Electric vegetable steamer: Electric Vegetable Steamer : Target

The Best Vegetable Steamers

Hamilton Beach’s Digital Food Steamer is the winner


Lacey Muinos

Lacey Muinos

Lacey Muinos has written about health, wellness, food, and skincare for five years. Her work has appeared on LIVESTRONG, Insider, and Eat This Not That. 

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Updated January 11, 2022

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My first experience with a vegetable steamer was one of deep confusion. I had proudly purchased my first cookware set for my new apartment, and it came with a few extra gadgets, one of which was a metal basket-shaped food steamer.

Admittedly, I did not know what a food steamer was. When I came across the metal contraption that resembled a small UFO, I didn’t know what a game-changer it could be.  

Since I was going through a minimalist phase (and I had never quite figured out how to use the steamer), I donated the saucer-shaped gadget. Months later when I came across a recipe video online using the very tool I donated, I was filled with deep regret and set out to make it right. I purchased a new vegetable steamer and never looked back. I’ve been enjoying steamed potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus, to name a few, ever since.

When you have a food steamer, you’re much more inclined to make healthier foods with less added fat like oil. Whether you prefer an electric model that you can set and forget or a stovetop option that occupies less space, I rounded up the top options. To verify that they really are superb, we sent these home to our editors for testing. They put them to the test by steaming broccoli and whipping up a batch of hard-boiled eggs. After testing, they let us know not only how it went, but also how easy or hard the steamer was to clean and store.

Based on our editors’ testing, Hamilton Beach’s Digital Food Steamer is our top choice.

Here are the best vegetable steamers on the market today.

The Rundown

Best Overall:

Hamilton Beach 37530A Digital Food Steamer at Amazon

Best Budget:

Bella 9.5-Quart 3-Tier Food Steamer at Amazon

Best Basket:

OXO Stainless Steel Steamer With Handle at Amazon

Best Microwavable:

Progressive International Microwave Mini Steamer at Amazon

Best Electric:

Cuisinart Digital Glass Steamer at Amazon


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What We Love: Auto switches to warm when cooking is done, nestled design saves space, delayed start

What We Don’t Love: Steaming bowls are plastic

Anyone who has used a rice cooker with a steaming tray may be familiar with the two-tier design of this food steamer by Hamilton Beach. The nesting trays allow you to use one or two steaming bowls at a time for larger quantities of food, and it’s also space-saving with its vertical storage.

Switching between functions and setting the cooking time is easy with the digital touchpad. You can add food to the steamer basket ahead of time and use the delayed start function to begin steaming later. This feature should not be used for perishable items, however. When the cooking time is up, the steamer automatically switches to warm and beeps to alert you. 

Our tester found that setup was extremely easy out of the box, though she did need to sometimes switch around the levels so they fit better. First up was the broccoli test, where she followed the guide’s instructions for cooking times. The basket quickly filled with steam and yielded vibrant green broccoli. She did find that once the timer switches over to “warm,” you should quickly retrieve delicate foods like broccoli or lobster tails, or they will keep slightly cooking in the leftover steam. The egg test went extremely well, enough to convince our tester that steamed hard-boiled eggs really are superior. Both tiers have space for 8 eggs, with the very hot finished eggs needing a short ice water bath before peeling. Afterward, the tiers were very easy to clean and the nesting does make this easy to store.

Though this electric steamer has one main function, it is a versatile appliance that is ideal for cooking a healthy and easy dinner. Steam your protein in one bowl and your veggies in another without adding oil. When you’re done, the drip tray and rice bowl are safe to put in the dishwasher, while the rest of the steamer can be wiped down.

Price at time of publish: $60

Simply Recipes / Siobhan Wallace

Capacity: 5.5 quarts | Dimensions (LxWxH): 13.7 x 7.3 x 12.6 inches | Material: Plastic and stainless steel | Dishwasher Safe: Yes


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What We Love: Integrated egg tray, 60-minute timer, automatic shutoff, large capacity

What We Don’t Love: Containers are made of plastic, lacks advanced features

Steaming multiple foods at the same time is what this electric steamer was designed to do. With three tiers and 9.5 quarts of capacity, the Bella Food Steamer is spacious, versatile, and amazing for batch cooking. Since this steamer has a turbo-steam function, cooking is usually quick.

It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as other electric models, but it’s a solid option for those on a budget. The 60-minute timer dial is simple to use and makes a beeping sound when the cooking time has ended. The steamer automatically shuts off for safety if the water happens to run out. Lastly, it comes with room to steam up to 18 eggs, and all the trays are dishwasher safe.

To use this steamer, simply fill the water reservoir, add food to the containers, and set the timer. At least, that’s how easy it was for our tester. Using the recommended time, she was able to steam broccoli in the bottom compartment while also cooking an egg in the top tier. The vegetables came out vibrant green and fully cooked, though it appeared they might overcook if left in the steamer too long. For that egg, she utilized the egg holders found in each level. The egg came out medium-boiled, though it was difficult to peel even after soaking in cold water. Cleanup was relatively easy, but, if you’re using all three tiers, it seems like a lot of pieces to handle at once.

Price at time of publish: $45

Simply Recipes / Fran Sales

Capacity: 9.5 quarts | Dimensions (LxWxH): 12.5 x 9.25 x 16 inches | Material: Plastic | Dishwasher Safe: Yes


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What We Love: Space-saving design, folding feet for compact storage, handle for safe removal from hot pots

What We Don’t Love: Small capacity, can steam only one type of food at a time

When using a stovetop steamer, especially one that is inserted into a pot or wok, you’ll need to be careful when removing it when the cooking time is up. OXO’s basket steamer has a nifty handle for quick, easy, and safe removal. That handle can be removed for large pieces of food like salmon.

