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We assembled a list of the best food steamers available. We preferred steamers that had a minimum cooking capacity of 1.5 quarts and were made of durable, heat-resistant, and safe-to-use glass, aluminum, ceramics, or BPA-free plastics. We also preferred steamers which were fairly lightweight, power-rated at least 400 watts for cooking efficiency, and heat-variable controls with timers that had a maximum setting of at least 60 minutes. A food steamer is an essential kitchen product to have if you enjoy cooking.
Of those we tested, the Oster Double Tiered Food Steamer is the best food steamer. We liked it for its generous 10-quart cooking capacity, ability to cook multiple items separately but simultaneously, easy-to-use, streamlined controls, and durable but reasonably lightweight construction. Keep reading to see other high quality steamers available for purchase.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Streamlined controls including an auto-timer and an extremely generous 5-quart capacity capable of cooking entire meals in less than an hour make this light, durable steamer a top choice.
The Oster Double Tiered Food Steamer is a 400-watt steamer with two 5-qt steamer baskets that stack securely, for a total of 10 quarts of cooking capacity. It features an easy-to-use dial timer with an auto-60 minute setting, a power indicator light, and an auto-shutoff function that stops heating when water is depleted for forget-proof safety. The bowls are made of 100% non-toxic BPA-free clear plastic and the base is 100% stainless steel with a durable and scratch-resistant plastic casing, and the cooking bowls are completely dishwasher safe.
Although with a 400-watt rating, it’s less powerful than many steamers on the market, it’s still a high-performing unit capable of cooking entire meals in under an hour. Its extremely generous capacity, handy two-tiered design, lightweight (1.2 pounds), and its simple controls and safety features make it a worry-free breeze to use right out of the box, making it a great all-around choice. You might also want to take a look at our guide to the best slow cooker to make your food.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Solidly built and powerful, with an automatic keep-warm function to keep recipes from becoming cold and shipping with a bevy of useful accessories, including a steam tray, a spatula and a handy measuring cup.
The Aroma Housewares Rice Cooker/Food Steamer is a 1.5-quart capacity (for rice, 3 cups uncooked or 6 cups cooked) steamer and rice cooker with a tempered glass lid, aluminum and stainless steel body with an attractive fire engine read laminate, and a removable nonstick metal steaming tray. It comes with a durable clear plastic measuring cup for rice and a handy serving spatula and features one-touch functionality that stops cooking when water is depleted but keeps food warm with an automatic warming function that turns on when cooking is completed.
It excels at cooking perfect rice but it’s also excellent at steaming veggies, meat, and other grains, and can even be used for stews like jambalaya and gumbo. Its significantly smaller cooking capacity than most models means it’s not ideal for family-sized meals, and it’s heavier than many models available, giving it limited portability. However, its reliability, one-touch ease of use, and included accessories make it a great choice for making small, healthy meals quickly. For the rest of your kitchen needs, you might also want to read our guide to the best stainless steel cookware.
Award: MOST VERSATILE
WHY WE LIKE IT: With its rice tray, a pair of tier stackable baskets, precise digital controls, and fairly generous 5.5-quar capacity, this food steamer gives you a plethora of options.
The Hamilton Beach Digital Food Steamer is a steamer and rice cooker featuring two stackable clear BPA-free plastic food trays and a smaller removable rice steamer tray for a total cooking capacity of 5.5 quarts. The two trays can be stacked for a two-tier configuration or you can remove the divider to use both trays as one 5.5 quart steaming bowl. Additionally, you may use only one tray, and insert the included small rice steaming tray into any configuration for easy rice cooking. If you cook using garlic then you should check out the best garlic keepers that will have your kitchen looking elegant.
The digital control panel and display feature a low-water indicator and fully programmable cooking time, including a delayed cooking mode and a warming mode, and a built-in extra water reservoir allows you to add more water during steaming if need be. At 4lbs, it’s one of the heavier steamers on the market, and only the cooking trays are dishwasher safe, but the huge number of tray configurations, the included rice steamer, and the highly customizable digital controls and water reservoir make this one of the most versatile steamers available. If you ever cook with a microwave, you might also want to read our guide to the best speed cooking microwave.
