The Stir-Fry Guru Takes on… The Best, Easiest, Fastest Way to Season A New Wok

Try this genius method for getting your new wok up and running.
Grace Young WokSeasoningus_seriescap_stir_fry_guru

Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part! If you're ready to stir-fry, new wok in hand, wondering where to begin, here's everything you need to know.

The first step to stir-fry excellence is to season your wok. (By season we mean prepare it for cooking and begin to create the dark-colored, naturally non-stick patina that allows you to cook in your wok using very little oil.) A wok becomes well-seasoned over time from frequent use, but you must start the process with an initial seasoning.

This seasoning method using flaxseed oil is one that Tane Chan (owner of San Francisco's famed The Wok Shop) and I developed, and it ensures your new wok an excellent start in its cooking life. (If your wok has plastic handles, you cannot use this method. Give this one a try instead.)


What you'll need
1 carbon-steel wok with wooden handles
1 to 2 old wash cloths
heavy duty aluminum foil
1 1/2 teaspoons flaxseed oil
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil
1 large onion, sliced

  1. Place a rack in the lower third of oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. To remove the factory coating, scour the inside and outside of the wok several times with liquid detergent using a stainless steel scrubbing pad. Rinse the wok with hot tap water.
  3. Open the windows and turn on the exhaust fan before putting the empty rinsed wok on a burner. Then heat the wok over low heat 1 to 2 minutes just until all the water has evaporated.
  4. If you can remove the handles of the wok you should. Otherwise, to protect the wooden handles so they don't burn, wrap each wood handle with a wet washcloth that is slightly soggy. Completely wrap the washcloths with aluminum foil until the cloths are not visible. Do not touch the wok or unwrap the foil during the baking process.
  5. Using a folded paper towel smear 1 tsp of the flaxseed oil over the entire inside surface of the wok. Do not be alarmed if the paper towel turns grey. Place the wok face down on a large cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Smear the remaining 1/2 tsp of oil on the outside of the wok.
  6. Put the cookie sheet with the wok in the oven and bake 1 hour. As it bakes you will smell a faint aroma from the flaxseed oil.
  7. Remove the cookie sheet with the wok from the oven with pot holders. The wok will have turned light brown. Place in a cool place and do not remove the foil for at least an hour until the wok and the handles are completely cooled off.
  8. Now carefully unwrap the foil. The washcloths may still be steaming, so be careful not to burn yourself.
  9. Heat the wok until a bead of water evaporates within a second. Then add 1 Tbsp of the peanut oil and the onions, reduce the heat to medium and stir-fry 10 minutes, pressing the onions all along the edges of the wok. (If the onions get dry add another Tbsp of oil.) Remove from the heat and discard the onions. The wok will now be darker in color.
  10. Finally, wash the wok's interior surface under hot tap water without liquid dish soap, using the soft side of a sponge. Then, place the rinsed wok on a burner and heat over low heat 1 to 2 minutes or until there is no longer any water in the pan. The wok is now seasoned and ready for a lifetime of great meals.

About Grace Young
The award-winning author of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, The Breath of a Wok and The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen is an expert at demystifying the art of stir-frying and celebrating the traditions of wok cookery. In addition to her Chinese cooking videos for, including guides on how to season a wok and choose essential ingredients. Young's work has appeared in publications including Bon Appetit, Eating Well and Saveur. To learn more, visit

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