After extensively researching the wide range of woks available today, we selected 8 of the most promising options. We ran each pan through a rigorous testing process to evaluate cooking performance, ease of use, cleaning and maintenance, quality, durability, and storability. After thorough testing, we crunched the numbers to assess their performance. This comprehensive review covers a variety of wok sizes, price points, and materials. We curate the data from our test to make it easy to find all the information needed to choose a model that fits your needs. Whether new to cooking or looking to up your stir-fry game, we have something that will fit your needs.
Bowl Material Aluminum | Bowl Diameter 12 7/8 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Fabulous nonstick coating
REASONS TO AVOID
Slow to heat
The Scanpan Classic 12.5" is a beautifully constructed wok made by Danish craftsmen. The PFOA/PFOS-free nonstick coating is exceptionally effective, and the heavy aluminum bottom distributes heat uniformly. When measuring heat distribution, the Classic displays a 111ºF difference between the bottom center of the wok and its rim, while some of the competition show differences in the 200-300+ degree range. The Classic also has a near-perfectly flat bottom that makes for a stable, predictable cooking platform. At the same time, the sidewalls are angled such that pan-tossing food is not only easy but enjoyable.
We are big fans of the Classic. However, we must admit that it is not a "classic" wok. The compact size, heavy flat bottom, beveled sides, nonstick coating, and composite handles stand out when contrasted with the carbon steel models. So, if you want a more conventional design, this model may not have much appeal. Moreover, this model may raise an eyebrow if you are suspicious of nonstick coating — even when the manufacturer says it's metal utensil safe. Critiques on coating and pan shape aside, we cannot find fault with the Classic's brilliant performance in our evaluations of its cooking performance, ease of use, and durability.
Bowl Material Carbon Steel | Bowl Diameter 14 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Ease of use
REASONS TO AVOID
Large storage space
The Kenmore Hammond Flat Bottom is made of carbon steel and has a PTFE and PFOA-free nonstick coating making a nice blend of conventional design and modern coating. We enjoyed cooking with this wok because it is responsive to temperature changes, the nonstick coating makes it a breeze to use, and it is designed for high heat up to 500º F. The nonstick coating means no seasoning is required, it's easy to clean, and it has virtually no sticking issues. The Acacia handles are visually appealing and limit the need for potholders even when cooking at searing temperatures.
Conversely, the Kenmore's nonstick surface requires some precautions — the manufacturer recommends plastic or wood utensils to prevent scratching. Additionally, the manufacturer recommends slowly bringing the pan to high heat and not putting it in the oven. At 22 5/8 inches from handle to handle, the Kenmore also takes up a significant amount of space in a kitchen cabinet and on the stovetop. Despite the Kenmore's bulk and heat restrictions, the wok's combination of modern and conventional design features makes it a solid choice for stir-fry lovers who want easy clean-up, minimal maintenance, and a price tag that won't break the bank.
Bowl Material Aluminum | Bowl Diameter 12 1/2 inches
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Helper handle gets hot
The Calphalon 12 inch is a beginner-friendly pan for those looking for a full-size wok. The heavy aluminum bowl heats up slower than the carbon steel pans and holds heat for longer, making on-the-fly heat adjustments difficult. The upside is that the wok is more forgiving, as it limits dramatic temperature changes. The durable nonstick surface keeps ingredients from adhering to the surface, requiring less oil and less cleaning effort. The size and shape are great for stir-frys and soups for the whole family. This pan also comes with a lid, which is ideal for simmering or retaining heat once removed from the stovetop.
While many nonstick pans can warp when used on high heat, the Calphalon is compatible with high heat and is oven-safe to 500º F. The wok is also dishwasher safe, making clean-up a breeze. Additionally, this wok has one of the most durable nonstick surfaces we tested, making it even more user-friendly. However, the metal helper handle gets hot, which sometimes requires a potholder. Additionally, the price is fairly steep and will likely be its biggest drawback for the average consumer. You get what you pay for, though, in terms of quality, durability, and ease of use. All told, the Calphalon is an ideal multi-use pan that leans towards stir-fried dishes.
The Cuisinart 10" Cast Iron Wok is small and compact, making it ideal for one or two people with minimal storage space. This pan is versatile and durable to boot. It is affordable and, if properly cared for, should last a lifetime. Because it is cast iron, it can be seasoned in the oven as opposed to the stovetop, which is easier and more effective for creating a thick, even coating. This pan also has good heat distribution with a 180º F difference from the bottom to the rim — this is in the range of the highest-end (and most expensive) models in the class. While cast iron takes longer to get up to temperature than aluminum and carbon steel, it sears meat effectively and cooks rapidly once heated.
Unfortunately, the Cuisinart lacks a panhandle making pan tosses extremely difficult, and its lack of insulation on the helper handle makes potholders mandatory. We were impressed with the nonstick qualities of the pan after the first seasoning. Yet, the pan held scrambled eggs a bit, and stir-frying required consistent use of a spatula. While the 10-inch size and small handles are compact for storage, the Cuisinart is best for one or two people — larger meals will necessitate batch cooking. As with all uncoated metal pans, extra maintenance and cleaning effort are required. Despite these limitations, this pan offers excellent value, good performance, and versatility for the long haul.
