Wokking on an electric stove.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

Oh how I wish I had a gas stove. We have gas water heater and dryer but the $ to bring the gas line to the other side of the house via our basement ceiling was est. $800 about 2 yrs ago. The need to pull down the ceiling tiles and go thru walls etc. Tell me then, how do I cook using a wok on electric burners? I am going to get myself a good wok but need to be assured it is do-able; wokking on electric coils.

High Desert, CA(Zone 8a)

u can buy a portable gas stove for less than $20.00 for a single stove @ Korean or oriental store or any hardware store. also consider buying a propane and cylinder, both i believe is somewhere around $50.00. sorry do not remember cost of propane tank but to refill is less than $20.00 in my area. both suggestion should give u the heat woks require in cooking. hth

edited to add a link
double burner http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=35559 both Walmart and HD sells the cylinder w/propane.

This message was edited Nov 11, 2009 3:42 AM

Huffman, TX(Zone 9a)

I use an electric stove and have for years because we don't have gas and propane is expensive. I don't like it as well as gas but I adapted ours is the smooth top and stays hot for a long time so you have to time your cooking process by shutting off the power before its done ect. I havn't tried a wok yet but plan to try it soon if you can find the type with the ring under it I imagine it would hold the heat fine. Also aren't there electric woks you can buy. Not sure but curious. I have a small house and don't have room for too many gadgets....good luck.......rucky

Dutchess Counnty, NY(Zone 5a)

Hello Anastatia,
Wokking on a coil electric range is possible. You just have to make a bit of adjustment.
I have used the traditional shape (not the flat bottom) wok on a coil range for years and this is what is do.
= As soon as I enter the kitchen to cook, I place my wok on the range directly on the coil (I DO NOT use the wok ring) and turn the range to the lowest setting. This will gradually preheat the entire wok which will be ready when I have completed all my prep work and ready to cook.
= Ready to cook? Turn range to appropriate setting and wok away.
NOTE: If the medallion in the middle is flush with the coil, you may want to pop it out so that your wok will be steady. The medallion on my range was slightly below the coils so I did not need to pop any out.
Hope I helped. Send me a message if you need more help.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

rucky, the electric woks do not get hot enuf. I had one and gave it away.

lov2wok, Oh my gosh, by your name I am now tied to your apron for a wokking lesson or 2. Thank you for the info.
Were you raised 'wokking' or a convert?
While researching online I read where one of the TV (asian)cooks has lived w/ in a house/apt. w/ electric range most of the time.

Huffman, TX(Zone 9a)

Hhhmmmm how do you keep it up right I will have to look at the stores tomorrow you have my curiosity working I thought they all were kinda round at the bottom and you would need the ring to stand it up.But we all learn something new everyday thats the best thing about this websight..........rucky

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

I will get a ring when I get mine. I think that is what I need to start learning @ step #1.

Dutchess Counnty, NY(Zone 5a)

Rucky, I do not use a wok ring because if you do not sit the ring properly on your stove, you can damage the finish due to the heat within the ring, I also finds that the wok tends to slide on the ring. My round bottom wok really do sit safely directly on the coil of the electric stove.

Anastatia, I was raised wokking. Actually my father did the wokking, I did the eating, but he did teach me. Feel free to contact me anytime, happy to help with whatever info you need. I am a Chinese cookbook author and love to share my knowledge.

Nurmo, Finland(Zone 4b)

The only stoves you can get here are electric, with either a flush ceramic hob, or one of the very old-fashioned solid rings. No coil rings. I used a flat bottomed wok on my coil ring back in England, and it works OK on the ceramics here.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

luv2, you are now one of my new best friends!! Your cookbook title? I am getting my children each a wok for Christmas. I also want to have some of the necessities of wokking included; utensils and food items. Can you advise? Thank you.

Huffman, TX(Zone 9a)

I am intrested in the title of the book also if its in english :o)

Dutchess Counnty, NY(Zone 5a)

Hello Anastatia and rucky,
The title of my 2 cookbooks are:
"My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes, updated edition" and
"Wokking Your way to Low Fat Cooking"
Both are available through Amazon.com or directly from me through my web site http://www.luv2wok.com.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

luv2, I followed the link and I will be ordering your "My Students . . ." cookbook. Thank you 100x! mary

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 5a)

Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet, recommended leaving the electric burner on high and moving the wok on and off the heat as needed. Since an electric burner does not heat/cool rapidly, Jeff said this was the way to go on an electric range.

Interestingly, on PBS's, America's Test Kitchen, they did a test using woks and skillets, and the skillets won as far as staying hot and doing a good job of cooking the items being cooked. They said an actual wok was not needed to stir fry anything and they recommended not using an actual wok to stir fry.

