I've read in a number of places that instead of doubling a recipe in a wok, just do multiple batches.

However, whenever I try to do multiple batches, by the second batch things are starting to get smokey and by the thrid I've set off the fire alarm.

I typically cook something with an egg which seems extra difficult on multiple batches, but I feel like I have this issue even when I don't use egg.

Just scraping the sides does not seem to be enough. I tried wiping down the sides with an oiled paper towel, but it just burned. Am I supposed to completely turn off the burner and wash the wok between batches? Should I just avoid egg and other things which are difficult if doing multiple batches? Will things just get easier the more 'seasoned' my wok gets? Am I not using enough oil?

Does anyone have any tricks for cooking multiple batches in a wok?

  • 1
    I do quickly wash the wok between batches (just water and a quick wipe to get it dry).
    – TZDZ
    Apr 25, 2018 at 13:36

3 Answers 3


I admit that I've spent too much time in Panda Express... but you can see their kitchens from the line and how they batch their food - often switching from a main dish to fried rice (with egg) and back to a stir fry and the solution they use is to quickly rinse out the wok with warm water and scrub it lightly with a brush before dumping it and reheating the pan for the next dish.

This is easy for them since they have sinks under their woks to catch the rinse water but you can do it at home, too. This is the process recommended here

Wok cooking is done in many small batches to keep the temperature of the wok from dropping drastically when adding a lot of cold or room temperature ingredients therefore it is often necessary to clean the wok in between batches. Use warm water and a brush to rinse out the wok, discard the water and dry the wok over fire until it just barely starts to smoke before adding oil to cook the next batch.

  • 1
    Other places just have a very large supply of woks (which means they get a proper clean avoiding the risk of cross-contamination that comes with a simple rinse-and-reuse)
    – Chris H
    Apr 16, 2018 at 8:20

I'm not sure re: your level of experience, so I'll stick with some basics which may help.

My hunch is that you'd be right on two counts: namely the amount of oil and if the wok is adequately seasoned. I'm assuming your wok is iron since you're speaking about seasoning. Similar to cast iron skillets/pans, adequate seasoning will help create a non-stick coating, but if you're washing your wok between uses, my sense is that it's not getting a chance to develop that seasoning. If you want your wok to be seasoned, you may be best off to go out of your way to specifically season it a few times before cooking on it as it's hard to get a seasoning going without a few starter coats, especially if you're cooking something that can strip away seasoning (e.g., acidic foods) or using utensils that are not seasoning friendly (e.g., typical metal wok utensils).

As for the oil, make sure you add it to the wok and allow it to heat up before adding your food. Remember to keep the wok nice and hot and cook over high temperature so that it cooks evenly and quickly, with quick stirring, rather than letting it rest long enough to burn/create a sticky base. Make sure your food is not wet as well. This will help the wok maintain a high temperature and cook your food quickly. If you add oil while the food is already in the pan, you're unlikely to get the oil evenly over your food and whatever excess won't get under the food to create a barrier from sticking either.

Some things also just burn easier, especially without oil. E.g., when using freshly prepared rice versus leftover rice; certain sauces, etc.

Hope this helps.


Much like what Catija said above at the Chinese restaurant that I work at and others like Panda Express we keep a large can or small tub or hot water near and ladle some in and rub it quickly under high heat with steel wool pushed around by the ladle and pour out the waste.

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