How to Season a Carbon Steel Wok for the Best Flavor

How to Season a Carbon Steel Wok for the Best Flavor

If you're looking to give your stir-fries and other Chinese dishes extra flavor, then it's time to season your carbon steel wok!

This process takes a little time, but the results are worth it. This blog post will walk you through how to season a carbon steel wok. Let's get started!

Do you have to season a carbon steel wok?

Carbon steel woks are popular because of how well they heat up and how evenly they distribute heat.

However, to get the best flavor and the most nonstick patina, you must season your carbon steel wok before using it for the first time.

This is a process that seals the pan's surface and prevents rusting. It also gives the pan a blackened coating that will improve your food's flavor.

Carbon steel woks require seasoning to achieve the nonstick surface and provide what is known as wok hei to your dish, a smoky, charred scent that elevates stir-fries to new levels.

Do you have to season a wok every time you use it?

carbon steel wok on gas stove

You don't have to season your carbon steel wok every time you use it, but it is recommended. Seasoning a carbon steel wok is a process that needs to be done before the first time you use it and on an occasional basis after that.

The seasoning process helps build a natural nonstick patina on the wok's surface, making cooking easier and more efficient.

If you want to ensure your wok has a nonstick surface from the get-go, you can repeat the seasoning process multiple times until the inside of the pan becomes dark brown.

What is the best oil to season in a carbon steel pan?

When seasoning a carbon steel pan, the best oil to use is one with a high smoke point. Peanut oil, canola oil, and avocado oil are all excellent choices.

They are refined oils that will leave behind a neutral flavor. Unrefined oils with low smoking points, like olive oil or sesame oil, must be avoided.

How to Care for a Seasoned Wok

A carbon steel wok is an excellent addition to any kitchen. Not only is it versatile, but with proper care and seasoning, it can last for years.

Here are some tips on caring for your carbon steel wok to enjoy its many benefits for a long time.

Use soft sponges

clean carbon steel wok

You can do a few things to keep your carbon steel wok in good condition.

Always use a soft sponge to clean it – abrasive sponges, like scouring pads or steel scrubbers, can damage the seasoning and protective patina that has formed over time.

If food does get stuck to the wok, briefly submerge it in boiling water before cleaning it with a soft sponge. This will help loosen any food particles so you can easily remove them.

And, never put the wok in the dishwasher – the harsh chemicals can strip away the seasoning and cause corrosion.

Don't use soap

Soap is one of the biggest no-nos for taking care of a seasoned wok. It will remove the valuable patina that has been built up over time.

So resist the urge to sud up your wok and use a soft sponge or cloth to clean it instead.

Dry the wok completely

Dry the wok

Once you have rinsed your carbon steel wok to clean it, dry it thoroughly. You can use a clean and dry kitchen towel or place the wok on the stovetop over medium heat or high heat to cause any remaining water to evaporate.

This is an essential step in taking care of your seasoned wok, as leaving any water behind can lead to rusting.

Cook frequently in the wok

Cooking regularly in your wok is the key to taking care of a seasoned carbon steel wok.

By adding oil and heating it each time, you’re re-sealing the seasoning and ensuring that your wok stays in excellent condition.

So, add some Asian dishes to your weekly meal plan and take care of your carbon steel wok!

How do you season a wok for the first time?

It's essential to follow these simple steps when you’re ready to season your new carbon steel wok.

  • First, pour 1 cup of kosher salt into the bottom of the wok.
  • Place the wok over high heat on your gas stovetop and stir the salt constantly for about 20 minutes. You want to heat and push the salt up around the sides of the wok.
  • Once you’ve done that, take it off the heat and dump the hot salt into the sink (be careful not to burn yourself!). Let it cool down before discarding it.

Now that your wok is seasoned for the first time, it’s essential to use it correctly to maintain that seasoning.

How to Season a Carbon Steel Wok?

It is important to season a carbon steel wok before using it for the first time.

This will help to give your food the best flavor and prevent any damage to the cookware. Here are the steps you need to take:

seasoning a carbon steel pan
  • Remove the protective coating that your wok came with. Manufacturers usually apply this coating to protect your cookware during transportation.
  • Apply a coat of oil to the entire interior surface of your wok, using gloved hands, a brush, or any other convenient method.
  • When the oil starts smoking, reduce the heat and swirl it around inside the wok for 5-10 minutes.
  • Repeat these steps several times, adding more oil and distributing it evenly.
  • Finally, let the wok cool down and wash it with only water and a soft sponge.
  • Remember to dry it thoroughly with a clean paper towel after washing. Then, get cooking in your new seasoned carbon steel wok!

Stir-fry recipes your newly seasoned wok

1. Kung Pao Chicken

kung pao chicken

Kung Pao chicken is a popular Chinese dish with chicken, peanuts, and chili peppers. The dish is typically served with rice. The ingredients for Kung Pao chicken are simple, but the dish can be spicy, so it is essential to adjust the ingredients to fit your taste.

2. Pad Thai

pad thai

Pad Thai is a dish that originates from Thailand. It is made with rice noodles, tofu, and various vegetables. The dish can be served either hot or cold, depending on your preference.

3. Pineapple Chicken Stir-Fry

Pineapple Chicken Stir-Fry

This delicious and easy Pineapple Chicken Stir-Fry is perfect for a quick weeknight meal. The chicken is stir-fried with fresh bell peppers and pineapple, then coated in a delightful ginger-laced sauce. Serve over steamed rice for a quick and easy meal that the whole family will love.

4. Yaki Udon Noodles with Shrimp

Yaki Udon Noodles with Shrimp

Udon noodles are thicker, wheat-based noodle that is perfect for this Yaki udon recipe. The noodles are stir-fried with shrimp, vegetables, and mushrooms. This recipe is quick and easy to make, and very filling.

5. Asparagus and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Asparagus and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Asparagus and Mushroom Stir-Fry is a great recipe to try out if you are looking for something new. There are only a few ingredients needed. The dish is light and healthy, but it is also flavorful. Serve it as a main course or a side dish.

6. Garlic Shrimp Stir-Fry

Garlic Shrimp Stir-Fry

This shrimp stir-fry is a fantastic way to get your daily dose of protein and veggies. The shrimp are cooked with garlic, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, and snap peas in a soy sauce mixture, making it a flavorful and healthy dish. Serve this stir-fry over cooked rice or noodles for a hearty and satisfying meal.

7. Basic Chicken Stir Fry

basic chicken Stir-Fry

The Basic Chicken Stir Fry recipe tastes fantastic! The chicken is tender, and the vegetables are perfectly cooked. The gravy adds a delicious depth of flavor to the dish.


Now that you know how to season a carbon steel wok, it’s essential to practice proper care and use it to maintain its condition.

When cleaning, always use a soft sponge or cloth when cleaning – abrasive sponges can damage the seasoning. And never put your wok in the dishwasher!

The harsh chemicals can strip away the seasoning and cause corrosion.

Cooking regularly in your wok is key to taking care of your seasoned carbon steel wok.

So add some Asian dishes to your weekly meal plan and take care of your new cookware!