Another appeal to this basket steamer over other options is the folding 1.75-inch feet at the bottom. They create a distance between the bottom of the steamer and the simmering water in the pot so food doesn’t get submerged. When you’re all done, fold the feet for compact storage. Though this type of steamer has a smaller capacity than electric ones, it’s ideal for cooking small batches of food and tucking away neatly in small kitchens.

When we sent this home for testing, our tester was very impressed with not only the folding feet but also the handle design. There’s a small hole for you to slide your fork into, making it easier to remove the basket than reaching into a hot, steamy pot. Both the broccoli and eggs test went perfectly according to familiar recipes, and the steamer can be thrown in the dishwasher afterward. The one caveat was that the handle is plastic. Some reviewers note that their handles melted during use. Our tester didn’t notice any melting but was concerned it might happen with long-term use.

Price at time of publish: $23

Capacity: 1.5 quarts | Dimensions (LxWxH): 10.5 x 10.5 x 5 inches | Material: Stainless steel | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Related: The Best Rice Cookers


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What We Love: Nonstick surface, BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, doubles as a colander

What We Don’t Love: Small capacity, plastic

If you prefer to cook without added fat but want a time-saving option, a microwavable food steamer is a sound compromise—no oil is needed, and food is ready within minutes. These are an ideal way to save time when only one aspect of your dish needs quick steaming, like the potatoes in our potato and broccoli curry.

This steamer by Progressive International is called “mini” for a reason. It is designed for single-serving portion sizes with a capacity that holds approximately 2 cups of food. When not in use for steaming, the nonstick basket doubles as a colander for straining noodles or rinsing fruit.

Price at time of publish: $10

Capacity: 2 cups | Dimensions (LxWxH): 7 x 6 x 3 inches | Material: Plastic | Dishwasher Safe: Yes


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What We Love: LCD control panel, glass cooking pot, audible alert

What We Don’t Love: Pricey, heavy

With an LCD control panel and 5-liter capacity, the Cuisinart CookFresh Digital Glass Steamer is the model to consider for high-end features. It offers five preprogrammed food settings: seafood, poultry, grains, vegetables, and manual.

The powerful steam system cooks food from the top to the bottom, so food cooks quickly and evenly. The cooking pot and lid are made of glass, which prevents food from coming in contact with plastic and allows you to view the contents while in use. However, glass is heavy, so the model weighs 15.75 pounds.

Price at time of publish: $160

Capacity: 5.3 quarts | Dimensions (LxWxH): 15.3 x 13.3 x 9 inches | Material: Stainless steel and glass | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Related: The Best Instant Pots

Final Verdict

With a space-saving nesting design and auto shut-off, our top choice is the 5.5-quart Hamilton Beach 37530A Digital Food Steamer (view at Amazon). If you’re looking for a modern steamer basket, the OXO Stainless Steel Steamer With Handle (view at Amazon) improves upon all the classic designs.

Simply Recipes / Siobhan Wallace

What to Look for in a Vegetable Steamer

Electric vs.


The two main types of food steamers are electric and stovetop. Electric steamers are separate appliances, while stovetop steamers are usually paired with a pot, saucepan, or wok. Both electric and stovetop steamers yield thoroughly cooked food with less added fat. The better option for you depends on whether you prefer a dedicated appliance for steaming food or a steaming tool that is compatible with your existing cookware.

While some appliances, such as pressure cookers and rice cookers, may have steam functions, electric steamers usually allow you to steam different foods at once since they have multiple tiers. Electric steamers can hold up to 9.5 quarts of food, and some have a digital interface for user-friendliness. However, electric steamers are more pricey and take up more space than stovetop cookers.

Stovetop options made of bamboo or stainless steel rest in a pot, pan, or wok that’s filled with simmering water. Food is placed in the steamer, and steam from the bottom of the pot surrounds and heats the food. This is a more space-saving and budget-friendly option, though it has fewer features than electric steamers that have built-in timers or automatic shut-offs.

Simply Recipes / Fran Sales

Insert vs. Separate Appliance

If you steam food a lot or cook large quantities of food at one time, a separate appliance dedicated to steaming food may be your best option. They tend to have a larger capacity than inserts, though this means they will take up more space on your countertop or in your cabinet. An insert is ideal for small kitchens or cooking small batches at a time since they have a smaller capacity, and some even fold up to take up less space. This is also the more budget-friendly route.


When choosing any kitchen appliance or gadget that will be used to cook food, capacity is one of the most important considerations. Mini steamers can hold as little as 2 cups of food, while electric steamers can carry up to 9.5 quarts across multiple tiers. The sweet spot for you depends on how many people you will be cooking for or how much food you plan on cooking at a time.


What foods can you put in a steamer?

Steamers are most commonly used to cook vegetables, meat, and fish. You can add prepped veggies like potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, spinach, green beans, artichokes, and more. Tender proteins like chicken breasts and boneless fish fillets are better suited for steamers than tougher cuts of meat like steak.

How do you clean an electric steamer?

Many electric steamers come with dishwasher-safe parts. The base of the steamer and power cord should never be submerged in water. You can clean the outside of the unit with a damp cloth and dry it thoroughly. The inner steaming bowls are usually removable, and these can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher.

Why Trust Simply Recipes?

