If you’re in the market for a food steamer, you’re in the right place. Here you’ll find expert-crafted electric steamer reviews, as well as our team’s pick for the best food steamer of 2016. In case you still need a little more help, we’ve also put together a comprehensive food steamer buyers’ guide to get you up-to-speed on everything you need to know to choose the right type, brand, and model of steamer.
There’s no doubt about it: steaming food is easily one of the best ways to prepare healthy, nutritious dishes and meals while allowing the ingredients to retain their natural colors, flavors, and nutrients.
But for someone new to steaming, it can be a little confusing where to start. That’s why our team of expert reviewers have put together a list of the top 15 best food steamers for 2016. After checking out their top picks, and reading the comprehensive buyers’ guide that follows, you’ll be well prepared to purchase the right electric steamer that meets your own unique cooking needs.
- Best Food Steamer – Our Top 3 Picks
- Food Steamer Honorable Mentions
- Rosewill RHST-15001 9.5-Quart
- Aroma Professional 5-Quart Food Steamer
- Bella 13872 Food Steamer
- Elite EST-2301 Stainless Steel Elite Platinum
- Aroma 5-Quart Food Steamer
- Pyle PKEC12 Food Steamer
- Eware 6K203 Digital Steam Cooker
- Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer
- Ovente FS53W Electric Food Steamer
- Oster CKSTSTMD5-W 5-Quart Food Steamer
- Stovetop & Microwave Steamers
- Food Steamer Buyers’ Guide
- Types of Food Steamers
- History of Food Steaming
- Benefits of Steaming Food
- Choosing the Best Food Steamer
- Cleaning Your Food Steamer
- Tips for Effective Food Steaming
- Best Food Steamer 2016?
Best Food Steamer – Our Top 3 Picks
To make things simple, we’re going to start by highlighting the top three best food steamers that are out right now. If you’re looking for a large, all-purpose, highly-functional electric steamer, any of these three models will leave you fully satisfied and have you well on your way to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Heaven Fresh HF 8333 NaturoPure Digital Food Steamer
With a firm seat at the top of our list, the Heaven Fresh HF 8333 NaturoPure Digital Food Steamer is our experts’ number one pick for the title of best food steamer of 2016.
If you’re looking for the single best food steamer that can do it all, you don’t need to look any further than the Heaven Fresh HF 8333. Thanks to its large 11.5-quart 3-tray capacity, you can cook entire meals for your whole family at once. And with the one-touch digital display, all you have to do is load up the steamer, hit a button, and wait for your ingredients to be done.
Heaven Fresh designed the HF 8333 to be able to prepare delicious, healthy meals with little effort in the shortest amount of time possible. That makes this model a great choice for anyone new to steaming, or those buyers who don’t have the time to learn how to operate and wait for slower, less-effective steamers.
All-in-all the Heaven Fresh HF 8333 NaturoPure Digital Food Steamer is built to last and prepares delicious, nutritional meals with just the touch of a button – at and a fraction of the price of other high-end or professional units – making it the top choice for best electric food steamer.
Gourmia GFS-300 SteamTower300
Making the number two spot on our list, the Gourmia GFS-300 SteamTower300 is another great reasonably priced electric steamer with an extended capacity and easy-to-use digital display.
With three trays and a capacity of 9.5 quarts, the Gourmia GFS-300 has the space needed to cook everything from fruits and vegetables to steaks and seafood. Using Gourmia’s Circu-Steam technology, this unit is able to distribute steam uniformly throughout the different trays, ensuring the fastest and most even cook possible.
As an added bonus, the SteamTower300 also comes with a convenient rice and grain steamer attachment for even more functionality.
One of the most stand-out features of this model steamer is its open, transparent design. It’s not only easy to watch your food as its cooking, but it’s also easy to see your water tank level, as well as clean the unit when you’re done. If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-manage food steamer, the Gourmia GFS-300 SteamTower300 is a smart buy.
Euro Cuisine FS2500 Stainless Steel Electric Food Steamer
Rounding out our list of the top 3 food steamers, the Euro Cuisine FS2500 Stainless Steel Electric Food Steamer is the best choice for anyone wanting an extremely high-quality, almost professional-grade steamer for cooking large amounts of food.
