Yes, that’s right—woks need seasoning too!

By Lisa Cericola
December 09, 2019
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You probably already know how to season a cast-iron skillet. (And if not, here’s the best way to do it.) But that’s not the only pan in your kitchen that needs to be seasoned—a wok does as well.

Most woks are made of carbon steel. When a wok is manufactured, it is typically coated with a protective film of oil that prevents the pan from getting scratched or rusting before you buy it. That coating needs to come off before you can season it and start cooking. Many pans come with instructions (they are usually on a tag or a sticker) that can walk you through this process. If yours doesn’t, here’s what you should do.

First, scrub the inside and outside of the wok with hot, soapy water and a scouring pad to remove the protective coating. Rinse and dry the wok well. To make sure it is completely dry, place the pan on the stove top over high heat so that any remaining liquid evaporates.

WATCH: Here Is How To Clean A Cast-Iron Skillet

Now that the wok is clean, you need season it to protect the metal and make it nonstick. You’ll need 2 tablespoons of a  neutral cooking oil (such as canola, vegetable, or peanut oil), 1 cup of chopped aromatics (such as onions, ginger, shallots, or scallions), and a spatula.

Keep the pan on the burner (you may want to turn on the exhaust fan) and let it heat up. When the wok is hot enough to sizzle and evaporate a drop of water, add the oil to the pan. Swirl it around and add the aromatics. Cook the aromatics, constantly stirring them around the entire interior of the wok, for 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t worry if they overcook; this process is for seasoning, not eating. Discard the aromatics and let the wok cool until it is warm enough to handle. Wash the wok with warm soapy water and dry it well. Place the pan on the stove top over high heat so that any remaining liquid evaporates.

Like cast-iron, a wok will only get better and more seasoned if you use it regularly (here's some stir-fry inspiration!) and keep it dry in between uses. The wok is one of the most underrated and versatile tools in the kitchen. Put it to use all year long.