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Second in number only to our favorite dishes is the number of ways that people have devised ways to prepare them. Cooking today ranges from wood fire to actual deliberate irradiation (there’s a reason that people call microwaving ‘nuking’) and anyone with any experience in cooking can tell you that the tastes will be similarly numerous.
Even with the massive variety at our disposal, there are some things that are more commonly enjoyed than others. Prominent among them is that we, as a society, tend to like our food to still be moist and juicy when we eat it. Although there are some foods that we like to eat dry, cooking, in general, is preferred when the food is not dehydrated.
This can present a problem to many cooks, as the key factor in the majority of dishes is heat. How does one gauge the temperature – especially for easily cooked foods like vegetables – to the point of cooking them without evaporating all the moisture content they contain?
Although there is the obvious answer of boiling food in a totally liquid environment, not everyone wants to have to eat soup for a palatable meal, and there are some foods that simply do not lend themselves to being boiled. Wrapping the food or covering the cooking dish is also used on occasion, holding the moisture in the food with an impermeable barrier.
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Often overlooked as too ‘fancy,’ an appliance for many home cooks is the steamer. This tool cooks the food with exposure to heated steam, creating a cooking environment containing enough moisture with no concerns of evaporation.
Steamers have been around for quite literally hundreds of years. Ancient steamers have been found in China and Egypt, which shows how far back the predilection for moist food has been a factor among the human culture. Today’s steamers have come a long way, powered by electricity and built of heat-resistant plastic instead of bronze or pottery, but the culinary principles remain the same.
Any kitchen accessory in the modern world is manufactured by dozens of different suppliers, each hoping to be the choice of the next customer. Steamers are no exception, and shopping for a steamer can quickly overwhelm you with competing claims of excellence in every possible attribute.
Although it’s confusing and hectic to try and navigate the many brands and models available, there’s no need to get frustrated or disoriented. We’ve put together a list of the top ten food steamers you can use to put your next meal on another level.
Table of Contents
|1. Oster CKSTSTMD5-W
|2. Pirahna Fish
|3. Anolon 77447
|4. Hamilton Beach 37517
|5. VonShef Premium
Our Best Food Steamer Reviews and Comparisons
1. Oster CKSTSTMD5-W
This double-decker steamer lets you prepare a full meal in a single cycle by allowing you to cook two courses at once.
- 5 quart capacity
- 60 minute timer
- Dishwasher safe
- Bowls are made of transparent plastic
What We Like About Oster CKSTSTMD5-W
With the double bowls made of see-through food service plastic, you can easily keep an eye on your food and take it out the moment it reaches your preferred state of readiness.
What We Don’t Like About Oster CKSTSTMD5-W
The timer on this model has been reported faulty, either not ringing or failing to turn off the machine at the end of a cooking cycle
- Bowls safe for dishwasher use, even on high heat
- Integrated timer
- Cooks two portions at once
- Automatic shutoff when water tank is empty
- Power indicator light to help gauge cooking
- Incompatible with some common power source
- Timer may be flawed
2. Pirahna Fish
This steamer is a basket model rather than a full appliance, instantly converting any of your pots into a functional steamer without the cost of a new machine.
- 8” wide
- Non-stick plastic
- Dishwasher safe
- Convenient clip combines handles
What We Like About Pirahna Fish
This basket lets you use any pot as a steamer, and is made of nonconductive plastic that is safer to handle and cleaner than a metal model.
What We Don’t Like About Pirahna Fish
The plastic in this model is relatively film-like, making it easy to break and not as reliable as a metal counterpart.
- Dishwasher safe even on top rack
- Handles clip together for convenient carrying and to slide in and out of pots easily
- Plastic does not conduct heat to the holder
- Great for preparing baby food
- Decidedly cheaper than a new appliance
- Easy to break or warp
- Needs another utensil to work.
3. Anolon 77447
Use this steamer in pots of any description to get the reliability of metal utensils without the hassle of an appliance.
- Tempered glass lid
- Stainless steel body
- Fits in up to 5-quart cookware
- Resists up to 500 degrees fahrenheit
What We Like About Anolon 77447
Although this steamer does not have its own dedicated reservoir, the sides are shaped so that you can fit it to a wide variety of cookware without losing any steam efficiency.
