Let’s clear up questions about the difference between a cast iron skillet and a wok, including when and how to use each piece of cookware.
If you’re considering a new wok or cast-iron skillet, it’s important to know the differences between these two common kitchen pans and how best to use them. Here’s what you need to know.
What is A Wok?
Woks have been a staple in Chinese home and professional kitchens since ancient times. These days, you’ll find the high-sided, dome-shaped skillets throughout Asia and the western hemisphere. While the first woks were made from cast iron, you can now find woks made from a variety of materials, including stainless steel and super-light carbon steel.
The main feature of a wok is the signature sloped sides. Modern woks have flat bottoms so they can sit on your stove, but the first woks (and you can still find them today) were rounded on the bottom to allow for more even heat distribution up the sides of the pan.
These Chinese pans have one or two handles and can be as large as several feet in diameter. Most woks for home cooks are 12 to 15 inches.
What are Woks Used For?
Woks can reach exceptionally high temperatures, which makes them perfect for super fast stir frys. Cooks use a long-handled stainless steel wok spatula to keep food moving in the pan so it cooks evenly.
In addition to stir-frying, you can use a wok to make quick-cooking noodle and rice dishes. The high sides are also good for heating oil for deep frying and if your wok has a lid, you can steam in it.
Best Wok for Home Cooks
The best wok is lightweight, heats evenly, and is large enough to give your stir fry plenty of space to move. This 14-inch carbon steel pan from Craft Wok has the traditional shape, as well as two handles for easier transport. It’s manufactured in China using traditional hand-hammering techniques.
What is a Cast Iron Skillet?