Written by Author: Chef Raven Lee, Blog

Do stainless steel woks need to be seasoned?

In this article, we have discussed if a stainless steel wok really needs to be seasoned. If yes then how frequently and what is the best process and oil for seasoning.

should you season a stainless steel wok or not

Do you love cooking Asian food? Is stir-fry a Sunday staple at your house? Then you are no stranger to a wok. A wok is a piece of versatile kitchen equipment preferred by home chefs across the world. There’s hardly any dish that you cannot cook in a wok.

Once you learn how to use a wok properly, you will never want to pick up anything else. Stainless steel wok is a favorite of many because of the ease of cleaning and maintenance it comes with.

Also, a stainless steel wok looks beautiful in any kitchen. But there is a common question that confuses first-time buyers, ‘do stainless steel woks need to be seasoned?’

As a stainless steel wok already comes with a somewhat non stick surface, buyers think, seasoning can be skipped, however, that is not the case. Read on to know more.

The wok is well-known for its unique shape. The high concave-shaped sides and the flat bottom make it easier to toss around the food.

That’s why you will hardly notice a professional chef using a skillet or a frying-pan for tossing food. 

Stainless steel woks also work well because of uniform heating.

Since the heat is consistent throughout the utensil, all the ingredients cook at the same time. You do not run the risk of serving food with cold spots.

Both cast iron and stainless steel woks are popular on the market. Most people assume that only cast iron utensils need seasoning.

However, for optimum performance, I would advise everyone also to season a stainless steel wok.

Seasoning enhances the durability of a wok and makes the surface truly non-stick. Even as home chefs, you should not miss seasoning. 

As a professional chef, one of the most frequently asked questions to me, is how to season a stainless steel wok

If you are also confused about the process, you are in for a treat!

In this article, I am going to address all the issues in relation to seasoning a stainless steel wok.  Read on if you want to learn the skillful art of seasoning a wok.

How to season a stainless steel wok on the stovetop?

When you talk about how to season a stainless steel wok, there are a couple of methods that come to mind.

You cannot season a rusted wok. If you have a pre-existing wok that is full of rust, start by using a scouring pad to remove the rust altogether. Wash the wok under running water.

You can also place the wok in boiling water to remove the rust. Don’t miss out on this step because it is impossible to season a stainless steel wok without removing any stubborn coating.

Once the layer is off, we can season the wok on the oven top. Do this for any new stainless steel wok too.

  • Place the wok over high heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water.
  • If the water sizzles right away, your wok is ready to be seasoned.
  • Start by liberally applying peanut or groundnut oil to the wok.
  • You can use paper towels or a brush to apply the oil very well on the entire surface.
  • Once you complete this step, reduce the heat to medium.
  • Allow the wok to sit for at least 15 to 20 mins for the best results.
  • You will notice a change in the color of the wok.
  • Towards the end, the bottom of the wok will darken.
  • You will also notice that there are no traces of oil in the wok. 
  • Remove the wok from heat and allow it to cool down completely.

When you use it for cooking, make sure to pre-heat and oil it properly. Otherwise, food may get stuck to the surface.

How to season a stainless steel wok in the oven?

If you don’t want to season the wok on the stovetop, an oven can always come to your rescue.  

Before you start, follow the tips shared above to get rid of coating or rust.

  • Take peanut or groundnut oil and apply it thoroughly to the entire surface of the wok.
  • Place the wok inside the oven.
  • Set the temperature to 150 degrees Celsius and leave the wok for at least 4 hours.
  • Your seasoned stainless steel wok will be ready for use.
  • However, take the wok out of the oven every hour to apply oil on the sides.
  • If you skip this step, the wok won’t be adequately seasoned. All the oil will stay pooled right at the bottom. 

Wondering what to do if the wok has plastic handles? You can try to remove them. If you cannot unscrew, then cover the handle with a lot of aluminum foil.

If your wok has a wooden handle, you can use a thick kitchen towel to wrap it tightly before placing it in the oven.

This is crucial because we don’t want the handle to sustain any damage on account of the high temperature.

How often to season a stainless steel wok?

When it comes to seasoning, the thumb rule to follow is simple. Season the wok before the first use. You should also season it after every 2-3 uses. Seasoning enhances your cooking experience.

So don’t be afraid of seasoning multiple times. In case you end up burning the food or food remains stuck to the bottom, season the wok only after washing the wok thoroughly.

I would recommend seasoning the wok on your stovetop instead of the oven. It allows you to keep a close eye on the process.

To make the seasoning process more interesting, you can even add some aromatics like spring onion or garlic.

You will know that the seasoning is complete once the aromatics burn entirely. 

Best oil for seasoning stainless steel wok:

Choosing the right oil for seasoning is as essential as the process itself. Opt for any oil which has a high smoking point. The oil should not burn when you crank up the heat.

My personal favorites include

  • canola oil,
  • peanut oil,
  • groundnut oil,
  • flaxseed oil.

You can also use sunflower oil or grapeseed oil. However, don’t go for olive oil as it has an extremely low smoking point.

Sometimes I also like adding sliced onions to the oil. This helps to reduce the smoke produced during the seasoning process. However, this step is not compulsory.

Use a high-quality brush and spatula for applying the oil around the entire cooking surface. If you don’t have that handy, you can always use paper towels. Be careful as the surface will be hot to touch. 

Additional Points in Seasoning a Stainless Steel wok:

Many amateur chefs make the mistake of not cleaning the wok properly after each use.

This destroys the seasoning and can even render the wok useless.

This may come as a surprise, but I do not recommend dishwashing soap for cleaning the wok.

After each use, wash the wok under running hot water. Use a brush to scrape off any bits of food sticking to the surface. 

Dry the wok completely before storing it. You can also add a few drops of oil and massage it to the entire surface.

If you are running short on time and cannot perform the elaborate steps of seasoning the wok, use a non-stick coating spray.

A few pumps can help you achieve a non-stick coating on your stainless steel wok quickly.

If you are in a mood to experiment, you can even use a blow torch for faster results. Coat the cooking surface with oil and hold the simply blow torch over the wok. 

Learning to season a stainless steel made wok and using it to cook your favorite dishes can be an enthralling experience.

I hope these tips inspire you to take out your wok and start cooking. Happy seasoning!

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