Lacey Muinos is a health and wellness writer with a specialty in food topics. Though she loves sautéed vegetables, she appreciates an excellent steamer for its ability to cook veggies with a healthy twist.

Read Next: The Best Slow Cookers

The 8 Best Food Steamers of 2023

Steaming is a moist-heat cooking method that cooks food by surrounding it with hot vapor in an enclosed environment, without necessitating any added cooking fat. Steaming can be used to cook a wide variety of foods including meat, poultry, fish, baby foods, vegetables tamales, bao buns, and khaman dhokla.

There are a number of different types of stovetop and electric steamer options to choose from, whether you’re looking for a stand-alone electric model or a convenient steamer insert to fit in a pot you already own. To help you choose the right option for your kitchen, we listed the best options below.


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What We Like

What We Don’t Like

Hamilton Beach’s Digital Steamer Saves Time and Money

This 5. 5-quart electric steamer has two tiers that stack for cooking and nest for more compact storage, so you can use just one tier for cooking smaller batches or two tiers for larger batches. The tiers have a removable center divider so that you can keep foods separated or remove the divider to cook larger ingredients.

The rice bowl can be used for rice or for other small foods that need to be contained, like peas or corn kernels. When the steaming is done, the machine automatically switches to a keep-warm setting for one hour before turning off to avoid overcooking the food, although we found that it can sometimes continue cooking the food past the point of doneness. We left our extra vegetables in the steamer on the warm setting, and after just five minutes, they were too soft and mushy.

That said, we steamed broccoli and green beans in the top basket and salmon in the lower basket (at the same time), and the meal turned out deliciously (and better than the same dish cooked on a stovetop steamer) minus the keep-warm mishap. Other items that came out near-perfect included steamed rice (using the included insert), steamed carrots and potatoes, and steamed pears. 

The delay-start feature lets you fill the steamer with produce in advance and start the cooking later. This feature shouldn’t be used for highly perishable foods like fish, poultry, or meat. This steamer includes a drip tray and rice bowl that are dishwasher-safe, but the food containers should be washed by hand.

Price at time of publish: $48

The Spruce Eats / Katie Begley

Capacity: 5.5 quarts | Weight: 3.97 pounds | Dimensions: 12.6 x 13.7 x 7.28 inches | Warranty: 1 year

Testing Takeaway

“I thought that this steamer worked perfectly. The broccoli was soft, the green beans had just the right balance of softness and crunch, and the roasted salmon was perfectly flaky and cooked.” — Katie Begley, Product Tester


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What We Like

  • Auto-shutoff when water runs out

  • Large capacity

  • Easy to set up, use, and clean

  • Can cook grains & hard boiled eggs

What We Don’t Like

Most electric steamers are surprisingly expensive, but this one is both affordable and widely raved about. The 7.4-quart capacity can fit a lot of food, whether you’re steaming meat, fish, or vegetables or cooking dim sum, hard-boiled eggs, or grains (the steamer comes with a 5-cup capacity rice bowl). Setup is quick and easy, and the electric base heats up quickly to minimize your wait time. The base features a water level indicator, an external water filler for easy refill without having to interrupt the cooking process, and an auto-shutoff when the water runs out, which is a great safety feature. You just add your food to the steamer, set your dial and go about your business—very “set it and forget it” style.

Whether you’re washing the removable parts by hand or in the dishwasher, cleanup is very easy. A few users note experiencing a bit of leaking from their steamer, so you may want to place it on a towel as you get the hang of using it. There is a warm setting, but like with most electric steamers, it can be good to keep an eye on your food so that it doesn’t overcook while in warm mode. A guide is included with cook times so that you can get just the right level of doneness for different foods.

Price at time of publish: $36

Capacity: 7.4 quarts | Weight: 4.58 pounds | Dimensions: 11.61 x 8.94 x 11.73 inches | Warranty: 2 years


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What We Like

What We Don’t Like

  • Only one tier

This steamer insert fits onto just about any 2-, 3-, or 4-quart saucepan, including both straight-sided and tulip-shaped pots. The steamer rests on the sides of the pot, so the food in the steamer bowl remains well about the simmering water.

The steamer is made from stainless steel and has a shatter-resistant glass lid that fits snugly and keeps the steam contained while also allowing you to peek into the steamer to watch the progress of the cooking.

The steamer and lid are dishwasher safe. If you have a use for it, the steamer is oven-safe to 500 degrees. 

Price at time of publish: $40

Capacity: 2 quarts | Weight: 2.13 pounds | Dimensions: 10.98 x 8.23 x 6.69 inches | Warranty: Lifetime

Good to Know

Be sure to check the water level occasionally to ensure that your pot isn’t boiling dry, which will scorch the pot and could damage it.


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What We Like

What We Don’t Like

The Caraway Steamers Are The Perfect Cookware Accessory—And We Tested Them

Caraway, known for its popular and near-perfect cookware set, launched a steamer set, which is just as gorgeous and high-performing as the former. The collection, dubbed the Steamer Duo, includes two sturdy, nonstick ceramic steamer baskets that fit right inside the Caraway Dutch oven and sauce pan. The lids included with those pans fit snug on top, too.

We steamed frozen broccoli and fresh carrots in the Dutch oven and its steamer, and they were ready in about 15 minutes. Just note that the lid handle gets hot during use, so you’ll want to keep an oven mitt or kitchen towel handy. Once the cookware has cooled and you’ve given it a wash and dry, the steamers can be nested into their respective pots, with only a small amount of extra space needed for vertical cabinet or cupboard clearance.

