One of my favorite stations to work in a restaurant is the wok. It was my first professional position after culinary school, and I quickly fell in love with the hot and fast style of cooking.
Most cooking techniques are easily replicated inside a home kitchen. But that’s not the case with the wok, since most of us don’t have the necessary firepower.
Luckily, a powerful outdoor burner does the trick really well. By comparing their features with the ones I’ve found on the best restaurant wok set-ups, I’ve come up with the best outdoor wok burners that you can buy right now. So you can get close to the real thing in your own backyard.
In This Article
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: GasOne B-3600 Adjustable Burner
My best outdoor wok burner has more power than you’ll likely ever need. It comes in a sturdy, adjustable frame that will last for years and can handle even the largest woks.
The GasOne burner is built from durable cast iron, which is surrounded by a metal windscreen. Since these burners must be used outside, it’s an excellent addition to keep you cooking in windy conditions.
The burner is built into a sturdy metal frame that can be set at 15 or 30-inches high. The higher setting is great for most users so that you don’t have to stoop over and strain your back. But if you’re using a large wok for boiling water or deep frying, the lower setting adds even more stability.
This unit was originally built to hold giant pots for beer brewing. Those large pots filled with liquid can easily weigh over a 100-pounds so you know this is sturdy enough for daily wok use.
Most woks will fit well on the built-in rack above the burner. But, adding an inexpensive wok ring will keep your wok from wobbling and tilting while you cook.
Aside from the sturdiness and build quality of this outdoor burner, the 200,000 BTUs of power is the other big stand-out feature.
To put that into perspective, a burner on most gas kitchen stoves puts out between 5,000 – 10,000 BTU. So when it comes to power, this model is on par with the professional wok stoves you would find in a restaurant.
With that much firepower at your fingertips, you can get restaurant-quality results from your wok at home. Plus, the included hose and regulator attach to a standard 20-pound propane tank, so fuel is always easy to find.
What we like
- As powerful as a professional wok stove
- Sturdy metal and cast iron construction
- Adjustable height
What We don’t
- No built-in wok ring
Best Value: Bayou Classic High-Pressure Cooker
The Bayou Classic outdoor cooker is built really well and its three-leg construction means you never have to worry about a wobbly stove.
The low price and lightweight are also very attractive, but there are some features that you’ll have to sacrifice for the price savings.
The cooking power of the Bayou Classic is on the low end at 59,000 BTUs. That’s still much stronger than any home kitchen range – 50,000 BTUs is the minimum power I would consider for a dedicated wok burner.
This burner does not have adjustable legs, so you’re stuck with a 13-inch high cooker. That could be hard on your back if you’re cooking for a long period of time.
The short but wide stance of the burner is very stable and should give confidence that it can easily handle the weight of a wok full of food. The low height combined with a built-in windscreen does a great job at keeping the fire going when things get gusty.
Similar to my top pick, the Bayou Classic is not specifically built for wok cooking. It has a similar support grate directly over the flame that will do a good job holding most woks. But, the addition of a wok ring will add even more stability.
For the price, the Bayou Classic is a great option that is built to withstand heavy use. If you only plan on using it occasionally, the low height may not be a big deal. But, if you plan on using the burner regularly, something that you don’t have to crouch to use may be the smarter choice.
What we like
- Sturdy build quality and construction
- Works well in windy conditions
What We don’t
- Lower power and smaller burner than the competition
- Short with no adjustable height
Best Upgrade: Eastman Outdoors Burner & Wok Kit
At over $200, the portable kahuna burner from Eastman costs more than double my top pick. But, it brings a lot of useful features to the table. Plus, it includes a 22-inch carbon steel wok, with spoon and spatula, so you’re ready to go straight out of the box.
The two features that set this outdoor cooker apart are the telescoping legs that never wobble and the reversible wok grate.
