Last updated: August 8, 2021

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Now it's hot! And healthy! - Woks and their siblings, the wok pans, are known for their high temperatures. It's not for nothing that Asians have been using them for generations for ... pretty much every dish. But the most important thing: they make you healthy! Due to their special shape, they quickly reach maximum temperatures and consequently short cooking times. This preserves all the good vitamins and beautiful colours. And hunger doesn't even have to wait long. That makes healthy eating fun!

You too can benefit from this all-round talent: In the following, we will advise you on everything you need to know for your first wok pan. We also recommend the best of the best. This saves you searching and more time for cooking.




Summary

  • Wok pans are smaller than woks, but still reach higher temperatures than normal pans. The correspondingly short cooking times ensure healthy meals!
  • Prices and quality are graded as follows: Aluminium, stainless steel, cast iron wok pans. Meanwhile, there are also models in enamel or carbon steel.
  • Coated pans have non-stick protection, but cannot be heated above 260 degrees for health reasons. Uncoated wok pans, on the other hand, form a natural non-stick layer. Nevertheless, they are more susceptible to burning.

The best Wok Pan: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for wok pans

A wok pan is a must, that's for sure. In order to find THE right one for you, you should pay special attention to the following criteria:

You can probably already imagine what the terms mean. But do you really know the difference between coated and uncoated pans? If not, you will find explanations below:

Material

The 3 most common components of wok pans are aluminium, stainless steel and cast iron. There are also less common materials such as enamel and carbon steel. Aluminium is the cheapest in terms of quality and price, whereas cast iron is not only the most popular, but also the most convincing in terms of quality.

In general, however, the materials do not differ mainly in price, but in their ability to be heated quickly and to store this heat in an energy-saving way.

Size or diameter

As a rule, wok pans fit on all commercially available stovetops, as the diameter refers to the upper rim and not the base. They are available from 24 cm, which is sufficient for a single household. For more people, you should aim for at least 28 cm.

In general, the more you cook, the larger the diameter. Regardless of this, however, you should always put smaller amounts in the wok pan instead of filling it to the top so that the temperature is maintained.

Coating

There are uncoated and coated wok pans. The latter have a so-called non-stick coating, which makes them easier to clean and harder to burn. This is made possible by Teflon/PTFE coatings. Caution: If you heat such a coated pan above 260°C, toxic fumes and health consequences can occur. Ceramic coatings provide a remedy. These can withstand temperatures of over 400°C. However, if the temperature differences or impacts are too great, they tend to flake off.

Whereas with uncoated, usually cast-iron, wok pans, the non-stick layer forms by itself. With each use, oil and other substances are absorbed into the pores of the pan, which thus remains supple. The so-called patina then transfers its aromas to the next dishes.

Suitability for the cooker

Induction, ceramic hob or gas hob? It doesn't matter! As a rule, wok pans are suitable for all types of cooker. With a gas cooker, however, a traditional wok is the best choice. Otherwise, you should know that cast iron and wrought iron are basically ferromagnetic. If you are still not sure whether your wok is suitable for induction, you can test it with a magnet. If the magnet sticks to the bottom of the pan, it is magnetic.

Handles

Since you often swivel the ingredients in the wok pan, the handle should be as ergonomically shaped as possible so that it lies comfortably in your hand. Of course, the weight also contributes to this. To reduce the risk of accidents, lighter versions with 2 handles are recommended, especially for older people.

Otherwise, the handle known from conventional pans is very popular. This is usually made of wood or the material of the pan. In any case, you should read up on heat-insulated models before you burn yourself on overheated handles.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about wok pans answered in detail

Because wok pans are so versatile, they are a complex topic. That is why we have answered the most frequently asked questions here for a better overview:

How does a wok pan differ from a wok & who is it suitable for?

Wok pans are the smaller siblings of woks: they have a flattened bottom instead of the traditional hemisphere, as an adaptation to Western stovetops. They also differ from normal pans in that they have high sides. These not only prevent anything from falling out when using the pan stirring technique, but also ensure more heat is generated. This is how the high temperatures that Asian cuisine requires come about.

