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Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best cast iron woks

If you want to make traditional Chinese food, a quality wok is a kitchen must-have. And although cast iron is not the most traditional wok material, it’s a material that tends to give excellent results. As such, we highly recommend adding a cast iron wok to your cooking arsenal.

Cast iron is rugged and durable, and a wok made of cast iron can last a lifetime if you look after it properly. With seasoning, cast iron forms a nonstick coating that allows you to dodge controversial chemicals that can scratch or peel. What’s more, the iron from the wok leaches iron into your food, so it’s a great way of boosting your iron levels.

Should you buy a seasoned or unseasoned cast iron wok? What size do you require? And what about a lid; do you need one? This shopping guide will address your questions and lead you to the best cast iron wok for your kitchen.

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Although round-bottom woks are traditional, the majority of cast iron models have flat bottoms, which sit nicely on all kinds of stoves and produce excellent results.

Considerations for selecting a cast iron wok


Seasoning a cast iron pan doesn't mean liberally sprinkling it with salt and pepper. Seasoning involves building a layer of oil that binds with the iron to form a nonstick coating. Many cast iron woks come pre-seasoned, but you can season your cast iron wok yourself, either in the oven or on the stovetop. Some people prefer to buy an unseasoned wok, as factory seasoning can be unreliable.


Consider what size of cast iron wok you require. The majority of woks are 12, 14, or 16 inches in diameter, though you can find some larger and smaller options. Remember that the listed diameter is the largest part of the wok, so the capacity might be less than you'd expect. In general, 12-inch woks are the right size to cook meals for one to two people, or perhaps two adults and a child. Bigger households of three to five would need a 14-inch wok to make enough food to go around. If you regularly cook for groups of six or more, or if you like to have plenty of leftovers, opt for a 16-inch cast iron wok.


Of course, all cast iron woks are circular, but some are more flared than others. It's also worth considering the depth of the wok. Cast iron woks that are too deep won't have great heat transfer up the sides, but those that are shallow don't allow for adequate tossing, which is an important part of stir frying.


The majority of cast iron woks have two short handles, one on each side. While you might be used to seeing long-handled woks, it's traditional for Cantonese woks to feature two short loop handles. This handle type is best for cast iron woks, as they're very heavy, and you couldn't hold them in a stable manner using a long handle. The downside is that you may need to use oven mitts to move your cast iron wok, although that doesn't require much extra effort.


Some cast iron woks come with lids. You may or may not find it a useful addition, depending on what you intend to cook. For instance, you'd need a lid for steaming and braising, but if you only intend to stir fry or deep fry in your wok, a lid is unnecessary.

Cast iron wok prices

Basic cast iron woks generally cost between $25 to $45. Although you can find a few decent models in this price range, they're few and far between.

For a better assurance of quality, consider stepping up to a mid-range cast iron wok. These cost roughly $50 to $100. In this price range, there are some excellent smoothly cast models that produce exceptional results. Most home cooks should look for a cast iron wok in this price range.

High-end cast iron woks cost in the vicinity of $100 to $200. These are high-quality models, usually favored by professional chefs and keen amateurs.


  • Consider the overall quality of the casting. A quality cast iron wok has a smooth surface. Keep in mind that imperfections can be magnified with years of seasoning.

  • Think about how often you'll use your cast iron wok. There's no point spending $100+ on a wok you'll only use every couple of months. On the other hand, it's wise to invest in quality cookware if you'll be using it frequently.

  • Pick a wok that's multifunctional if that’s what you need. How do you intend to use your wok? For example, if you'd like to be able to put in the oven and throw it on the grill, choose one that's suitable for these tasks — no wooden handles or rubber grips.

  • Check whether your chosen cast iron wok comes with any accessories. We've already discussed the fact that some woks come with lids, but there are other possible accessories as well, such as cooking utensils or a cool-touch cover for the handles.

  • Avoid adding food to your wok straight from the refrigerator or freezer. This lowers the overall temperature inside and negatively impacts the way your dish cooks.

  • Think about the wok’s weight and your hand strength before buying. Cast iron woks are heavy; there's no getting around that. Choose one that's light enough for you to handle, even when full.
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Cast iron retains heat exceptionally well and lets you achieve a pleasing charr on your food.


Q. How do I clean my cast iron wok?
You must take care when cleaning your cast iron wok. You can't use a heavy scourer lest it take off layers of hard-won seasoning, and you certainly can't stick it in the dishwasher. If it doesn't have any foodstuff stuck to it, simply wipe it with a clean cloth and store it. Otherwise, wash it by hand with a soft sponge or dishcloth, and dry it carefully.

Some people advise never to use dish soap on a cast iron wok, but we haven't found this to be problematic.

Q. Can I use my cast iron wok to cook foods beyond stir fry?
Yes. You can use a cast iron wok to deep fry, shallow fry, steam, saute, braise, and roast. In fact, there are few dishes you can't cook in a wok. However, if you are interested in purchasing a separate cast iron skillet, there are many options. Lodge Cast Iron skillets are so affordable, in fact, that many home cooks are pleased to purchase both the cast iron wok and the cast iron skillet from Lodge.

Q. I want to learn about wok cooking. How can I find out more?
You'll find a wide range of cookbooks dedicated to wok cooking, as well as plenty of free resources online.

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