Why You Should Trust Us
After researching several dozen of the most popular and sought-after woks on the market, we selected 8 promising models that cover the range of consumer needs and wants in this pan style. Next, we crafted simple experiments for these woks, as simplicity offers the clearest results. For example, we test the woks' nonstick qualities with a pan-scrambled egg. The results are markedly obvious with what remains stuck in the pan and the color and texture of the eggs that come out. We also make a basic chicken broccoli stir-fry because the recipe illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of each pan when cooking ingredients with varying moisture contents, density, oils, and fats. We also perform a basic heat distribution test with an infrared digital thermometer.
Our wok testing is divided across five rating metrics:
Cooking Performance (30% of overall score weighting)
Ease of Cooking (20% weighting)
Maintenance and Clean-Up (20% weighting)
Quality and Durability (25% weighting)
Storability (5% weighting)
After a trip to Thailand, Jessica Albery became a bit of a stir-fry fanatic, trying out different methods and a wide range of recipes. Working outdoors in winter has Jessica hungry and tired. As a result, stir-fry is a weeknight staple due to the short cooking time and hearty ingredients. Nick Miley joined Jessica in the most recent update to this review. Nick is an avid cook who values quality cooking tools and their contribution to unique dishes such as stir-fry. Nick has worked in the consumer-review industry for over a decade and has a background in research and experiment design.
Analysis and Test Results
After spending hours looking over the best woks on the market, we selected eight models for side-by-side testing. In our evaluation, we explore how the woks perform across five testing criteria: cooking performance, ease of cooking, maintenance and clean-up, durability, and storage. Take a look to see how they compare and which is the best option for your kitchen.
Value ratings are an assessment of the balance between price and performance. That is to say, we want to see products perform at a higher level than competitive products but are priced similarly. Or we want to see products that perform at a similar level as the competition but cost less.
Using the criteria above, the Kenmore Hammond and Scanpan stand out in the class for their value. The Kenmore is an obvious value item as its cost is low and it earned above-average marks in most testing metrics. Conversely, some might not find the Scanpan's value so obvious. Yet, the Scanpan is one of the best all-around woks in the class, and its nearest competitor is markedly more expensive.
To test cooking performance, we ran the pans through a series of tests to evaluate heating evenness, heating rate, stickiness, stir-fry-ability, and water-boiling efficiency. Additionally, we considered how much oil is required to prevent sticking. When taken as a whole, the Scanpan is the decisive leader in this assessment. However, the Calphalon and the Kenmore also delivered great performances.
Heating evenness is critical to rendering consistent results across a variety of ingredients and volumes. We tested this by heating the pan on medium and then taking the temperature at the bottom center of the pan and the rim. Those pans with less than a 100º F difference are considered to have good heat distribution. The Scanpan and Calphalon have 111º F and 104º F differences, respectively. The Kenmore is more representative of the carbon steel woks in the class with a difference of 349º F from pan bottom to rim.
The heating rate is determined by the time the pan takes to bring a cup of cold tap water to a rolling boil. Here we found that the thinner bottomed pans like the Souped Up excel with boil times as low as 20.3 seconds. However, the Calphalon surprised all with a boil time of 48.4 seconds. The Kenmore was just a few seconds behind the Calphalon, while the Scanpan had one of the slowest times in the class at 1 minute 50.5 seconds. That said, the evenness of the Scanpan's boil made it well worth the wait.
Woks are fantastic for rapidly cooking stir-fried meals by using high heat to seal in juices while distributing heat across a large surface area. These wok characteristics prevent ingredients from getting overcrowded and, thus, soggy. Given the intended use of these pans, we cooked the same type of stir-fry in each wok to evaluate its performance. The Scanpan stands head and shoulders above the competition in this test. There is no better way to describe the results than perfect — the meat was juicy with nicely seared surfaces while the veggies were warm, soft, but snappy. It should be noted that we used just a teaspoon of oil in the pan and still rendered these desirable results. The Calphalon and Kenmore came in second and third, respectively, yielding quite good results though a bit more oil and stirring were needed in the latter's case.
To test the stickiness of the woks, we cooked one pan-scrambled egg in each using the same amount of oil. Not surprisingly, the three leading pans — Scanpan, Calphalon, and Kenmore — lead the class. The Scanpan again showed its superiority by producing an immaculate, fluffy yellow egg with exactly zero remnants stuck to the pan. No other pan could make such a claim. However, the Cephalon came close. In comparison, the Kenmore showed browning on the egg where it occasionally stuck.
