Best wok: Transform your stir-fry recipes with the best woks from £12

You might only think of a wok as being the go-to for stir-fries but this versatile pan can be used for almost any type of cooking – smoking, searing, boiling and conventional frying. Add a bamboo basket and lid and it’ll even steam vegetables, dumplings and seafood. This means that if you’re short on space in your kitchen, a hard-working wok can feasibly do the job of several other pans, making it great for a quick declutter.

However, a wok can do so much more than that. Its bowl-shaped design spreads heat evenly for consistent cooking, plus if you love crispy dishes, you can cook them in a wok with less oil than a deep-fat fryer. A good wok will heat up quickly, be stable on the hob without being unwieldy and have a comfortable handle.

Opt for a traditional type and it’ll also give your stir-fries what’s known as wok hei: the complex, smoky flavour built up from fast, high heat cooking. Not sure what type of wok is best for you? Take a read through our helpful buying guide below, and then scroll on to discover our pick of the best best woks you can buy.

How to buy the best wok for you

What kind of wok should I buy?

Look after your wok properly and it’ll last for years.

They can be made from a few different materials. The traditional option is carbon steel – it’s often inexpensive and has excellent heat conductivity. It’ll need seasoning (coating with oil) to prevent rust forming and shouldn’t be cleaned in a dishwasher, but is perfect for creating a wok hei taste.

More modern incarnations can be made from stainless steel, aluminium and cast iron, though be aware that the latter is very heavy. Most will be non-stick, which means you won’t get the same flavour from browning but they’re generally lower maintenance and easier to clean. While it’s tempting to choose a round-bottomed wok for its traditional appeal, a flat bottom is more practical and will work on heat sources other than gas, with most being induction compatible.

How much should I spend?

Most cookware yields better features the more you spend but the same isn’t always true for woks.

A basic carbon steel wok can be picked up for as little as ?10 and while it won’t come with accessories, such as a lid, can serve as well as a more expensive design. Shop at the premium end of the market and you can pay more than ?100 for eye-catching colours and favourite brands. Budget up to ?40 for a balance of versatility and value.

What features should I look for?

A long, sturdy handle with a good grip is a must, preferably insulated or far enough from the heat source to prevent it growing hot.

You may also find a ‘helper’ handle on the opposite side to assist with lifting the pan, or a pair of loop handles that make it easier to move if it’s full of soup or curry. A lid will give your wok greater versatility, enabling simmering, covering food while it’s cooking and steaming.

What capacity do I need?

Mini woks, up to about 18cm, are great when cooking for one, but they won’t have enough space for all your ingredients when cooking larger meals, causing them to stew when you want them to sizzle. Most woks are between 20cm and 30cm, which is an ideal size for couples and families, and anything over 36cm swiftly becomes too cumbersome for everyday cooking.

READ NEXT: Cook the perfect rice every time with the best rice cookers from ?50 to ?300[1]

The best woks to buy from ?12

1. Kitchen Craft “Orient” Uncoated Wok: The best wok under ?20

Price when reviewed: ?12

It might need a bit more care than the average pan but this wok delivers an authentic wok hei experience twinned with affordability. Compatible with all heat sources, including induction, its flat base, lightweight structure and deep, sloped sides deliver the ability to flip, toss and saut? food like a pro.

Unlike most non-stick woks, you can also use metal utensils and give it a gentle scouring if required. It’ll need seasoning every time you use it to keep the interior in good condition but other than that it’s a great-value buy. If you like to keep your cookware in shining, pristine condition, this one isn’t for you, as carbon steel will discolour over time, but for those who love oriental dishes, it’s ideal.

Key specs – Material: Carbon steel; Size (Width x Height): 30 x 7cm; Weight: 1.2kg; Accessories: None

2. Tefal Expertise 28cm Stirfry Pan: The most versatile wok for all cooking duties

Price when reviewed: ?52

Wok cooking can demand high temperatures but it can be tricky to know when your pan is ready to start cooking. For those that need a helping hand, Tefal’s popular Thermospot features on this smart wok, turning to a solid red when it’s hot enough, preventing damage from overheating or hot oil splatters.

