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Short cooking times over high heat – the essence of stir-frying, and the secret to bringing out the fragrance of your ingredients.
This style of cooking demands quick and constant flipping motions, more so than most other styles. The reason is so that heat is evenly distributed to every part of the food you’re cooking. To do that easily you would need a big cooking surface area, and a wok provides just that. This is to prevent the ingredients from falling out too easily when frying.
Woks are traditionally used over strong fire on gas burners. However, given the popularity of induction cooktops nowadays, it would be a shame for any half-serious cook to miss out on the fun of stir-frying in a wok.
But are woks any good for induction cooking in the first place? What are the best induction-compatible woks on the market right now? Keep reading for the answers.
If you’re looking for the absolute best induction wok without reading the article, we recommend the one from SKY LIGHT Carbon Steel Wok for being the best value for your money.
If you’re willing to spend a little more though, the Cooks Standard Stainless Steel Wok is better-built and will probably last you longer.
But if you’re unfamiliar with iron- or steel-based cookware and can’t live without non-stick coating, take a look at the TECHEF Wok from their Blooming Flower Collection.
And if you’re that one cast iron purist, we got you. Go for the Lodge Pro-Logic (can’t go wrong with a Lodge)!
Click here to skip straight to our list of top picks!
Table of Contents
What’s Different Between Woks and Pans/Skillets?
One of the questions I get asked a lot, is: what are the differences between a wok and a frying pan? Aren’t both designed to fry?
The obvious answer is, yes, both are mainly for frying. But a deeper look would suggest that the wok has its own specific use cases and the kinds of food it cooks best.
Traditional woks, mostly used in Asian cooking, are round-bottomed. Usually used over high heat, they offer much faster cooking over a shorter period of time, which is ideal for foods where overcooking can ruin the texture. This is especially true for stir-frying vegetables, which could lose its crispiness and become soggy when cooked for too long.
To be used on induction cooktops, however, the bottom cannot be round. Flat-bottomed woks, while losing some advantages that traditional woks are able to provide, are not totally useless though.
Now if you have done a lot of stir-frying in skillets, I bet you have felt restricted by the cooking surface and the range of motions you are able to do. This is where woks shine. They provide a larger surface area, for you to move your arms in more pronounced and bigger motions without worrying about food spilling out.
A slight health benefit is also the fact that foods being cooked in a wok absorb less of the oil you put in. As oil only collects at the bottom of the wok due to its shape, your food come into contact with oil much lesser than in a skillet.
While sounding amazing, woks aren’t for everything though. What they are not suitable for especially, is when you need to cook or sear large pieces of meat. Due to a frying pan’s large flat surface, it is more suitable for searing meat, while meat cooked in woks are usually diced.
Woks also take up considerably more space to store. Just look at the size of a typical wok!
How Effective Are Woks on Induction Cooktops, If At All?
As previously mentioned, a traditional wok has a round bottom for better heat concentration and ease of stir-frying. But as induction cooktops are based on the concept of electromagnetism, the bottom of the wok has to be in full contact with the cooktop, and thus cannot be round.
Having a flat bottom would mean that the total surface area in contact with the heat source is limited to only the bottom layer. This might make it sound like the wok loses all advantages it originally had, especially the ability to concentrate heat at one point.
In this case, are induction woks even worth it?
Actually, yes. There are still benefits of using one.
The main advantage is still its big surface area. It allows you to stir-fry and toss the food around, without feeling restricted to the smaller cooking area of a typical skillet. With all the heat still being fairly concentrated, you are able to make sure every portion of the dish gets heated and cooked evenly.
This alone makes it worth getting a wok. Especially if you do a lot of stir-frying!
Shopping Guide: What to Look For In A Induction Wok
When it’s time to choose a wok to add to your cookware collection, skim through our list to know what to look out for when getting one!
Since this article is for induction-compatible woks, flat bottoms are a must!
In terms of diameter of the bottom, usually 4” to 5” is ideal. Any wider, and it cooks like a skillet.
Usually measuring around 10” to 16” at their widest, we find the ones ranging from 12” to 14” to be right in the perfect spot.
Looking at the 10” models, we can confidently say that they’re too small, and completely destroy the purpose of getting a wok. If you’re going to get a 10” one, the difference with getting a frying pan instead is negligible!
