A food steamer in your kitchen is not just a convenience; it will assist you with cooking healthy meals, 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.
Table of Contents
- 1 What to Look for When Buying an Electric Food Steamer
- 2 Best Electric Food Steamer
- 3 Best Non-digital Electric Food Steamer
- 4 Rice Cooker with Steamer
- 5 How to use an electric food steamer
- 6 FAQs on Electric Food Steamers
Cuisinart STM-1000 CookFresh Food Steamer
Secura Electric Food Steamer
BELLA Two Tier Food Steamer
What to Look for When Buying an Electric Food Steamer
Design and Capacity
You will be able to cook more food in one sitting depending on the size of the steamer. A bigger steamer is obviously necessary for a larger family, but keep in mind that the large capacity ones will also take up more space on your counter and in storage. Some steamers will have just one tray level so you can’t steam more than 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. This design can help you cook an entire meal for more than one person.
How evenly the steamer cooks food also depends on its design. For even cooking, many tiered basket-style steamers have an aluminum core with stainless steel cladding on either side. Another type of steamer emits steam from the top down in order to distribute heat evenly. In terms of long-lasting cookware, stainless steel is typically a good choice.
A steamer’s wattage indicates its average power output, and this will determine how fast your food will cook. You might want one with a little more wattage. From vegetables to thick cuts of chicken or fish, you want a steamer that will cook everything without making the food to dry out or taking a long time to cook. A lower wattage is fine if you only need to steam vegetables.
All steamers will have either a digital or manual timer in its simplest form. A steamer with preprogrammed settings is ideal for anyone not sure how long to cook their food for. The steamer uses an automatic cooking system, so you just need to fill the water reservoir, place your food in the steamer, close it, and select what you want to cook. Then there will be no guesswork and your food will not be dried out or undercooked. Make sure that it is easy to use and the instructions are clear and easy to follow.
For even more convenience, choose a steamer where you can set it to start cooking at a later time. This feature allows you to prep and go out but have a hot meal ready for you once you’re back.
Even after the steamer shuts off, the residual steam can continue cooking the food a little. In order to prevent overcooking, an audible alert to let you know when it’s done with the cooking process is helpful so that you can open the lid to let the steam escape. If you don’t want to serve the food immediately, a Keep Warm function that turns on automatically for a few minutes after the steaming is over lets you have a hot meal even a little later.
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.
It can be dangerous to cook with steam if you’ve never used it before. If you are using a steamer, pay close attention to its handle. Despite the fact that some steamers claim their handles are safe to touch without oven mitts, it would be wise to test this out first. The handles may get hotter than advertised. Don’t forget the lid either. Several steamers have clear lids, allowing you to see how the food is doing. In addition to these, your steamer should have an automatic shutoff so that it doesn’t boil dry if the water in the tank gets over.
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.
Dishwasher-safe steamers are great if you don’t enjoy handwashing dishes. If water tends to bubble out while cooking, this can make cleaning the outside of the cooker a bit of a pain.
Then there are electric rice cookers that come with several settings to also allow you to use them as steamers for cooking fluffy rice. This is a must, particularly for Asian cuisine.
If you want to know what the best food steamer in the market is today, we have done the research and selected just a few highly rated ones for you.
Best Electric Food Steamer
Cuisinart STM-1000 CookFresh Digital Glass Steamer
Cuisinart, a household brand name, offers their 1800 watt STM-1000 CookFresh glass steamer for steaming meat, veggies, fish and other items. This steamer offers a large 5-liter (5.3 quart) 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 Cuisinart’s favor 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 is one of the reasons it is our pick for the best BPA-free food steamer. It has a large 1-liter removable water tank that can be separately filled, thus ensuring that you do not run out of steam even in extended steaming sessions.
The Cuisinart steamer is also easily controllable, with an LCD control panel on the front 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.
However, you can’t add refrigerated foods directly into an already steaming glass pot because it will crack due to the sudden temperature change. Makes sure you bring foods to room temperature first or add them before you turn the unit on. The alert sound will keep going off if all the parts are not securely in place while the unit is on.
The STM-1000 CookFresh has 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.
- Large size cooking capacity for family meals.
- Quick, uniform, and powerful steaming action for even cooking.
- Sturdy and dependable.
- The glass steaming tray is dishwasher-safe.
- Rather large and unwieldy.
- The glass pot will crack if you add cold foods into the hot steaming glass pot.
- Only comes with one steamer basket.
Secura 8.5 Qt. Electric Food Steamer
If you want minimal plastic in the construction of your food steamer, the Secura Electric Food Steamer should be your top choice. In just 15 seconds after turning it on, this digital steamer will begin to generate steam. It is designed for energy-efficient, healthy cooking. A total capacity of 8.5 quarts is provided by two stackable containers, which is large enough to accommodate family-size portions of food. A powerful 1200 Watt steam-generating system ensures uniform cooking by covering the food in steam from the top-down.
If you want breakfast to be ready when you wake up or dinner done when you get home, you can easily set a delayed start time between 1 and 10 hours. As soon as it uses all the water, your steamer will shut down automatically so it will not boil dry. The removable parts can all be cleaned in the dishwasher. Easy to program and easy to use, the LED display on the plastic base provides accurate cooking times. It features 5 presets, a manual timer, high, medium, and low power levels, a Keep Warm function, and an audible alert.
On the stackable parts, you get stainless steel outer and inner surfaces that are extremely durable, and the glass lid lets you see what you’re cooking. Among its safety features are a non-scald handle, a non-slip rubber knob, and a clear water line for precise cooking.