What We Don’t Like About Anolon 77447
This steamer will struggle to fit pots that are more than five quarts, as the mounting ridges will be too narrow to catch properly.
- High heat resistance
- Stainless steel is more durable than plastic or glass
- Snug lid prevents heat loss
- Fits onto several kinds of pot
- Two handles
- Handles heat up quickly
- Not suitable for larger cookware
4. Hamilton Beach 37517
Hamilton Beach is a longtime name in the field of kitchen appliances and comes through once again with another quality addition on your countertop.
- 8 cup capacity
- Utensils included
- Automatic warming function
- Multiple layers, including rice rinser, cooking pot, and outer electronic element
What We Like About Hamilton Beach 37517
Hamilton Beach appliances are the subject of worldwide acclaim for their reliability, customer service, and dependable warranty.
What We Don’t Like About Hamilton Beach 37517
The multiple layers that make up this appliance are all of the different materials, making them harder to clean than most steamers.
- Good capacity
- Special rice cooking set
- Trusted retailer
- Included utensils
- Harder to clean than simpler models
- On the expensive side
5. VonShef Premium
This steamer provides the advantages of traditional Chinese cooking that made the steamer so popular so long ago.
- Double decker steaming
- Chopsticks and liners included
- 10” diameter
- Made of real bamboo
What We Like About VonShef Premium
Bamboo was and still is the material of choice for traditional Chinese cuisine for a reason. Bamboo makes utensils water and heat resistant and is particularly easy to clean as opposed to other woods.
What We Don’t Like About VonShef Premium
This steamer can be easily scorched or broken when compared to either plastic or metal steamers, necessitating extra care when in use.
- Prepares two portions at once
- Genuine Chinese cooking
- Comes with wax liners to make cleanup a snap
- Resists warping and discoloration
- 10” diameter allows preparation of large quantities of food
- Bamboo can splinter or scorch
- Liners are not as sturdy as plastic cooking bags
6. All-Clad E414S564
All-Clad’s steamer has a patented finish that keeps both the pot and steamer insert safe from corrosion or tarnish.
- 5 quart capacity
- Built of high-finish stainless steel
- Spacious handles
- Includes a water pot and steamer insert
What We Like About All-Clad E414S564
This steamer set is made of high-grade stainless steel. The two pieces can be detached and used separately without fear of damage.
What We Don’t Like About All-Clad E414S564
There are no insulated grips on the handles, meaning that heat will very quickly be conducted from the bottom of the pot to the part the user needs to hold.
- Anti-tarnish finish inside and out
- Useable separately as a tureen and colander
- Large grips make it easy to grab and carry
- Stainless steel construction resists wear and tear
- Lifetime warranty
- Handles are not insulated
- Lid does not fit snugly to the steamer
7. Kitchen Deluxe
Use this steel steamer in any pot for an instant and easy new way to cook, with all the accessories included.
- Utensils and peeler included
- Lifting ring with dedicated hook tool
- 9 inches wide
What We Like About Kitchen Deluxe
Steaming can’t get simpler than this. Simply fill the basket and lower it into a pot, securely with the included hook and peeler which make it easier to use in comparison to other steamers.
What We Don’t Like About Kitchen Deluxe
The open and rigid basket means that one can easily lose vegetables or pieces of meat during the steaming process if the basket is heaped.
- Included preparation tools
- Complimentary cooking eBook
- Simple to use
- Doubles as a strainer or ladle
- Lifetime warranty
- Cannot be filled as much as closed models
- Thin metal construction is easily warped
8. Cuisinart STM-1000
No discussion of modern kitchen fixtures is complete without Cuisinart, one of the most noted brands in the field.
- Tempered glass steaming dish
- Steam from above and below cooks faster and more evenly
- Pause feature allows you to check on and modify the dish, as needed
What We Like About Cuisinart STM-1000
Cuisinart revolutionizes the steamer with a steam duct above the food as well as below, cooking far more evenly and in half the time of traditional steamers.