But not only fans of Chinese culture get their money's worth with a wok pan. After all, this all-rounder has a lot to offer: frying, blanching, steaming, deep-frying, boiling and braising. All this is possible with just one pan: the wok pan.

What types of wok pans are there?

We distinguish between types of material and types of coating. The latter is divided into uncoated and coated versions, as you can read more about above. In both cases, they protect against burning and make cleaning easier.

With regard to the types of material, we have divided them into stainless steel, aluminium and cast iron wok pans.

  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel wok pans are very popular. Although they take longer to heat up, they can be heated to a high temperature without any risk. They are also lighter than cast-iron wok pans. They usually come without a coating, which makes them easier to bake, but they are harmless to health.
  • Aluminium: The cheaper aluminium wok pans conduct heat better and are lighter, which means that even beginners can pan them. However, aluminium cannot be heated strongly enough to prepare anything other than light dishes such as pancakes and fish. But if you don't want to give up your juicy steak and can still use your arms, consider a cast iron wok pan.
  • Cast iron: Professionals appreciate the even and strong heat development of this variant. In addition, the material stores heat longer, which means that food stays hot longer. With a coating, nothing can even burn. Successful cooking is therefore guaranteed! With cast iron, however, inform yourself about the subject of burning in.

If you are still unsure about the type of material, you can also go to a specialist shop for advice. After all, we only want our food to be made in China, not our wok pan.

How much does a wok pan cost?

The prices for wok pans depend greatly on the material and their accessories, such as lids or handles. The price range goes from 10 pounds to open end.

Type price features
Aluminium wok pan from 10£ cheap, fast but not strongly heatable, only suitable for light dishes
Stainless steel wok pan from 20£ takes longer to heat up, lighter than cast iron, can be heated safely
Cast iron wok pan from 40£ heavy but robust, not beginner-friendly, professionals swear by good heat conductivity and storage, patina gives delicious aroma

In the end, it's like with all things: You have to decide for yourself between saving or investing.

What do I have to bear in mind when using a wok pan?

You can create all kinds of things with wok pans and do very little wrong. Here you can find out what you should always keep in mind:

  • Coating: Only work with soft materials in pans with a coating, preferably wooden accessories. Otherwise you will scrape it off and eat it afterwards. You don't want that, so put all forks and the like far away!
  • Oil: As you will notice, you only need a little oil, at least in a coated wok pan. You'll be doing something for your diet and your wallet at the same time! Traditionally, peanut oil, sesame oil, coconut oil or soybean oil are used because they can be heated to high temperatures. This is not the case with olive oil, which is why it is unsuitable for wok pans.
  • Temperatures: Because of the high sides, wok pans heat up more quickly than conventional pans. Therefore, do not underestimate the temperatures, but always stir well. This way, nothing can burn, even in uncoated pans.
  • Sequence: Add the ingredients with the longest cooking time first. Then add the rest. Depending on the weight of the pan, swirl or stir everything so that it mixes and has different points of contact with the bottom of the pan. Afterwards, season the dish with appropriate Asian spices or other seasonings.

As you can see, wok pans are not impossible and you don't have to be a fox. Just follow these few points and you'll be your own chef!

wok-pfanne-test

Coatings are very practical as long as they don't get scratched off. If you're afraid of accidentally picking up a fork, you should avoid artificial coatings. (Cooker King/ Unsplash)

Conclusion

In summary, wok pans are ideal companions and must-haves for every kitchen. The siblings of woks are not a fad, but an innovation for western cuisine. They bring healthy nutrition to us with the simplest of means and make every cook's work easier.

With our tips and recommendations, you should now be one step closer to your dream wok pan and know which of the materials is best for you. But always remember: Get rid of the fork! Otherwise, even a coated wok pan won't do you much good. Well then, enjoy your meal!

Image source: HOT WOK / pexels.com

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