Wok vs. Frying Pan – Which One Is Better?

Wok vs. Frying Pan – Which One Is Better?

There are some differences between a wok and a frying pan that affect the preparation and taste of dishes. Are you unsure what the differences are and which of the two gadgets ist better for your needs? In this article we will tell you all the differences and help you decide whether you should go for a wok or a frying pan.


Differences between a wok and a frying pan


The most obvious and important difference between a wok and a frying pan is the shape. The bottom of a wok is round and there is no difference between the bottom and the wall. The bottom of a frying pan, on the other hand, is flat. The size of the surface of the bottom can vary. So that a wok can also be used in domestic kitchens, they have a spherical shape but are also minimally flattened at the bottom so that they can stand a normal cooker.

Note: Strictly speaking, a wok is also a pan. However, it differs greatly from conventional frying pans in terms of shape and use, which is why a distinction is often made here.


A special feature of cooking with a wok is working with very high temperatures. While the optimum temperature in a wok is 200 °C to 250 °C, the ideal temperature for a frying pan is considerably lower. In an ordinary pan, temperatures of 140 °C to 170 °C are perfectly adequate.

Heat distribution

Because of the different shape, the heat distribution in a wok is different from that in a frying pan. The temperature is significantly higher in the centre of the wok than at the edge. The practical thing about this is that vegetables, meat, tofu etc. can be fried in the centre and then stored at the cooler edge. In a frying pan, the heat is distributed evenly over the entire surface, so that all ingredients can be fried at the same temperature.

Cooking techniques

There is one method for cooking in a wok that has become established: stir-frying. It is particularly popular in Asian country kitchens. With this technique, the ingredients are fried in very hot oil while stirring continuously. It is also typical to flip the ingredients in the wok pan by a loose hand movement. This method has proven successful because even at high temperatures, the ingredients do not burn due to the stirring motion. Vegetables, meat & co. are only fried briefly - this keeps the vegetables crunchy and the nutrients intact. In the frying pan, the continuous stirring is not necessarily due to the lower temperatures. Ingredients can be fried, deep-fried, steamed and braised in both the wok and the pan.

Wok and pan: A direct comparison

Wok Frying Pan
Rounded Flat
Highest heat in the centre Even heat distribution over the entire surface
Optimum temperatures between 200 °C and 250 °C Optimum temperature between 140 °C and 170 °C
Stirring & Flipping Turning & stirring
Short preparation time Variable preparation time
Little oil required Moderate to much oil required