Preparing restaurant-quality food at home isn’t as challenging as it seems — the trick is in the tools you use to whip up the dish. For example, if you love Asian cuisine, mimicking the meals is just a matter of buying the right ingredients and investing in a wok or stir-fry pan.
Woks and stir-fry pans might seem like intimidating kitchen appliances, but just think of them as an enhanced version of your average frying pan. They’re definitely much weightier than most cookware, but that’s because woks and stir-fry pans are made from heavy-duty materials such as aluminum, cast iron, carbon and stainless steel. Most woks are nonstick, some are even dishwasher safe (perfect for easy clean up) and because they’re typically larger than your average stove-top pan, they make a lot of food — ideal for someone who has a lot of mouths to feed.
When choosing a wok for your kitchen, it’s important to consider your cooking style. Do you prefer cast iron or steel appliances? Are you looking for a more traditional wok you can season and develop its flavoring yourself or a contemporary wok you clean after each use? The size of the wok you choose will ultimately depend on how many people you intend to cook for, and you can even choose woks with a little more personality in the color department to match your kitchen decor.
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1. Lodge Pro-Logic Cast Iron Wok
Lodge’s cast iron wok measures 14 inches and weighs just shy of 12 pounds. The heavy-weight champ is free of synthetic coatings and chemicals, comes pre-seasoned with 100 percent vegetable oil and retains heat better than any other material you’ll find. But that’s not all: Because of its flat bottom, the Lodge Pro-Logic Cast Iron Wok can be used over the stove, in the oven, on a grill top, or — if you don’t mind packing a little extra weight — over the campfire.
2. Presto Stainless Steel Electric Wok
While traditional woks might take a little time to get used to, the Presto Stainless Steel Electric Wok removes a lot of the guesswork and (bonus!) cleanup. The stainless steel stir-fry pan is incredibly easy to use and fits neatly on your kitchen counter. It features a 1500 watt heating element, an aluminum base that guarantees even heat distribution, plus a tempered glass cover with a stainless steel rim and handle (this keeps your countertops splatter-free and your hands safe from burning). But the best part of this wok might be that it’s dishwasher-safe, so both the cooking and cleaning process are seamless.
3. Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless Steel Fry-Pan
Cuisinart’s stir-fry pan is stainless steel, dishwasher-safe and can be used over the stove top or in the oven, withstanding temperatures up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. It also features a see-through glass lid so you can peek at how your meal is progressing while it cooks, plus the top locks in moisture and enriches the flavor of your dish. What’s more, if you like your noodles and veggies a little (or a lot) saucy, the pan features measure markings so you can eyeball your liquid-to-food ratio.
4. Cooks Standard Stainless Steel Stir Fry Pan
Cooks Standard stir fry pan has a lot going on that we need to tell you about. First, it’s predominantly made of stainless steel but also features an aluminum core. If that’s not the dream team of materials to evenly distribute heat and keep food warm long after it’s been cooked, we don’t know what is.
Second, this stir fry pan in particular comes with a stainless steel dome lid to trap in heat and moisture so your food remains both hot and plenty flavorful. If these details alone don’t sell you on the pan, maybe these features will: The pan can be used in the oven in temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and is dishwasher safe.
5. T-Fal Jumbo Wok
If you’re regularly feeding a family of three to four people, T-Fal’s Jumbo Wok was designed for home chefs like you. It features a non-stick interior and exterior for easy and efficient cooking, serving and clean up. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe so you don’t even have to scrub if you’re not in the mood (are you ever?). As for oven use, the aluminum construction can only handle temperatures up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, so you might want to stick to stovetop recipes for this appliance.
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