Want to lose weight or lead a healthier lifestyle? Steaming food is an excellent way to eat healthily, lose weight, look good, and get that beach body you always wanted. In this guide, we’ll look into the TOP 5 Best Food Steamers that can finally help you achieve your new year’s resolutions! Even if there’s nothing to lose on your body, you can still benefit from having one: it’s packed with a cornucopia of nutrients and vitamins that are good for your children or any other family member, including you! Here, we’ll talk about what a food steamer is and what types are there, see what you can cook with these powerful appliances, and many more. Read on to discover an amazing world of healthy food!
- What is a food steamer and how it works?
- Benefits of steamed food: is a food steamer healthy?
- Types of steamers
- TOP 6 Best Food Steamers
- Pros and Cons
- Tips and life-hacks: what are steamer used for & what to cook in a food steamer?
What could be more tasty and delicious than a piece of steamed broccoli sprinkled with fresh Italian herbs and topped with a little bit of olive oil? Doesn’t sound tasty enough? Well, maybe perhaps you’ve been doing it all wrong. Broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins can be delicious! Add salmon or calamari, if you will, and you are having a feast! Thankfully, being healthy and fit is in fashion, otherwise, why would you look for a food steamer, right? But trust us, having tried these food steamers, you wouldn’t want to return to your french fries. Like never! Or never except Friday night outs, to be completely honest. But enough of rambling, it’s time to dig in and find out what’s in a steamed food that makes it so healthy and more (or less) appealing!
A food steamer is a kitchen appliance that cooks food by steaming it in tightly closed containers, so the steam won’t escape the cooking vessel. The food steamers have been used for thousands of centuries and still popular nowadays, especially in Asian cultures.
The benefits of steamed food as opposed to boiled or fried are numerous. Steaming helps to preserve the nutrients, which are otherwise lost. This happens because many nutrients are water-soluble, which means that when you cook them in water, those nutrients are lost to the water. Also, because there’s no oil involved in the cooking process, the steamed foods are often added to health-oriented diets, like Okinawa or macrobiotic diets. Let’s look at some of the scientific data and research to back up those claims if you will:
A comparative study conducted on the effects of boiling, grilling, microwaving, and superheated steaming on quality characteristics of marinated chicken steak objectively concluded that a chicken cooked by superheating steaming had fewer nutrients lost and better textural properties. In case you wonder, superheating steaming happens when the steam “has been given additional heat to raise its temperature above the saturation point at a given pressure.”
Another study concerning the effects of different cooking methods on health-promoting benefits of broccoli found that steaming was the only method that didn’t result in loss of chlorophyll content in broccoli, or that it caused less loss of Vitamin C as opposed to boiling and microwaving, an increase in carotenoids as opposed to fresh broccoli, and preserving the total glucosinolates.
According to the article published at the Tufts University website steaming is the best way to cook because it can preserve anti-cancer properties of various foods, vitamins, such as B and C, folate, create more antioxidants, as well as retain natural flavors and moisture.
There is truly a variety of food steamers available on the market, from traditional bamboo steamers used in Asian cultures to more sophisticated electric devices with a number of functions and features. But let’s look at each type in more detail below:
Perhaps, you’re familiar with bamboo steamers through deliciously mouthwatering dumplings steamed to perfection. These devices are indeed popular in Asian cuisine, where steaming is one of the most popular ways of cooking food. The bamboo steamers usually consist of several equal in size baskets mounted on top of each other. They cannot be used directly on any type of stove, instead, they require a cooking pot of a size larger than the bamboo basket. A good example is VonShef Premium Bamboo Steamer with stainless steel banding and a pair of chopsticks.
Aluminum or stainless steel food steamers for gas or induction stoves are another traditional and more of an old-fashioned appliance for steaming food. My mom is a true fan of those and would never change it for anything “smarter” or “more modern.” They have usually a couple of tiers that sit on top of each other, just like in a bamboo. Stainless steel appliances can be used on induction tops, an example of this might be Three Piece Steamer Set by ELO Cookware. Aluminum devices can safely sit on any gas stop, like the one from Wok Shop.
Electric food steamers are the ones we cover extensively in this guide. To learn which appliances have made it to our TOP, please click here: TOP 6 Best Food Steamers 2019. So, what is exactly an electric food steamer? It’s a kitchen appliance that prepares food through steaming it, but gives you enough freedom not to oversee the process or choose other features and functions ranging from delayed start to cooking multiple foods at once without contaminating the flavors, pausing the cooking process, reheating your food, and many more.
Microwave food steamers are the least recommended because these are usually made of cheap plastic that can affect the taste and quality of your food. But if you live alone and doesn’t really like cooking anyway, then perhaps, it’s an option for you: Sistema Microwave Collection Steamer is a decent choice.
