic name in the world of stir-frying and wok pans because she invented and holds the patent to flat-bottomed woks.

This offer for a Joyce Chen carbon steel wok offers you an original wok pan from the Joyce Chen line. It's beautifully designed with stylish and modern handles, perfect for any modern sty-fry enthusiast.

You get a flat-bottomed wok that measures 14 inches across and that gets manufactured using 2-mm heavy gauge carbon steel. The handles set this wok pan apart because they are so unique, stylish, and ergonomic.

Made from Phenolic, the handles stay cool while cooking and the long handle comes with a nicely made loop to make it easy to hang in the kitchen.

Pros:

  • Flat-Bottom makes it usable on most stove-tops
  • Made with heavy-gauge carbon steel
  • Includes stylish handle and extra helper handle
  • Made by the inventor of the flat-bottomed wok
  • Backed by a 25-year warranty

Cons:

  • Its sides are very smooth
  • It's not dishwasher safe

4. Joyce Chen 4-Piece Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok

Everything you need to get cooking

Editor's Rating: (3.3 / 5)

Joyce Chen 4-Piece Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok
  • Size: 14-inch
  • Thickness: 1.5 mm
  • Weight: N/A

Here we have another offer from Joyce Chen, featuring a 4-piece package that includes a wok, a dome lid for the wok, a bamboo spatula, and a recipe book.

This package offers you everything you need to get into the world of stir-fry cooking. You'll also learn to appreciate the wok dome lid along the way because it allows you to enrich your cooking with flavors by covering and letting your stir-fry cook for a while.

The wok pan comes with birch-wood handles which stay cool while cooking. There is a long, northern style handle and a second, helper handle to give you more control when cooking.

Joyce Chen guarantees that you are free to use this wok pan on any cook-top of your choice and additionally backs it with its 25-year warranty.

Pros:

  • 14-inch flat-bottomed carbon steel wok
  • Beautifully designed wok with birch-wood handles
  • Package includes a spatula, lid, & recipe booklet
  • Can be used on any cook-top
  • Backed by a 25-year warranty

Cons:

  • The sides are too smooth
  • You can only hand-wash this wok

5. Helen Chen's Flat-Bottomed Carbon Steel Wok

Modern & stylish package at a great price

Editor's Rating: (3.4 / 5)

Helen Chen's Flat-Bottomed Carbon Steel Wok
  • Size: 14 inches
  • Thickness: 1.6 mm
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Helen Chen's Asian Kitchen focuses on providing you with impressive tools to make your Asian cooking a delightful experience. This package includes everything you need to start right away.

She is the daughter of the Asian cooking pioneer Joyce Chen and follows her mother's footsteps to give you only the best.

You get a wok with a dome lid, a bamboo spatula for stir-frying, and a recipe book to help start you off with the right foods and combinations.

Helen Chen makes the wok with a handsome profile and it's rugged enough to last for many years. It is 14 inches in width, has a 1.6-mm gauge, and features stylish wooden handles.

Pros:

  • Package includes a wok, spatula, lid, & recipe booklet
  • The wok pan is from a 1.6-mm carbon steel
  • This wok pan features stylish handles with a modern look
  • Spinning lines offer better food control during cooking

Cons:

  • At 5 pounds, it's heavier than most other wok pans
  • Flat bottoms are not as good as rounded bottoms

6. Ken Hom Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok

Carbon steel wok with non-stick coating

Editor's Rating: (3.2 / 5)

Ken Hom Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok
  • Size: 8 - 14.5 inches
  • Thickness: N/A
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds (8-inch pan)

Ken Hom presents you with their top-rated carbon steel wok pan here and it's available in 8, 11, 12.5 and 14.5-inch sizes. This particular offer is for the 8-inch wok and nothing else.

The 12.5-inch version is also available as a kit, which includes a glass lid, a spatula, and a rack, making it a perfect choice for those who want the best carbon steel wok with lid. What you'll find unique about this wok pan though, is its non-stick coating.

While most of the other wok pans on this list feature a raw carbon steel surface which needs seasoning first before use, this one comes with a non-stick coating already and this makes it a non-traditional wok pan.

Still, you can use it on all kinds of stove-tops, including gas, electric and halogen without problems. Ken Hom also backs it with a 1-year warranty.

Pros:

  • A nicely designed carbon steel wok
  • Includes a heat-resistant handle and a hanging loop
  • The non-stick coating makes seasoning needless
  • Backed by a 1-year manufacturer's warranty

Cons:

  • It features a non-stick coating
  • Only hand-washing recommended

7. Sur La Table Carbon Steel Wok

Simple, modern, stylish & beautiful

Editor's Rating: (4 / 5)

Sur La Table Carbon Steel Wok
  • Size: 14 inches
  • Thickness: N/A
  • Weight: N/A

Here's another carbon steel wok which is designed for functionality and looks. It features a spinning manufacturing process, which leaves its sides with ridges that make it hold food better.

In addition, the handles come from maple and include a long, northern handle and a smaller, helper handle. This smaller handle features a curved metal with a beautifully carved wooden cover.

You are also free to use metal utensils on this wok and although it has a flat bottom, it does well for all types of cooking, including stir-frying, steaming, and deep-frying.

If you're looking for a traditional wok, then you might get disappointed by this wok pan, but it's still a high-quality pan and it comes backed by a lifetime warranty, so there's nothing to worry about.