What We Don’t Like About Cuisinart STM-1000
Brand-name reliability and results have their price. Cuisinart steamers are more expensive – beyond the price of other steamer sets.
- Revolutionary steam delivery
- Integrated timer and temperature controls
- Resilient tempered glass dish
- Pause button
- Transparent cookware allows for easy inspection and modification
- Exceptionally expensive
This steamer set is constructed of a steel and aluminum alloy that makes it ideal for use on either direct or induction stoves.
- Tempered glass cover
- Conductive alloy body
- 28 centimeters in diameter
- Removable steamer insert to convert into a chafing dish
What We Like About Nikou
As induction stoves become more popular for their flameless design and more efficient operation, the need for compatible cookware grows too. This steamer is chemically suited to react with an induction stove as well as a traditional flame
What We Don’t Like About Nikou
The joinings on the handles of both the glass lid and those to the sides of the pot are badly made and may break if handled roughly.
- Deep dish alloys for long steamings
- Elegant appearance
- Glass lid for checking on food
- Induction compatible
- Resists corrosion and abrasion
- Poorly attached handles
- Difficult to clean
Made of three individual layers of different metals, this set provides ideal heat distribution throughout the water reservoir for fast and even steaming each time.
- Aluminum heat conduction layer
- Stainless steel shell
- 5 liter capacity
- Induction compatible
What We Like About Eono
It may appear to be the same as other stainless steel cookware, but this set is actually made over a layer of highly conductive aluminum that ensures quick and thorough heating throughout the water reservoir.
What We Don’t Like About Eono
The pot lid does not fit exactly to the rest of the set, letting too much steam escape and making the steamer less efficient overall.
- Triple ply reservoir for superior heating
- Finished stainless steel is stick and scratch resistant
- Impact bonded for superior durability
- Useable on induction stoves
- Spacious and sturdy handles
- Inefficient steam usage
- Hard to gauge water level
Steaming food has been the way to keep vegetables crunchy and meat flavorful almost since the dawn of civilization, and it stood the test of time so that it is now commonplace in the world’s best kitchens. Pick a steamer that suits your cuisine and fits your budget, and you’ll have dinner ready in no time at all.
Although it doesn’t involve moving a pot of boiling liquid or working near an open flame, steamers do require enormous quantities of boiling vapor that can be as damaging as any heat source in the kitchen. Use oven mitts to open a steamer and stay well clear until the largest billows of steam have subsided.
Steaming is also not guaranteed to fully cook denser foods such as beef, leaving them raw on the inside while appearing done at first glance. To avoid food poisoning and other ailments associated with raw meat, reserve steaming for foods that are safe to eat undercooked, such as produce.
Many homemakers find steaming to be exceptionally useful in the preparation of homemade baby food, as the steaming process can soften fruits or vegetables to the point where they can be easily blended to a paste. Although this takes far longer than ordinary steaming, it is another way one can use steaming to save time and the expense of shopping for retail baby food.
Cleaning a steamer may seem like ordinary dishwashing, but there’s a reason that it makes experienced cooks nervous. Because the steamer grate is perforated, the softened food can sink into the holes and become stuck there. Cursory scrubbing of the surface will not dislodge it, and traces of old meals can easily wind up transferred from one dish to the next if the steamer is not carefully scrubbed out afterward.
To prevent this, one can use liners or cooking bags to keep the food together during steaming. Most are deliberately made to allow the food to cook without hindrance, and will also contain the juices for added flavor and moisture.
A common mistake for those just learning steam cooking is forgetting to check on the water level during the cooking process. It is well worth setting a timer or some other reminder to refill the water periodically, ensuring a continual and plentiful supply of steam and thorough cooking as a result.
To impart added flavor or a particular color to the steamed food, season the water with herbs, aromatic oils, or spices of your choice. The steam will carry the flavor to the food, distributing it evenly across the dish and allowing it to sink in over a longer period of time while the food is not yet finished cooking.
Take care to dry every part of your steamer before storing it. Because they spend so much time exposed to moisture, steamers are more susceptible to rust or mildew than other cookware. Keeping them totally dry is a necessary step to prevent your dishes from degrading.
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