The Euro Cuisine FS2500 is the only electric steamer on our list to feature stainless steel cooking trays instead of plastic. For buyers who try to avoid cooking with plastic whenever possible, this provides a highly-effective, BPA-free alternative.
It’s also the largest food steamer that we’ve ranked, featuring two separate 8.5-quart baskets for a total capacity of 17-quarts. That said, this isn’t the right electric steamer for someone who is only preparing meals for themselves or one or two other people – it’s simply too large of a capacity.
But if you’re commonly cooking meals for a large family or group of people, and are willing to invest the money in a top-quality steamer, the Euro Cuisine FS2500 Stainless Steel Electric Food Steamer provides good value given all of the high-end characteristics and advanced features it offers.
Food Steamer Honorable Mentions
Looking for a slightly less powerful steamer for occasional use or individual side dishes? If you aren’t planning to make steaming a primary part of your diet, or if you’re simply on a limited budget that doesn’t allow for a high-end steamer, any of these following 12 units will likely suit your needs just fine.
Rosewill RHST-15001 9.5-Quart
The Rosewill RHST-15001 9.5-Quart is a large, multi-purpose food steamer that utilizes BPA-free plastic for its three stackable trays.
Finding a BPA-free food steamer at a reasonable price isn’t always an easy task, and as such the RHST-15001 has earned the top spot on our list of honorable mentions. If you’re worried about harmful chemicals being imparted on your food by plastic trays and don’t quite have the budget for the stainless steel Euro Cuisine FS2500, this is your best alternative.
One other big plus of the Rosewill RHST-15001 is its speed: thanks to its turbo-steam ring design and 800w power source, it can begin generating steam in under 40 seconds. It also comes with an attachable rice bowl and built-in egg holders.
On top of an automatic shutoff feature for when the unit’s water reservoir is empty, the Rosewill RHST-15001 9.5-Quart also boasts dual water-fill inlets for easy and convenient refilling.
Aroma Professional 5-Quart Food Steamer
An affordable option for a well-crafted, professional-grade unit, the Aroma Professional 5-Quart Food Steamer is built both to last, and for high functionality.
With a more traditional, 5-quart single-tier design, the Aroma Professional Steamer lacks the multi-tier trays of other units, but makes up for it in quality and performance. Great for main dishes and even entire meals for one or two people, this model begins steaming in under 60 seconds and cooks most dishes in less than 15 minutes.
Because of its single-tray design, there’s little reason to worry about your foods being cooked unevenly. Instead, steam is able to effectively flow and circulate across all of your ingredients.
The Aroma Professional 5-Quart Food Steamer comes with a bonus steam bowl, and it’s also built with a convenient stay-warm setting to ensure you food doesn’t become overcooked.
Bella 13872 Food Steamer
The Bella 13872 Food Steamer is a 7-quart, two-tray unit which is both BPA-free and easy to clean.
If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use steamer without tons of bells and whistles, the Bella 13872 is a smart buy. Priced lower than other all-purpose steamers, the 13872 still offers a ton of functionality and cooking power.
With a one-hour manual timer, this unit can be set and forgotten about until your food is done. One negative of this steamer, however, is the fact that the numbers on the timer dial are quite small – meaning that they can be difficult to read for some buyers.
Overall, if you’re looking for a mid-sized steamer for single dishes and small meals at an affordable price, the Bella 13872 Food Steamer is definitely worth a closer look.
Elite EST-2301 Stainless Steel Elite Platinum
The Elite EST-2301 Stainless Steel Elite Platinum offers a large capacity of 8.5 quarts, spread across three tiers – two 3.5-quart trays and one 1.5-quart tray.
Great for keeping an eye on your ingredients, the Elite EST-2301’s three trays are made of a transparent plastic for easy cook management. The unit is also a cinch to clean, with the base simple to wipe down and all three trays being dishwasher friendly.
One downside of this unit is that its trays are more lightweight than many of its competitors. While this is ideal for a light, easy-to-move steamer, it does give a more flimsy feel that some people may associate with a lower-quality product.