Ease of Cooking
The ease of cooking evaluation looks at the aspects of wok design that affect handling. For example, one big advantage of the wok design is that pan-toss is a reasonable alternative to spoon-stirring. We pick up each pan and give it a shake and toss to test this technique. Pans that require two hands for the shake test scored lower. We also evaluated if weight or bulk made it difficult to maneuver the woks. Finally, we looked at other factors such as a pan's fit to the burner, oven restrictions, and metal utensils usage. The Calphalon took a big step ahead of its peers in this evaluation. Testers were thrilled with the ease of their interaction with this pan as it is well-balanced, has a perfectly flat bottom, and is oven and metal utensil safe. The only note we'd add is that its handle is a bit skinny, which might make it harder to grip for some people.
The Scanpan and the Kenmore are also at the top of the rankings in this metric. Most importantly, these pans are exceptionally easy to use. The nonstick coatings and the curvature of the sidewalls on these models make pan-tosses smooth and satisfying. The Kenmore and Scanpan are a little on the heavy side for the leading models, though. Conversely, the Calphalon is light and, at 12 ½ inches in diameter, much easier to manipulate. That said, both the Calphalon and Scanpan have unconventional handle shapes. Some may prefer the large, round wooden handles on the carbon steel woks.
An important aspect of our ease of cooking assessment is how well the woks fit a burner. We favored pans with wide, flat bottoms that sit nicely on various range types. The Calphalon and Scanpan have great bottoms that are even and wide. The Kenmore and Cuisinart are also to our liking.
Finally, there is the question of using metal utensils. Scanpan and Calphalon say it's safe to use metal in their pans. However, given their high cost and high performance, we suggest playing it safe and avoiding the use of metal with these products. On the other hand, all the carbon steel woks are quite durable in this regard. In fact, the Souped Up comes with a metal wok chuan (spatula).
Maintenance and Clean-Up
The maintenance and clean-up metric looks at the time and precautions required to keep a wok in good working order. Perhaps the biggest burden posed by wok ownership is seasoning. Carbon steel pans like the Joyce Chen and Helen's Asian Kitchen need to be seasoned — a process that can take over an hour to produce the initial base coating. To evaluate the ease of this process, we read the manufacturer's instructions and followed them exactly. To test clean-up, we timed how long the pan took to clean after the scrambled egg test. Pans with nonstick coatings, such as the Scanpan, Calphalon, and Kenmore, excelled in this evaluation. The dominance of these pans is due to their ease of cleaning (nothing stuck to their surfaces) and that they do not require seasoning.
While the nonstick pans are easy to maintain and clean, the Kenmore explicitly says not to use metal utensils and to hand wash the wok. Scanpan and Calphalon say that their woks are both dishwasher and metal utensil safe, though we were inclined to treat them more gently given their cost and high-performance nonstick coatings. Conversely, we are in full agreement with the manufacturers of the carbon steel woks in the class that advise hand washing their products. Developing a well-seasoned coating on a pan takes time, and you do not want to work against yourself by removing this coating with harsh detergents, steel wool, or dishwashing machines.
The Mammafong is a carbon steel wok that comes pre-seasoned, which is why it did better than its carbon steel counterparts in this evaluation. However, seasoning is an ongoing process, and buyers should be aware that a seasoned wok requires special care despite being able to use metal utensils to stir its contents.
Quality and Durability
Over the years, we have conducted various tests for quality and durability. However, time and experience have taught us that a thorough inspection of a product before, during, and after our rigorous testing will tell us more about a product than destructive testing. As such, we made a detailed inspection of the woks we tested, looking at features such as the rivets securing the handles to the bowl, the handle materials, as well as the design, material, and construction of the bowl itself. The Cuisinart Cast Iron wok is the gold standard for quality and durability. Its uniformity — it is one piece of cast metal — and lack of attachments suggest that this wok will last long enough to become a family heirloom.
The Scanpan and Calphalon are perhaps better examples of high-quality pans as they have more components such as riveted handles, coatings, and a lid in the latter's case. These two pans are beautifully constructed with robust rivets, precision machining, and quality materials. With proper care, these pans should last a lifetime. The Joyce Chen and Souped Up also have decent construction and materials, though they are a step down from the Scanpan and Calphalon.
Woks are bulky. As such, we test how well each pan fits in our test kitchen's storage drawers and cabinets and rate them accordingly. More compact or easily stackable pans scored higher, whereas ones that were difficult to store in a small space scored lower. We also take lids and the ability to hang the pan into consideration.
The Cuisinart Cast Iron is the smallest pan tested, followed (distantly) by the Souped Up. The Souped Up's lack of a helper handle gave it a leg up in the storability department, but we don't think the trade-off is worth it. Close on its heels are the Scanpan and Calphalon, two pans with helper handles that are reasonably compact. The Kenmore is large, but the ring on its handle makes it good for hanging.
This review of woks researched and tested every detail that a consumer will want to know before making a purchase. We grouped our testing into five metrics — cooking performance, ease of cooking, maintenance and clean-up, quality and durability, and storability. The results and insight from these tests are shared above in a format that allows one to quickly and effectively sort the products that best match their needs and budget. With our help, you'll be pan-tossing stir fry for family and friends in no time.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.