The info should be on the America's Test Kitchen website.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)


Minneapolis, MN(Zone 5a)

Oops, It's Cooks Illustrated that had the wok info. Here is a link:


If the link does not work, here is a copy and paste of the info:

*****begin copy*****
The traditional wok is designed to sit in an open cooking pit with flames licking the sides of the vessel—could we find one that worked as well on a stovetop?

products tested (listed alphabetically)
Anolon Classic Stir Fry Pan with Lid
Anolon Professionals Stir Fry Pan
Asian Traditions (Target) Nonstick Stir Fry Pan
Calphalon Commercial Nonstick Flat Bottom Wok
Circulon Steel Stir Fry Pan
Excalibur (Williams-Sonoma) Nonstick Wok with Lid
Joyce Chen Original Stir Fry Pan
Scanpan Ergonomic Stir Fry Pan
See Product Comparison Chart

We don’t like stovetop woks—at least not conventional rounded models. The traditional wok is designed to sit in an open cooking pit with flames licking the sides of the vessel. Of course, on a flat American stovetop, a round wok wobbles and has little direct contact with the heat source. For these reasons, we prefer a 12-inch nonstick skillet for stir-frying. When we decided to revisit the wok issue, this time with flat-bottom woks, we thought we’d wait to pass judgment. We needn’t have bothered. We can now safely say that we don’t like stovetop woks, period.

There are dozens of flat-bottom woks (also sold as stir-fry pans) on the market. To narrow the field, we set a few guidelines. First was size. We chose woks that had a diameter of at least 12 inches when measured across the top. Second was interior material. We like to use a nonstick pan in stir-fries, so we limited our field to nonstick woks only. We found eight popular brands of nonstick flat-bottom woks and brought them into the kitchen for a marathon stir-fry session, making batch after batch of beef and broccoli. The woks ranged in price from $16.99 to $139.99. Did price correlate to quality? Not at all.

The best performer held a roomy 6 1/2 quarts and measured 6 1/2 inches across the bottom (the widest bottom area we could find). The wok was balanced, sturdy, and easy to use, though it was a bit heavy for one petite tester. The best thing about this wok was that it got hot quickly and then stayed hot, taking a respectable three minutes to get the oil smoking initially and a quick 49 seconds to get it smoking for the second batch of beef. That heat is key to developing a brown crust on the beef, which this wok achieved to some degree, though not quite as nicely as our trusty 12-inch skillet. A 12-inch skillet has twice as much surface in direct contact with the heating source as even this wok. This larger area allows for the meat to be spread in an even layer, ensuring even browning.

Our second-place finisher had the same size bottom as the winner but was significantly smaller overall, with a 12-inch diameter at the top and a 5-quart capacity. Beef and broccoli browned somewhat, but the wok’s tipsy, unstable design made us nervous. What’s more, this thin wok didn’t hold heat well; it took almost twice as long to heat the oil hot for the second batch of beef.

We found one other wok to be sturdy and easy to work with, but its relatively small bottom (5 3/4 inches) made browning difficult; instead of lying in an even layer across the bottom, the pieces of meat stacked up in a pile, oozing juice and steaming rather than searing. Despite the heft of this wok, it didn’t hold heat at all; at 2 minutes, 15 seconds, it took the longest to heat up again after searing the first batch of beef.

Though we did finally decide to award our "recommended with reservation" title to one wok, we’d still reach first for a 12-inch nonstick skillet when stir-frying. If you were using a bamboo steamer, for which you need a wok, or cooking a large batch of fried rice, this wok might come in handy. But if you’re sticking to stir-fry, stick to your skillet. Its large, flat bottom is better suited for flat Western stovetops.
*****end copy*****


Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

Mike, are you a stir fryer? & MaVie, you?

Dutchess Counnty, NY(Zone 5a)

Let me know if you want the cookbooks personalized.

Yes, my cookbooks are written in English and are user-friendly. They are a cook's cookbook - easy to use and follow.

True, you do not need a wok to stir-fry. During my cooking demonstrations, I always recommend to the audience that they use whatever they already own in the kitchen to stir-fry. Get a wok at a later date if that is the equipment of choice.
The advantage of a wok over a frying pan is less oil is needed. Put a tablespoon of oil in a wok, and it looks like an awful lot. Put the same tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and it seems to disappear.
Actually, I personally do not like to use a frying pan for stir frying because of the spattering during the stirring. I would much prefer to use a chef's pan or a Dutch oven. Because of the higher sides, there is less spattering, resulting in a less messy stove and less cleaning.
I definitely do not use a non-stick wok, nor do my Chinese friends. They, like me, prefer the traditional round bottom woks. Of course, this is a personal preference.
If you do decide on a flat bottom, get one that has an aluminum disk. This feature will minimize burning.
You cannot use a traditional wok on a glass top stove nor the flat disk on European stove.

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