Because of its nested storage design, the Elite EST-2301 Stainless Steel Elite Platinum is easy to store away in your cabinets or pantry, making it a great buy for anyone with severely limited free counter space.
Aroma 5-Quart Food Steamer
Little brother to our #5 pick, the Aroma 5-Quart Food Steamer is still a great choice for someone looking for a compact, affordable unit.
Unlike the Aroma Professional, the standard 5-quart food steamer has two separate trays, allowing it to steam the same amount of food while taking up far less counter space. And although it may not be quite as high-end as the Professional, the Aroma 5-Quart is still easy to assemble, operate, and clean.
As with the other mid-sized units on our list, the Aroma 5-Quart Food Steamer is great for individual dishes and small meals for up to two people. For larger meals or big families, you may want to consider a higher capacity model.
Pyle PKEC12 Food Steamer
For the buyer searching for a compact steamer for small sides of vegetables and eggs, the Pyle PKEC12 Food Steamer offers the simple and hassle-free operation that makes it a top time-saving kitchen accessory.
The PKEC12 possesses an automatic empty reservoir shut-off feature, a heat-resistant transparent lid, and an easy-to-operate knob-style timer. In addition to cooking eggs and veggies, this unit is also powerful enough to handle seafood and other lighter ingredients.
The obvious downside of the Pyle PKEC12 Food Steamer is the same thing that makes it great: its compact size. While this is great as a part-time cooker, it doesn’t have the power or capacity to handle large ingredients or entire meals. Still, this is a top pick for buyers needing an occasional steamer or those with severely limited free space.
Eware 6K203 Digital Steam Cooker
A great low-cost digital display option, the Eware 6K203 Digital Steam Cooker bring a lot to the table. Literally. That’s because it uses a three-tier, 8.5-quart design to provide full, even cooking to a large amount of food at once.
The Eware 6K203’s digital display comes with seven built-in cooking programs, as well as an easy-to-adjust digital timer. This makes it simple to use for common ingredients, and still flexible enough for more complex dishes.
Whereas some steam cleaners can be tough to clean after you’re done using them, that isn’t the case with this model. All of the removable parts are easily cleaned and dishwasher safe, and the base of the unit wipes down in just seconds.
While it isn’t quite as powerful as some of the other best food steamers we’ve mentioned, the Eware 6K203 Digital Steam Cooker is a good pick for anyone looking for a multi-use steamer on a tight budget.
Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer
The Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer is a convenient and compact steamer with two separate food trays designed to hold up to a 5.5-quart capacity.
One great feature of this Hamilton Beach steamer – and something that’s even lacking in many of the much higher-end models – is the fact that it automatically switches to its Keep Warm setting once your food is done. This means no more worrying about overcooking if you momentarily get distracted.
Because of its size, this unit is good for making individual dishes and meals for one or two people, but doesn’t quite have the capacity needed for whole meals for larger families.
The only thing holding the Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer back from being higher on our list is its size. Its priced well, is easy to clean, and has plenty of power; we just wish it could match some of the 7 or 8-quart models in capacity. But if you’re looking for a smaller-yet-powerful countertop unit, this is it.
Ovente FS53W Electric Food Steamer
Small and well-priced for budget buyers, the Ovente FS53W Electric Food Steamer offers the convenience of three interchangeable and removable 1.5-quart trays to allow you to cook at full capacity if you need, or with just one tray for faster steaming.
Although it does lack many of the most powerful features found in more expensive steamers, the Ovente FS53W still offers effective and efficient steaming for its price, which is still less than many of its comparable alternatives.
The Ovente FS53W Electric Food Steamer is, however, towards the bottom of our top 15 list because of its small size. Five quarts is typically as small as you’d want to go for a whole-meal electric steamer. But for occasional users, this unit provides good value and easy operation.
Oster CKSTSTMD5-W 5-Quart Food Steamer
If you’re on an extremely limited budget, yet still want to buy a mid-sized steamer that is large and powerful enough to prepare entire meals for one or two people, the Oster CKSTSTMD5-W 5-Quart Food Steamer is worth a second look.