The legs are built like a camera tripod, with three legs that can be adjusted to two cooking heights. The low 18-inch position provides added stability if your wok or large pot is extremely heavy. While the high 26-inch position is great for most daily uses and is easy on the back
The wok grate that sits directly above the flame is the other standout here. One side has rounded grooves that will hold a variety of wok sizes. It provides stability for your wok that none of the other options can match.
When you flip the grate over, it has a flat design that can be used to hold any standard flat bottom pot. More versatility is always a win in my book.
At 65,000 BTUs this is still nowhere near the power of the GasOne burner. But the burner design works extremely well at concentrating most of its heat at the very center of the wok. That gives you cooking results that are similar to burners with much higher heat outputs.
The price for the Eastman Outdoors Burner is pretty steep. But, the included wok and well thought out and user-friendly design makes it a compelling option if it’s within your budget.
What we like
- Leg design is stable and adjustable
- Reversible wok rack is useful and adds more stability
- Includes everything you need to get cooking
What We don’t
- Very expensive compared to other options
Other Options That Are Great But Didn’t Make The Cut
The King Kooker is a solid option that includes everything you need to get cooking. Although the heat output is the lowest of any that I reviewed at 54,000 BTUs. But the main thing to consider about the King Kooker is the built-in wok holder and its limitations. It’s perfect for the included 18-inch wok but makes it difficult to use with any other woks or pots.
I like the simple design, stability, and power that the ARC USA burner offers. It’s a simple, metal box-frame with a burner rack that works well with a variety of wok sizes. The burner itself is very similar to my top choice. But, since this model doesn’t have an adjustable height, you’d be stuck crouching over this short, 16-inch stove.
If you’re up for a bit of DIY work, this burner will get you cooking like the pros. This is a replacement burner for a restaurant wok stove, so there’s no regulator, hose, or stand. Sourcing and assembling all those pieces will be up to you. The real benefit of these burners is the flame pattern, which is wide but still concentrated at the center of the wok. Build and use at your own risk!
Buyers Guide: Choosing The Best Outdoor Wok Burner
Heat Output And How Much Power You Really Need
You need enough power to get your wok smoking hot and stay that way as you continue to add ingredients. 50,000 BTUs is enough to get the job done but it’s the lowest I would go. At this level, you could still end up with vegetables that become soggy before they are nicely charred. One of the most common issues when using a wok on a kitchen stove.
As you start getting closer to 100,000 BTUs and beyond, you’re in the realm of professional-level wok burners. When you’re playing with this much heat and fire you can achieve better nonstick results and even better flavor in the food you make. But, you should also use caution and even some restraint when it comes to going full throttle with your burner.
Choose Good Materials And Sturdy Construction
When you’re using a wok over a high-powered flame, the last thing you want to think about is if the whole thing is going to collapse or even melt.
When it comes to the burner itself, cast iron is my preferred material. It’s durable and can withstand extremely high temperatures. But, a cast iron burner will also add a significant amount of weight.
If you plan on using your burner while camping or tailgating, you may consider a less powerful model like the Bayou Classic. It uses a cast-aluminum burner that doesn’t offer the same heating power but provides some weight savings.
Size, Height, And Leg Design
Maybe I’m just getting old, but bending over while I cook hurts my back and is just plain uncomfortable.
Choosing a wok set up that has a comfortable standing height will be more enjoyable to use and will make you want to use it more often. My best overall pick has a solid four-leg design, but my upgrade choice really has the advantage. The three-leg, tripod setup has a wider footprint and is sturdy, and less prone to wobbling.
The burner itself should be large enough to securely hold and heat the carbon steel wok you’ll be using. Most outdoor wok burners are built to hold large pots or woks that are larger than what we would typically use inside our kitchens. So, you should be all set to use a standard 14-inch wok, or one that’s 20-inches across or more.