Award: LARGEST CAPACITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: Its generous 9-quart capacity, customizable three-tier design, safety features and simple, easy-to-use controls make it perfect for preparing healthy, large, multi-part meals.
The Rosewill BPA-Free Food Steamer is 800-watt food steamer and rice cooker that features three certified BPA-free translucent plastic food steaming trays and one rice steaming tray, all of which are dishwasher-safe. Each tray includes clever built-in egg holders that keep eggs upright boiling or steaming, and the sturdy plastic lid features an easy-grip handle for safe removal. The stainless steel and hard plastic body features a water-pour inlet on each side for easy refilling during cooking. The simple control dial allows for up to 60 minutes of cooking and a handy cooking guide graphic shows the best cooking times for various veggies, meats, and other foods.
With an auto-shutoff feature that activates when a cooking cycle is done or water depletes and trays that remain cool to the touch during cooking, it’s built with safety in mind. Although it’s a fairly heavy and bulky steamer, its three-tier design, generous capacity, simple controls, and clever design additions make it perfect for cooking healthy, quick, multi-part meals for your family. To keep your kitchen clean, you might also want some of the best cooktop cleaner on hand.
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: A heavy-duty, state-of-the-art model built to last, made with the finest material, including heavy tempered glass, and featuring sophisticated controls for great-tasting food every time.
The Cuisinart Digital Glass Steamer is a heavy duty food steamer made of high-quality, heat-resistant tempered glass, BPA-free plastic, and stainless steel with rubber bottom grips. The heavy glass lid forms a tight seal that retains heat and moisture better than most steamers for more efficient and thorough cooking, while the stainless steel base is ultra-durable and built to last. The 5.28-quart all-glass steam tray is flippable to hold different types of food and is completely dishwasher safe.
The digital controls feature a number of different modes for various cooking times and types of meals, as well as a handy reheat function. Though it lacks a dedicated rice-cooking tray, is far heavier than most steamers, and isn’t the most economical choice, this Cuisinart steamer is a powerful, top-quality tool with a generous enough capacity for large meals and it’s built to last a lifetime. This steamer will quickly become part of your best cookware.
Award: EASIEST TO USE
WHY WE LIKE IT: A generous 7.4-quart capacity, two-tier design, convenience features like an extra water reservoir, auto shutoff, and streamlined controls with a handy cooking chart make it super easy-to-use while still providing plenty of power and versatility.
The Bella 7.4 Quart Healthy Food Steamer is a two-tiered, 800-watt food steamer. It features two clear, heat-resistant steaming trays, a small plastic grain tray for cooking rice and other grains with your meals, and a plastic and stainless steel base with plastic grips on the bottom to help prevent sliding. The control panel has a simple cooking cycle dial for cycles up to 60 minutes, a water level indicator, a small extra water refill tray for adding water during cooking, and a handy food steaming chart showing the average cooking times for various meats, veggies, and other foods.
The steamer’s auto-shutoff feature turns off the heating element when the cooking cycle is finished or when the removable water reservoir is depleted. With its safety features, two-tier customizable design, grain tray, good capacity, and 800-watt cooking power, this is a solidly built, great all-around steamer that’s as easy to use as it is versatile. For the rest of your cooking needs, you should also read our guide to the best gas cooktop.
Award: MOST POWERFUL
WHY WE LIKE IT: Features an impressive 1200 watts of cooking power, which begins steaming ingredients within 15 seconds, and its two-tier design and loads of control customization options make it a powerhouse in the kitchen.
The Secura Electric Food Steamer is a 1200 watt food steamer with two stackable stainless steel trays on a stainless steel body. It features easy-grip, anti-scalding rubber and plastic tray handles and a knob-shaped plastic top handle for safe handling. The sophisticated and highly customizable digital control panel allows you to program delayed cooking and food warm-up times that make it great for people with busy schedules, an auto-shutoff feature to prevent overheating and fire hazards, adjustable power levels, and pre-programmed settings for specific food items, with an easy-to-read red on black digital display.
