Wok vs Frying Pan – Which One To Use?

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Wok vs frying pan

You may have questioned if there is a difference between cooking with a wok and a frying pan. They have a similar appearance, yet they serve very different purposes. While the frying pan is good for preparing simple dishes, the wok can definitely do more.

What is a wok?

A wok is a cooking utensil with a rounded bottom and high sloping walls, usually with two side handles or one big handle. The rounded bottom allows high heat to be concentrated at the center of the wok where the ingredients are located and cooked. The high walls make it easier to toss food in a wok, ideal for stir-frying, allowing the ingredients to be easily mixed and evenly cooked throughout.

What is a pan?

A frying pan or skillet is a flat-bottomed pan with flared sides used for frying, searing, and browning foods. It is commonly used for shallow frying, flipping food, stirring, high-heat searing, or grilling meat at high temperatures.

What is the difference between a wok and a pan?

The major difference between wok and pan is the geometry, with wok having a rounded bottom and steeply sloping sides, and frying pan having a flat base with sides that are slightly angled. The rounded bottom allows food and ingredients to be collected at the center base of the wok where heat is concentrated, ideal for stir-frying. The high steeply sloping sides of the wok allow easier tossing too. A frying pan, on the other hand, allows oil, sauces, and other liquids to be distributed more evenly across the pan’s flat bottom, suitable for cooking steaks or searing meats.

When to use a wok instead of a pan?

  • If you want to cook your ingredients with high heat concentrated in the center, wok is a better choice.
  • The wok is much better to use when it comes to frying. A wok uses less oil than a frying pan to effectively cook food. The base of a frying pan is flat. As a result, it takes more oil to effectively fry and cook ingredients. Consuming oil-soaked foods can lead to a variety of health problems, including excessive cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and so on.
  • In comparison to a frying pan, a wok offers a bigger capacity for cooking more ingredients due to its higher sloping walls.

When to use a frying pan instead of a wok?

  • A frying pan can deal with soft ingredients like tofu which does not require constant stirring.
  • You want to use a frying pan if you are cooking steaks or searing meats. Wok will struggle because of the rounded bottom geometry.
  • If you are a beginner in cooking, using a frying pan is safer and easier to handle.
  • You will need a wok ring if you want to cook on an electric stove using a wok.
  • Cooking using a frying pan does not require a high-powered gas stove and will heat up quickly.
  • The frying pan is smaller and easier to wash after cooking.

Can you cook on an electric stove with a wok?

A traditional wok is not designed to work on an electric stove. However, you can buy a wok ring and then use it to cook on an electric stove. Electric coil stoves and glass-ceramic stoves are the two types of electric stoves which you can use with a wok. A flat-bottomed wok when using an electric coil stove. A round-bottomed wok on the glass-ceramic burner for the best results.

Can you cook everything in a wok?

The vast surface area of a wok, along with its capacity to swiftly flash fry food at high temperatures, makes it ideal for stir-frying. Wok recipes, on the other hand, may be so much more. You can almost cook everything with a cook. So many different cooking techniques can be used in wok recipes. You can boil, fry, steam, smoke, or simply toss salads in a wok!

What are the popular dishes or recipes that require a wok?

Wok is used in making some of the popular dishes. Popular dishes or recipes prepared by a wok include Stir-Fry Chinese Vegan Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry With Peanut Sauce, Chicken Lo Mein Stir-Fry, Thai Drunken Fish Stir-Fry (Pad Kee Mao)Celery, Swiss Chard and Tofu Stir-Fry, Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry, Vegan Stir-Fried Eggplant, Pork and Leeks Stir-Fry, Bitter Melon and Pork Stir Fry With Black Bean Sauce, Low-Calorie Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry and Tomato Egg Fried Rice.

What are the popular dishes or recipes that require a frying pan?

The dishes or recipes that require a frying pan are Frying Pan Pesto Pasta, Frying Pan Chicken Lasagne, Meatballs and Zucchini Noodles, Spaghetti Bolognese Frying Pan Lasagne, Clear-out-the-Fridge Frittata, One-Pan Caprese Chicken, Pan-Fried Fish with Herb Sauce, Bacon-Mushroom Frittata, Crustless Smoked Turkey and Spinach Quiche, Cauliflower Rice Skillet with Zucchini and One Skillet Cheesy Tuna Pasta.

Does a wok have a lid?

Stir fry, in general, does not require a lid. A wok is primarily used or purchased to prepare stir-fries. When you use a wok in your kitchen, it may be used for more than just stir-frying. Other than stir-frying, you’ll need a wok lid to steam, stock, braise, sear, boil, and so on. A wok lid can also help you turn a wok pan into a healthy cooking tool. It depends on your preferences – whether you want a lid on your wok or just want to stir cook. On the market, there are various types of wok lids. A wok of 14 inches is the most common size. And most of the lids available on the market are that size. If you want a complete meal, then you should use a wok lid. It can make your cooking station clutter-free by significantly reducing the number of pans for different cooking patterns.

What size wok is the best?

The majority of Chinese woks are 13-14 inches in diameter and fit well on top of a range. Most modern Chinese kitchens include range tops, the all-important kitchen hood, and a kitchen door to keep cooking odors from entering the main living area.

Wok sizes in the United States range from 10-20 inches. Depending on the size of your range and how much you want to cook at once, a 13-14 inch wok is a good choice. We recommend a 13-14 inch wok in general.

How to choose a wok?

The finest wok for you may not be the best wok for someone else, as you may have different requirements that others do not. When buying a wok, choose the right material for the wok.

Wok is made of metal and the type of metal is crucial. Every metal kind has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. You must select a wok according to your preference. Here are the common options:

Wok Made of Carbon Steel

The carbon steel wok is currently the most popular on the market. The carbon steel wok, according to most experts, is the ideal choice for home cooking.


  • When compared to other metal woks, it has a very quick heat conduction and heat transfer rate.
  • High durability and strength.
  • Non-stick, perfect for cooking stir-fries.
  • The carbon steel wok is lightweight, it is easy to manoeuvre while cooking.

Wok made of cast iron

Cast iron is the typical metal for woks in China. Chinese woks constructed of cast iron are often fragile and thin. Western equivalents are typically heavier and thicker.


  • The cast iron wok is ideal for uniform heat retention and distribution, especially when the wok is seasoned.
  • The Chinese wok is light, making it easy to toss food around while cooking.

Wok with Non-Stick Coating

Aluminum or stainless steel are used to make non-stick woks. They are quite popular in Western countries and are coated with PFA and Teflon. The nonstick surface of stainless steel and aluminium woks is preferred by chefs and experienced cooks alike over other materials because it makes cooking easier.


  • With this sort of wok, you can skip the seasoning process.
  • The wok is simple to use even for inexperienced cooks.
  • The non-stick surface is very easy to clean.
  • When cooking, less oil is required.


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