Electric woks are handy kitchen appliances that are inspired by traditional woks that you use on the stove but without the need for any special cooking know-how. Traditional woks are large, round-bottomed pans made from carbon steel with a long handle that allows you to roll the pan around to move the food around in a circular motion hence the term; stir fry.
Their shape is designed to allow you to move the ingredients around the vessel with no edges or corners to get in the way so all the ingredients get cooked evenly and quickly. It takes a lot of cooking experience and a lot of time in order to master the skill needed to really handle a wok with precision which is why they can be intimidating to new cooks.
The main issue that needs to be overcome is that it is very hard to manage the heat distribution across the entirety of the pan so you end up with hot and cold spots that could result in under or even cooked areas of food. Traditional woks are also not suited to be used on every stovetop, like induction or glass-topped electric hobs, because they are unable to cradle the wok and heat it efficiently.
Electric woks take all of the hard work out of managing your wok and heat distribution which makes the electric version ideal for beginners or even avid home cooks. They provide a very high, even heat that you don’t have to fight to maintain so you can put all your energy into your ingredients and flavors rather than technicalities.
Most of the electric versions come with a lid that the traditional kind doesn’t so they can be used for a multitude of different dishes and cooking techniques that you can’t with a regular wok. Electric woks allow you to cook stir-fries and braises, steam various dishes, and even shallow fry using less oil than a traditional skillet for a healthier option.
Due to the fact that they are so large, they are ideal for cooking large family meals as well as catering for friends with a dish that is relatively easy and mess-free. They are also great on the go for one pot meals with super easy clean-up so you don’t have to fuss at the end of a long day.
Dishes that are ideal for electric wok cooking in particular, like stir-fries or stews, are often the types of dishes that are easy to add a lot of vegetables to so wok dishes do end up being on the healthier side which should motivate you to get a lot of use out of your brand new electric wok.
We are going to take a look at a few options that are available on the market right now and hopefully show you what to look for when shopping for an electric wok.
The criteria we are going to be using to make these electric woks recommendations are primarily their capacity, the efficiency of their design, its materials, and how simple it is to maintain. Hopefully we can find the sweet spot between all of these factors while also taking price into consideration.
From a big name in household appliances, we have the Hot Wok Pro from Breville. It is 15″ pan with an 8qt capacity and 15 precision settings to choose from with a maximum heat of 425 F. For convenience during cooking as well as cleaning the wok is coated in a PFOA-free, nonstick finish that lets your ingredients skim around the pan with ease and makes cleaning super quick and effortless.
The interior walls of the wok are made from thick aluminum that is heated with a powerful 1800w heating element that lets it heat up very quickly so you can get dinner on in minutes. The high walls are heated to very high temperatures with their specialized Butterfly heating system that is created by a series of heating rings that form concentric circles that run up the sides of the wok and create a high, even heat throughout the cooking process.
It manages to mimic Asian-style gas cooking remarkably closely by maintaining a high heat so you can cook authentically without the bother. The outer body is made from a brushed stainless steel that keeps the very hot wok hidden safely away.
It is also fitted with cool-touch handles for added safety. It also comes with a tight-fitting “cook and look” tempered glass lid with a steam vent so you can check up on your food without letting all the heat you’ve built up escape. The bowl itself unlocks from the sturdy base that it sits upon and both this and the lid are dishwasher safe so it requires very little clean-up for super-easy everyday meals.
At $149.95 this wok is on the expensive side, which is expected since it is from such a premium brand. This one should last you a really long time if you maintain it well but it is definitely worth checking out other models to see if there is an equivalent for a more reasonable price.
- Large capacity
- Maintains high heat
- Dishwasher safe
- Hard to store
Aroma Housewares Electric Wok
Aroma, another well known homewares brand, also have an electric wok on offer with a 7qt capacity and a sleek matte black finish. The body is deep and round with a PFOA free non stick coating and a large domed black lid. The lid is a real bonus when it comes to electric woks but this one, unlike some other models we have seen, isn’t transparent so you can’t really watch you food as it cooks without having to open it.
This model comes with a removable wire racks than fit in along the rim so your wok can double as a steamer to make this purchase really worth the investment.
