Carbon Steel wok vs Stainless Steel Wok

Carbon Steel Vs Stainless Steel Wok: A Comparison Between The Two!

One of the heavily used kitchen tools is a wok. These are heavy-bottomed round-shaped cookware, first developed in Ancient China.

Earlier these were popular in eastern and southeastern parts of Asia, but now it is a must-have for every home and restaurant kitchen.

The main purpose of using a wok is stir-frying but you can use it for deep fry, steaming, braising, and stewing also.

Most of the woks have a long handle making it easier for the cook to do the job without hassle. You will find several types of woks available but two popular types are carbon steel wok and stainless steel wok.

Both offer a range of facilities but it’s always a matter of debate about the superiority of any particular one.

Professional cooking mostly requires high heating and hence they mostly choose the carbon steel wok. Whereas at modern home people use electronic stoves which needs flat bottom pans, and they pick stainless steel wok for it.

Interesting, isn’t it? Keep reading the article to know more about carbon steel wok and stainless steel wok.

What Is A Carbon Steel Wok?

What Is A Carbon Steel Wok

Carbon steel wok is made of a metallic compound which comprises iron and carbon mainly, and a very small percentage of other materials such as copper or silicon. The traditional carbon steel woks are handcrafted with hammers, and being used for centuries.

These are heavy-bottomed and have high heat conductivity, making them an ideal one to stir fry food without burning them. It can also keep the food warm for a long time.

What Is A Stainless Steel Wok?

What Is A Stainless Steel Wok

Stainless steel means something that doesn’t stain, discolor or oxidize like steel. The metal alloy used in stainless steel wok contains steel and chromium mostly which makes it resistant to rusting.

Stainless steel wok is not an ideal heat conductor, that’s why it might burn food by developing hot spots while trying to raise the temperature. Also, it’s often sticky if you don’t use more oil while cooking and makes the food unhealthy.

Some stainless steel wok has a copper coating inside to increase heat conductivity. Hence, it’s more expensive than the carbon steel wok but much durable and goes a long way.

Comparison Between Carbon Steel And Stainless Steel Wok

Carbon Steel vs Stainless Steel Wok

Each type of wok has some unique features and some positive and negative aspects. You can compare the two based on heat conductivity, safety measures, variety of usage, pricing,  versatility, performance quality,  maintenance, etc.

Heating Capabilities

When we talk about heating capabilities, carbon steel wok is the best option. It has high heat conductivity and performs well under pressure. It’s a must-have for professionals as well as home cooks. You will find out how versatile it is, as you can do different styles of cooking in it. Also, it keeps food warm for a longer period.

On the contrary, stainless steel wok is not the best performer in this particular area. As you already know they are much thinner and can’t distribute heat evenly.

So food might stick to the wok or sometimes get burnt due to hot spots. This problem can be diminished if the core is made of copper or aluminum.

Performance quality

Carbon steel wok is quite versatile but if you cook something that contains vinegar or acidic element, it might react with them. The food will get some sort of metallic taste. You need to season the wok properly before use to avoid any reaction like this.

Stainless steel is free from such reactive properties. You can cook any type of pickle, sauce, chatni, etc. But it’s difficult to cook certain dishes accurately as they aren’t nonstick. The food particles can stick to the pan and you might get burnt food.

Safety concerns

Using too much oil is always bad for health. In the case of carbon steel wok, as you know if they get proper seasoning, they become naturally non-stick. And you can cook healthy food without much oil.

But stainless steel wok needs more oil to cook properly. The good news is that both the wok are free from toxic coatings like Teflon or any other material.

Price, weight, and looks

Typically a carbon steel wok is affordable than the stainless steel counterparts. You will different price ranges for both of them in the market.

Carbon steel wok is lighter in weight in comparison with stainless steel wok. So it is easier to handle and lift.

If we talk about looks and appearances, the stainless steel wok is glossy, looks attractive than the carbon steel wok. But it is surely more important to know which one caters to your needs more.

Cleaning method

You need mild dishwashing liquid and a soft sponge to carefully clean your carbon steel wok as they have a non-greasy surface. You shouldn’t use any harsh cleaning agent as it may destroy the seasoned body of the wok. It should also not be thrown into the dishwasher.

On the other hand, stainless steel is dishwasher safe but it’s often convenient to hand wash it. Because,  it’s not a non-stick one, food residue needs to be cleaned properly with hands and good quality dishwasher soap.


We have discussed in detail the pros and cons of each wok. But you are the one who needs to decide which particular type suits best for your kitchen. People have different stoves, they like to cook different types of food, so the choice of woks will vary according.

It is important to mention, both types require proper handling and care to perform well and to serve for a longer period.

So, if you’re more into Asian-style cooking which needs high temperatures and stir-frying a lot,  you might go for the carbon steel wok. And if you feel you need a durable vessel to cook any type of food, stainless steel might work well.

Hope this discussion helps you to decide. If you want to know more, do comment below and let us know.

Up Next: How to use a wok on an electric stove.

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