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Wok On Electric Stove Tops: Coil & Glass-Top Options

March 22, 2021 5 min read

Wok On Electric Stove

We love to use our woks to stir-fry all our favorite Asian dishes, and with its wicked heat distribution even the hardest veggies are never undercooked. While they usually sit over open flames, you can use a wok on electric stove-tops, too - though you'll need to use the right kind and make a few simple adjustments. Follow our guide below to find a wok for your stir fry, that will work for your coil or glass-top stove!

Woks are some of the flashier kitchen tools that are totally fun to pick up, flick the wrist, and watch your ingredients fly around on, only to land safely again back in the wide-brimmed pan. Woks aren't just fun and games, though - their massive size allows foods to cook incredibly evenly, even at the hottest temperatures. 

There are numerous wok sizes, shapes, and material options on the market, and the right choice largely depends on the type of cooking surface you'll be using to cook. 

Can you use a wok on an electric stove?

Don't let your electric stove-top get in between you and your wok - there are plenty of woks that work just fine on any electric stove.

We've built this wok guide to help you choose the right wok and learn everything essential to know how to use a wok on an electric stove to make the best stir fry you'll ever have.

Woks and Electric Stoves: Coil Vs. Glass-Top 

Which wok is best? 

If you own a round-bottomed wok, you may have to buy additional equipment (like a special wok ring) in order for it to work on an electric stove-tops. The wok ring is needed to flatten out the round-bottomed wok and allow it to sit flat.

Although, if you don’t have a wok yet, we highly recommend buying a flat-bottomed wok which will work on any heat source so that you won't need a wok ring for electric stove use. It’s completely versatile, plus you save on your kitchen equipment. Isn’t that great?

Using a flat-bottomed wok on an electric stove with a coil-top is incredibly simple - you can place the flat-bottomed wok directly on top of the heating coils, and it will stay securely in position, like any other flat pan or pot. 

Don't use your round-bottomed wok on an electric stove-top with coils, as even with a wok ring, it won't sit flat on the electric coil and may tip and fall, causing a huge mess and, in the worst cases, potentially harmful burns!

Verdict: Both a carbon steel wok or a cast-iron one can work well when you're cooking on an electric coil stove-top. Stay away from a round-bottomed wok that won't sit well, even with a wok ring underneath. 

Glass Stove Tops & Woks

Woks and glass stove tops?

As we mentioned above, a flat-bottomed version will be the best wok for glass top stove use, but there are a few caveats to keep in mind. 

Glass stove-tops always contain a mixture of glass and ceramic, making the surface smooth, glossy, and easy to clean. Still, they're much more fragile than an electric coil or gas stove-top. Manufacturers make glass stove-tops in a way that allows the glass to crystallize partially, making it able to handle the stove's extreme temperature changes without cracking or shattering. 

While it's strong against the heat, it won't hold up well to physical force - if you're using a wok on an electric stove with a glass top and you drop it, you may break the stove-top. You'll also want to avoid dragging both your wok or wok ring across the stove-top, as both will risk scratching the glass surface. 

Carbon-steel woks are light yet durable, making them handy to use but makes glass stove-top scratches impossible to avoid. 

Verdict: If you own a glass stove-top, use a flat-bottomed cast iron wok, over a carbon-steel wok - the heavy weight of the wok will work in your favor as it won't slide around the glass burner, reducing the potential to damage your stove-top. 

Flat-Bottom Vs. Rounded-Bottom Wok

While the type of stove you own greatly influences the wok options you can safely choose from, you'll want to adjust your cooking temperatures and times to get predictably even results. 

A flat-bottomed cast-iron wok is preferred over a round wok from a heating perspective, as the entire bottom of the pan can make even, complete contact with the burner. 

A round-bottomed wok can still work on certain electric stoves, but the ring puts a few inches between the bottom of the wok and the heat source. A wok on a ring will never get as hot as a flat-bottomed wok and will likely need a longer time to cook each dish. 

How To Use a Wok on an Electric Stove: Step-By-Step Instructions

Here are a few simple wok prepping steps to get you cooking with a wok on an electric stove in no time!

Step #1: Place your wok on the burner before turning it on. 

If you're cooking with a flat-bottomed wok, place it directly on the burner of choice, ensuring the burner is the same size as the wok, if possible. 

For a round-bottom wok, start by placing the wok ring on your electric burner, then place the wok on top and check to make sure it's sitting securely. Ideally, you want the ring to lift the wok from the burner by no more than ½ to 1 inch. 

Step #2: Let your wok preheat slowly on the burner. 

Allow the wok to preheat on the burner for 10 mins before adding food or oil. The wok should be slightly smoking at this point. 

The preheating process is crucial whether you're using carbon steel or cast-iron woks. They both react poorly to sudden swings in temperature - carbon steel woks may warp, and the nearly indestructible cast-iron can crack. 

Step #3: Add your cooking oil, heat, then it's time to stir fry!

Add cold oil to the wok and gently lift and swirl the pan until it's fully coated. Once your oil is hot, you'll hear it sizzle, and it's time to get cooking. 

A Few Extra Wok Cooking Tips

Cast Iron Wok
  • Cut your ingredients into uniformly-sized pieces so that they cook more evenly
  • Season the surface every time you cook after you finish. Otherwise, high heats can weaken a seasoning over time.
  • Don't double the recipe, as an overfilled wok won't allow the ingredients to hit the hot surface directly.
  • Pick high smoke point cooking oils like grapeseed oil over low smoke point olive oil, which burns at high temperatures and releases harmful carcinogens.
  • Get a long-handled ladle, spatula, brush, and slotted spoon so you can easily reach into the bottom of the wok without getting a hand full of burning hot veggies and oil.
  • Toss in your hardest veggies first, then wait before adding softer ones so that each ingredient gets fully cooked but not overdone. 

Check out our article for more wok cooking tips for home.

Final Notes: The Universal Choice For Cooking on Electric Stove Tops

While you can adjust to use your round-bottom wok on an electric stove-top with glass, they don't work so well on coils - we suggest making the swap and investing in a new piece instead of purchasing a ring and dealing with lower cooking temperatures. 

No matter the type of stove-top you own at home, there is one wok that works universally- a cast-iron flat-bottomed wok is excellent on gas, electric coils, and glass top stoves. 

We love all of our cast-iron pieces, and while the added weight may make tossing your ingredients a little trickier, it also helps prevent scratches on a glass top. Plus, it's a less conventional way to build some bulging biceps!

 


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