Steamed food retains more nutrients, moisture, and flavors while maintaining its amazing colors and shapes without the agitations from boiling.
There are surprisingly more modern applications in recent decades as nutritionists and food scientists learn more about health, diet, and nutrition around this ancient cooking method.
However, with so many brands and models in the market, deciding on these can feel challenging at times.
We've shortlisted some of the best that you can get for long-lasting, practical use below.
At the end of this article, we have also compiled some frequently asked questions when it comes to cooking with a food steamer.Quicklist of Our Top Picks
- Best Build & Features: Cuisinart Digital Glass Steamer
- Budget Pick: Hamilton Beach 5.5 Quart Steamer
- Best Stovetop Steamer: OXO Stainless Steel Steamer
- Premium Ceramic Steamer: JIA Inc. Ceramic Steamer Set
Cuisinart CookFresh Glass Steamer
Premium Build and Features
This is an excellent food steamer with a solid build and features. It heats up in 40 seconds and cooks food evenly with the top-down steam release design.
The Cuisinart CookFresh Digital Glass Steamer is a high-end food steamer.
We find this model to be the best for its overall sturdy build quality and features.
If you don't like the idea of cooking in plastics, the Cuisinart comes with a 5-liter glass cooking pot and lid.
There's a stainless steel steaming rack that comes along with the steamer; which you can flip to either side for different steaming purposes.
Unlike conventional electric food steamer, the Cuisinart releases hot steam from the top down for more even cooking.
All the parts are dishwasher safe.
The food steamer has a detachable, 1-liter water reservoir that makes it easier to refill.
The 1-liter capacity is enough for roughly 60 minutes of steaming/keeping your food warm.
While being able to keep food warm, there is also reheating feature built-in on the food steamer itself.
We also love that this machine can start heating food as quickly as around 40-50 seconds.
Hamilton Beach 5.5 Quart Steamer
Best Budget Pick
Great alternative for budget lovers. The two-tier steaming baskets allow for multiple dishes to be cooked at once.
If you're not ready to splurge on a premium food steamer and want something that just works, the Hamilton Beach 5.5 Quart Digital Food Steamer is the next best option to go for.
This model comes with two-tier steaming containers that can be stacked up and even nested together for compacting storage.
You can use just one tier for when you're not cooking a lot of foods or stack them up when you're preparing a big meal.
There's an accompany steaming bowl that can be used for rice or small-sized foods like frozen corn and peas.
The steamer automatically switches to the keep-warm setting for an hour when cooking is done before turning itself off.
A Digital touchpad makes controlling the cook settings easy.
There's also a delay start feature, but we didn't find it practical to use.
It is not suitable for highly perishable foods like fish, poultry, or meat.
And even soaking the rice for too long before cooking will also render the rice mushy.
While the drip tray and bowl are dishwasher safe, the steaming container, however, should only be hand washed.
OXO Extendable Steamer Basket
Best for Stovetop Cooking
We highly recommend this for those who prefer to cook on the stove and want to save some space on their counter. It is cheap, simple to use, and store.
For those who prefer to cook on the stovetop or simply do not have the counter space for another appliance, this OXO Extendable Steaming Basket is one that we recommend.
It's cheap, durable, and easy to store.
It also comes with a removable handle for easy transport and filling your food.
The steamer can fit pots that are 8 inches wide or larger.
The feet are elevated 1 3/4 inches above the water and can be folded flat when not in use.
JIA Inc. Ceramic Steamer
Fancy, Premium and Traditional
This is an option for those who want to spice up their kitchen gears, with fancy design and multiple color options. The cedarwood and Terra Cotta steaming baskets are said to absorb excessive moistures to prevent soggy foods.
If you want something premium for stovetop steaming, and don't mind about storage space, this Ceramic Steamer Pot is both fancy and cute.
There are multiple color pairings to choose from.
It is easy to wash and maintain. And it can be used on any kind of heat source, except for inductions.
However, do take note that some owners have feedback that the cedar wood wall lining of the steamer tends to break.
When buying a food steamer, it is important to look at its size and shape, capacity and consider the frequencies you'll likely be using it.
Besides the size for your countertop space, one of the particularly important detail to consider would be the sizes and shapes of your steaming plates/bowls.
We've had experiences with oval-shaped electric food steamers that couldn't fit most of our plates and can only end up using smaller bowls and the accompanied steaming basket.
Also, if you're less likely to steam foods frequently, we advise you to just get a stovetop steam basket.
Not only will this save you some money and storage space, but it can also easily fit most pots in the right size.
If you're also against cooking in plastics, then stainless steel or glass steam-wares are better options; which also usually are dishwasher safe.
Food steamers are versatile kitchen equipment.
You can use it not only to steam meals like vegetables, fish, meats, and eggs; the food steamer can even be used to sanitize items like baby bottles, pacifiers, and cloths!
Steam cooking is a healthy alternative to preparing foods.
Not only it is convenient while retaining the natural taste and colors of your food, but it also conserves the natural microelements and nutrients in the foods you steam.
Meats and fish can be steam from 3 to 10 minutes depending on their size and thickness. The temperature of steaming can reach up to 212°F/100°C while a good poaching temperature is around 140°F-170°F.
Yes, it is recommended to defrost meats before steaming. Not so much for frozen vegetables and seafood, though.
Hard-boiled eggs can be easily prepared with 12 minutes of steaming.
You can cook whole meals, multiple dishes if you have a multi-tiered food steamer.
Just make sure you're adding them in from one that requires the longest time to steam and the rest mid-way during steaming.
Works best if you're using a multi-tier as stacking in the next dishes is easy.
We've put together a list of foods you can cook with a food steamer here.
Household baking soda or vinegar can both be useful when it comes to descaling.
Unless you have descaling powder readily available, we find the above items work as well for us.
First, remove the drip tray and steaming containers; pour away the water in your reservoir and fill it with vinegar up to the fill line and turn it on for 20 minutes.
Next, turn the steamer off, disconnect the power and pour out the vinegar. Use a soft brush to gently scrub inside, around the heating element.
Lastly, pour some warm water in to rinse and wipe the interior with a clean damp cloth to remove any vinegar residue.
A good food steamer can revolutionize the way you cook.
They are easy to use. They cook your food quickly. They lock in nutrients and taste.
They cook entire meals, and they can even sanitize your equipment.
Having a food steamer in your kitchen can give you a lot more options when it comes to cooking.
Whether you choose a bamboo steamer to steam dim sum or an electric steamer for cooking up large meals, a steamer can replace your microwave, stove, and hob.
The only thing to do now is to choose the perfect steamer for you.
Do not be afraid to spend nearer your upper limit to get a steamer which will last you a long time.
Enjoy your freshly steamed food!