Wok-Style Pans

Published November 1, 2007. From Cook's Illustrated.

Wok-style pans split the design differences between a skillet and a wok; we wondered how they compared to our favorite pan for stir-frying.

Overview:

Over the years, we have tested traditional woks several times and reached the same conclusion: Their rounded, wobbly design is not suited for conventional, flat-topped American stoves. You're better off using a large nonstick skillet. But recently we've noticed wok-style pans that split the design differences between a skillet and a wok and wondered how they compare. To find out, we stir-fried beef and vegetables in three different wok descendants and measured the results against stir-fries cooked in a 12-inch nonstick skillet.

Although all three of the wok-style pans we tested performed ably, we're not willing to invest in a new pan just for stir-frying. The actual cooking surface on these pans measured less than 7 inches across-a full 2 inches smaller than the cooking surface on a standard 12-inch skillet. While these wok-style pans are better suited to a flat burner than is a traditional round wok, they can't beat the skillet for stir-frying.

Over the years, we have tested traditional woks several times and reached the same conclusion: Their rounded, wobbly design is not suited for conventional, flat-topped American stoves. You're better off using a large nonstick skillet. But recently we've noticed wok-style pans that split the design differences between a skillet and a wok and wondered how they compare. To find out, we stir-fried beef and vegetables in three different wok descendants and measured the results against stir-fries cooked in a 12-inch nonstick skillet.

Although all three of the wok-style pans we tested performed ably, we're not willing to invest in a new pan just for stir-frying. The actual cooking surface on these pans measured less than 7 inches across-a full 2 inches smaller than the cooking surface on a standard 12-inch skillet. While these wok-style pans are better suited to a flat burner than is a traditional round wok, they can't beat the skillet for stir-frying.

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