Top 10 Best Carbon Steel Wok for 2020
Chinese cuisine is the toughest to master. Not only are there so many ingredients in one dish, but even the slightest miscalculation can throw the salinity off-chart.
When tossing stews and fried rice, a carbon steel wok is the go-to for most professionals. They’re light, durable, and twice as safe.
But what exactly is carbon steel, and why should you consider it? We’re here to answer that, and also to help you decide on the best carbon steel woks.
Take a look at our complete guide.
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Carbon Steel Wok on the Market
1. Joyce Chen J22-0060 Flat Bottom Wok
This flat bottom wok is a great ergonomic tool from Joyce Chen. It’s made of industrial-grade carbon steel to allow for a more eco-friendly cooking alternative.
The exact gauge of the steel is 2.0 mm. A thicker steel gauge allows for even heating and means that the wok can reach higher temperatures. But it will heat just slightly slower.
Joyce Chen’s flat bottom wok features a Phenolic handle designed to stay cool during cooking. So you won’t accidentally burn your hand.
On the opposite side of the Phenolic handle is the helping handle. This one is mainly for pouring out the contents, as you can use it during cooking.
The handles can withstand a temperature of up to 350 F before you start to feel it. The flat bottom makes it ideal for sitting down, but it may not distribute heat as well as a round-bottom wok. Plus, the handles are not removable.
2. Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok
This Craft Wok is a 15 gauge traditional wok that’s been hand-hammered. The use of traditional methods ensures a smaller margin of error, as machines tend to be imperfect.
It uses 1.8mm of carbon steel. This gauge is slightly above the standard so that it will hold out in higher temperatures more. It’s thin enough to allow for rapid heating and reduce cooking time significantly.
This handcrafted Chinese wok features a round bottom. So it’s not suitable for flat induction or electric stoves.
The Craft Wok features a wooden handle and a steel helping handle. The steel handle does not get significantly hot, but you should still be careful with it. Wear mittens or use a cloth when transporting the wok.
Overall, this is a good wok for use with gas stoves and burners. It retains heat pretty well and distributes heat evenly.
3. Carbon Steel Wok with Helper Handle
This carbon steel wok from MV Trading is a great flat bottom tool for deep frying. Both the handles in this are made entirely from wood. So you can hold them from just about anywhere.
The manufacturer has used a 14-gauge carbon steel in this wok. It’s a bit thinner than the others. But this means that it takes less time to heat up. And it can reach high temperatures, great for stir-frying stuff.
However, it doesn’t come pre-seasoned, and seasoning may or may not be easy, depending on how you prefer to do it.
If you prefer using an oven to season, then this wok won’t cut it because the wood handles don’t come off.
But you can simply wrap the handles in a wet cloth or with foil. It would be better, as steel handles are not preferred when cooking.
4. Traditional Hand Hammered Wok
Here’s another hand-hammered wok made by craftsmen in Guangdong. This wok has a flat bottom, ideal for electric and induction stovetops.
Being hand-hammered, you can expect a smaller margin of error. That also means it is authentic Chinese produce, as many “hand-hammered woks” are gimmicks.
The Mammafong wok uses 16-gauge carbon steel. The base is about 1.5mm thick while the sides are 1.3 mm thin. This is to allow for easier transport while maintaining quality heating.
The main handle is made of wood, but some portion of it is made of steel. And the helper handle is entirely made of steel.
When holding the wok, your hand might slip to the steel portion of the handle and get burnt. It is a design flaw that can be fixed by making the handle all wood.
Overall it makes for a great wok that can take on multiple cooking sessions before needing to be re-seasoned.
5. Helen Chen's Asian Kitchen Carbon Steel Wok
Helen Chen’s carbon steel wok is a great choice for sautéing and stir-frying. It’s made of 1.6 mm carbon steel that can withstand mid to high temperatures.
The steel gauge is relatively thinner than others, but it’s able to hold out. Plus, it heats up faster than thicker gauge carbon steel woks.
This wok has a flat bottom, so it not only sits well on traditional gas stovetops but also on induction and electric stoves.
Only one handle (the main handle) is featured on this wok, and it’s made from 2-tone bamboo. It can resist high temperatures, so you won’t feel the heat when handling the wok.