The wok is made from durable, heavy duty cast aluminum that has good heat circulation and consistent heat retention so you can cook your food quickly and easily. The handles and the knob on the lid are made from a cool touch material so you can handle it safely. Unlike the Breville model there is no outer layer so be careful to avoid touching anything thats not the handles to prevent burning yourself.
This wok is also really easy to maintain as the bowl clicks out from the base and both this and the lid are dishwasher safe. The base can then we wiped down with a damp cloth.
This option comes at a much more affordable price, which is a good deal for all that you get. The Breville is the same capacity for three times the price and with this option also being from a reputable brand it really is a model worth considering.
- Large capacity
- More affordable
- Dishwasher safe
- No see through lid
- Hard to store
Oster DiamondForce Electric Wok
This Oster electric wok is a smaller capacity option that boasts its use of their state of the art DiamondForce coating. This is a PFOA free non stick coating that is made more durable with the addition of diamond particles that make it long-lasting and easy to clean. This is a good choice for smaller households with a 4.7qt capacity that also makes it easier to store.
The design of this piece is simple with a matte black body, heat-proof handles, and a tempered glass lid that makes this a multi-use piece just like the previous options. The adjustable temperature control is also removable for easy cleaning with a wet cloth to prevent wetting any electronic components.
Like the Aroma model there is no outer body so handle this with care are be sure not to touch the wok itself. A serious downside to this model is that only the lid is dishwasher safe. This mean you will have to be very vigorous with your cleaning each day to ensure that all food remnants have been eliminated but this should be made easier by the non stick coating.
Be careful to avoid using any abrasive cleaners or sponges on the surface as this can scratch and damage the non stick rendering it useless.
This is the cheapest option but it also has the smallest capacity so its not necessarily the best value for money. It all depends on how much you need to cook and what budget you have to work with. The DiamondForce finish is a huge selling point for this model which, if you are careful, will last you a good long while so its one to have a think about.
- Good for small households
- Smaller capacity
- Bowl isn’t dishwasher safe
Best for Smaller Households
If you have a smaller household and a smaller capacity for storage then the Oster electric wok is the choice for you. It has a good, reliable design with a state of the art non stick finish that allows you to cook up a storm without any of the messy clean up. Once you’re done you can easily store it away in a cupboard as, in comparison to the other two, this model is far smaller and more compact.
Best Value for Budget
Although the Aroma model is not the cheapest we have looked at today is it by far the best for the budget. The Oster is cheaper in price but has a smaller capacity by approximately 2 quarts so the extra $5 gets you a lot of extra space for you to cook in. The Aroma gives you a lot of bang for your buck with a large capacity, a non stick coating and a dishwasher safe wok and lid. This one is convenient, easy to maintain and mimics a traditional wok very convincingly.
Answer: Traditionally chefs will use carbon steel woks in professional kitchens. They have the skills to operate these specialized pans and they save a lot of space in kitchens that are often tight on space. These woks come in both round and flat bottomed variety but the round-bottomed are the most common. Professional kitchens also commonly use gas burners which are the ideal hobs for using a wok as you use the flames to heat up the sides in an even manner.
Answer: PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid and it is a chemical that is used to make some nonstick coatings. During some manufacturing processes, the PFOAs are burned away but with others, they linger and this is what you have to be careful of. It is important to check that your non-stick products are PFOA-free because they can leach into your food and cause a large variety of health issues with prolonged exposure.
Effects that continued PFOA exposure will cause include:
• Liver damage
• Some cancers
• Thyroid disease
• Ulcerative colitis
• Pregnancy complications
Answer: Woks come in both round and flat bottomed varieties but the round ones are by far the most popular. This distinctive shape is designed this way to distribute heat evenly and allow you to cleanly scrape the bottom with a round edges spatula to prevent burning and keep the food moving. Round bottomed woks also get hotter than their flat counterparts and in a more even manner without having to worry about any little corners that are hard to clean.
Overall it seems like a lot of people, judging by the number of options on the market, are choosing to go with an electric wok for all their Asian cooking needs. These appliances are really convenient, provide you with high, consistent heat that let you cook with ease without having to worry about maintaining the heat yourself.
If you find yourself cooking stir fries and other Asian dishes on the regular, or if you want a multi use piece that will let you fry, steam and braise all in one place then an electric wok is the one for you!