Cantonese Wok Vs Mandarin Wok: Similarities And Differences

Last Updated on May 19, 2023 by River Tree Farms

The use of woks dates back to ancient times when they were only used by the Chinese. However, their use has been revolutionized over the years and they’re now appreciated and used worldwide. The revolution introduced various types of woks, including but not limited to Cantonese and Mandarin.

Do the variations raise the questions such as how does the two types of woks compare? Which one is better than the other? What are the advantages of each type? What are the similarities and differences? What is the final choice? The two types of woks compare greatly along with various points. Keep reading this article, and you will find the answers to all your questions.

A table presentation of the comparison of Cantonese and mandarin woks:

Point of comparisonCantonese WokMandarin wok
ShapeHave round-shaped bottomHave round-shaped bottom
SizeIt comes in a standard 14-inch diameterSize varies from 12-14inch diameter
Food capacityIt has a high food capacityIt has a low food capacity
HandlesThey have two small handles made of cast iron.It has a single long handle made of wood then inserted into steel or bamboo, also known as loop handles.
DepthShallow as compared to the mandarin wokDeep to prevent pouring of food when flipping
MaintenanceEasy to maintain and storeEasy to maintain and store, save for those with non-stick coating

What is Cantonese Wok?

A wok is a type of cooking pan with round bottom and high wall fitted with handles on either side or a single long handle. The revolution has however led to the introduction and popularization of flat-bottomed woks as they are more efficient. A Cantonese wok is the type wok that has two small handles on either side. The Cantonese wok has a northern style which has a long handle and a small one on the opposite side. The long handle is used for stir-frying and flipping while the small handle helps with lifting. The small handle’s role in helping with lifting earns it the name “helping handle”.

Advantages of Cantonese Wok

  • A Cantonese wok is easy to maintain and store given the materials used in its making.
  • A Cantonese wok has a firmer grip and balance given its two handles.
  • It allows for the making of more volumes of food provided it is not flipping food.
  • It is less expensive as compared to the Mandarin Wok.
  • The Cantonese wok is more durable than Mandarin Wok.

What is Mandarin Wok?

Mandarin wok is the type of wok that has a single long handle with a round bottom. The handle is mostly made of wood and then inserted into steel. The wok is mainly used in cooking and flipping food, given its round bottom. For a firmer grip, the handle is sometimes made of bamboo. The wok’s great depth also adds to its suitability for making flipping food. The standard diameter of a mandarin wok is 14 inches, but it can vary to the maker’s satisfaction. The mandarin wok maintains the original signature structure of woks given its round bottom and depth.

Advantages of Mandarin Wok

  • It comes in varieties including non-stick coated woks, thus easy to clean.
  • Mandarin woks are easy to maintain and store, save for those with non-stick coating.
  • Mandarin woks maintain the original signature functions of woks of making flipping food.
  • It comes in a standard 14-inch diameter but can be wider or smaller to the satisfaction of the maker and user.

Similarities and Differences between Cantonese Wok and Mandarin Wok

The two types of woks compare greatly with various similarities and differences making it difficult to decide which one is better than the other. However, it is possible to make the decision based on individual user needs.


  • Both woks are commonly made of stainless steel, aluminum, and cast iron, save for the newly introduced non-stick coating for mandarin woks.
  • Given the materials used, both woks are easy to maintain, save for the non-stick-coated mandarin woks.
  • The high quality of materials used makes both woks durable.
  • Both woks have round bottoms save for the newly introduced flat-bottom woks.


  • The Cantonese Wok has a higher food capacity than Mandarin Wok as it comes in a standard 14-inch diameter, while mandarin woks vary in diameter from 12-14 inches.
  • The two U-shaped handles for the Cantonese wok give it a firmer grip than the mandarin wok’s single long handle.
  • The single long handle of the mandarin wok allows it to flip food and stir-frying, while the Cantonese wok has two small handles and thus cannot flip.
  • The mandarin wok is deeper than the Cantonese woke which helps it prevent pouring during the flip.
  • The Cantonese wok has two small U-shaped handles made of cast iron, while the mandarin wok has a single long handle made of wood inserted into steel or bamboo.

Which is better Cantonese Wok or Mandarin Wok?

Choices, they say, have consequences. Your choice of wok to buy should thus be guided by your individual user needs. Cantonese is the better choice for those in need of high food capacity, but where flipping food is concerned, mandarin carries the day. Both woks have high-performance capabilities and durability. Consequently, deciding which wok is better than the other rests squarely on individual user needs.

Which will be the final choice?

As a final verdict, the mandarin wok is the final choice. The choice is informed by the fact that despite the revolution, the wok type has maintained its originality as it is not so much affected by the flat-bottomed wok trend. Moreover, the original Chinese wok was originally for flipping, so the fact it maintains the flipping function makes it the best choice.


In conclusion, both types of woks have their respective vantage points over the other. As such, user discretion is advised when choosing a wok. Notably, the use of woks in cooking has proved to be much healthier than ordinary frying pans, given the small amount of cooking oil used. The wok’s high heat retention achieves the use of little oil. Consequently, the use of woks has been adopted across the globe.

Moreover, the original Chinese wok has undergone various innovations, such as the introduction of flat-bottomed woks. The factors discussed should thus be considered in alignment with the individual user needs when acquiring a wok.

You can read more about woks:

Nonstick Wok Vs Carbon Steel Wok: Which Is Better?

Flat Bottom Vs Round Bottom Wok: Which Is The Best?