Another potential downside: Caraway’s steamers can only be used with Caraway cookware, so you can’t just buy these and expect them to fit in the pots you already own. The good news is, if you only have the Caraway Dutch oven or sauce pan, each steamer can be purchased individually outside of the set. So, if you have Caraway cookware, we do highly recommend the steamers: They’re sleek, strong, perform very well, and are easy to clean.

Price at time of publish: $55 for the small, $56 for the large, or $120 for both

The Spruce Eats / Amanda McDonald

Size: Large fits in the 6.5-quart Dutch oven, small fits in the 3-quart sauce pan | Material: Nonstick ceramic, aluminum core, and stainless steel handles

Testing Takeaway

“If you have the Caraway cookware set and/or the Dutch oven or sauce pan, the corresponding steamer is the perfect fit and provides many uses with a new way to cook.” — Amanda MacDonald, Editor

The 8 Best Cookware Sets of 2023, Tested and Reviewed


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What We Like

  • Glass steaming basket is dishwasher-safe

  • Reservoir holds 1 quart of water

  • Presets for different types of food

  • Steams food evenly

What We Don’t Like

Cuisinart’s CookFresh Digital Glass Steamer is Intuitive and Effective

If you don’t like the idea of cooking in plastic, this steamer has a 5. 2-quart glass cooking pot, a stainless steel steaming tray, and a glass lid with stainless steel trim: All parts are dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. The LCD control panel includes start/stop, pause, and reheat buttons along with pre-programmed food settings to make cooking easy. You can also set the controls manually for custom cooking.

The steam comes from the top down, surrounding the food and cooking it quickly and evenly. The water tank is removable for easy filling. Two handles on the steamer tray make it easy to remove the cooked food. Everything we made turned out perfectly, and the capacity was enough food for a family of five.

This steamer is available with either stainless steel or white exterior trim.

Price at time of publish: $160

The Spruce Eats / Katie Begley

Capacity: 5.2 quarts | Weight: 15.75 pounds | Dimensions: 13.7 x 13.2 x 9.4 inches | Warranty: Lifetime

Testing Takeaway

“We found that the top-steaming design cooked our food more evenly, without any pockets where the food got too soft or remained too crisp.— Katie Begley, Product Tester

We Tested the Best Rice Cookers for Fluffy Grains Every Time


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What We Like

  • Rolls up for compact storage

  • Silicone construction

  • Fits in a variety of pots and cookers

What We Don’t Like

  • Small capacity

If you don’t want another appliance on your counter, this silicone steamer will fit into any pot with a 7-inch diameter or greater, and it rolls up for easy storage. The stay-cool handles make it easy to lower food into the pot. Not only can you use this steamer on the stovetop, but it also fits neatly into an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker, multi-cooker, or rice cooker. The handles lock together to keep them out of the way when you seal the cooker’s lid.

Silicone is naturally nonstick, so it is easy to clean and dishwasher-safe. For even more versatility, it can also be used in the microwave.  

Price at time of publish: $17

Material: Silicone | Weight: 0.525 pounds | Dimensions: 13.3 x 9.1 x 6.5 inches

The 7 Best Slow Cookers and Pressure Cookers of 2023


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What We Like

What We Don’t Like

Bamboo steamers are traditional for Chinese dumplings and dim sum dishes, but they’re just as handy for steaming vegetables, chicken, fish, and tamales. This set includes two stacking steamer baskets plus a domed lid, so there’s plenty of space for dinner and sides. The two baskets can be used together when there’s a lot to cook, or they can be used separately. The baskets are 10 inches in diameter and designed for use in a wok, but can also be used over a pot that’s an appropriate size.

This set includes a sample of 10 disposable basket liners for foods that might stick to the bamboo, so cleaning is easier. Since the 10-inch size is standard, it’s easy to find additional disposable liners that fit the baskets, as well as reusable silicone liners. It also includes a set of chopsticks that can come in handy for placing and removing the foods and a sauce dish for when it’s time to serve.

Price at time of publish: $25

Weight: 1.69 pounds | Dimensions: 10 inch diameter

Here Are the Best Woks to Make Impressive Stir-Fry at Home


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What We Like

What We Don’t Like

  • Small capacity

  • Made of plastic

Perfect for steaming vegetables in the microwave, this handy steamer holds water in the tray below, while food sits above on the perforated basket. A clear lid sits on top and has a tab on top that slides to hold or release steam during cooking. The hot steam circulates during cooking to evenly steam the food without it getting soggy from sitting in water, and without drying out. This is also perfect for steaming fish, simulating the en papillote technique without the need for fussy paper folding.

To get more flavor, the tray can be filled with flavorful liquids like stock, juice, or plain water with herbs and spices. This holds 1 quart, so there’s plenty of space for cooking, and it has a nonstick surface for easy cleanup by hand or in the dishwasher.

Price at time of publish: $13

Capacity: 1 quart | Weight: 12.5 ounces | Dimensions: 10.75 x 3 x 7.75 inches

The 6 Best Microwaves of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Final Verdict

Our top spot goes to the Hamilton Beach Digital Food Steamer, which holds up to 5.5 quarts of food but is super compact, thanks to a two-tier nesting design. For a more affordable option that still gets good results, the Oster Double Tiered Food Steamer is roomy, versatile, and easy to use.

What to Look for in a Food Steamer

Electric or Stovetop

Steamers come in two varieties: electric or stovetop. The stovetop steamer is an insert that fits into or on top of a saucepan or other pot that’s filled with an inch or two of simmering water. The food is placed in the insert, and the perforated base of the insert allows the steam to surround and heat the food. These types of steamers can be found in the following forms:

  • Folding or collapsible raised platforms (often made of stainless steel or silicone) that sit in the bottom of a pot
  • A perforated metal pan that nests in a saucepan, similar to a double boiler
  • A bamboo basket that can nest in a wok. 

