As you’ve expanded your cooking horizons, stocked your pantry with new spices, and pored over cookbook after cookbook, you’ve also certainly come to the decision that it’s time to add to your cookware arsenal. A stir-fry pan could be the next great addition to your lineup. Below, you’ll find a list of the Best Stir-Fry Pan of 2022.
Stir-fry pans are a type of pan with a large, flat bottom and rounded sides that make it easier to toss food while cooking. As their name obviously implies, they’re designed for stir-frying, but they are also great at sautéing, pan frying, steaming, and even deep frying! A stir-fry pan is one of the most utilitarian pans you can have in the kitchen.
The width of a stir-fry pan base and the height of its sloped sides make it easy to keep food moving, which is an indispensable element of stir-frying. Because stir-frying tends to involve many ingredients mixed together which are cooked at high temperatures for only a brief period of time, it’s key to have a large pan that facilitates quickly moving food around while it is cooking.
Stir-fry pans can be made in a variety of materials including aluminum, stainless steel, carbon steel, and cast iron. Some may have nonstick coatings. It’s extremely important to understand the differences in each of the options that you have in order to make the best decision in buying one.
Some options, like cast iron, will be heavier but will retain heat longer. Others, like carbon steel, may be difficult to clean, prone to discoloration, but light and still heavy duty. Nonstick stir-fry pans may make cooking easier and cleaner, but only if you know which utensils should be used with them.
Depending on your cooking experience and comfort level, some pans may be more suited to your cooking style than others. Read on to learn the difference between some of the best pans on the market today.
Select by Calphalon Hard-Anodized Nonstick 12-Inch Stir Fry Pan
The Calphalon Hard-Anodized Nonstick 12 inch Stir-Fry Pan is the budget option for fry-pans on this list, but it is still more than worth its weight in gold for any chef.
This pan is made of hard-anodized aluminum. Aluminum is normally a highly reactive metal, but when the metal has been hard-anodized it becomes significantly less reactive, making it suitable for cooking acidic foods like vinegars or citrus juices without issue.
Aluminum pans that are made without hard-anodized aluminum can react with acidic foods and become discolored, or worse, impart a metallic flavor to the food. Hard-anodized aluminum pans have been oxidized to prevent them from reacting later with the food in the pan. This also makes them more nonstick than the average aluminum pan.
The use of aluminum in the pan also ensures that the pan has excellent heat conductivity and reactivity. Aluminum is only behind copper in terms of its heat conductivity, and copper pans can be prohibitively expensive for most cooks.
The addition of non-stick surface makes cooking a breeze. You’ll never have to worry about seasoning the pan or ruining delicate foods while cooking with this pan Just remember that you should only use wood or silicon utensils while cooking in this pan.
The non-stick coating is even rated safe for oven temperatures up to 400°F. It’s also completely dishwasher safe, making it the most easy to clean pan on the list.
This pan is absolutely your best bet if this is your first foray into stir-fry pans or cooking at home. It won’t break the bank either, and with a little bit of proper knowledge it can last you years without a scratch. It has all the best features of the other pans, while still remaining easy to care for and affordable.
Cuisinart 14″ Pre-Seasoned Steel Wok with Helper Handle
The Cuisinart 14 inch Pre-Seasoned Steel Wok with Helper Handle is the one true wok that snuck into the list. While it is constructed in the style of a Chinese wok, you’ll find that you use this pan in much the same way you would any other stir-fry pan on this list.
This quite large 14 inch wok comes with a wooden handle designed to stay cool even as the pan becomes scorching hot. Not only does it look great, but it works well and can handle a huge amount of food!
This is a great option if you’re into the aesthetics of a wok, but prefer something a bit more functional in the average home kitchen. This a carbon steel wok, you’ll get all the benefits that carbon steel and woks provide.
It’s also a flat bottom wok, which means that it can easily be used with any type of cooking surface, no wok burner or ring required! It’s designed to be easy to use for all home cooks of any skill level in any kitchen. It won’t provide you with quite the same cooking experience and end product as a round bottom wok on a wok burner, but it will be compatible with nearly any type of cooking surface you have at home.
Carbon steel woks can be used on induction stoves no problem and since carbon steel is one of the lighter materials used in cookware, this flat bottom wok is one of the lightest pans on the list.
One of the bonuses for home cooks this pan offers is the helper handle, a loop handle set into the rim opposite the long handle. They make it easier to lift and maneuver the pan, especially if it’s full of food. If you hang your pans in the kitchen, these handles also make it quite a bit easier to get them down from the hooks.
The wok also ships fully pre-seasoned and totally ready to go! No need to take the time to season the interior of the pan to make a nonstick surface when it arrives. Just get straight to cooking.
Lodge Chef Collection Stir-Fry Pan, 12″
The Lodge Chef Collection 12 inch Stir-Fry Pan is the unique entry on this list. Made entirely of cast iron by a company famous for their cast iron and camping-centric products, this pan is more-or-less an unique version of the cast iron skillet you probably already have at home.
Cast iron pans are incredibly good at retaining high temperatures. This makes them perfect for cooking foods like steak, which need to be seared at high temperatures. Not only that, but cast iron construction allows the pan to function more similarly to a traditional wok at high temperatures ( internal link here?).
The sloped sides of the pan also make it easy to toss and move food around quickly, which is key to making sure the food doesn’t burn, especially when the pan is at ripping hot temperatures..
If you love cast iron cookware, this is the way to go. But if you love cast iron cookware, you’ll also know that it is quite heavy, so keep that in mind. This is a real heavy duty piece of cookware that will last you ages.
This pan also features a helper handle to help with lifting and flat base, making it compatible with all types of cooking surfaces including induction. It even comes pre-seasoned and completely ready to go.
