When it comes to woks, you will find a wide variety on the market. And if you are not sure what you are looking for you can easily end up with a faulty product that will not satisfy your needs.
We will tell you right from the beginning that cast iron woks can last you a lifetime if you take proper care of them. On the other hand, carbon steel woks can be easier to maintain but they will need to be replaced a lot sooner.
However, what you pick will depend on your cooking style and expectations. So, keep reading to find out all you need to know about these two types of wok!
Cast Iron Wok vs Carbon Steel Wok: Comparison Chart
|Features||Cast iron wok||Carbon steel wok|
|Resistance||Lifetime warranty, with proper maintenance||Reduced resistance compared to cast iron woks|
|Maintenance||High maintenance||Moderate-low maintenance|
|Cleaning||No soap||Regular cleaning|
|Usage||Any type of stir fry dishes, it is recommended to avoid cooking acidic ingredients||Any type of stir fry dishes|
|Price||Tends to be pricier than carbon steel woks||More budget-friendly option|
Which Wok is Better: Cast Iron or Carbon Steel?
To decide which wok is better between a cast-iron one and a carbon steel one, you will have to consider what are you truly looking for in such a product and your cooking style.
For those who are looking for resistance, cast iron woks are the best on the market. They will last you years and even decades if you maintain them correctly.
However, if you don’t want to put a lot of effort into maintaining your wok, most likely a carbon steel one is best for you.
The maintenance of a cast iron wok implies seasoning it once a year. If you use it to cook weekly or every other day, you can skip this maintenance process. However, if you are not going to use your wok so frequently, get ready to season it on a strict schedule to keep it in a good state.
To season your cast iron wok you will have to infuse carbonized oil into the material of the wok, which is metal. This oil will get inside the metal as cast iron is a porous material. And stay there for several months, even if you don’t use your wok.
A great advantage of cast iron woks is that you will not have to use cooking spray. It will not stick thanks to this maintenance process of seasoning.
Due to its porous material, you will not be able to clean your cast iron wok with soap. The soap can get inside the iron. Plus, the soap will reduce the non-stick feature and eliminate the layer of seasoning that you add to your wok.
As for the carbon steel wok, you will not have to go through the seasoning process yearly which makes it a lot easier to use. Cleaning your carbon steel wok will also be easier since you will clean it as you clean any other dishes in your kitchen.
Are Cast Iron Woks Good?
Is Cast iron wok better than stainless steel in terms of cooking?
Well, woks that are made of cast iron have a bad reputation due to the high maintenance but also the fact that they are heavier than carbon steel woks.
These woks are thicker as well, which means that they heat up in a long time and your food will take longer to cook as well.
Even with these disadvantages, you will notice that cast iron woks are better at spreading the heat evenly so your food will actually cook more throughout the way.
As for the heating part, these will heat up faster. However, the temperature will not stay even on all the surfaces of the wok, which can make a significant difference in the quality of your food.
You will probably like the cast iron woks better if you don’t mind waiting for your food to be ready. But chefs who are forced to cook fast, prefer the carbon steel ones.
We do have to mention though, that cast iron woks will not be as efficient if you are planning to cook acidic foods like tomatoes. The acidity will affect the seasoning so you will have to season your wok even more often.
Carbon Steel vs Aluminum Wok
Besides the cast iron wok and the carbon steel wok types which are the main ones you will find on the market if you look for a quality product, you will also come across aluminum woks.
It would be pointless to compare aluminum woks with cast iron woks as there are almost completely different products but they can be a competitor for carbon steel woks.
Aluminum is a great material when it comes to heat conductivity. Meaning, your food will heat up a bit more evenly than in a carbon steel wok and this can be a significant advantage of these woks.
However, aluminum woks take a significant amount of time to heat up as well so you are not speeding up your cooking process and by using one of these products.
Another shortcoming of aluminum woks is that they need to be on the flame at all times when you are cooking your food. If you take them off the heat source, they will get cold really fast and this could affect the quality of your food as well.
With carbon steel, you will not have to worry about this aspect as this material has a better heat capacity. Luckily, if you can’t make up your mind between carbon steel or aluminum woks, you can find items that combine both of these materials. And you can have the best of both worlds.
Now that you have all the information you need, chances are that you will make up your mind a lot easier. You can use any type of wok you prefer.
As long as you use it the right way and you respect the instructions it comes with, your food will taste delicious!