Can You Use a Wok on an Electric Stove

Can You Use a Wok on an Electric Stove 2

Yes, you can use a wok on an electric stove.

I have several woks in my kitchen. I always grab them whenever I plan to stir-fry or deep-fry my favorite dishes. I prefer using woks for such tasks because their walls make it easier for me to toss and stir food without fretting over spillages.

If you have a wok, you likely know that it can work seamlessly on a gas range. The question is, can it do the same on an electric stove? The answer is yes, it can. But before you grab your wok and use it on an electric stove, there are several things you should know. I’ve discussed them here.

Tips for Cooking With Your Wok Over an Electric Stove

Here are a few tips you can use to prepare delicious meals on your electric stove using a wok:

Tip #1: Use a Flat-bottomed Wok

I have a round-bottomed wok that I love to pieces. Why, you wonder? The cookware’s round bottom concentrates heat, which makes it perfect for quick searing and charring. Chinese cooks also prefer round-bottomed woks for the same reason.

However, I only use my round-bottomed wok to cook on my gas range, not the electric stove. When cooking with the latter, I stick to my flat-bottomed wok because its bottom surface makes better contact with the burner. You should do the same. Otherwise, if you use a round-bottomed wok, it will wobble around and won’t heat evenly.

Tip #2: If You Only Have a Round-bottomed Wok, Use a Wok Ring

If you only have a round-bottomed wok, use a wok ring to cook with it. But this should be a temporary solution as you prepare to purchase a flat-bottom pan.

You shouldn’t make a habit of using a wok. Although this component will make your round-bottomed wok more stable, it will interfere with even heat transmission. So, some parts of the cookware will become hotter than others, leading to improperly cooked meals.

Tip #3: Season Your Wok

A seasoned wok has many perks. First, seasoning provides the cookware with a smooth, non-stick surface. That prevents food from sticking to the bottom of the wok. A seasoned wok is also indispensable in ensuring that flavors infuse into the dishes you’re cooking.

Before cooking with your wok, season it. Turn on your electric stove, crank the heat, and preheat the wok. Coat the cookware with a thin layer of high smoke point oil. Let the cookware heat until the oil stops smoking. Tilt and flip the wok accordingly until all sections are well-seasoned.

Tip #4: Always Preheat Your Wok Before Using It

Electric stoves have one major problem: they take longer to heat up and reach the desired temperature. That is why boiling cold water on an electric stovetop takes forever. But there’s a trick you can use to beat the problem.

Before cooking with a wok on your electric stove, preheat the cookware for around 10 minutes. Do it slowly and wait till it starts smoking slightly. Then, add oil and start cooking.

Tip #5: Keep Stirring and Tossing the Food

A flat-bottomed wok can get pretty hot quickly. To avoid burning your food, stir the ingredients constantly. Besides preventing burning, stirring will also ensure your food cooks quickly and evenly. You can also flip and toss the food whenever necessary.

The best tool for stirring food in a wok is a wok spatula. You might also use a wooden spoon, provided it’s thin enough to get under the ingredients, scoop, and redistribute them.

If you ever decide to flip food, do it carefully. Over 1 million skin burn injuries are reported in the US annually, and one of the culprits that causes them is hot cooking oil. So, you can’t be too careful.

What Type of Wok is Best for an Electric Stove?

What Type of Wok is Best for an Electric Stove

As I mentioned, a flat-bottomed wok is better suited for cooking on an electric stove. For even better results, use a flat-bottomed wok made of carbon steel. Flat-bottomed carbon steel woks heat up quickly and evenly. They are also relatively cheaper, and they can last for decades with proper care.

Coil vs. Glass-top

Most woks work seamlessly on electric coil stoves, including cast-iron and carbon steel products. To cook with a wok on an electric coil cooktop, just place the pan on top of the heating coil. If it’s flat-bottomed, it’ll stay put.

You can also use a wok on an electric stove with a glass top. But you have to be careful. Don’t bang or drop the cookware on the appliance because the glass top might crack or shatter. Also, don’t drag your wok across the cooktop to avoid ugly scratches on the precious glass surface.

Flat-bottom vs. Rounded-bottom wok

When it comes to cooking with an electric stove, I prefer using flat-bottomed woks because:

  • Flat-bottom woks are more stable and don’t wobble.
  • A larger part of a flat-bottom wok’s cooking surface contacts the heat source, facilitating quick, even cooking.
  • A flat-bottom wok can hold more food than its counterpart.
  • With a flat-bottom wok, you don’t need to use a wok ring.

Why Use a Wok Instead of a Frying Pan?

