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Woks have been used for cooking in China for more than 2,000 years, but the electric wok is definitely a more recent invention.
Although traditionally used for stir frying, woks are surprisingly versatile and can cook all types of food in a variety of ways, from boiling to steaming to braising.
While electric woks aren't for everyone, some cooks find them more useful than standard stovetop woks. They give you the freedom to cook wherever you like — the kitchen, the dining table, even a camp site (assuming you have access to an electrical outlet).
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Standard, round-bottom woks aren’t recommended for use on electric and induction stovetops. If you have a stove of this type and want to cook in a round-bottom pan, an electric wok with a rounded bottom provides an affordable solution.
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If you want to learn more about electric woks, please continue reading this shopping guide. If you’re ready to make a purchase, please see the above matrix for our top five recommendations.
If you're not well-versed in electric woks, you might be wondering what the difference is between a standard wok and an electric wok.
The main difference is quite obvious: a standard wok is just a pan you use on your existing stovetop, whereas an electric wok comes with a built-in heating element. This means you can just plug it in and cook without any sort of stove available.
Electric woks generally have a nonstick coating, whereas the best standard woks are made of carbon steel and need to be "seasoned" to become nonstick. Apart from that, the two are fairly similar.
When choosing a wok, it pays to do a little research first. There are numerous features to consider, including the pan’s size, shape, cooking surface, and price.
Given the fact that electric and standard woks share so many similarities, why might you choose to buy an electric version?
The features on this list vary from one make and model to the next. We urge potential buyers to investigate these features before selecting a model.
An electric wok with adjustable heat affords you control over your cooking. And since stir frying is meant to be done at a high temperature, the higher the wok can go, the better.
Most electric woks can stretch their temperature up to around 400° Fahrenheit. We advise consumers to be wary of models that can’t reach that temperature.
The majority of electric woks feature a nonstick surface, but there are exceptions to this rule.
While nonstick cookware prevents food from sticking, it has its drawbacks, too. After a while, a pan’s nonstick coating can peel, at which point it's advisable to replace the item. Some people worry about potential health issues caused by Teflon and similar materials, especially if it flakes into food. These concerns aren’t necessarily supported by scientific studies.
That said, if you want to avoid exposure to nonstick elements, consider an electric wok made from stainless steel. The Presto 5900 is made of this material and is also safe for dishwasher. Another great choice would be the Oster 4.5 Liter wok, which is made of ceramic.
Want to make a good stir fry without a wok? It’s possible, though opinion is divided on the quality of the results. We recommend that you use a frying pan with slanted sides for the best outcome.
Some electric woks include a fully built-in heating element. Others, while still powered by electricity, can be removed from their base for cleaning.
The Breville Hot Wok detaches from its base, as does the dishwasher-safe West Bend in our product matrix. Although the Aroma Housewares is marketed as detachable, some owners complain that they’ve had trouble taking the base off and putting it back on.
Some cooking enthusiasts prefer a traditional, round-bottom wok. If you’re not a wok purist, however, a flat-bottom variety will do just fine.
If you definitely want a wok with a round bottom, we suggest you take a look at the Breville Hot Wok.
While you don't need a lid for stir frying, it comes in handy if you plan to use your wok for a variety of cooking purposes.
We prefer a glass lid over an opaque one, as you can peek in and see how your food's progressing without lifting the lid. This is a great feature if you’re cooking rice or steaming veggies.
Some of the best electric woks sport cool-touch handles that are heat-resistant and free of awkward nooks and crannies, which can be difficult to clean.
You might prefer an electric wok that matches the color scheme of your kitchen, especially if it's an appliance you plan to leave out for others to see.
The majority of electric woks we encountered during our research are available in black or silver. You could certainly find an electric wok with a different color, but it might take a bit of searching.
It might be a bit easier to find a standard wok of a different color. For example, the TeChef Art Pan exudes a unique “Aubergine Purple” shade.
If you want a wok with a nonstick coating that’s less likely to wear down and flake into your food, consider the Breville Hot Wok. This product’s “quantum nonstick” coating receives accolades for its durability.
How many people do you plan to feed with your wok?
With a 4.5 liter capacity, the Oster DuraCeramic wok is perfect for one or two people. The Presto is much larger; it will hold about seven quarts of food.
That said, anything with a capacity of six quarts or more should be fine to feed an average family.
You could buy an electric wok for as little as $25, but the best products on the market retail at a little over $100.
If you plan to use your electric wok often, it's definitely worth paying more. Cheaper models tend to wear out or break after a year or two, and their nonstick coatings are easily scratched or damaged.
If you opt for the Breville How Wok, you'll pay a higher price, but Breville is quite a trustworthy name in the industry. Owners report that even after several years of regular use, the nonstick coating still looks brand new.
That said, you could find a decent electric for somewhere in the $60 range if you were to shop around and avoid nonstick coatings.
A standard wok typically costs less than an electric wok. So why would you go electric? The main advantage is portability, but there are others as well.
A wok is an extremely versatile appliance that can be used to cook all manner of foods, including the following:
How Often Will I Use an Electric Wok?
If you’ll be using your wok several times per week, we recommend you opt for a high-end model. Getting a cheaper wok would be false economy, as you’d have to replace it much sooner.
However, if you think a wok is something you'd pull out of the cupboard just a few times a year, a low-end model should do just fine.
Should I Choose an Electric Wok Over a Standard Wok?
Electric woks cost significantly more than their standard counterparts. For this reason, it’s worth thinking about whether you need one.
If an electric wok’s portability appeals to you — or you don't have access to a stove — you'll definitely want an electric wok.
Likewise, if you have an electric stove but want a round-bottom wok, an electric version is really your only choice. The reason: round-bottom woks aren't compatible with electric stoves.
How Many People Will I Be Cooking For?
Smaller electric woks are cheaper than those with a large capacity, so if you’re only feeding one or two people, it may make sense to get something with a capacity of five quarts or less. But if you have a bigger family (or entertain often), you may prefer a wok with a minimum six-quart capacity.
What Kind of Meals Will I Be Cooking?
If you want to perfect your stir fries or make other traditional Chinese or Southeast Asian foods, we recommend a round-bottom wok. That's the shape Chinese woks have been for thousands of years, so you might find it hard to get truly authentic results otherwise.
If you're planning to make a wider variety of foods in your wok, either a flat- or round-bottom wok would work just fine.