In this guide, hereinbelow, we’ll talk about the best electric food steamers currently available for purchase. We’ve carefully chosen only the best models so you don’t have to look for anywhere else. The trusted brands that made it to this top list include Breville, Cuisinart, Hamilton Beach, Ninja, Phillips, and Aroma Housewares. Prepare to spend from around 200 dollars for the best and most advanced models to as little as 20-40 dollars for less sophisticated steamers good for one or two persons.
Steam Zone Food Steamer | Breville | Without plastic & BPA
This is an extremely sophisticated food steamer from Breville that’s priced accordingly (around 200 dollars). It’s second to the most expensive item on our list, which we’ll cover by the end of this guide.
Breville’s machine is super fast, it reaches its maximum power in as little as 30 seconds, which is fantastic if you have hungry kids or uninvited guests sitting in a dining room. Because of its innovative separate zone design, Breville stands out from traditional multi-tiered steamers, which have compartments on top of each other, in that it completely separates the cooking processes of different dishes.
The Steam Zone uses a single level surface with two separate compartments, where you can choose different settings for each meal, preventing uneven cooking and contamination of flavors. If you want to cook just a single large dish, like fish or chicken, you can remove separate zones and set up a large surface area that also comes with the machine.
One of the other cool and unique features of Breville steamer is that it’s able to synchronize timing for your food, so no matter what you’re steaming in the separate compartments the Steam Zone will make sure both finish at the same time when programmed. Everyone who invested in Breville’s Steam Zone was pleasantly impressed and said that everything that came out of it was mouthwateringly delicious!
Breville: Check the current price
Digital Glass Steamer | Cuisinart - food steamer with glass basket & keep warm function & timer
This food steamer is a bestselling item from Cuisinart that’s priced a little more affordable (around 100 dollars) than the machine from Breville, but it’s just as powerful and sophisticated. It comes with a glass lid and a five-liter glass cooking pot, which is large enough to accommodate enough food for the whole family. There’s also a generous one-liter water tank that conveniently lifts off to fill and is enough to cook multiple meals.
The Cuisinart steamer features as many as five preprogrammed food settings for seafood, poultry, grains, vegetables, and manual mode, where you can fully customize your own cooking process. There’s a 60-minute timer, LCD control panel, audible alert and start/stop, pause, reheat, and keep warm buttons. Besides, the glass tray, which can be used as a serving dish or for storage in a fridge, is completely dishwasher safe, which is obviously a huge advantage.
Everyone who bought it praised everything from the beautiful design and functionality to the deliciously nutritional and healthy meals the steamer was able to deliver.
Cuisinart: Check the current price
Digital Food Steamer | Hamilton Beach - budget one with delay timer & rice bowl
This item is one of the least expensive items on our list, it’s also more of a traditional steamer that stacks dishes on top of each other. The Hamilton Beach steamer comes with two bowls to cook large quantities of food. You can also remove the divider between the bowls and steam even larger food, like a chicken part, or a huge head of broccoli. There’s also a rice bowl that’s perfect for white or brown rice and small foods. The thing also cooks eggs upright from soft to hard-cooked.
It features digital touchpad that makes setting the countdown timer and other functions easy. There’s an automatic switch to warm food, which lasts 60 minutes and starts after your food’s done. What’s more is that there’s a delay timer that lets you fill the steamer with produce in advance and begin steaming later when you set the right time. No more waiting for cooked food after work, just enjoy the freshly cooked meal as soon as you enter the door.
This is a pretty popular choice among consumers, who didn’t report any major issues with the steamer, meaning this option can be safely recommended. Among the complaints were growing mold at the bottom (well, you gotta clean the thing, you know), or that it stopped working after three years (excuse me, it’s 30 dollars, what did you expect, a life-time steaming?).
Hamilton Beach: Check the current price
Auto-iQ Multi/Slow Cooker | Ninja - slow cooker & food steamer for meat
This device is not just a steamer but rather a whole cooking system that incorporates slow cooking, searing, sauteing, steaming, and even baking. Besides, it’s priced affordably (around 100 dollars) for the functions it packs, so seems like a pretty good deal.
The system features as many as 80 (!) pre-programmed recipes, and all you have to do is select a recipe, add ingredients, and wait for a delicious meal. There are also four programmable cooking functions, mentioned earlier, from slow cooking to steaming. The heat is delivered three ways: from the side, bottom, and steam heat come together. There’s also a digital timer and an auto-stay warm function. Might be an ideal option for a meat eater, because of the heating element the machine functions, it can easily be turned into a skillet for searing various meat cuts.