If you love to take advantage of the high heat your cast iron pans can handle and take special pleasure in cooking everything under the sun in cast iron, this is the perfect pan to add to your lineup.
Cuisinart GreenGourmet Wok with Lid
The Cuisinart GreenGourmet Wok with Lid is another excellent entry-level choice for a stir-fry pan. While the pan is branded as a wok and bears some similarity to a flat bottom wok, the lip on the rim, nonstick coating, and inclusion of a glass lid make it more similar to the other stir-fry pans on this list and less so to a traditional wok shape with dome lid.
It’s hardly what you would call a traditional wok, but its modern nonstick construction makes it a strong contender for best stir-fry pan. The nonstick coating alone is its most modern update. Since carbon steel woks and cast iron woks tend to be more the more typical options, this a stand-out option for anybody shopping for a utilitarian stir-fry pan.
And instead of a wooden handle, it comes with a fully stainless steel handle, making it completely safe to put in the oven.
Many folks these days are rightfully concerned with both the health and environmental risks posed by certain kinds of toxins present in nonstick coatings. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about that with this GreenGourmet pan. The pan is guaranteed to be both PTFE- and PFOA-free.
Remember that even though the nonstick coating is scratch resistant, steel utensils should not be used while cooking with this pan.
This pan is excellent for many different types of cooking including deep frying and sautéing. The lid makes steaming very easy as well.
This nonstick wok is the great modern option. Easier to care for and clean up than carbon steel woks and provided with a lid, this pan is well suited to many different types of cooking.
It’s great for deep frying, sautéing, and especially steaming with its tempered glass lid. You can use the lid to protect yourself from oil splatter when you’re frying, or you can use it to capture steam to ensure even and quick cooking.
If you’re looking for a more health and environmentally conscious pan that is still light, good for different cooking techniques, and affordable this is by far your best bet.
All-Clad Copper Core 5-ply Open Stir-Fry Pan
Coming from the supplier of choice of premier restaurants, this 14-inch All-Clad copper core stir fry pan relies on 5-ply bonded construction with stainless steel, aluminum, and a thick copper core for even heating, warp-free strength, and reliable responsiveness.
If you’re looking for peak performance and beauty, the All-Clad Copper Core 5-ply Open Stir-Fry Pan is the pan you’ve been dreaming of.
All-Clad has long been the cookware supplier of choice for premier restaurants. Walk into nearly any fine dining or Michelin starred restaurant and you can be sure that the chefs are using All-Clad pans and skillets.
The secret to why they’re so great is in the name. All-clad specializes in clad pans. This basically means that around a core metal there’s another layer of metal “cladding,” usually stainless steel, to keep the core pristine. Sometimes, there are even multiple layers in the core.
In the case of All-clad, they use metals with high heat responsiveness like copper and aluminum in the core of the cookware. Around it, they layer high quality stainless steel to prevent corrosion and to ensure that they’ve made a long-lasting and durable pan. The bonus is that the stainless steel cladding also makes the pans induction stove compatible, while solely copper or aluminum pans are not.
Why Use a Pan with a Copper Core?
The benefits of cooking on a pan with a copper core are massive. Copper heats up fast, cools down fast, and quickly reacts to changes in burner temperature. This gives you absolutely excellent heat control.
Something cooking faster than expected? Easy, just take the pan off the heat and the temperature will drop rapidly. The flip side is true as well, you won’t need to wait long until the pan is hot enough to cook on.
Copper is so good in the heat-responsiveness and heat distribution department that some high-end metal workers even produce copper burner diffusers so that you can utilize the benefits of copper with other large non-copper pans.
This All-Clad stir-fry pan includes an aluminum layer around the copper core. Like copper, aluminum heats and cools quite quickly, and is also excellent at dispersing heat. These two different layers in the pan ensure that it will always heat quickly and evenly while also responding rapidly to changes in temperature.
When it comes to aluminum core cookware in particular, an immediately noticeable benefit is that they are significantly lighter than pans made only of stainless steel or especially cast iron.
This pan is also a slightly different shape than other stir-fry pans. It has a particularly wide base and slightly shorter sides. This means that it gives you a large surface area for mixing food inside the pan while still giving you adequately sloped sides for tossing the ingredients as you cook. The wide base makes it perfect for everything from stir-frying to sautéing to even deep frying larger cuts of meat or veggies.
It should be noted that in many ways stainless steel pans need to be taken care of in much the same way as cast iron. While they are rust resistant, they still need to be properly seasoned to become nonstick and can be discolored by strongly acidic foods.
This pan also benefits from flared edges for drip-free pouring and a completely stainless steel handle, which makes it safe to put in the oven, even at very high temperatures. Remember to always hand wash this pan to keep the stunning exposed copper band running around its base always looking good.
This is the most expensive stir-fry pan on the list by a healthy margin. But you won’t be found wanting with it. This is an extremely well-made pan that will easily last you decades, impress your guests, and provide you with an exquisite cooking experience, no matter what you plan on making.
Like Kleenex and Frisbee, Teflon has entered everyday usage to refer to a whole range of products. These days, it’s not uncommon to hear somebody refer to any nonstick coating as Teflon.
But Teflon itself is actually just a brand name for polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE has a wide range of applications and can be found in everything from light bulbs to ski bindings, but it is most famous as the nonstick coating used on pots and pans.
Now you may have heard that PTFE, or Telfon, has been connected to increased cancer risk. This is not entirely true.
The actual cancer risk is actually a result of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used in the production of Teflon. PFOA is not just bad for our bodies, but bad for the environment and is also believed to persist indefinitely.
The good news is that since 2013, manufacturers who use nonstick PTFE coatings no longer use PFOA in the production process, so there’s nothing to worry about.