The Fuel Source Should Be Easy To Get
All of my top picks and most outdoor burners use a standard 20-pound propane tank. That’s because they’re portable and readily available in most places that you might live. And, if you already have an outdoor propane grill, you can easily use the same fuel source between both devices.
Portability – Take Your Wok On The Road
If you plan on using your wok burner for things like camping or tailgating, you’ll want to look at the weight and overall size of the unit you choose.
My Best Overall pick only weighs 15-pounds but it can’t really be disassembled for easy transport. My Best Upgrade option on the other hand is heavier at 25-pounds. But, it can be completely folded up so that it easily fits in just about any size vehicle you may have, or tucked away in a closet or shed.
Cooking over fire should always be done with a little extra care. This is especially important with wok burners that are larger and more powerful than the kitchen stoves that most of us are used to. Sometimes a little restraint is needed when you have 200,000 BTU at your fingertips, and you should always assume the handles on your wok will be extremely hot.
A sturdy set of legs is very important and all of my top picks have you covered in that regard. Four-legged stands are good if you’re cooking on a flat, level surface. But, if you’re cooking on gravel or a slightly slanted area, a three-legged base will provide more stability.
Useful Accessories And Keeping Ingredients Close By
High-heat wok cooking goes fast. So, having all of your ingredients ready and within arms reach will go a long way in turning out the best stir-fries possible. If you don’t have a counter or table where you’ll be cooking, think about getting a simple folding table that you can use to hold ingredients while you cook.
If you plan on setting up a wok station outside your house and you won’t be moving it around too much, the GasOne wok burner is a great place to look. It’s reasonably priced, durable, and will provide all the heat and power you’ll ever need.
If you’ll be taking your wok cooking on the road, you might consider the Eastman outdoors wok burner. It is a little heavier, but it folds up into a size that is easy to store and transport. Plus, if you don’t already have a wok, this complete package comes with everything you need to get cooking right away.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Advantages Will I Gain With An Outdoor Wok Burner?
Outdoor wok burners provide the high heat and flame that are necessary to get the most flavorful dishes out of your wok.
When ingredients are tossed above the rim of a wok they are gently kissed by the burner’s powerful flame. This gives dishes an underlying charred, smokey flavor that you can’t get anywhere else. This is known as “the kiss of the dragon” or Wok Hei (pronounced “hey”), and is the elusive flavor that you don’t know you want, and can’t get from most kitchen stovetops.
By cooking outdoors, you also avoid a smoke-filled kitchen and you don’t have to worry about covering up your smoke detector (which I don’t endorse, by the way).
Are There Any Drawbacks Or Safety Issues?
The only real drawbacks are that you have to buy and replace the propane tank, and cooking outdoors can be somewhat weather-dependent.
Cooking with fire should always be done with some care, and that’s especially true when it comes to powerful wok burners. A sturdy base that doesn’t wobble while you cook is important. And remember, you don’t always have to go full blast with your burner, even though it is very tempting.
Hopefully, you never need one, but it’s not a bad idea to have a small fire extinguisher on hand when dealing with high-powered burners and open flames.
How Many BTUs Do I Need To Cook With A Wok?
A 50,000 BTU burner will get the job done and is a big step up from the power you get from a standard kitchen stove. Jumping up to 100,000 BTU and above will get you closer to the heat you would find in a restaurant-level wok burner.
What Other Options Are Available For Wok Cooking?
You can use a wok on any kitchen stove but you won’t get the heating capacity that you need for the best results. And, if you want to use a round bottom wok you need to have a gas stovetop. You can also find induction wok burners, which I’ve never used, but the idea is intriguing. Although without a flame, you won’t be able to achieve the “wok hei” that I spoke about earlier.
What Should I Try To Cook On My Outdoor Wok Burner?
I would recommend trying fried rice and stir-frying noodles or vegetables. Those dishes really benefit from the high heat that you get from an outdoor wok burner. When done right, you should be able to taste a big difference if you’re used to cooking them on your indoor kitchen stove.