The Craft Wok Traditional Carbon Steel Pow Wok combines traditional wok design with a modern handle. It’s made of 15-gauge, commercial-grade carbon steel that has been hammered by hand into a traditional round-bottom shape, so it heats quickly. It has a small metal handle on one side and a long wooden handle on the other, so it’s easy to toss food around using just one hand. It’s 14 inches in diameter, enabling you to cook enough food for three to five people. It’s built to last for years. You’ll need a wok ring, sold separately, to use it on an electric or induction cooktop.
The Best Carbon Steel Woks for Your Cookware Collection
Elevate your stir-fry game with a versatile wok.
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- Best OverallCraft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel WokCheck Latest Price
- Best Bang for the BuckMammafong Round Bottom 14-inch Traditional WokCheck Latest Price
- Best for ProfessionalsCraft Wok Big 16 Inch Heavy Hand Hammered WokCheck Latest Price
Woks are useful beyond stir-frying, and these versatile pans can also be used to sear meat, simmer a stew, or steam fish. Suitable for cooking any foods quickly at high temperatures, woks come in cast iron, stainless steel, anodized aluminum, and nonstick, but professionals say the best woks are made of carbon steel. Carbon steel heats quickly and retains that heat, so it’s great for searing ingredients.
The best carbon steel woks are durable but lightweight and have features like long handles and lids. The long handles help you move the pan so you can toss food around and make sure it cooks evenly. Yes, stir-frying is less about stirring the food and more about shaking the wok, so maneuverability is key. Lids, while not traditionally a wok feature, make the pans more versatile.
Read on for essential shopping considerations, and to find out why the picks below are among the best carbon steel wok options available.
- BEST OVERALL: Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Wok
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Mammafong Round Bottom 14-inch Traditional Wok
- BEST FOR PROFESSIONALS: Craft Wok Big 16 Inch Heavy Hand Hammered Wok
- BEST WITH WOODEN HANDLE: YOSUKATA Pre-Seasoned Carbon Steel Wok Pan
- MOST VERSATILE: Souped Up Recipes Carbon Steel Wok
Types of Carbon Steel Woks
Carbon steel woks come in two different shapes: round bottom and flat bottom. Shape choice should be based on the type of stovetop or heat source the pan will be used on. All carbon steel woks will need to be seasoned to make sure food doesn’t stick.
Traditional carbon steel woks have a round bottom. They’re designed to be used in traditional Asian cooking, which takes place over an open fire. The round bottom pulls food toward the center of the wok where the steel is the hottest, so meat and vegetables cook quickly and get a light, smoky flavor. The round bottom resists warping under high temperatures.
This wok design works on open fires and gas stovetops, but it doesn’t work on electric, induction, or ceramic stovetops. To counter this, some woks come with a ring that holds the wok level on an electric stovetop.
Modern stovetop designs led to the development of the flat-bottom wok. The bottoms of these woks are flat so they can sit atop an electric, ceramic, or induction stovetop. The flat bottom is relatively small so heat concentrates in the wok’s center.
If you’re new to wok cooking, a flat-bottom wok might be your best bet because you won’t need any additional accessories.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Carbon Steel Wok
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a carbon steel wok.
Your choices are round bottom or flat bottom. Round-bottom woks work well on open flames or gas stovetops. They can also work on electric and ceramic stovetops, if you use a wok ring.
Flat-bottom woks are easier to use on electric and ceramic stovetops because the flat bottom rests on the heating element.
Traditional woks had a small handle on each side that made it easy to remove the wok from an open flame. Most contemporary woks have a small handle on one side and a long handle on the other for maneuvering them on a stovetops. Handles are made of carbon steel, wood, and stainless steel. Many chefs prefer wood handles because they don’t get as hot, making it easier to use and move the wok.
Woks are measured by their circumference and range in size from 10 inches to 16 inches. A 12-inch wok can cook enough food for three to five people, while professionals who cook for a crowd may prefer a 16-inch wok.
Traditionally, woks were not used with lids. Woks with lids became popular when the pans moved into the mainstream and were used to cook dishes other than traditional Asian ones. A lid turns a wok into a multipurpose pan that can be used for a wide variety of foods, ranging from popped corn to steamed rice.
Our Top Picks
Featured below are some of the best carbon steel woks in a variety of designs and with a range of features to make it easier for you to find a wok that works with your stovetop and cooking style.
The Round Bottom 14-inch Traditional Carbon Steel Wok Pan from Mammafong has a traditional shape and hand-hammered construction, so you can use it for traditional Asian cooking techniques. The pan is made of 16-gauge carbon steel, so it has excellent heat conductivity and retention. And it concentrates the heat in the wok’s center, the key to producing the smoky flavor that’s the trademark of stir-fries. The pan has an extra-long wooden handle and a short steel handle, so it’s maneuverable and your hands stay away from the heat.
The Craft Wok Big 16 Inch Heavy Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok has room to prepare enough food for a crowd. It has a traditional round bottom, so it concentrates high temperatures to give food delicious smoky flavors. It’s made of 15-gauge steel that’s been hand-hammered into shape in China. It has two handles, a short steel one on one side and a long wooden one on the other, so it can be used on an open flame or a traditional stovetop. You’ll need a wok ring, sold separately, to use it on an electric cooktop. Note that this wok is heavy, weighing 5.6 pounds, so it will take some muscle power to move it around as you sear food.
The Yosukata Pre-Seasoned Carbon Steel Wok Pan’s ergonomic wood handle resists heat and feels comfortable in your hands, making it easier to maneuver while you cook. The pan also has a small steel handle on the other side to make it easier to use. This wok is preseasoned, meaning you don’t need to preheat it and add oil before the first use. It’s designed to distribute heat evenly throughout the pan instead of just in the center. Beginners may like the fact that it works more like traditional cookware and is ready to use right out of the box.
If you want to make traditional Asian meals on a modern stovetop, the Carbon Steel Wok by Souped Up Recipes may be the best wok for you. Its flat bottom allows it to be used on electric or induction cooktops, no wok ring required, and its long handle keeps your hands out of the heat while offering maneuverability. This model also includes a wood lid that gives it a rustic look and feel while also making the pan more versatile. As a bonus, it comes with a metal spatula that’s designed to work with the rounded sides and flat bottom.
FAQs About Carbon Steel Woks
Still have questions about carbon steel woks? Here’s a little more information to help you decide on the best carbon steel wok for you.
Q. Is a carbon steel wok better than a cast-iron wok?
Professional chefs generally prefer carbon steel woks to cast-iron ones because carbon steel is more lightweight and easier to maneuver. Cooking stir-fries requires moving, lifting, and shifting the pan to toss vegetables and meats for even cooking; it can be tough to do that with a heavy cast-iron wok.
The two materials have a lot in common. Both absorb and hold heat well, are durable, and resist warping. But, if not properly seasoned and cared for, both are also prone to rust.
Q. What is the best type of wok?
The best woks for traditional Asian cooking are round-bottom, carbon steel woks with a long wooden handle. Hand-hammered woks made in China are popular because you can see the individual hammer marks in the steel, which gives them an authentic appearance. Hand-hammered and machine-made woks have similar cooking performance. Choosing a handmade wok is more about the cooking experience and feel.
Q. Is it safe to use a carbon steel wok?
Yes. A carbon steel wok gets its nonstick properties from oil residue left by cooking, so there’s no chemical coating to chip or flake into food. You need to season a carbon steel wok before its first use. Over time and with regular seasoning, carbon steel builds up a nonstick surface, becoming easier to clean the more you use it.