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How to Deep Fry in a Wok

Learn techniques for deep frying in a Wok and how it can elevate your kitchen.

By Team Made In
Apr 6, 2020
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When most people think of Woks, stir fry, steaming, perfectly crispy fried rice, and other high-heat cooking techniques come to mind.

But what if we told you your Wok had the hidden technique talent of deep frying?

Here, we touch on why Woks are perfect for deep-frying, what foods are best to deep fry in a Wok, and finally how to approach deep-frying in a Wok.

Can I Deep Fry in a Wok?

The flared, conical shape of a Wok means they’re ideal for dealing with smaller foods that you want to cook fast and at high heat. This shape also means you can fit a lot in a Wok without adding on cooking time due to overcrowding.

If your Wok is constructed out of a high quality heat retaining material, like Blue Carbon Steel, then you have yourself an incredibly versatile pan that has a place in any kitchen. While Woks come in a variety of other materials, we recommend staying away from deep frying in non stick woks, as this can damage their non stick coating.

All of these characteristics that make Woks such a reliable pan are also what makes Woks such a great tool for deep-frying.

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Why is a Wok Good for Deep Frying?

Not only are Woks capable of deep frying, they actually may be your best option in many cases. They may not be the first piece of cookware that comes to mind when it's time to fry, but that’s about to change.

Here are the four main benefits of deep frying in a Wok rather than a more commonly used piece of cookware such as a Dutch Oven, Frying Pan, or Saute Pan.

Less Oil Splatter

Tired of your stovetop looking like a Jackson Pollock painting after you deep fry? Woks’ high and wide sides catch a lot of oil splatter that frying pans, cast irons pans, pots, and Dutch ovens don’t.

Less Oil to Fry the Same Amount of Food

Because Woks’ sides rise up earlier than those of other cookware, it’ll take you less oil to reach your desired oil depth.

In some cases, a Wok can achieve the same oil depth as a dutch oven using 33 percent less oil.

Ease of Access

Woks’ gently sloping sides grant you the ability to freely and easily move items in, out, and around inside, ensuring an even fry on all sides.

Fry More at Once

When compared to other cookware, the increased surface area of a Wok means you can complete your fry in fewer batches, which equates to less time cooking and more time enjoying your deep-fried creation.

What Foods are Best to Deep Fry in a Wok?

Deep frying smaller items (think french fries, calamari, and karaage) and items that float (like beignets, donuts, and funnel cake) are where the Wok’s unique shape truly shines at creating delicious golden brown morsels.

Woks are great at deep frying batches of smaller items like chicken nuggets, but aren’t as ideal at simultaneously deep frying multiple larger items like chicken breasts. This is because the Wok’s shape doesn’t allow for more than one or two large items to be fried at once without the walls sloping the items into one another, which causes an uneven fry.

How to Deep Fry in a Wok

This method works for all manner of fried foods, from chicken, to mozzarella sticks.

Step 1: Fill Wok with Oil

Fill your Wok with cooking oil until you’ve reached your desired oil depth based on the recipe. For most recipes, you'll want to cover at least 3 inches of your Wok, which can range from 4 to 6 cups of oil.

Step 2: Heat Oil

Turn your stovetop on to medium-high and heat your Wok and oil. Carefully place a deep frying thermometer into the oil and heat until the oil temperature reaches a consistent 375F.

Step 3: Place Food in Oil

Using a spider strainer, slotted spoon, or skimmer, carefully drop or place your food into the hot oil. Work slowly and carefully to not to cause oil splashes or disturb the Wok on the burner.

Step 4: Cook Food and Remove From Oil

Once your food is golden brown and fully cooked, remove your fried food from the oil with a spider strainer or slotted spoon. To absorb the excess oil and ensure your food is dry and not dripping with hot oil, dry the food on a paper-towel covered plate or with a Sheet Pan Rack.

Keep in mind the following notes when deep frying in a Wok:

  • Exercise caution when deep frying in a Wok, as their small bases can make them less stable on a burner.

  • The sides of a Wok have a shallower depth than the center, which means you won’t get an even fry if frying multiple larger items at once.

  • Use high smoke point oils when deep frying in a Wok, like canola or grapeseed oil.

  • Because you need to achieve high temperatures, it’s not recommended to deep fry in non stick woks. Carbon Steel Woks are great options for deep frying and Wok cooking in general.

Ready to Cook?

Woks get the deep fry job done, and done well. Do we think woks are going to replace vat fryers at the state fair any time soon? Probably not—but for home cooks, they’re a great deep fry at home option.

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