The Oster CKSTSTMD5-W is designed out of two 2.5-quart trays offering both multiple levels for cooking, as well as plenty of room for larger ingredients such as seafood or entire cobs of corn.
While it’s the most affordable electric food steamer that made the top fifteen, this unit obviously lacks the power, capacity, and functionality of other, more advanced models.
Our thoughts? If the Oster CKSTSTMD5-W 5-Quart Food Steamer is the limit of your budget, then by all means go ahead and get it – it’s still an effective mid-range steamer. But if you’re able to invest just a little bit more money, you’re much better off with one of the higher ranking models on our list.
Stovetop & Microwave Steamers
Because not everyone needs the full functionality of an electric food steamer, we decided to round out our list with a couple of non-electric options including our top picks for both a stovetop steamer and a microwave steamer.
Norpro 1 Quart Stainless Steel 3 Piece Mini Steamer Cooker Set
Preparing large amounts of food is definitely easiest in an electric steamer, but if you’re only looking to cook individual portions or the occasional side dish, the Norpro 1 Quart Stainless Steel 3 Piece Mini Steamer Cooker Set offers a handy stovetop alternative.
Consisting of the base, the steamer tray, and the lid, this three-piece set is all you need to prepare small portions of ingredients without the power consumption of larger electric units. The bottom of the base even features a tri-ply encapsulating layer to ensure uniform heating throughout.
Another plus of purchasing a stovetop steamer is that with proper care, it will last a lifetime – no need to worry about replacing it a few years down the road because there are no complex electronic or mechanic parts to fail.
It is, however, worth noting that the Norpro 1-Quart Stainless Steel 3-Piece Mini Steamer Cooker Set is made for traditional range tops will not work on an induction cooktop without the appropriate adapter.
Sistema Large Microwave Steamer
Crafted from a BPA-free plastic material, the Sistema Large Microwave Steamer is our top choice for a quick steamer that you can use in your microwave.
Unlike electric or stovetop steamers, the Sistema Microwave Steamer can cook sides and individual dishes in just a matter of minutes – often half of the time required by larger units. It’s also really easy to clean too, and it 100% dishwasher safe. Unlike an electric steamer, you can just throw the whole thing in there and it will come out clean.
It should go without saying that any food steamer which fits into your microwave won’t have the same capacity of a large electric unit, but if you’re looking for a small, cheap, and easy alternative, this is a good one.
We generally don’t recommend microwaveable steamers, but the Sistema Large Microwave Steamer is definitely our top pick for best microwave steamer because we know some people just don’t have the time or energy to deal with a full-sized electric steamer.
Food Steamer Buyers’ Guide
Choosing the best electric steamer should be a pretty straight-forward task, but for most people – especially those new to steaming foods – it can seem a little overwhelming. The biggest reason for this is the fact that there are literally thousands of different brands, models, and types of steamers out there.
In our comprehensive Food Steamer Buyers’ Guide, we’re going to go over everything you need to know to choose the perfect steamer for your cooking needs.
Types of Food Steamers
Our buyers’ guide focuses primarily on electric steamers. That’s because they’re the easiest to use, have the highest capacity, and are the best choice for nearly all home cooks.
But electric steamers are only one type of commonly found steamers – there are also steamer baskets, bamboo steamers, and microwave steamers. Here we’ll discuss all four types in a little more depth so that you can be sure that you’re purchasing the right style for your cooking needs:
Steamer baskets are the most basic and traditional form of westernized steamers. Typically made out of stainless steel, these one-piece baskets fit right into your stovetop pot. In essence, all steamer baskets do is hold the food that you’re cooking above the water you’re boiling in your pot.
Used almost exclusively in the preparation of Asian cuisines, bamboo steamers are one of the oldest types of steamers in existence. Bamboo steamers can become seasoned over time and add unique character to the foods they cook, but they’re also pretty limited in their applications. If you want to focus on types of food like dim sum or small sides of vegetables, a bamboo steamer may make sense for you. For all other uses, they should probably be avoided.
Some people who use bamboo steamers do so by putting them directly into an electric steamer. This provides the simplicity of electric steaming while maintaining the flavor and texture characteristics imparted by the bamboo.
