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You don’t necessarily have to invest in a professional wok to cook some Chinese food, but having a well-made carbon steel wok will certainly make your life easier and come with some extra benefits (source).
ost importantly, these units allow an even heat distribution and require less oil to deep fry food.
Simply put, a wok will make it much easier to cook Chinese food (source).
More and more dishes require a wok (source), not to mention its convenience when cooking foods from other cuisines.
Finding the right unit takes some serious consideration if you want to take advantage of all its benefits.
There are multiple considerations to keep in mind, as you’ll most likely find many similar units that cost nothing.
Obviously, they also deliver nothing.
Apart from the main features, there are small aspects that can make the difference between a random unit and a professional wok too.
Luckily, we’ve already done the homework for you.
We have analyzed some of the top-rated models on the market, as well as the secrets that make them so popular.
Of course, this purchase must be made with your necessities in mind, but having the best selling items at hand will prove to be helpful.
5 Best Carbon Steel Wok Reviews 2023
1 – Joyce Chen 22-0060, Pro Chef Flat Bottom Wok
This carbon steel wok from Joyce Chen is designed to bring professional standards to your residential kitchen.
It measures 14 inches in diameter, so it can fit most stoves out there.
It’s suitable for both small and large families, as well as any kind of stove – electric or gas.
It is made of heavy gauge carbon steel. We found it to be really sturdy and durable due to its 2mm thickness.
It’s round and respects the main requirements of a wok, yet the bottom is flat for more convenience. It must be hand washed for maintenance though, so don’t put it in a dishwasher.
The manufacturer hasn’t overlooked safety either. The phenolic handle is ergonomic and stays cool no matter how much you use the wok.
There’s a decent distance between the handle and middle of the wok, so cooking on high fire won’t cause any injuries either.
What really impressed us was the manufacturer’s attention to small details. There is a small helper handle located on the opposite side of the main handle.
It carries the same characteristics, so it will stay cool and allow an easy and stable transportation. Plus, there’s a loop on the handle, so you can hang the wok.
- It comes with multiple features for convenience, such as the extra handle.
- It comes in a standard size to support both small and large meals.
- The handle stays cool no matter how long you use the wok for.
- The flat bottom allows more versatility when cooking sophisticated meals.
- The extra thickness makes this wok heavier than other units.
- Handles don’t feel sturdy enough if the wok is overfilled.
2 – KEN HOM Nonstick Carbon Steel Wok
Available in a few different sizes, this carbon steel wok from Ken Hom is usually sold in the 14.5 inch variety.
It’s a standard size that makes the wok available for residential users as well – both single cooks and people with families.
Given its sturdy design, it also comes with a 2 year manufacturer’s guarantee.
The wok is made from induction compatible carbon steel.
Furthermore, it’s covered in a thick non-stick coating layer. The coating is PFOA free, so there’s nothing to be concerned about.
Cooking is simple, as well as the cleanup. The coating ensures there is no need to scratch the wok, not to mention rust.
The flat bottom ensures the heat is not reflected back to the food. You can prevent burning the food in the middle then.
Also, the bottom will not wobble with extra heat. In terms of maintenance, the wok is dishwasher safe.
However, the manufacturer recommends washing it manually for extra durability.
As for extra small features, we loved the riveted handles. They’re always cool as long as the wok is placed correctly on the stove.
They reduce the heat transfer as well, but they also add to your balance when transferring the food.
- It’s extremely simple to clean this wok due to the non-stick coating, even if you do it manually.
- The flat design maintains its shape overtime.
- The extra handle provides extra safety and balance when moving the wok around.
- The non-stick coating is safe and PFOA free.
- The extra handle feels unstable when moving an overfilled wok.
- Although it’s dishwasher safe, the manufacturer recommends hand washing it.
3 – Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok
Available in a standard and traditional design, the top carbon steel wok from Craft Wok is likely to bring in the Chinese style into your kitchen.
It’s a conventional unit that doesn’t come with any bells and whistles, but just the basics, hence its popularity among professional Chinese chefs.
Just like many other woks on the market, this one has to be seasoned before being used. It comes with a long handle, as well as a helper handle for support and balance.
The helper handle is made of steel and won’t burn you even if you use the wok on high heat.
However, it tends to get hot at times.
In terms of durability and efficiency, the wok comes with a solid 1.8mm thickness. It’s a bit more than other woks in this segment, but it can easily pass the test of time.
It has a traditional round bottom, yet it won’t wobble if placed accordingly. However, we don’t recommend it for flat or induction tops.
- It’s hand hammered by Chinese professionals, so it’s as close as possible to the traditional wok.