The bottom of the steamer bowls may develop brownish scales after a few uses and this is normal with stainless steel. Wire scrubbers should not be used to clean the insides. Use equal parts of vinegar and water to remove mineral buildup, but do not exceed the marked maximum fill line. Clean the inner pot after bringing the water to a full boil and letting it cool completely before you do so. Wet a towel and wipe the outer surface of the power base only and do not immerse it in water.
- Large capacity with fast and even cooking.
- The control panel and display is user friendly.
- Allows a variety of foods to be cooked at the same time.
- All cooking surfaces are made of stainless steel.
- Some devices have a loose handle on the lid.
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 of one item 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 (37530A) has completely BPA-free plastic parts. With the digital steamer, you will have the perfect companion for steaming delicate seafood, meat, chicken, hot dogs, and veggies, and the included rice bowl is perfect for rice and other grains or small food items. You can even do soft or hard-boiled eggs by inserting the egg holders in the bowls.
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 and is our pick for the best value food steamer. A steaming chart is included with the instructions manual.
- Extremely versatile for steaming entire meals.
- Clean up is a breeze.
- Good value.
- The “keep warm” function cannot be disabled.
- You may face a glitch after a few years where the “low water” warning light turns on even if the reservoir is full.
Best Non-digital Electric Food Steamer
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 rice tray that can be used especially for cooking grains. 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. When it does, you just have to slide the tank out for easy filling.
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.
One thing to note is that each steamer basket has to be stacked in its correct position and should not be interchanged or the unit may leak.
- Large steaming capacity.
- Simple to use.
- Well designed grain tray.
- Very easy to refill the water reservoir mid-steaming.
- You can’t interchange the steamer baskets.
- The water reservoir is shallow so it may overflow once it starts boiling if you fill it too much.
NESCO ST-25F 5-Quart Food Steamer
The NESCO ST-25F is a simple, functional steamer that operates at 400 watts. 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. In addition, the separator vent between the two baskets can be removed if you want to steam taller food items, like corn on the cob. There is a 2 cup rice bowl that can sit on either of the two levels and you can also soft or hard boiled eggs in one or two layers.
The steamer has a 60-minute timer and also has an auto cutoff mechanism that turns the device off when the timer expires or the water runs out. The steaming baskets and rice bowl are made of lightweight, transparent BPA-free plastic, and are dishwasher safe. The bowls nest for added storage convenience.
The NESCO ST-25F features a compact design with a 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.
- Easy to clean.
- Easy to use.
- Great for boiled eggs.
- Very economical.
- You can’t see the water level unless you lift the bottom steamer basket.
- There’s no audible alert once the steamer is done cooking.
- Food in the bottom tray may touch the water below if you add too much in the tank.
Rice Cooker with Steamer
If you’re not into steaming but you love rice, getting a small rice cooker is a better option. However, a complete meal of steamed vegetables and proteins along with rice is best done in a rice cooker with steamer function.
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.
- Can cook any type of rice or grain perfectly.
- Removable parts are dishwasher-safe.
- Easy to clean.
- The lid is hinged and not removable.
- The power cord is a bit short.
How to use an electric food steamer
Assemble all the parts first. Your owner’s manual will contain instructions on how to do this. Before placing the vegetables in the steamer, clean and peel them. Prior to cooking, defrost all poultry and sausages. Fish and meat should be seasoned first. Don’t try to steam red meat. Other cooking methods are best and an electric pressure cooker or programmable slow cooker are great for tough cuts of meat. When steaming rice, just add the rice to its tray.
Fill the steamer with water according to the instructions. Food should not be in contact with the liquid in the base of the container. To enhance the flavor of the food, you can also use broth or fruit juice instead.
The suggested cooking time should be set on the timer. To cook foods that require different cook times, begin with the largest/toughest food and add the rest according to overall cooking time.
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 1 or 2 people, and the larger steamers can cook enough food for four 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.
FAQs on Electric Food Steamers
Some consider electric steamers to be indispensable tools in the kitchen, though strictly speaking, they are not necessary. Often, steamers are purchased because they preserve vitamins and nutrients better than cooking in boiling water. All the flavors and textures of the food are retained with this gentler cooking method.
Therefore, if you are interested in improving your health, then you will benefit from using a food steamer to enjoy meals rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Moreover, food steamers are simple to operate and can cook a wide variety of foods simultaneously.
However, in comparison with other cooking methods, the speed of a steamer is much slower when cooking meat. Using other options may be more efficient and effective.
Only thoroughly cooked produce can be guaranteed to be free from bacteria. Unfortunately, simply tossing the food into the skillet or steaming it lightly is not enough to kill bacteria such as E. Coli. Rather, be certain your produce reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit internally for at least 15 seconds.
If you are concerned about staying healthy, check your steamer’s construction to see if any plastics have been used. You will want to know particularly if the steamer basket tiers are made from plastic. The recycling number should be on them if they are. Plastics that are #7 are likely to be polycarbonate plastics. This means they can leach BPA into food when they are steamed. The quantity leached by just steaming is much lower than by boiling but it’s a good idea to eliminate the risk completely because BPAs are endocrine disruptors.
If you want to buy an automatic food steamer, make sure that all parts that will come in contact with food are BPA-free.
Different vegetables take different amounts of time to cook in a steamer. If your steamer didn’t come with recipes for various vegetables, you can test out the following times. Once you figure out the exact amount of time each one takes, you should set a timer to get consistent results every time.
Soft leafy greens: 3 minutes
Fresh peas: 3 minutes
Broccoli and cauliflower florets, green beans: 5 to 7 minutes
Potatoes, carrots, squash, turnips: 8 to 20 minutes
Kale and collards: 10 minutes