Electric steamers, on the other hand, can be found with stackable, perforated trays or can be divided so that large batches or different foods can be steamed at the same time. Water is added to a chamber, and a heating element heats the water until it turns into steam. Some appliances, such as rice cookers or multi-cookers, have a steamer function. Electric pressure cookers and stovetop pressure cookers often include a steamer tray and can be used as a steamer. 

Electric steamers make the job easy, since you simply add water, put your food in, and turn on the steamer—you just need to consider if you plan to use it enough to warrant the space it occupies on your counter or in storage.

Number of Tiers

Think about how much food—and how many different types of food—you expect to steam at once. Steamers with multiple tiers let you keep certain foods separate from one another. Plus, they allow you to add and remove the foods at different times if one is finished before the others are ready.


Steamers come in different materials, including glass, plastic, silicone, bamboo, stainless steel, and more.

Some people avoid cooking in plastic altogether due to concerns about BPA leaching, while some people seek out BPA-free plastic. In general, glass and food-safe metal steamers tend to last longer than plastic and bamboo models, with silicone steamers landing somewhere between.

Extra Features

When you’re shopping for a steamer, you might not be as focused on special features—however, depending on your cooking style, those extras might increase the product’s value in your kitchen. Whether it’s something simple like a timer or an extra function (like the ability to dry foods), it’s wise to consider what else your steamer can do.

The Spruce Eats / Amanda McDonald


How long does it take to steam food in a steamer?

Steaming is one of the quicker cooking methods. The exact time needed to cook food will depend on the quantity and density of the food.

Most vegetables are steam cooked in about five to 10 minutes. Use less cook time if you like your vegetables to retain some crispness and more if you prefer them tender.

Meat and fish can take anywhere from three to 10+ minutes to steam cook depending on the thickness of it. Fish tends to take less time than meat and will turn from translucent to opaque when cooked through, so keep an eye on it for doneness and use a thermometer to determine that it’s reached a safe temperature for consumption.

Cutting foods into equal-sized pieces helps them cook evenly. It’s also important that there is space around the food so that the steam can circulate; otherwise certain parts might not cook as evenly.

Larger pieces of food, such as dumplings or fillets, should be arranged in a single layer, leaving a little room between each piece to allow the steam to circulate. Vegetables like broccoli or green beans can be piled loosely in the steamer. Tamales can be nestled close together, but make sure to follow your recipe carefully to know when to turn off the heat.

Regardless of what you’re cooking, it’s important to keep tabs on your food and not let it cook for too long, at the risk of your food becoming soggy and overdone.

Is steamed food bland?

It completely depends on what you’re making; unseasoned steamed meats, fish, and veggies can be bland, but you can season steamed food however you like. Because steaming is a cooking method that doesn’t require added fats, foods without them can lack the flavor depth that oils and other fats bring to the table. The other downside is that steaming doesn’t give you the maillard reaction that causes proteins in food to brown or the caramelization process of dry-heat cooking that causes sugars in food to brown and deepen in flavor.

That said, there are a wide variety of traditional steamed foods that are incredibly flavorful—from Mexican tamales to Chinese steamed fish—due to the seasonings added in before steaming or the flavorful sauces added after. The amount of flavor that ends up in the finished product is completely up to you.

What foods can you steam?

The most popular foods to steam cook are vegetables, meat, seafood, and starches like steamed buns. Tender proteins like lean fish fillets and boneless, skinless chicken breasts steam better than tougher proteins like steak.

Some fruits also stand up well to steam cooking, such as peaches and pears, whether you’d like to make a cooked fruit compote or homemade baby food.

How do you clean and descale a food steamer?

Keeping a food steamer clean is pretty easy, since there are no oils or sauces involved in cooking. With the exception of bamboo steamers, any removable steamer bowls, trays, and lids can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Make sure the steamer is turned off and cool to the touch before cleaning.

Sometimes steamer components begin to develop a cloudy appearance, which is from the mineral content in water. Regular cleaning won’t remove this mineral buildup. To descale a steamer, run the steamer filled with white vinegar instead of water and rinse thoroughly. You can also soak the pieces in a mixture of hot water and vinegar for several hours to overnight and then wash by hand.

Does steaming food kill bacteria?

Meat, poultry, and seafood still need to be steam-cooked to the minimum internal temperature recommended by the USDA to minimize any risk of foodborne illness.

The Spruce Eats / Katie Begley 

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Donna Currie is a cookbook author who reviews products and writes roundups for The Spruce Eats. In addition to the best food steamers, she’s also written roundups on the best cookware, bread machines, and pressure cookers.

This roundup was updated by Katya Weiss-Andersson, a writer and editor who has nearly a decade of experience as a professional chef, and Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a registered dietitian nutritionist.

The Best Electric Egg Cookers for the Perfect Doneness Every Time

Steam cooking and choose the most suitable device for this

Sooner or later, it’s time to count the pounds gained and plan a light (or maybe strict) detox. Well, what dishes can be considered more dietary than steamed? But this method itself is not very common in our area. Remember: how long have you seen a double boiler, being away? Fortunately, today there are many specialized devices that can greatly simplify this process and make it almost automatic. So the main thing in this business is to choose the right appliance and get into the habit of steaming.

Let’s take a look at the most popular types of steamers and see how they differ and how they are similar.