Advantages of Using a Wok vs. a Frying Pan

Advantage Explanation
1. Even Heat Distribution Woks distribute heat evenly across their curved surface, ensuring uniform cooking.
2. High Sides Woks have high, sloping sides that make it easier to toss and stir-fry ingredients without spilling.
3. Quick Cooking Due to their shape and intense heat, woks allow for faster cooking, ideal for stir-frying.
4. Versatility Woks can be used for stir-frying, deep-frying, steaming, boiling, and more, making them versatile kitchen tools.
5. Healthier Cooking Stir-frying in a wok requires less oil, promoting healthier cooking and reduced calorie intake.
6. More Capacity Woks have a larger cooking surface than typical frying pans, accommodating larger portions.
7. Authentic Asian Cuisine Woks are essential for preparing authentic Asian dishes like fried rice, noodles, and stir-fried vegetables.

One of the questions people often ask me is whether a wok is better than a frying pan. My answer is always a resounding yes.

I recommend cooking with a wok because it fits more food than a frying pan. Moreover, since woks have a sloped shape, they don’t demand high quantities of oil. If you switch from cookware like a Dutch oven to a wok, you can cut cooking oil usage by up to 30%.

What is a Wok Ring and How to Use it

A wok ring is a simple metallic contrivance designed to fit over an electric stove’s burner. Its primary purpose is to support a round-bottom wok and prevent it from wobbling.

Using a wok ring is easy. Just place it on top of the burner you plan to use and rest your wok on top of it. For better results, ensure the ring is stable and centered.

Not that, although you can use a wok ring on an electric coil stove, I wouldn’t recommend it. Stabilizing a wok ring on an electric coil cooker can be difficult. And that can lead to an unstable cooking surface. Cooking on a wobbly ring is a bad idea since the food can spill and cause a mess or severe injuries.

How to Clean a Wok?

I clean my wok every time I use it. You should do the same. If you don’t, grime and gunk will accumulate in it. And a dirty wok is an excellent breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria.

To clean your wok, follow these steps:

1. Let the Wok Cool Down

After cooking with it, your wok should be pretty hot. So should the handle, especially if it’s metallic. To be safe, avoid touching the wok while it’s still hot. Otherwise, you’ll be one of the 486,000 people who suffer burn injuries annually.

2. Scrape Off Caked-on Residue

Once your wok is reasonably cool, dampen it with water and use a spatula to scrape off sticky food residue. Don’t use metallic utensils like a fork or knife because they’ll likely scratch the cookware and mar it with ugly marks.

3. Wash the Wok With Hot Water

Fill your sink with hot water and dip the wok in it. The water will loosen any baked-on gunk left behind and make your work easier. Let the wok soak for around 5 minutes. Then, use a sponge to clean the interior surface. Start scrubbing from the center and work your way up the sides in a circular motion. Add a few drops of mild dish soap to the water if the cookware is greasy.

4. Use a Towel to Dry the Now Clean Wok

After scrubbing the entire wok, give it a good rinse. If you have a sprayer attachment installed on your faucet, use it. It’ll help you rinse the wok quicker and easier. Then, give the wok a good shake and dry it with a towel. If you don’t have a good towel, place the wok on the stove and use low heat to dry it.

5. Oil Your Wok

If you have a seasoned wok, coat its interior surface with a thin layer of oil once it’s clean and dry. Oiling will preserve its patina and prevent rust. It will also help you maintain the seasoning, which ensures your dishes have a smoky flavor.

Final Thoughts

If you have a wok, the good news is that you can cook with it on an electric stove. But, for the best outcome, use a flat-bottomed wok. Also, clean your cookware after every use. I’ve listed many other tips and hacks here; pay attention to them.

Suppose you don’t have a good wok and plan to get one soon. Consider purchasing carbon steel products because they are cheaper, more durable, and better at cooking food uniformly. 

Common Questions

What types of woks work best on electric stoves? 

Round-bottomed woks are designed to sit in a round opening on a gas burner. On an electric stove, it’s best to use a flat-bottomed wok that makes full contact with the electric coil. Look for woks that are labeled as electric stove-friendly. Carbon steel and cast iron woks work better than aluminum, which can warp on electric stoves.

Do you need a wok ring for an electric stove?

A wok ring is recommended as it will keep the wok stable and centered over the burner. The ring should be slightly larger than the burner coil. Choose a wok ring made of steel; the weight helps retain heat better than aluminum ones.

How do you season a new wok for an electric stove?

Seasoning fills in the pores of new carbon steel or cast iron woks to prevent sticking. Rub a thin coat of oil over the entire inner and outer surface. Set the wok over low heat for 30 minutes, then wipe off excess oil with a paper towel. Repeat 2-3 more times, gradually increasing the heat. 

What temperature should you preheat the wok to?

Preheat your wok for 3-5 minutes on high heat until it starts to smoke lightly. Electric stoves can’t generate extremely high heat like gas burners, so preheating is important.

Should you use oil when stir-frying in an electric wok? 

Yes, add 2 tablespoons of oil and coat the wok before stir-frying. The oil will help prevent food from sticking and add flavor. Replenish the oil as needed while stir-frying.

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