At the other side of the spectrum, while 16” can be nice to fry in, it is not as easy to handle and store as its smaller counterparts. For most home kitchens, it’s usually overkill. What’s more, some larger ones can’t even fit comfortably on most home stoves!
Apart from its width, the depth of a wok is also very important, if not more so.
Too deep, and the heat won’t transfer as well all around the wok from the heat source. On the other hand, too shallow, and you’ll lose the main advantage of frying in a wok – its generous surface area.
Overall, we found having around 4” of depth strikes a good balance between providing a good surface area for comfortable stir-frying, while still being relatively easy to handle.
Traditionally, most woks are made out of cast iron. It conducts heat very well, but due to its heavier construct and the need for regular seasoning, we are seeing other materials gradually replacing it. Don’t get me wrong though, for a person who knows how to use a cast iron cookware, it is still a fantastic choice.
For those that don’t though, you can find stainless steel and carbon steel woks almost everywhere nowadays. They have the benefit of being good heat conductors, which results in heating up faster. Not to mention being lightweight too, comparing to cast iron.
While the two materials are slowly becoming the norm, some manufacturers choose to go with aluminum instead. Due to the lack of natural non-stick properties though, they would apply layers of non-stick coating to the wok.
If you’re not familiar with the usage of iron and steel cookware, this is a good option for you. But generally, due to the nature of cooking styles when using a wok, our advice is to skip these if you’re able to. The material used in non-stick coating (usually Teflon) tends to break down under high heat which brings up some health concerns, and the whole point of stir-frying is to do it over high heat!
Type of handles
If you’re seen a traditional wok before, you would know that they come with two small loop handles on either side. As woks are big and heavy, having another handle is especially helpful, which makes lifting and moving it around much easier.
In some modern woks, manufacturers are instead replacing one of the loop handles with a longer handle, one similar to what you would find in a regular frying pan. This is a good move in our opinion. It makes it easier to handle and more friendly for the regular home cook, who isn’t as trained in using a wok as restaurant chefs are.
That being said, some manufacturers choose to only include one handle for the wok, entirely leaving out the loop handle on the other side. While it is passable for a smaller wok, this makes it difficult to move a heavier one around!
Some brands choose to include lids with their woks. While stir-frying typically does not require a lid, having one definitely adds versatility, in the sense that it can be used for other styles of cooking as well, especially simmering.
Our Picks for the Best Induction Woks
That was long enough of an intro. Here are our top picks for the best induction-compatible woks.
This 12.5” wok is the only carbon steel option we have chosen to include in this list, as others of the same kind tend to have quality control issues and attract some number of negative reviews.
While the material it is made of would have you think that it is relatively light, it is in fact, not. Although not as heavy as cast iron, it is considerably heavy for a carbon steel cookware. Depending on your cooking style, you might find it a complete pleasure to use, or the opposite.
If you’re used to doing a lot of turning motions with your wrist, a heavy wok would make it more difficult to do this comfortably. But if you don’t, you can definitely benefit from its sturdiness. Its weight allows it to sit firmly on the stove, even when there is nothing inside it.
Size: 12.5” with 6.5” flat base and 3.75” deep
- PTFE- and PFOA-free due to the absence of synthetic non-stick coating
- Oven-safe for up to 550°F
- Handle detachable for oven use and easy storage
- Long handle allows for effortless control
- Has spout to allow for easier draining and pouring of contents
- Heavy which makes carrying around more difficult
- No second loop handle which with its weight, makes it even more difficult to move around
Made of high-grade 18/10 brushed stainless steel that is scratch resistant, this 13” wok has an aluminum core that does not easily warp. This combination of materials makes the wok very durable, and will likely last a long time, as some users have reported many years of use. Unless heavily damaged, there is no need to worry about rusting.
Size: 13” with 7.5” flat base and 5” deep
- High-grade brushed stainless steel that makes it durable and aesthetically appealing
- PTFE- and PFOA-free as no non-stick coating has been used
- Riveted stainless steel handle stays cool with air-flow technology. Sporting a V-shaped design, the handle has open holes that allow air to passthrough, keeping it cool
- Dome lid included which is made of stainless steel
- Has a loop handle to help with moving it around
- Heats evenly and quickly
- Oven-safe for up to 500°F
- Heavy to lift with one hand, which is appropriate given its steel grade. Not so bad considering it has a loop handle to help with lifting
Having a heavy-gauge aluminum core between 2 brushed stainless steel layers, this 3-ply 12” wok provides excellent heat distribution.