This wok weighs only 2.65 pounds, as compared to similar models that weigh up to 4 pounds. So you won’t be needing a helper handle. Just lift it from the main handle, and it shouldn’t cause any issue.
6. Sur La Table Professional Carbon Steel Wok 21-9969
Here’s a carbon steel wok from Sur La Table crafted in Taiwan. The carbon steel used in this can withstand high temperatures and allows for maximum heat flow.
This wok features maple handles that have been riveted in place. The main handle also has a metal ring to hang the wok.
What sets the Sur La Table aside is that you can use it for cooking even on glass or ceramic cooktops. It’s a highly versatile design that you can use for stir-frying, deep-frying, and sautéing.
It is perhaps the thickest wok on our list, clocking in at 8-gauge or 3.2 mm approximately. The thicker construction means better heat transfer and heat endurance.
However, due to the gauge, and especially since it’s thicker at the base, it will take longer to heat up. Once you’ve gotten it pre-heated, you can use it for hours on end. So it’s good for commercial kitchens.
7. Carbon Steel Wok For Electric, Induction and Gas Stoves
Perhaps the most visually appealing, Souped Up Recipe’s carbon steel wok features a unique design. It comes with a few accessories along with a visual guide on how to season.
The accessories include a 12.5-inch wooden lid and a stainless steel spatula. Both of these have high heat endurance, and the lid adds to the aesthetic of the kitchen.
It comes with a factory coating, but it is advised to remove the coating, as it may have acquired dust or gone rancid. Instead, season the wok with oil and follow the instruction in the video guide.
You cannot use this wok for stewing or making soups for a long time. The seller advises to only use it for prolonged stewing after at least one year of usage and seasoning.
It features a single main handle with a hanging ring at the end. The handle can be removed for seasoning in the oven and is made entirely of wood.
8. Authentic Hand Hammered Wok
This round bottom wok from Mammafong brings home true Chinese craftsmanship. It’s a hand-hammered wok straight from Guangdong.
It’s a 100% authentic Chinese product. Woks originated in China, so only Chinese craftsmen will know the proper methods.
This wok has been designed to become non-stick as you gradually season it. So over time, you’ll waste less oil on seasoning.
Heavy-duty 16-gauge steel is used to make this Mammafong wok. That makes it the best for reaching higher temperatures, and it heats up quickly too.
It is one of the best for personal use in your home kitchen. It’s also a good commercial choice, but requires frequent seasoning, especially when you cook at high temperatures.
One thing you’ll notice is that the handle isn’t entirely wooden. Near the bottom end, the handle is made of metal, so you may accidentally burn your hand on that.
9. Heavy Canton Style Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Wok
Take a look at this 16 inch round bottom wok from Craft Wok. It’s made from 15-gauge steel and is perfect for commercial kitchens.
The reason for that is its heavyweight and wide size. This wok is 16 inches in diameter at the rim and can be used for mass cooking fried rice and other dishes.
It weighs about 5.4 pounds, which is quite heavy comparatively. What’s more, is that this wok has two helper handles and no main handle. So it requires a bit more practice to use.
In addition, both the handles are made from metal, and they can heat up when deep frying. Use a damp cloth to handle the wok.
Aside from that, this wok is the perfect choice for professionals. It’s hand-hammered and made in Guangzhou, so you know it’s an authentic product.
10. Pre-Seasoned Carbon Steel Pow Wok Red Elm Traditional
Lastly, we have the pre-seasoned steel pow-style wok from Timoneylove. This wok is 14 inches in diameter and round at the bottom. It features a wooden handle with a metal helper handle.
It uses metal of 1.8mm thickness, making it best for high-temperature cooking. However, this significantly increases the weight and heating time.
Like some other woks, this one too is hand-hammered by Chinese professionals. The interior has not been coated with any smoke-producing chemicals.
This wok from Timoneylove comes pre-seasoned with vegetable oil. So it’s ready for use as soon as you pull it out of the box. However, you should season it before every use or so.
If there is something you should vary, it’s the handle. The handle is made from red eucalyptus, but the bottom is made from metal.
The handle can definitely take some improvements. But considering everything else, it’s not a deal-breaker.
Why Should You Need A Carbon Steel Wok for the Kitchen?