- It’s thicker than other woks for a top-notch durability.
- It has an extra handle for stability, while the main handle can be unscrewed for maintenance and oven seasoning.
- Its size is ideal for both couples and large families.
- Given the round bottom, it can’t be used on flat tops.
- It must be professionally tempered before use, which requires special procedures.
4 – Joyce Chen 21-9978, Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok
Available in a standard size of 14 inches and a few other varieties, Joyce Chen’s wok aims to take simplicity to a new level.
There are no innovative technologies or fancy features used in its construction, so you’ll only find the basics – ideal for both amateurs and more experienced cooks.
It’s made of natural carbon steel. It’s 1.5mm in thickness, so you can use it for years. There are no warping risks, regardless of how you cook.
The handle is made of birch wood. It’s durable and solid. However, if you plan to over temper this wok, you better do it before screwing the handle in.
Other than that, it has a side handle. It’s promised to stay cool and provide a good balance. When you cook for hours, it might get hot, so caution is required.
The bottom is flat. We tried this wok on several surfaces (including electric flat tops) and it didn’t wobble.
- The flat bottom makes it suitable to all kinds of stoves.
- The extra handle provides more stability when moving the wok.
- Made of birch wood, handles are both durable and good looking.
- It comes with an excellent heat distribution.
- Seasoning can be tricky, so do some research.
- Non-stick coating could’ve added to its versatility.
5 – Wok Shop 14 Inches Carbon Steel Wok
Coming in a standard 14 inch size and with a flat bottom, this wok is ideal for all kinds of stoves, including flat surfaces.
It must be seasoned before use and maintained responsibly. It should never be cleaned in a dishwasher, but always manually and dried immediately to maintain its seasoning.
The heavy 14 gauge carbon steel is directly responsible for its durability. Given the thickness, it heats up immediately and distributes heat evenly (source).
Also, it allows professional stir frying by moving foods on the sides and adding extra ingredients in the middle.
We liked the looks – both handles are wooden. The additional handle is tall and never heats up, even when you cook on high heat.
We tried it for a few hours and it maintained an optimal temperature – no need for kitchen towels to move the wok.
With 4 inches in depth, this wok can hold quite enough food for a regular family.
- It comes with detailed instructions on oven seasoning, despite the wooden handles.
- It’s deep and wide enough to allow cooking for large families too.
- The 14 gauge carbon steel is the standard size for a perfect heat distribution.
- The flat bottom makes it suitable for flat surfaces too.
- It doesn’t feel like a complete set without a lid, so you’ll have to purchase one separately.
- It’s way heavier than other woks in this segment.
What to Look for When Buying a Carbon Steel Wok
There are a few elements that can make the difference between a good and a worthless purchase.
Woks can be made in three different ways.
The hand hammered ones provide some versatility, as the food can be moved around to make room for other ingredients in the middle.
They’re basic, yet you’ll find some trouble finding a professional wok with a flat bottom.
The stamped woks are machine pressed. They’re quite smooth, so the food can’t be moved around too easily, as it will slip into the middle.
Finally, the spun procedure comes with concentric circles throughout the bottom, so you can use both the middle and the sides. They usually come with flat bottoms.
When buying a wok, you’ll have to choose between flat and round bottoms.
We found the best woks to be a mix. Some of them are completely round, while others have a flat surface in the middle.
Round bottoms cook food faster, but the flat ones can easily be handled on flat stoves too.
If you need a wok for a restaurant, we recommend a huge model.
Most people need a wok for home uses though, so it’s usually a matter of preferences.
If you have a huge family, you might need a larger unit. The size also depends on the size of your stove, so consider all the associated elements.
Non-stick features are worth some attention because they can prevent a series of unexpected situations.
Having a lid is yet another important recommendation, yet some models come without one.
Having a lid is not about protecting yourself, but about the cooking procedures – some things just need to simmer.
In conclusion, you don’t have to be a professional Chinese chef to bring a wok to your kitchen. Modern woks are specifically designed for residential kitchens as well.
They do require a proper treatment upfront, as well as a decent maintenance, but chances are they’ll add creativity to your meals.
Buying the right carbon steel wok looks overwhelming with so many similar models out there, but we’ve already selected the front runners for you.
We highly recommend going with a good selling item from a well establish manufacturer, rather than some new random company.
Our experts found Joyce Chen’s 22-0060 Pro Chef Wok to be the most balanced unit in this segment. It’s made with the Chinese cuisine in mind. It doesn’t have any random bells and whistles, but just the main requirements for a creative and versatile meal.