A food steamer in your kitchen is not just a convenience; it will assist you with cooking healthy options, as essential nutrients are retained in the food instead of leaching away in cooking water or oil. There is no need to add fat either. Used to prepare entire meals or just side items, they are versatile appliances. Steamers that cook rice, steam pots and other kitchen gadgetry have been available in the past and a food steamer for microwave use is the simplest type, but the electric cookers of today offer more features, great results, and an easy clean up. You can find one for one person or a large crowd but the best food steamer on the market will probably be the one that consistently turns out properly cooked food time and time again.
Let’s briefly touch upon what you should look for when buying an electric food steamer.
Some steamers will have just one tray level so you can’t steam more that one type of food at a time. If you want more versatility, look for one with at least two levels to separate the different types. Does the appliance have a timer and can you set it start cooking at a later time? Does it beep when it’s done cooking and does it switch to a keep warm function after that?
Check to see what the material of the cooking bowl and tray is. It should be a stainless steel food steamer or a BPA-free food steamer. Cheap plastic is a no-no. Make sure that it is easy to use and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. It should be easy to clean and have removable parts that can be washed in the dishwasher. If water tends to bubble out while cooking, this can make cleaning the outside of the cooker a bit of a pain.
The capacity of the steamer is important and depends on how many people you usually have to feed, but keep in mind that the large capacity ones will also take up more space on your counter and in storage. Some of the best food steamers are not that expensive and simple controls and options on it can still give you flavorful food. The more versatility you want in your steamer, the more you can expect to pay.
Then there are electric rice cookers that come with several setting to also allow you to use them as steamers.
If you want to know what the best food steamer in the market is today, we have done the research and selected just five highly rated ones for you.
Best Electric Food Steamers
Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer 5.5 Quart (37530A)
A household name for generations, the Hamilton Beach digital steamer offers two levels of cooking so that you can steam two items or large quantities at the same time. When steaming large food items, the spacer between the two levels can be removed. Equipped with delay start, you can set it to start steaming later when you’re out, and it automatically switches to the warm setting for one hour when the food is ready. The 5.5-quart capacity gives you the room you need to steam corn on the cob, a whole head of broccoli or even a large lobster.
While the old version had BPA in its parts, the newest version of this model has completely BPA-free plastic parts. With the digital steamer, you will have the perfect companion for steaming delicate seafood, meat, chicken and hot dogs, veggies and soft or hard-boiled eggs, and the included rice bowl is perfect for rice and other grains or small food items. The appliance will alert you when the water level is low and it is equipped with a handy water reservoir fill feature, so you can easily add water in the middle of cooking if necessary. A drip tray catches any water and food juices that may bubble out.
The digital touchpad is easy to read and setting the cooking and timer functions is simple. With a small footprint and nesting storage, the Hamilton Beach steamer is a great addition to any kitchen. A steaming chart is included with the instructions manual.
Reviewers give this steamer a high rating and find it to be a handy kitchen gadget that allows them to cook foods that are healthier than when frying, sautéing or boiling. Other reviewers find uses for the Hamilton Beach steamer that are as varied as one’s creativity, and cleanup is easy. Another reviewer bemoaned the fact that no recipes are included with the unit.
Cuisinart STM-1000 CookFresh Digital Glass Steamer
Cuisinart, also a household brand name, offers their STM-1000 CookFresh glass steamer for steaming meat, veggies, fish and other items. This steamer offers a large 5-liter steaming pot, large enough to steam family sized meals. It also features a unique steaming system, with the steam directed downwards from the top of the vessel, thus offering speedy and uniform steaming. Another point in the Cuisinart’s favour is that all the parts in contact with the food (i.e. the steaming bowl, tray, and lid) are made out of glass and stainless steel, thus guaranteeing that your food is BPA free. It has a large 1-liter water tank that can be separately removed for filling, thus ensuring that you do not run out of steam even in extended steaming sessions!
The Cuisinart is also easily controllable, with an LCD control panel on the side that allows you to select from one of 5 pre-programmed steaming modes (for seafood, poultry, grains, vegetables, or manual) and also has a 60 minute countdown timer if you want to set things up manually. You can also pause cooking if you want to add ingredients halfway or delay the final stages of cooking, and you can use the reheat option too.
The STM-1000 CookFresh is rather large and unwieldy, with a footprint of more than one square foot, and is perhaps heavier than its competitors because of the glass and stainless steel. But the removable parts are all dishwasher safe.
Users of the STM-1000 CookFresh have praised its quick, uniform steaming action, and its large “family meal” size cooking capacity. Most users were extremely happy that the steamer was made of glass and stainless steel, and this was one of their prime reasons behind its purchase. A few users complained that it was not able to cook different types of food together consistently – for instance with carrots and beets cooked together, the carrots were overcooked while the the beets where undercooked. All in all, the Cuisinart STM-1000 CookFresh is a sturdy, dependable steamer that should give you many years of service.
Best Non-digital Electric Food Steamer
Oster CKSTSTMD5-W 5-Quart Food Steamer
The Oster CKSTSTMD5-W is a simple, functional steamer. It has a capacity of 5 quarts (slightly less than 5 liters) and has two steaming compartments that are arranged vertically, one atop the other. It has a timer that can be set to a maximum of 60 minutes; and also has an auto cutoff mechanism that turns the device off when the timer expires or the water runs out. The steaming bowls are made of lightweight, transparent plastic, and are dishwasher safe. The bowls nest for added storage convenience.