Bamboo steamer

The classic bamboo steamer is well known to anyone who is fond of Chinese cuisine or even slightly familiar with it. In Asian countries, it is in every home, and they cook in it no less than in an ordinary pot or pan.

The device of such a steamer is extremely simple: the device consists of several wooden baskets stacked on top of each other. Food is laid out in baskets pre-covered with leaves (depending on the region, banana, cabbage, grape and other leaves are used, you can also use plain parchment paper, after making several holes in it).

The entire structure is then placed on a pot of suitable diameter containing boiling water.

The steamer can be used for both cooking and reheating ready-to-eat meals, because the steamer will not dry out the food. There are very few operating rules for such a double boiler: the products must be laid in one layer so that they are evenly blown with steam from all sides. You also need to look from time to time so that the water does not boil away. Typically, for such double boilers, a pan of a slightly smaller diameter is chosen.

If you want to add some special taste or smell to the dish, you can add spices to the water. Fresh or dried herbs are especially good here, the smell of which will saturate the cooking dish.

Metal steamer insert

A modern variation of the bamboo steamer is a metal steamer with drop-down petals. Such a device is installed directly in the pan, and the petals open exactly in accordance with its diameter.

As in the case of bamboo steamers, this device will require you to pour water into the bottom of the pot and keep an eye on it.

The main advantages of such a device are ease of cleaning (metal is easier to clean than bamboo), compactness (the steamer folds and opens easily – just like a flower), as well as “compatibility” with pans of various diameters. The metal steamer can be used with most 2-5 liter pots and pans.

Pressure cooker

Above we have listed relatively compact devices that are suitable for situations where the user does not want to acquire bulky devices that take up space on the stove or inside kitchen cabinets. Indeed: if you steam irregularly, but only occasionally, then allocating a large amount of space for such a specific cooking method will not be particularly rational.

Metal (usually aluminum) double boilers are well known to the older generation, which grew up in the USSR, under the name “mantovarka”. It is in such devices that manti, Italian ravioli, and indeed any kind of dumplings and dumplings are prepared. A steamed dish turns out to be dietary and, in comparison with other cooking methods, retains more useful, gustatory and aromatic qualities of food.

If you don’t like aluminum or if you need to use a steamer on an induction hob, then pay attention to steel counterparts.

These units are easy to maintain, dishwasher safe without the use of abrasives, will allow you to cook a large amount of food at one time, but require dedicated storage space, which is not suitable for everyone.

Electric Steamer

Electric Steamers are the most modern and easy way to get healthy steamed vegetables and meats. The design of such devices is fundamentally the same as that of previous models. We have one (or more) coasters with steam outlets to hold plates and food containers. Below is a container of boiling water, which actively emits steam.

However, this time the water is heated using an electric heating element, and the steamer itself, as a rule, has a set of several programs that are best suited for cooking certain dishes.

Steamer GFGril GFS-9D

The list of programs may vary from model to model (or manufacturer to manufacturer), but in general we will see approximately the same list of products. As a rule, such devices have modes for cooking rice, chicken, fish, eggs, shrimp and seafood, vegetables and fruits.

The main criterion when choosing an electric steamer is its useful volume (it is easy to calculate it, knowing the total area of ​​​​all trays). It depends on how many servings of food you can cook at one time. It is highly desirable that the appliance has the ability to set an automatic shutdown timer, and for steamers with built-in programs, the ability to create your own program.

However, all these features only affect the overall comfort of using the device, but not the quality of the finished dish. Therefore, if there is a goal to save money, you can safely take the simplest device with a minimum of functions. Food in it will turn out no worse than in the most expensive double boiler. The main thing is to make sure that food-grade plastic and other materials do not have characteristic unpleasant odors.

Morphy Richards Intellisteam steamer

More advanced models are basically the same, only they have more functions and possibilities. So, for example, some double boilers may have special dividers that allow you to cook different dishes in one container without mixing them. And if you want to completely separate one product from another (so that even odors are not transferred from one dish to another), then it makes sense to consider devices equipped with several (usually two) independent containers.

An example of such a device is the Morphy Richards Intellisteam. With it, you can cook three different dishes at the same time. Built-in programs will help you choose the best modes for vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs and legumes. The package also includes a steam tray, a rice bowl and a sauce tray.

Compact electric steamer

We also mention compact electric steamers. Such devices differ little from their full-size counterparts in technical terms, but are designed for significantly smaller servings.

These steamers are suitable for one person who is used to cooking in small portions and not storing cooked food for a long time.

The maximum that can be cooked in such devices is one serving of vegetables or rice, a couple of eggs or a few dumplings – a volume that is quite sufficient for a light snack.

Due to its compact size, such a device can easily fit in the kitchen of a small studio apartment, and if necessary, you can easily take it with you to the country house or even to the office: if there is a room for eating at the workplace, then a small snack can be cook right there.

Multi-cooker with steam function

Finally, let’s not forget that the easiest and most affordable way for many people to cook something with steam is to use the most ordinary multi-cooker.

Almost every modern multicooker is equipped with a special container that is inserted into the bowl and allows you to cook with steam no worse than in a separate device.

Multicooker Polaris PMC 0530 Wi-Fi IQ Home

The only drawback of such a container is its relatively small volume. It will definitely not be possible to arrange a feast with the help of such a double boiler. But making a couple of servings is easy.

It is especially pleasant that the multicooker will independently monitor the correctness of the selected temperature regime and turn off cooking after the specified time has elapsed. After that, all the dishes (both the container and the multicooker bowl) can be easily washed in the dishwasher.