Ninja: Check the current price
Pot-Style Rice Cooker and Food Steamer | Aroma Housewares - budget model for rice
Aroma Housewares pot-style cooker is an absolute bestseller in its respected niche. It’s also the cheapest item on the list (around 20 dollars) but packs a wallop. It’s not just a steamer, though, but a whole cooking system: it’s good for rice, veggies, cooking soups and chilis, and more! There are not that many functions available for full customization, but it’s expectable considering the price. The pot comes with a tray, rice measuring cup, and a serving spatula. It’s also not a huge thing, it’s only good for six cups of cooked rice, but should be enough for a person or two.
A lot of testers used it for rice and had great results, steaming, though seemed a little complicated. Among other complaints were that the cooker produced a huge stream of steam that got everywhere from the stove and countertop to anything else within three feet. Can we recommend it without compunction? Probably not. But if you’re on a budget and in the market to cook rice, then that might be an option.
Aroma Housewares: Check the current price
AVENT | Philips - food steamer for baby without BPA
This is an ideal food steamer for babies: it steams and blends food in a single machine to a perfect consistency for a truly healthy baby meal and is ideal for preparing food for every stage of weaning. The powerful blender can blend anything from veggies to meats, fish, and even sausages. Besides, the Avent blending and steaming system would preserve nutrients and texture and prepare a baby for more solid foods.
It features a very compact design for easy storage and water filling. All you have to do is put veggies, hit a button, and then flip a jar to blend the veggies. Because of such a compact design, with fewer parts, the machine is very easy to clean. The only downside of this steamer is that its voltage is 220~240V, so you’ll need an adaptor to use it in the US.
Philips: Check the current price
Comparative chart of Food Steamers
|16" cooking tray |
7" steaming baskets for separate zones
BPA-free parts and all stainless steel cooking surfaces
Powerful 1800W and rapid start (30 sec)
|Glass lid |
5L dishwasher-safe glass pot
5 preprogrammed food settings
60-minute countdown timer
LCD control panel
audible alert and start/stop
pause & reheat buttons
keep warm function
1L removable water tank
stainless steel steaming tray
|3-tier steaming |
2 plastic bowls
|6 qt. Cooking System |
stay warm feature
4 cooking modes
80+ preprogrammed recipes
|6 qt. Cooking System |
3 Cups Uncooked / 6 Cups Cooked
rice measuring cup
|220V Only |
800 (solids)/450 (liquids) ml
- Finally, you’ll be able to eat healthy without stepping out from the comfort of your own home
- Steaming is super simple: just throw the veggies, add spices if you like, push a button and wait for chimes to inform you that food’s ready to be served
- Simple equipment is pretty affordable, ranging between 20 and 40 dollars
- One device for various foods: broccoli, fish, meat, dumplings, anything!
- Steamed food is rich in nutrients and vitamins, perfect for babies and adults alike
- Best appliances are above 100 dollars, which might break someone’s budget
- Steamed food is less appealing
- Some foods just can’t be steamed (like pork or beef steaks)
- Steam can burn if you accidentally open the lid
Food steamers can be used for a lot of produce, like:
- Fish and seafood
- Some types of meat (small amounts of beef or lamb)
- Dumplings, dim sum, baozi, xiaolongbao, and other types dumplings
Some cooking tips for food steamer:
- Don’t add too much water: the water must be below at least 2 inches from food
- Boil the water first and only then add your veggies or whatever else you cook
- Sprinkle the food with herbs, spices, or garlic for better taste: steamed food doesn’t have to be dull
- Don’t over-steam: you veggies need to be fresh and a little crispy, sort of like al dente
- The seal must be airtight, if it’s not, then expect a longer cooking time
Can a food steamer cook rice?
Yes, if it has a rice bowl. Like the one from Aroma Housewares
Can I use it to sterilize bottles?
In some of those, yes, you can. I recommend buying Instant Pot that has a special sterilizing feature.
What food steamer is the best?
There’s not a single answer to that, really. But Breville seems to be the most advanced and sophisticated device that cooks excellent food, so it might be called the best one.
How to clean it?
Please, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Some parts can be dishwasher safe, while others need to be washed by hand or rinsed in soapy water.
What food steamer for a restaurant can you recommend buying?
For a restaurant, you’ll probably need something sophisticated like Groen SmartSteam100, otherwise, choose something like Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen Bamboo Steamer for an authentic experience.
How to make it at home: steam food without a steamer?
Here’s an interesting idea:
Steamed food is a healthy way to lose weight. It’s also perfect for babies because it’s packed with nutrients and vitamins. Investing in a steam cooker today, you are investing in your own healthy and bright future without disease and illness.