The Oster CKSTSTMD5-W is a compact, lightweight steamer that is ideal for a small family or for a college dorm. It has simple, functional controls, is easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to pack away when not in use.
Users of the Oster have been happy with its light weight and simplicity. They appreciate the two separate steaming compartments, that allow two types of foods (for instance your veggies and your proteins) to be steamed together. Some users have mentioned that the top container of the steamer does not steam as well as the bottom container, so food cooks slower in the top container. However, this might be seen as an advantage when steaming veggies and proteins at the same time. Other users have complained that the bell that rings when the steaming cycle is complete is not loud enough and can be easily lost in the buzz of other home activities. A few users have mentioned that although the product is FDA approved, it does not seem to carry a BPA-free label.
BELLA 7.4 Quart Healthy Food Steamer, Dual Basket
The Bella 7.4 quart steamer is a fine family size steamer! With 7.4 quarts of capacity (around 7 liters) and two steaming baskets, it has all that is needed to cook a fine meal. You can cook your veggies and meats separately and have each maintain their natural flavors. It also comes with a separate grain tray that can be used especially for cooking grains such as rice. All the trays are made of BPA-free plastic and are dishwasher safe, so they are a cinch to keep clean.
The Bella has several very useful features; one of them is a “quick start” function, which means that it begins steaming in as little as 30 seconds from the time you switch it on. Another useful feature is the transparent window on the water reservoir that allows you to see how much water is left in the machine and whether it needs refilling. The controls are simple – a single timer knob that allows you to set a steaming time of upto 60 minutes. There is also a simple chart printed next to the knob that shows you the amount of team needed to steam a few typical foods. The Bella also has an automatic shutoff mechanism that prevents the machine from boiling dry and thus safeguards the machine and your food.
Users of the Bella are happy with its simplicity and ease of use and with its large steaming capacity. Many of them are thrilled with the two separate steaming baskets that allow them to steam two separate foods at the same time. The separate grain steaming tray has also received praise. On the negative side, a few users have complained that the Bella seems to leak water in use, and some users have complained that the water reservoir does not hold enough water for a full 60 minutes of steaming, which makes it difficult to steam tough foods, like peas, in one go. Several users have also complained that the trays are rather flimsy and may crack after a few uses.
Ovente FS53W 7.5-Quart 3-Tier Electric Vegetable and Food Steamer
The largest in total volume of the steamers we have reviewed so far, the Ovente FS53W steamer has 7.5 Quarts ( around 7 litres ) of superb steaming capacity! It comes with three 2.5 quart steaming baskets that stack vertically, one on top of the other, so you can steam three different foods in one go. Despite its impressive capacity, it is quite lightweight and easy to handle and store. You do not have to use all three containers if you don’t want to – you can use one, two or all three of them depending on your steaming needs. The containers are made of transparent plastic and are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
The Ovente has a single knob to control the steaming time and can go upto 60 minutes in 15 minute increments. It also has an indicator that lights up when the power is on. The Ovente has an auto shutoff function that switches off when the timer expires or when the water runs dry. There is also an indicator for the water level.
Users of the Ovente are satisfied with its simple, efficient steaming action. Many users have commented on how easy it is to steam or prep three food types at a time, enough for a meal for 2 or 3 people. Other users have marvelled at how easy to use and clean it is, and have commented that it is perfect as a travel accessory. As for the negatives, several users have complained that the Ovente steaming trays are made of rather cheap and flimsy plastic and are liable to crack easily. Also, if pushed one inside the other for storing, the trays get stuck to each other and are difficult to separate. Some users have also complained that the steaming action allows the condensed steam to drip down from each tray onto the layer below and back down into the water reservoir, thus muddling the flavours of the foods. Some users have also complained that though the overall steaming volume is large (7.5 quarts), each individual steaming tray is not really large enough to handle large items like corn cobs.
Rice Cooker with Steamer
Aroma Digital Food Steamer and 20-Cup (Cooked Rice) Rice Cooker
The largest of all the steamers, the Aroma 20-cup digital food steamer/rice cooker is large enough to make a batch of rice for a large family. It is also perfect for larger items, such as corn on the cob. You can use this steamer to prepare from four to 20 cups of cooked rice, but it is also perfect for your favorite pot of soup, a pot roast, or a batch of jambalaya.
The touch pad gives you 4 presets – white rice, brown rice, steam, slow cook and keep warm, which you can manually set. The fifteen-hour delay timer gives you the flexibility to cook your favorite meals to be ready for later, and will beep 5-6 times and then automatically switch to keep warm when the cooking is done.
The included non-stick inner cooking pot, steam tray, rice measuring cup and serving spatula give you all you need to get started with the Aroma steamer. The steam tray will give you the flexibility to cook more than one food at a time.
One reviewer was amazed that this cooker can cook white rice, basmati, jasmine, or short-grained rice perfectly every time. The lid on this steamer is not removable but hinged, making it difficult to keep unless you take the trouble to unscrew the hinge at the back.
Since these are the best food steamers on the market, choosing the one that you want will depend on your cooking needs. The smaller steamers are perfect for preparing side dishes or full meals for a few people, and the larger steamers can cook enough food for six or more people, depending on what’s cooking. Add a steamer to your current kitchen gadgetry collection and cook your way to a healthier diet.