Steamers have not evolved much. The principle of cooking is the same in a bamboo steamer, and in a high-tech electric steamer, equipped with a set of programs for all occasions: boiling water is located at the bottom of the device, and the products that we are going to cook are laid out on steam trays on top. Thus, the choice of a steamer for the home is largely a matter of personal preference. It’s no secret that while lovers of technological devices argue about the merits and demerits of one or another modern electronic model, many professional chefs continue to successfully use the usual wooden or metal steamer that they bought many years ago. And what is characteristic is that the choice of one or another device, if it does affect the taste of ready-made dishes, is far from being the first thing.

Choosing an electric steamer: what to look for when buying

The steamer allows you to cook delicious, healthy food while saving time and effort. It is enough to load the products into the device, set the cooking mode and turn on the timer. In the electric model, you can cook soups, main courses and even desserts. Next, we will consider which electric steamer to choose for the home in order to have a multifunctional gadget in the kitchen, but at the same time not overpay extra money.

Design and function of the steamer


Steamer is a versatile appliance that can process almost any food, from vegetables to meat or fish. Steam cooking allows you to cook food without adding oil.


Electric Steamer is an indispensable gadget for a healthy lifestyle family. Steamed food retains a maximum of useful vitamins and belongs to dietary nutrition. The addition of spices gives dishes a unique aroma and taste. To understand how to choose a double boiler for the home, and what options you need to pay attention to first of all, you should understand the device device.

Electric steamer consists of the following elements:

  1. The base of the device is a water tank, which is heated by a heating element.
  2. A special condensate tray is installed above the boiling water tank.
  3. At the top is a cooking bowl. In some models, you can install bowls in several tiers and cook different dishes in them at the same time. The bowl is closed with a lid, and at the bottom there are holes through which steam passes.

The principle of operation of the device is to heat the products with steam. Compared to conventional steamers, which were a pot of boiling water and a grid, electrical appliances have a ton of useful features. The electric steamer automatically controls the cooking process and notifies you with an audible signal when it is finished. To start the device, it is enough to connect it to the network and select the appropriate operating mode.

When distributing food among several bowls, please note that the lower layer heats up more than the upper one. Meat or fish should be cooked in the lower bowl, and vegetables and side dishes should be cooked in the upper one.

Types of electric steamers

You can cook, reheat and defrost food in the steamer. Dishes cooked in a double boiler retain their beneficial properties, remain juicy and do not lose color. The choice of device should be based on the method of installation and management.

According to the installation method of the steamer, there are:

  • built-in;
  • autonomous.

Built-in steamers are the choice of professional chefs and those who steam food almost every day. Such models resemble built-in ovens and correspond to them in size. The advantages of built-in models include automatic operation, high capacity and ease of maintenance. When choosing such equipment for the house, keep in mind that it has impressive dimensions and high cost.

Buy a steamer now and pay in instalments later

Standalone models are easy to install and affordable. It is enough to allocate free space on the work surface and connect the steamer to the outlet. The inexpensive stand-alone appliance has enough options to save time in the kitchen and make steaming much easier.

According to the type of control, models are distinguished:

  • electronic;
  • mechanical.

Electronic control provides for starting the device and selecting the operating mode on the touch screen. The touch panel displays water volume, temperature, timer and other parameters. In the mechanical model, the functions are controlled by turning the switch. The device turns off automatically.

Economy steamer models are equipped with basic functions – cooking, defrosting, reheating. More expensive models include 5-10 additional options.

How to choose the right steamer

The housing in electrical appliances is made of stainless steel or special heat-resistant plastic. When choosing a kitchen gadget, consider its power, the number of tiers and the availability of additional options. Below we will consider how to choose the right steamer, and what parameters you should pay attention to.


This parameter affects the cooking speed. The power of most modern models ranges from 600 to 1500 watts.

The power consumption is affected by the following device characteristics:

  • number of baskets;
  • design;
  • volume of containers.

A quality appliance has a power of at least 600 watts. If the power of the appliance is lower than this indicator, the food will be cooked very slowly. In some models, the power level can be adjusted independently. The optimal power indicator for a double boiler with three bowls is 1000-1200 watts.

Number of options

The number of options available and the price are the main criteria for choosing a device for the home. If a conventional steamer has one standard mode, the electric model is equipped with 3-5 additional options. Premium models are endowed with even more modes of operation.

Standard operating modes include:

  • heating;
  • steam cooking;
  • steam boost;
  • sterilization.

The bowl at the bottom will have the highest temperature. In the upper bowls, the cooking temperature will be lower, so you need to correctly distribute the products. There should be meat at the bottom, rice or other cereals above, and vegetables can be cooked in the upper basket. With this distribution, all dishes will be ready at the same time.

Shape and number of steam bowls

Electric steamer comes standard with 3 bowls. The complete set in advanced models includes up to 7 bowls. The volume of the bowl is one liter, sometimes more. The containers have different bottom diameters, due to which they can be stacked into each other, saving space for storing the device. It is good if the double boiler is equipped with a porridge container. If it is not in the basic configuration, such a basket can be purchased separately.

Container material

Electric steamers use stainless steel and heat-resistant plastic containers. Each of the materials has its own advantages. Stainless steel bowls are highly durable, and transparent plastic allows you to observe the dishes during their preparation. Some models use high-strength glass baskets, but at the slightest damage they must be replaced immediately.

