The Big Problem Costco Shoppers Have With This Inexpensive Wok

Stir fry fans swear by the culinary powers of a good wok. In the hands of an experienced chef, a wok has the power to sear, sauté, and fry evenly and thanks to its bowl-shaped bottom, it can do all that with less oil than other pans might require (via BBC). To those in the know, woks are able to work their magic on food to a great extent because of what they are made of. As respected food writer J. Kenji López-Alt points out, carbon steel woks work best over intense, hot flames that allow chefs to tease flavors and textures out of food in a chemical process, which has been described as "wok hei" (via Serious Eats). 

And this is where Costco's non-stick wok comes in. Retailing under the name of popular cookware manufacturer Calphalon, Costco's wok is currently going for $21.99. It's made of aluminum so food can heat evenly, it's oven-safe up to 450 Fahrenheit, it's dishwasher safe, has a handle that stays cool even when it's been on a sweltering stovetop, and it's even dishwasher safe. But Redditors aren't impressed with the wok's nonstick quality and they've taken to social media to explain why.

Non-stick woks don't work the same way

Reddit users sniffed over the fact that the Costco wok offered up a non-stick surface, which they felt would be compromised by the high heats needed to cook food in a wok properly. "No thanks. Dangerous to use non stick at the high temps that woks need. Sorry for proper woking you need steel that can handle high temperatures, and that you can use metal wok tools on. Plus you need the wok hay," one user wrote. "Carbon steel wok here only. You have to start the stir fry with high heat before adding oil and then other ingredients. Nonstick wok can't handle the heat for a real stir fry and will flake off," said another.

But there were others that weren't put out by the presence of a non-stick layer, choosing instead to focus on its price and its size. "That's an excellent price! The Calphalon 12" (with or without lid) usually runs about 60-100 and is probably one of the most recommended flat-bottom non-stick wok (at least when I was researching woks)," a different Redditor raved. "I continue to recommend it to friends as a good beginner wok!" The third social media poster may be onto something, because another commenter pointed out: "Yeah but how many people who own a wok actually cook with it correctly? Even if they buy the right tool, they probably won't learn how to swing it."