Pros:

  • Modern & stylish wok
  • Features beautifully made maple handles
  • Suitable for all types of stove-tops
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Removing its first coat is a bit tiresome
  • There's no included accessory

How to Buy The Best Carbon Steel Wok

How to Buy The Best Carbon Steel Wok

After you've agreed that carbon steel woks are the best, the next step is finding the best carbon steel wok for your needs.

To do this properly, you'll need to understand the most important features of a carbon steel wok and following are these most important wok features that you should keep an eye on when making your decision.

#1. Round vs. Flat-Bottomed Carbon Steel Woks

The major difference that you'll find among wok pans is their bottoms and this includes round and flat-bottomed woks. Flat-bottomed woks, like their name suggests, have a flat bottom and can easily rest on a flat surface like an electric cooker, on their own

Round-bottomed wok pans, however, cannot rest on a flat surface on their own because they have curved bottoms. This makes them incapable of use on electric and most gas stoves, but they do have their advantages.

When it comes to ease of use, round-bottomed woks are the best, but that's only when you have a compatible cooker. If you have a standard cooker, then it's simply better if you buy a flat-bottomed wok.

#2. Size

There are two reasons why you should consider the size of the wok pan that you are about to buy. The first reason is the amount of food that you intend to stir-fry at a go. Obviously, you'll need a larger pan to cook larger meals at a go.

The second reason is the relationship between a wok's size and its weight. So, while a larger wok enables you to cook larger meals at a go, it's also heavier and unwieldy.

A 14-inch wok pan is great for most home cooks, but you'll still need to find your own balance between size and weight, and then pick a size that works best for you.

A 12-inch wok will do to cook for up to 5 people, a 14-inch for 6 to 12 persons, and a large, 16-inch wok pan is the recommendation to cook for over 12 persons.

#3. Design

This one is a personal choice because you'll find carbon steel wok pans in both traditional and modern designs. Some will come with fancy wooden handles, while others will be as bare and basic as possible.

You'll also find wok pans that come with a lid and those that come with a non-stick coating. You are free to get the wok with a lid but keep in mind that a non-stick coating is not desirable on a wok given the fast and rough nature of stir-fry cooking.

In addition, carbon steel woks get an oil coat after seasoning, which naturally has non-stick features. Comfort, weight, and style are better features to focus on when making your choice.

#4. Construction Method

The method with which a wok gets manufactured is important because it can either make the wok's sides smooth or otherwise. With a wok pan, you don't want smooth sides because they can't hold food when you need to shift foot items to one side of the pan.

There are three major methods of making a wok and they are as follows:

  • Stamping. This involves the bending of a large piece of metal using a machine. It's the fastest method of wok-making but it creates smooth sides, which can't hold food and lets it slide back down.
  • Spinning. A spun wok is usually made on a lathe and you'll immediately notice this from the concentric circles on the sides, which, fortunately, help in holding food.
  • Hammering. This is the oldest method of making a wok and it remains the best. Hammering creates thousands of small indentations, which help to hold food when you move it to one side.
    Although hammered wok pans should cost much more, the price differences aren't really that much, so feel free to pick a hammered or a spun wok.

#5. Thickness

You want a wok with sides that are not too thick, so they don't make the wok too heavy. You also don't want the sides too thin, so that they don't bend when you press on them. A 14-gauge (1.7 mm) thickness is perfect.

#6. Handle

You'll find wok pans with two types of handles. The first type has small, curved handles and is known as a Cantonese handle. The second type is known as northern handles and they are straight and long like frying pan handles.

Some wok pans will combine these two handle types to create a wok with a long major handle and a second and smaller helper handle. You are free to choose what works for you here.

How to Season A Carbon Steel Wok

Carbon steel is a porous metal and this means that if you don't season it, then it will absorb water one way or the other and end up rusting.

You don't want your wok rusting, so you've got to season it immediately after buying it and hopefully, this process will also give it a non-stick property for a better cooking experience.

Following is a simple step by step guide to correctly seasoning your wok.

Step 1: Pre-Wash

Your carbon steel wok's manufacturer will coat the wok with some oil to preventing it from rusting during warehousing and transport. The first thing you should do, therefore, is to wash the wok before seasoning it.

Simply wash it in hot soapy water, scrubbing both inside and outside with a scouring pad or metal sponge. When satisfied, rinse it thoroughly and dry with a dry towel.

Step 2: Pre-Heat

Place the wok on high heat and let it heat up, turning and tilting it until it turns a blueish-yellowish color.

Step 3: Remove Wok

Once the work changes color, remove from the stove.

Step 4: Reduce Heat

Reduce the stove to medium heat.

Step 5: Add Oil

Using tongs or something else to hold a paper or cloth towel, add about 1.5 teaspoons of oil to the wok and rub it all over. You want an oil with a high smoking point like peanut, canola, and sunflower oil. You can also use lard or other animal fat.

Step 6: Heat for 10 Minutes

After oiling, heat the wok for about 10 minutes on the same medium heat, then remove from the stove and wipe it dry with a paper towel. You should see black residue on the paper towel.

Step 7: Repeat Steps 5 & 6

Repeat steps 5 & 6, that is, rub in oil and heat the wok until there's no more black residue when you wipe it with a towel. Your wok pan is ready for use.

Conclusion

We've reached the end of this carbon steel woks review and you've seen the different offers out there and all the different styles, features, and accessories that come with carbon steel woks.

You've seen both traditional and modern-styled woks, with some coming in full sets and others featuring lifetime warranties.

The final choice, however, is yours alone to make because it's only you that know the exact type of wok pan that'll fit into your kitchen and lifestyle.

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