As well as being light enough to flip a stir-fry, it lends itself especially well to other cooking, with an oven safe (up to 175C) Bakelite handle featuring a stylish stainless-steel insert, and deep sides that can easily accommodate sauces and soups. Even better, its durable non-stick coating can withstand metal utensils, except for whisks and knives, and it’s suitable for all heat sources, including induction. Key specs – Material: Aluminium; Size (Width x Height): 28 x 8cm; Weight: 1.2kg; Accessories: none;

3.

Greenpan Venice Pro Ceramic Non-stick Wok: A wok designed to survive the toughest kitchens

Price when reviewed: ?65

Most of us have experienced the loss of a favourite pan, whether through someone else scratching, burning or overzealously cleaning it. Fortunately, the Venice Pro wok is virtually immune to all that stuff. Equipped with a Thermolon Infinity Pro ceramic coating (enhanced with diamonds no less), it’ll last even with intense usage, metal utensils, cleaning and short-term overheating up to 450C.

It’s a bit weightier than some but an ergonomic stainless-steel handle still gives it plenty of easy manoeuvrability. The wok also has excellent heat distribution, so if you’ve been cooking with a bog-standard pan, this one may take adjustment to prevent overcooked meat and fish or carbonised veg. Suitable for all heat sources, including induction, thanks to Greenpan’s extra-efficient Magneto technology, plus it’s oven-safe with a useful helper handle.

Buy the Greenpan Venice Pro Ceramic Wok from John Lewis[2] Key specs – Material: Hard anodised aluminium; Size (Width x Height): 30 x 8.5cm; Weight: 1.65kg; Accessories: none;

4. Judge Radiant 26cm Stir fry Wok with lid: A good-quality wok with a handy lid

Price when reviewed: ?35

Part of a series of colourful cookware that spans a milk pan to a shallow cr?pe pan, this lightweight two-part wok packs a lot in for its affordable price tag.

Not only does it have a lid, making it perfect for steaming and stewing, it also has a triple layer of Teflon non-stick that includes ferrous particles to help with fast, even heat transfer. A pair of soft-grip loop handles make it easy to toss food, and match the bright base, which is finished in heatproof metallic red paint. It’s suitable for all heat sources, including induction, and is oven-safe up to 150C.

For compact kitchens, it’s also available in a 24cm size. Key specs – Material: Aluminium; Size (Width x Height): 26 x 8cm (without lid); Weight: 0.99kg (without lid) ; Accessories: Metal lid

5. Stellar 3000 28cm Non Stick Stir Fry Pan: A great wok for healthy cooking

Price when reviewed: ?59

No one likes a greasy stir-fry.

Prevent your food soaking up more oil than is necessary with the raised honeycomb base of this wok. As well as looking attractive, it helps suspend ingredients above the bottom of the pan as you cook, while the Teflon Platinum Plus non-stick coating makes cleaning it afterwards a breeze. This is more of a stirring wok than a flipping one, however – while it’s not an especially heavy pan, a fair amount of the weight is concentrated in the bowl, making the helper handle an essential addition for moving it around.

The glass lid is a useful extra for steaming, as well as keeping an eye on cooking without removing it.

Compatible with all heat sources, including induction, and oven-safe up to 180C, it’s available in Black, Ruby Red and Vanilla.

Key specs – Material: Enamelled aluminium; Size (Width x Height): 28 x 9cm (without lid); Weight: (without lid) 1.25kg; Accessories: Tempered glass lid

References

  1. ^ Cook the perfect rice every time with the best rice cookers from ?50 to ?300 (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  2. ^ Buy the Greenpan Venice Pro Ceramic Wok from John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com)

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