Sporting a scratch-resistant surface, you are free to use any types of utensils you have at home, including metal ones.
With no synthetic non-stick coating applied – as with typical stainless steel cookware – cooking with oil is necessary.
Size: 12” with 6.25” flat base and 4” deep
- Oven-safe for up to 450°F
- Comes with lid which is also oven-safe
- Handle that stays cool which is made of brushed stainless steel
- Dishwasher-safe but manufacturer recommends hand washing
- Has a loop handle to make it easier to move around
- Lifetime warranty
- Some reports of discoloration over heat, although absolutely harmless, is a cosmetic annoyance
This 12” wok is made of heavy-gauge aluminum that heats up very evenly.
As aluminum lacks natural non-stick properties, the cookware in this category have synthetic non-stick coating on them. This particular one from TECHEF has six layers of Teflon Platinum coating that is several grades higher than the typical Teflon coating, and lasts as long as 7 regular ceramic-coated cookware.
Size: 12” with around 7” flat base and a little over 3” deep
- PFOA-free Teflon Platinum non-stick coating that is scratch resistant and safe against metal utensils
- No rivets on the inside which makes cleaning easier
- Oven-safe for up to 350°F
- Lid not included but can be bought together with a slightly higher price
Next up on our list, this 12.5” wok is made from die-cast 4mm aluminum which is scratch-resistant and distributes heat evenly, preventing hot spots. Being die-cast, this also means that the handle is not riveted on, and prevents food from sticking onto the rivets.
Comes in black or white, it also includes faux wood details on the handle, which some may or may not like.
Size: 12.5” with 7.5” flat base and 4” deep
- PFOA-free marble non-stick coating by German’s GREBLON
- Silicone handle is heat resistant and soft-touch
- Has helper loop handle on the other side of the long handle
- Glass lid with steam vents included that was designed to stand up by itself, with the handle acting as support
- Comes with silicone spatula that matches the pan’s color
- Good distribution of heat thus does not require cooking at very high heat levels as you can achieve the same results with medium-high heat
- Non-stick coating holds up to long usage
- Not oven-safe
- Not dishwasher-safe
Though not for everyone, this cast iron 14” wok can perform wonders if used correctly. It retains heat better than other types of materials, which may be good or bad depending on your cooking style. For one, there is less heat loss to the environment which allows you to achieve the same level of temperature with less electricity. On the flip side, this also makes the wok less dynamic to temperature changes.
Being a cast iron cookware, seasoning is required for non-stick properties.
Size: 14” with 5.5” flat base and 4.5” deep
- Reputable American-made cast iron brand with a long history, so you can rest assured knowing it’s of high quality
- Pre-seasoned with 100% natural vegetable oil
- Oven-safe for up to 450°F
- Does not have a long handle, but instead comes with two loop handles
- Heavy naturally due to its material, so care needs to be taken when handling so as to not dent or crack any surface
- Not dishwasher-safe as with any cast iron cookware
Another cast iron option, this 12” wok comes with a wooden lid that allows you to steam or simmer.
In terms of build quality, we find it being a little superior to the Lodge, boasting refined cast iron brushing on the surface. What a shame it is not as deep as we’d like! For this reason, we would actually recommend the Lodge, unless for the brushed cast iron surface of this model, and that you’re absolutely sure depth is not that important to you.
Size: 12” with 6” flat base and 2” deep
- Comes pre-seasoned
- Refined brushed cast iron surface which produces some non-stick effects chemical-free
- Includes wooden lid
- Comes with silicone oven grab mitt
- Oven-safe for up to 480°F
- Does not have a long handle but two loop handles instead
- A little shallow which negates the most crucial benefit of using a wok
- Not dishwasher-safe
So there you have it, our list of recommendations for the best induction woks.
If you’re looking specifically for cast iron ones, go for the Lodge Pro-Logic. If not, our recommendation is to look at other types of wok as not everyone would enjoy using a cast iron cookware.
For people who absolutely need non-stick coating on their cookware, the one from TECHEF is your best bet.
For most people though, we recommend the SKY LIGHT as offering the most value for your money. And if you’re happy to spend a little more to get one that is likely more reliable in the long run, go for the Cooks Standard!
While you’re shopping for an induction wok, you might also be interested in other induction cookware. Make sure to also check out some of the best carbon steel pans you can buy right now, or the best pots to cook rice.
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