For anyone serious about preparing steamed meals on a regular basis, investing in an electric steamer is a no-brainer. That’s because they’re easy-to-use, hold a high capacity of food, and are able to steam your ingredients with only the minimal amount of time and energy used.
Electric steamers often come with multi-tray designs, meaning that you can cook an entire meal at one time, rather than having to prepare each dish separately on the stovetop. Higher-quality electric steamers also have digital timers and Stay Warm settings to help ensure the proper cook time, every time.
An affordable alternative for someone who only wants to make the occasional steamed side dish, microwave steamers are typically small, one or two-tray units which can be put right in your microwave for quick meals. All you do is place your ingredients on the tray, fill the bottom with water, and set the microwave timer according to the steamer’s instructions. The downside of microwave steamers is that they simply can’t hold the amount of food – or cook it as evenly – as electric steamers.
History of Food Steaming
Humans have been steaming foods for thousands of years – in fact, it’s often considered to be one of the oldest forms of cooking.
While steaming is often attributed to Asian cultures – both the Chinese and Indian peoples have been using steaming as a primary cooking process for more than three thousand years – other cultures around the world have been steaming their foods for millennia as well.
One prominent example of this are the steam pits that archaeologists have uncovered in the American southwest. These stone pits were used by the native populations for food preparation dating back as far as 10,000 years ago.
So in short, food steaming has been around for a long time. Luckily though, we’ve learned a lot in the past few hundred years, and steaming techniques and tools are continuing to improve to this day. Modern electric steamers are exponentially more efficient and a far cry from the big pits or bamboo baskets that were predominantly used in the past.
Benefits of Steaming Food
Sometimes it isn’t just what you eat: it’s also how you eat it. You may be eating a diet that consists solely of healthy protein, vegetable, and fruit selections, but if you’re frying it all in oil, you aren’t doing your body any favors.
That’s where steamers step in.
Steaming your food is by far one of the most effective ways to prepare an all-around healthy meal with a minimal amount of effort.
Not quite convinced just yet? Well then let’s go over a few of the biggest benefits of steaming food:
- Unlike frying or boiling, steamed food maintains its structure – you don’t have to worry about ending up with mushy, unappealing vegetables.
- When you steam your food, you’re allowing it to retain nearly all of its healthy vitamins and minerals. Other types of cooking will leach these nutrients out.
- What you put into the steamer is what you get out: the food color and taste will remain unchanged.
- No oil is needed to steam food. That means you’re avoiding all of the unhealthy fats associated with many other traditional cooking types.
- Most people associate steaming with vegetables, but you can steam nearly anything including meats, eggs, and seafood.
- Because food steamers lock in steam rather than leak it out, they’re able to maintain their heat with less effort – and lower energy consumption – than other cooking types.
- When you cook meat in a pan, the fat that’s being rendered off absorbs back into the meat. When you’re using a food steamer, the high-cholesterol fat drips off instead.
- Steaming works by softening the tough fibers found in many meats and the outer layers of vegetables. This also makes these foods more easily digestible for enhanced health benefits.
- When you’re cooking on the stove, it’s hard to avoid smoke and grease smelling up your home. With a food steamer, you don’t need to worry about any annoying smoke or lingering cooking odors.
Choosing the Best Food Steamer
Choosing the best food steamer for home cooking will have a lot to do with your individual needs and expectations. Before settling on a specific brand or model, make sure to ask yourself these three questions:
How Often Will You Use It?
The number one question that you need to ask yourself before purchasing a food steamer is, “How often am I going to use it?”
If you’re planning to eat more steamed foods as part of a dietary change, you’re going to want to invest in a quality steamer that can be used for a variety of different dishes and meals. This means avoiding small-capacity options or low-cost brands that aren’t likely to stand up to the test of time.
Just planning to make the occasional steamed meal or dish? If you don’t anticipate getting a whole lot of use out of your steamer, you’d probably be better off saving your money and purchasing one of the smaller or more affordable options.
How Much Food Are You Steaming?
