A food steamer is a kitchen appliance that cooks food by steam. It does this by boiling the water and then releasing the steam into a container with the food inside.
It can be used to cook a wide variety of foods, including rice, vegetables, fish and seafood, pasta such as lasagna or ravioli, and even desserts like cakes or puddings.
The best part about using a food steamer is the fact that you don’t need to add any fat or oil to prevent sticking; all you have to do is set it up properly before putting your ingredients inside.
Steaming has been shown to be healthier than other cooking methods because it retains more vitamins and minerals in foods, such as broccoli and green beans.
However, if you need to cook meat or seafood, you can add them at any point during cooking for an even tastier dish.
Types of Food Steamers
There are a variety of food steamers available. We’ll categorize them based on their design and material. This will make it easier to identify the options.
Classification by Design
The products here are either countertop or an insert for a stockpot steamer.
Countertop food steamers are usually the most popular type because they take up very little space and can be used to cook multiple dishes at once.
They work by suspending foods over water, so you will need to put some sort of tray underneath it to catch any drips.
These steamers come with a base and lid. The bottom part holds water, while the top contains holes where you will suspend your food items.
They typically have three tiers for cooking multiple foods at once.
One tier is used to cook rice or vegetables; another can be used to steam meat like fish or chicken, and the third tier is used to steam items like dumplings or buns.
Insert food steamers are designed specifically for use with a stockpot, usually one that is at least eight quarts in size.
The steamer sits inside of the pot and has two parts: an insert where you will suspend your foods above water; and another part that goes at the bottom of the pot, holding water.
These steamers are great for steaming larger items like lobsters or whole chickens, but you will need to have a large stockpot on hand to use it.
Classification by Material
Food steamers can also be categorized depending on the material. You can find them in aluminum, plastic, bamboo, and stainless steel.
Aluminum steamers are very popular because they are lightweight and affordable. They usually have three tiers for cooking different types of foods at once.
Aluminum steamers are also not dishwasher safe, so they need to be hand-washed after each use which can be a pain if you plan on using them often.
Stainless steel food steamers with nonstick coating tend to run more expensive than other types but it’s because they’re very durable and easy to clean.
If you’re looking for something that will last a lifetime then this is the type of food steamer to go with, but be sure to make sure it’s dishwasher safe before purchasing because sometimes they are not.
Bamboo food steamers are also popular as they are made of a renewable resource and don’t contain any chemicals.
They come in different shapes so you can find one to suit your needs.
The only downside of bamboo steamers is the tendency to absorb smells from food. This makes it harder to clean and can affect the food if not well cleaned.
Plastic steamers are usually the cheapest and most convenient to use. In most cases, the bowls are made from plastic.
The bowls are then combined with aluminum or stainless-steel steamers that hold and heat the water.
The majority raise concern over the safety of using plastic in high heat. Although the concern is legitimate, brands that use plastic ensure that it is BPA-free and is certified to meet global standards.
Utilizing a food steamer with plastic components does not harm your health. All you need is to ensure that you follow the guidelines when it comes to the use, cleaning, and storage of your appliance.
Note: Food steamers offer a healthy way of preparing your meals and all types have their pros and cons depending on what features you need for your home.
Considerations When Choosing a Food Steamer
If you’re not sure which type of steamer would work best for your needs then here are some things to consider:
How much space do you have? Would you prefer one with an additional timer function? Do you want something that can steam more than one item at a time?
Once you have answered all of these questions you should be able to find the best food steamer for your needs.
Do you need a food steamer to cook for one person or more? The sizes of food steamers available include mini, countertop, and floor standing.
Countertops are usually small in size so they can fit on any kitchen counter without taking up much space.
Their compact design also makes them great for traveling because you can easily pack them away into a suitcase.
Countertop steamers have simple controls which don’t take much time to master, and they can be set up in a matter of minutes.
Mini food steamers are perfect for singles or couples who don’t need a too large steamer. The downside with these types is that it’s usually difficult to find a food steamer with all the features you want in this size.
Floor standing steamers tend to be larger and can fit more foods inside, but they are also more expensive than other types because of their extra capacity.
Ease of Use
How easy is it to assemble and use your chosen food steamer? Can you easily reach the controls while cooking without burning yourself; do they make loud noises when turned on; can they be left alone once set up?
What types of features does your chosen food steamer offer? Does it come with a timer; is the steam dish dishwasher safe; what type of fuel does it use to heat up?
There are electric options that are convenient for use. An alternative is using the steam baskets with cooking pots over a stove.
What materials are used in manufacturing this product, and do you prefer those over others as they may affect how well the steamer heats or keeps foods warm?
As we’ve discussed previously, there are stainless steel, plastic, aluminum, and bamboo options.
How much are you willing to spend on a food steamer, and is it within your budget? Will the price affect other features or materials used in manufacturing this product?
Most food steamers range between $40 to $1,000 depending on design, material, and functionality.
Is there a brand name that stands out as being one of the best manufacturers for steamers; if so, who makes that particular line of steamers?
The most common brands include Hamilton Beach, Bella, Oster, and Cuisinart. It’s imperative to do your research and identify a brand you can trust.
Learn from online reviews, family, and friends. I use the Hamilton Beach Digital Food Steamer and it has never let me down.
These are just some of the considerations you will need to make before purchasing a food steamer.
There are many features which may be important to you and your family, so talk over these points with other members and see what their needs are as well.
You can then start comparing different types until one that fits all your requirements is finally chosen.
Top Food Steamer Brands You should Know
Hamilton Beach is one of the most well-known brands of food steamers out there. They have a wide range of options that are suitable for almost any home.
If you’re looking to purchase an electric steamer then we highly recommend checking them out.
They even offer some unique models such as ones with multiple tiers and removable baskets which make it easy to cook multiple things at once.
The Chefman brand is another excellent choice when it comes to electric steamers.
They have a wide range of options that are smaller than most brands, but still, pack in the features and functionality you would expect from much larger models.
If you’re looking for something that’s going to take up less space on your countertop then Chefman is a great choice.
Oster makes some excellent multi-tier electric steamers that offer plenty of value for the price.
If you’re looking to get more than just one tier with your purchase and want something that’s going to be easy to clean when you’re done, then an Oster food steamer is a great choice.
We highly recommend checking them out if you’re looking for an electric steamer.
Cuisinart is another brand that makes excellent electric steamers. They are great if you want something with easy-to-use controls and an even better value for the price.
We like the Cuisinart brand when it comes to food steamers, especially their stovetop options which have a durable construction.
Staub is an excellent choice if you are looking for a stovetop steamer. They have some of the best quality on the market, which often comes with a price tag to match.
If you’re looking for something that will last and perform well then Staub is worth considering.
Finally, there is Waring pro. It makes some of the highest-quality food steamers that we’ve come across.
Their electric models are suitable for any home and they’re built to last.
If you want something durable and that performs, then Waring Pro is worth checking out, especially if you can afford their high price tag.