Professionals prefer carbon steel over cast iron and stainless steel due to many reasons.
Firstly, carbon steel is lightweight, and when it comes to flipping and tossing your food, that’s a win.
Secondly, carbon steel woks are way more durable than cast iron. They require regular seasoning, yes. But a carbon steel wok properly cared for can last for up to 10 years.
Thirdly, carbon steel can withstand higher temperatures. It means the wok won’t warp, and won’t release any harmful chemicals into the food.
Things You Need To Consider Before Buying A Carbon Steel Wok
Just because a wok is made from carbon steel doesn’t mean it’s the best. There’s a lot more than just the material that you should consider. Here’s a complete list of the main factors:
Steel gauge refers to the thickness of the wok. Higher steel gauge means a thinner wok. Generally, woks can be found in gauges ranging from 16 to 8 or even 6. A recommended wall thickness is 1 to 2 mm. Although you may opt for thicker ones, depending on the purpose.
The weight of the wok is highly crucial, as you’ll need to pick it up and shake it during stir-frying. Most carbon steel woks are highly lightweight and can be found in the 4 to 6-pound range. It is not too heavy, but if you have weaker hands, you might opt for the 2-pound ones.
Weight is directly affected by the thickness and size. The higher thickness and bigger size generally mean more weight. The handles alleviate the weight, but they may not be entirely efficient.
Size is just as important as weight. It depends on what you’re cooking and how much. 12 to 14-inch woks are considered okay for 5 to 7 people. A 16-inch wok is useful for serving up to 10 persons. There are bigger sizes of woks available, but for indoor kitchens, these three sizes are the best.
A 16-inch wok can is suitable to run a commercial kitchen. It can help you make fried rice and soup for a bunch of people at once. But the smaller ones can be bulk-bought. And if your customers don’t order Chinese much, smaller works are more efficient.
The style of the bottom directly affects the cooktop you can use. It should go without saying that flat bottom woks are more suited for induction tops than round-bottom woks.
Flat bottom woks are the best for all purposes, as they can be used on traditional gas stoves too. Plus, they distribute heat more evenly, as all the food is on one level.
However, the sides may not heat up well. So if you want to deep fry, a round bottom is preferred. Also, uneven heating of the sides versus the base can result in the base warping under high heat.
In general, it is better just to buy a round-bottom wok unless you’re using an induction stove.
Handle Type and Style
Lastly, you need to consider the handles. Some woks have traditional “ring-shaped” handles on both sides, some have one ring-shaped and one long handle, and some just have a long handle. The long handle is similar to the one in skillets and makes tossing and stirring easier.
However, for deep frying, you may consider the traditional handles, as they make transportation easier. You will have to transport the wok full of oil and pour it out somewhere. Traditional handles minimize weight the best.
Common Problems Associated with Using Carbon Steel Woks
My wok has started to go black
It is one of the most common complaints from carbon steel wok users. If the wok is starting to go black, this is a sign that the seasoning has come off. The easiest way to combat this is just to refresh the seasoning and scrape off any rust/residue.
Does my wok have a factory coating?
Almost all woks have a factory coating. This isn’t a seasoning coating. It’s a wax coating, only there to sustain the product’s color and shine during shipping. This coating needs to be washed/scrubbed off before seasoning. In fact, your wok’s user’s manual probably states so too.
Wok is starting to rust
Again, the seasoning needs refreshing. Use steel wool or a similar product to scrub any visible rust away. Then season the wok normally. Rust isn’t exactly harmful (at least in small doses), so it shouldn’t affect your food.
If I can’t wash my wok, how do I prevent bacteria?
You shouldn’t use any kind of detergent on the wok. The best way to prevent bacteria is to wash the wok in hot water, then let it dry on the stove.
Then season the wok at high temperature. Let the wok smoke for 15 seconds for the best results.
Carbon steel is considered better than any other type of material for woks. There’s a reason why all professionals prefer carbon steel.
Every type of wok has its uses and drawbacks. So it’s hard to say which wok is the best. If you want to find the best carbon steel wok, then check the buying guide and set your preferences.
So bring the Chinese takeaway home and get started on your first carbon steel wok!
Did we miss your favorite wok on our list? Let us know what wok you use in your kitchen.