Type and depth of tray

When choosing a device, pay attention to the number and depth of trays included. In most models there is only one pallet, some do not have it at all. The main purpose of the pallet is to collect condensation, which is formed during the steam processing of products. In order not to have to turn off the device and free the tray from accumulated water, it is worth choosing a container with a depth of 20 mm or more. An important advantage is the presence of a pallet with handles.


Basic steamer includes:

  • container set;
  • pallets;
  • mesh;
  • glasses.

The variety of dishes depends on the number of available accessories.


The presence of additional elements significantly expand the capabilities of the kitchen helper. In several baskets, you can cook different types of cereals at the same time. There are special containers for boiling eggs. Additional accessories are included in premium models. They can also be purchased separately if needed.

Additional accessories worth highlighting:

  • Cereal bowls. The volume of the container is about 1 liter. The bowls are suitable for cereals and other bulk products.
  • Measuring spoons. They are essential for quick weighing of bulk products. The standard set includes three spoons of different sizes.
  • Glasses. It is convenient to prepare desserts, appetizers, pates and various delicacies in them.
  • Additional trays. Containers with a side spout are indispensable in the preparation of meat dishes.
  • Cup holder. This accessory is indispensable when preparing portioned dishes in glasses. You can conveniently place a certain number of glasses in it without worrying that the dish will tip over and spill.
  • Egg grill. Boiled eggs are a standard and favorite breakfast for many. It is most convenient to boil eggs on a special grill with recesses on the bottom.

The steamer must be installed in accordance with safety regulations. The best place is a hard and level surface. Observe the minimum distance of the steamer from other objects in the kitchen, which is 20 cm.


The brand of household appliances is also of great importance. Give preference to a reliable and proven manufacturer who occupy a leading position in the market.

Leading brands:

  • Tefal;
  • Braun;
  • Scarlett;
  • Philips.

Steamers of these brands are the most popular among buyers. Among the available offers on the market, you can find a budget model with one or two bowls, which is an ideal choice for a small family, or a premium device with many additional options.

Electronic functions

The presence of an electronic display, which displays basic information about the cooking process, greatly simplifies the process of operation.

Basic electronic features of steamers:

  • Protection against possible overheating. When the water level is low, the automatic shutdown option is activated.
  • Defrost. If defrosting in the microwave dries out food, you can defrost a variety of foods in a double boiler while maintaining the natural moisture index.
  • Delayed start. The function allows you to turn on the steamer at the set time. For example, in the evening you can set the desired mode, and in the morning the device will automatically start cooking dishes and notify you with a sound signal about the completion of the process.
  • Steam boost. The option is used to speed up the cooking process while maintaining useful properties.
  • Automatic recipes. The manufacturer to lay in the program basic recipes. Just press the appropriate button to cook your favorite dish in accordance with the classic recipe.

You can protect children from contact with a hot device using a “child lock”. A combination of several keys allows you to automatically lock the device.

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TOP 5 best steamers in 2023

When choosing a steamer for home use, pay attention to the rating of the most popular models of 2023, which combine good performance and a reasonable price.

* (links in headers lead to product pages in our partners’ online stores)

Tefal VC 3008

Three-tier compact model from one of the leading brands of home appliances. The basic equipment includes several baskets and molds for cupcakes. The water indicator greatly simplifies the cooking process. The device has 6 automatic modes, as well as a sound alarm. This is quite enough for cooking main dishes and desserts.

Cost – about 8,999 rubles.

Number of tiers – 3

Basket material – Plastic

Volume – 10 l


  • functionality;
  • body quality;
  • indication;
  • compactness.


  • no delayed start option;
  • inconvenient hole for pouring water.

Kitfort KT-2035

A good option for a family of 3-4 people. The kit includes 5 steam containers, the volume of each is 1.6 liters. Stainless steel bowls are highly durable. The device has a shutdown timer and an option to protect against possible overheating.

Cost – about 6,590 rubles.

Number of tiers – 5

Basket material – Stainless steel

Volume – 8 l


  • capacity;
  • a large number of bowls;
  • reliability;
  • interesting design.


  • short cord;
  • low power.


This kitchen gadget has a smart design that makes the process of cooking simple and convenient. The package includes two baskets with holes for cooking meat, vegetables, fish and one basket for cooking soups. The built-in timer helps you set the exact cooking time. If there is not enough water, the device switches off automatically.

Cost – about 5,590 rubles.

Number of tiers – 3

Basket material – Stainless steel

Volume – 8.55 l


  • good steam generation;
  • wear-resistant bowls;
  • simple instructions;
  • capacious water tank.


  • mechanical switch control;
  • minimum functionality.

Braun FS5100

This compact model has only two tiers, large plastic baskets and mechanical controls. The basic package includes a moisture collection tray, a capacious reservoir and a rice bowl. The transparent walls of the baskets make it possible to visually control the cooking process at all stages. Also included are removable grills.

Cost – about 5,595 rubles.

Number of tiers – 2

Basket material – Plastic

Volume – 6. 2 l


  • high power;
  • compact;
  • simple operation;
  • easy care;


  • 2 baskets in total;
  • it is not possible to add water to the tank.

Endever Vita-171

The main advantage of the model is its capacity. Three bowls in the set allow you to prepare a different menu. Electronic control, water addition function and built-in timer greatly facilitate the cooking process. The power of the device in 1000 W ensures fast cooking.

Cost – about 3,100 rubles.

Number of tiers – 3

Basket material – Plastic

Volume – 11 l


  • good capacity;
  • convenient operation;
  • light body;
  • affordable price.


  • power consumption;
  • missing rice bowl.


When choosing a steamer, consider the number of people in the family and the technical parameters of the device.