Its impressive 1200-watt power starts steaming water within 15 seconds, but the mostly stainless steel construction makes it hotter to the touch than most models, and it’s one of the heavier and bulkier models on the market, which may be a concern for people looking to save space. Still, its anti-scalding handles make it fairly safe for general use, it’s an incredibly powerful, fast-cooking, built-to-last steamer with plenty of versatility and reliability.
See Also: You may want to check out the best food mill if you enjoy grinding food when cooking.
Food steamers can be a great addition to a health-conscious kitchen- and there are a plethora of options out there. We preferred steamers with a cooking capacity of at least 1.5 quarts that are made out of a combination of tempered glass, aluminum, or other safe, heat-conductive metals, ceramics, or plastics.For plastic and synthetic components, we favored certified BPA-free, odor-free plastics that are heat resistant and won’t warp or deteriorate over extended use.
We also favored models that featured digital controls including easy-to-read LED displays, and for non-digital models were favored timers with a maximum setting time of at least 60 minutes and variable heat. We also liked steamers that featured two-tiered cooking tray designs for cooking food separately or whole meals at once, and which had added safety features.
Finally, we preferred steamers that weighed no more than 15.5 lbs and had power ratings of at least 400 watts for maximum cooking efficiency. We also did not test commercial food steamers, though many of the above food steamers are powerful and versatile enough to excel in small commercial spaces.
Steaming food is a health-conscious choice that eschews cooking oils and grease for heart-healthy meals. Moreover, veggies that are steamed as opposed to broiled, fried, boiled or braised retain far more of their nutrients and fresh, healthy color- which means steamed meals often look brighter and fresher. While it’s possible to steam meals without a dedicated food steamer, it can be difficult and dangerous. Steaming is also the best way to prepare fluffy, evenly cooked rice without the risk of burning, which is why many steamers come with a rice steaming tray, and rice cookers often make good general food steamers themselves. Therefore a quality food steamer is a great choice for making healthy meals quickly, easily, and safely.
Most dedicated food steamers are made from a combination of stainless steel, plastic or tempered glass. Metal, of course, conducts heat the best, but metal parts can become hot to the touch. Ceramics and glass don’t conduct heat quite as well, but retain it much better, making them great at keeping food warm- although more breakable. Plastic is shatter and chip-resistant and easy to clean, and it needs to be specially formulated in order to be useful in cooking. Also, not all plastics are odor-free and 100% non-toxic or BPA-free. Many of the best steamers, therefore, use a combination of materials, using the strength of each for a steamer that’s safe to use, cooks thoroughly and quickly, and can keep food warm.
Rice cookers are essentially purpose-built food steamers, while a food steamer will generally do the job for cooking rice, but isn’t specifically built for the task. In short, a rice cooker is generally fantastic at cooking rice, but its design may not be suitable for as many different steaming tasks, since its cooking tray/bowl is designed for one specific task. Moreover, rice cookers tend to have far much more paired-down controls which don’t leave a lot of cooking time or temperature options. A food steamer, on the other hand, will cook rice but is generally built to handle a number of different food items well and has controls that give the user more options. Very often they’ll also include an extra rice steaming tray, making them more useful overall than a dedicated rice cooker.
Food steamers and rice cookers will vary greatly in terms of how easy they are to clean. For the most part, food steamer trays will be dishwasher safe and some will even be made of nonstick material like Teflon, but because of their electronic and mechanical components, the base of your food steamer will almost never been dishwasher safe, and must be cleaned carefully with soap and water- being sure to avoid letting electronics sit in water. Moreover, even for dishwasher safe components, a run through the dishwasher isn’t always sufficient-, especially for stuck-on food. It’s a good idea therefore to scrape or scrub any large stuck-on food waste off your trays before running through your dishwasher.
The best food steamer is the Oster Double Tiered 5 Quart Food Steamer, for its versatility, safety features, ease of cleaning, and generous capacity. Other popular steamers include the Breville food steamer and other Cuisinart food steamers we did not test.