Toss, stir and fry, thats the goal of a stir fry pan. The most traditional and well know stir fry pan is the wok. However, what most people dont know is that a Wok works best with a professional burner. Our home range simply does not output enough heat. The good thing is there are modern variation of the wok and saute pans that are more suitable for the task. The Best Stir Fry Pan should be able to generate enough heat to sear and toss food with ease.
How to Use a Stir Fry Pan
Since our gas range are on the weaker side, adapting the cooking method is a necessity. I recommend that you heat up the pan and add oil. Do not add oil after it gets hot, you want to temper the heat of the nonstick surface. If you dont, you might overheat the coating.
Once heated, put the food you want to sear and space it out. Give it enough room to breathe. Once the bottom is carmelized, you can remove the food and start frying other food. Near the end of the cooking, toss everything back in to finish cooking. This should give your food a nice sear without overcooking it.
Stir Fry Pan vs Wok
A Stir Fry Pan can be any pan used to stir fry. Generally models with taller side wall and a nonstick coating are the best stir fry pan. Where as woks are the traditional pan used by the Chinese. The Wok generous volume makes it easy to toss food. Its the traditional tool used for stir frying, thats what they are designed to do. But the rounded bottom makes it hard to use at the home kitchen. They simply do not get hot enough. If you look at the professional burner in a Chinese Kitchen, those thing shoot fire like a jet engine. The Hollow Bottom also allows Woks fit snugly. Unless you get a Wok Ring, the wok will wobble and you will likely lose your food.
If you have a electric stove, I would just avoid wok in general. You will barely be able to heat it up.
Modern variation of the Wok, will have a flat bottom. They work, but the narrow base makes it difficult to sear a large batch of food. Unless you do multiple small batches, you will probably steam your food. There are models that work around this, most notably are the heavy duty cast iron models.
Using a Stir Fry pan with a more wide base is better. You get more heat and browning out of your food. Models will tall sidewall will get you similar volume to a wok. You can also flip and toss food like a wok.
For Stir Frys, your best option is to use a nonstick pan. They offer the best nonstick performance out of all the material available. Carbon Steel and Cast Iron are good alternative, but they never outperform nonstick. If you do choose to use it, be sure to use an appropriate amount of oil. As for stainless steel, I personally would avoid it. Everything sticks and once you put noodles in, you will most likely ruin your dish.
Best Stir Fry Pan List
Below you will find a list of some of the Best Stir Fry pan on the market. Since there are a lot of different model, choose one that best suit your need.
Breville Thermal Pro Hard Anodized Nonstick Sauce Pan/Saucepan/Saucier with Lid (Best Stir Fry Pan Overall Including Electric Stove Top)
For the perfect hybrid, this saucier pan makes for the Best Stir Fry pan on the market. The wide bottom and flaring lips gives you plenty of room to sear and toss food. The base is reinforced with a steel disc to give it better performance and make it induction compatible. Best of all, it uses three layer of nonstick to make it last. This model is good for Electric Stove top as well.
OXO Good Grips Non-Stick, Chef Pan (Best Buy)
For a more affordable option, oxo makes a good alternative. It uses a 3 layer nonstick coating like the brevile model and the handle are rubberized for comfort. The base is wide and has large flaring side. It doesnt have the reinforced base that the breville has though. Nevertheless, for most task, it will do the job. You can also make soup and other dish as well. Comes with a lid as well.
Lodge Stir Fry Pan and Wok (Best Cast Iron Model)
While I think the nonstick model, some prefer an all natural alternative. In this situation, Lodge Cast Iron Wok is the perfect choice. Its heavy construction means that it can get hot and stay hot. This means that the narrow base matter less and you can sear all throughout the pan. While you cant toss like a pan, you can still use a chopstick to move food around. It also has two loop handle for easy maneuverability.
Joyce Chen , Classic Series Carbon Steel Wok (Best Modern Wok)
If you want a Wok for the home range, then Joyce Chen is a good option. Its base is flat to improve searing performance. It uses carbon steel for its nonstick properties so be sure to season it well. Its great for those who want to avoid teflon. Handles are also made of wood so it wont get hot. This set includes a wooden turning spoon.
When most people think of Stir Fry, they think of Woks. But modern pans like the saucier makes a much better alternative. They are the most versatile pan in the kitchen. The base is wide for easy searing and the top is generous for tossing. I recommend getting a nonstick model for easy tossing. But a carbon steel or cast iron is a good alternative. You should choose one that best suit your need.
Curious about what a Saucier Pan is? Check out our article on the Best Saucier Pan.