Food steamers come in all shapes and sizes – from tiny 1-quart traditional steamers to massive 10-quart or larger electric steamers. If you’re only planning to steam the occasional side dish, a tiny, space-saving food steamer is probably your best bet.
If you’re planning to use your steamer to prepare entire meals for your family, you’re going to want to focus your search on models that have a capacity of at least 5 quarts. For larger households – or if you plan to steam food for events or other people as well – you may want to consider a larger units that’s 8 quarts in size or bigger.
Where Will You Store It?
If you have a gigantic kitchen with a seemingly unlimited amount of counter space, you can skip right over this section. But if you’re like most of us, finding the room to store another small cooking appliance can be a real challenge.
Before purchasing any food steamer, make sure that you take a look at its dimensions and verify that you have the appropriate amount of room to store it. Are you keeping it on the counter all of the time? Do you plan to put it away in a cabinet or pantry when it’s not in use? These are just a couple of the questions you should be sure to ask yourself – and have an answer for – before making your final purchasing decision.
Cleaning Your Food Steamer
Every wonder why some steamers last for what seems like forever, while others have a tendency to break after just a year or two? While brand and construction quality has a lot to do with it, one secret to owning a food steamer will last for years to come is to make sure that you’re appropriately cleaning it after every single use.
To make sure you’re food steamer is fully cleaned and as well-maintained as possible, we recommend following these six steps:
- Empty your steamer and allow it to fully cool down naturally.
- Remove the steamer trays and soak them in warm, soapy water for at least 30 minutes.
- After they’ve soaked, used a non-abrasive sponger to scrub the trays and remove any leftover food particles.
- Unless your food steamer trays aren’t dishwasher friendly (don’t worry: nearly all modern electric food steamer trays are), you’ll next want to run them through your dishwasher’s cleaning cycle to ensure they’re spotless and sanitized.
- While your trays are soaking or running through the dishwasher, take the opportunity to use your non-abrasive damp sponge to gently wipe down the base of your food steamer.
- If you use well water, or if your area is known for having hard water issues, use a half-vinegar, half-water mixture to clean your steamer’s heating element at least once a month. By filling your unit with this mixture and running it for twenty minutes, you can eliminate and prevent hard water buildup on the heating element. Just make sure you clean out the reservoir tank well with pure water afterwards.
Tips for Effective Food Steaming
Food steamers are pretty straight forward and easy to use: all you have to do is put in your raw ingredients, fill the water reservoir, and turn the appliance on. But if you really want to get the most out of your electric steamer, there are a number of best practices that you should follow.
To take your steaming game up to the next level, here are some helpful tips for effective food steaming that you should follow:
- When cooking meats, make sure to use lean cuts, or at least trim away any excess fat before steaming.
- Make sure that your steamer is well sealed so that no steam can escape.
- Use only high-quality fruits and vegetables – since foods retain their structure, using blemished or aging ingredients will cause them to retain – or even accentuate – their imperfections.
- If you’re trying to prepare multiple items together in the food steaming, make sure that you’re paying attention to their different time requirements.
- With food steamers that have the trays right above the water reservoir, make sure that your food is placed well above the water line to avoid it boiling instead of steaming.
- When using a multi-tray steamer, be sure to arrange the food so that the steam can properly flow between the items and through the different levels of the unit.
- Always place meats and other “juicy” foods on the bottom tray. This will keep them from dripping onto your other dishes.
- During meal preparation, the items which have the shortest steaming times should be placed on the top tray. That’s because lower levels inherently receive more steam and heat than trays at the top.
- Ready to mix up your steamed dishes a little bit? Add some flavor to your foods by adding stock, spices, or wine to your cooking liquid reservoir.
Best Food Steamer 2016?
So there you have it: our top 15 food steamer picks, as well as our comprehensive food steamer buyers’ guide. We hope that they’ve both been useful resources for helping you choose the perfect steamer for your own individual (or your entire family’s) dietary and cooking needs.
While all of the different options on our list would make great choices for your next steamer, there can be only one true winner. And out of the huge list of products they’ve reviewed, our experts have chosen the Heaven Fresh HF 8333 as the best food steamer of 2016 thanks to its powerful performance, huge capacity, and extremely reasonable price.