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Can You Use a Wok on an Electric Stove?

One of the most common questions I usually get is “can you use a wok on an electric stove?” and this article aims to answer exactly that!

A wok can be used on an electric stovetop. The one thing to be aware of is the shape of the stovetop. Modern stoves often feature a flat surface, but you should measure your stove’s dimensions before purchasing a rectangular wok. A round-bottomed wok could also work with a special type of metal ring called a “wok ring”.

The proper cooking methods are really not as different for electric stoves as they might first seem. The cooking times are longer, of course, but it does not take much longer to cook a stir-fry.

It’s relatively easy to maintain heat on electric stoves. If the burner is turned up too high, the temperature will go up and down rapidly. But if you keep an eye on your food it’s easy enough to prevent burning.

Because an electric stovetop does not allow steam from the water in the pan to build up around food, boiling food is usually a less effective way of cooking than on other stoves.

Can you use a wok on a glass-top electric stove?

An electric wok can be used on an electric stovetop, but it must have a flat bottom.

Often you will see a glass top stove advertised as a “flat” or “flat-top” range. This refers to the style of the cooktop, not whether the stove is flat-bottomed. But you cannot use a round-bottomed wok on an electric stove because it will wobble and tilt over. The only exception is when the wok ring is used with your wok.

What kind of Wok is best for an Electric Stove?

Although there are many different types of Woks, carbon steel wok is best when using an electric stove. This is because carbon steel woks are thicker than aluminum and have better heat retention. Aluminum Woks can be scorched if the stovetop is too hot. But they are best for lower heat cooking on electric stoves.

You can also use a stainless steel wok on an electric stovetop, but it is not recommended because the metal may thin and chip at high temperatures.

Another type of Wok widely used is a cast iron wok. Although they are very durable, these kinds of Wok is not recommended for an electric stove because they are difficult to control and the heat retention is not good enough. Again, this is due to its thickness.

A carbon steel or aluminum flat-bottomed wok would be preferable for your electric stovetop.

How do you cook a wok on an electric stove? (Tips)

Cooking on a wok on an electric stove is not much different from a gas stove. Here are the guidelines:

1. Always preheat your wok before putting oil into it. If you put the oil in the pan directly, it will cool down your pan and you may get food sticking to the bottom of your pan.

2. When you are cooking meat, pre-fry it in a separate skillet if it is frozen or you have any other kind of prep work to do before adding it to your wok. This way, you will avoid cross-contamination and make sure that meat juices do not splash out of the wok onto your burner or countertop.

3. Always stay on top of the heat and keep a watchful eye on your Wok. Electric stoves do not retain heat well so turn your burner down if it is getting too hot. The Chinese often add a few drops of oil to their wok when stir-frying, but this is not usually necessary with an electric stovetop unless the consistency of the food needs to be regulated. If you are stirring-frying something thick like potatoes, add a small amount of oil to lubricate the spatula.

4. When stir-frying, be careful not to overcrowd the wok. You can add another batch of ingredients easily, but turning them all over will cause your wok to start to smoke. If you are using a round-bottomed wok on an electric stove, it can be exhausting letting the oil drain when the food in your Wok is done.

5. Set your electric stove’s temperature controls properly so that there is no uneven heating and you are not leaning on one side of the burner for too long or having to turn up the heat too often.

6. Wok cooking is the most sophisticated technique of stir-frying, so if you are a beginner, it would be best to start off with a non-stick wok. Even then it will still be difficult to get your stir-fry or the ingredients in your wok not to stick when cooking at high heat.

7. Wok cooking is not hard once you get used to it, but cleaning such a high-tempered Wok afterward can be quite difficult, especially if you are new to it and did not have experience getting the food off without leaving burn marks on the surface of your wok.

Final Thoughts

Some electric stovetops have two heating elements, one at the bottom and the other at the top of the stove. This is not advisable because it is hard to control, especially when cooking at high temperatures. A wok with a thicker bottom will be more suitable for electric stoves as these types of stoves can easily distribute heat and there will be no uneven heating as seen on two-hearth stoves. A wok with a diameter of 12 inches or less will be fine on most stoves.

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