We Put 7 Food Steamers to the Test With Veggies and Dumplings (2024)

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The Steam Rises: A Guide to the Best Food Steamers for Every Kitchen

Humans have been steaming food since the Stone Age, but this incredibly versatile and healthy cooking method often gets overlooked in modern American kitchens. Steaming is incredibly simple and effective, requiring minimal effort and cleanup. Simply place your chosen ingredients – be it vegetables, fish, dumplings, or even whole meals – into the steamer of your choice, let the water do its magic, and enjoy perfectly cooked food in minutes.

While every steamer on the market prioritizes effective steaming, specific needs and preferences may make certain styles more desirable than others. So, whether you’re looking for a compact option for a small kitchen, a powerful electric steamer for large meals, or a traditional bamboo steamer to capture the essence of ancient cooking techniques, this guide will help you decide which steamer best fits your culinary goals.

How We Tested

To determine the best steamers available, we put them through a series of rigorous tests, utilizing different types of food and assessing their ease of use, durability, and overall performance. We steamed a variety of everyday favorites, including:

  • Frozen dumplings
  • Frozen tamales
  • Assorted vegetables
  • Tilapia (as a standard, affordable white fish)

We measured the time required for each food to steam, tested the gadgets’ durability through repeated use, and evaluated how well they handled different food types. We also considered the influence of various materials, like clay and bamboo, on the steaming process and flavor.

Best Electric Steamer: Buydeem Digital Steamer

This lightweight, compact, and unbelievably cute steamer is a game-changer for those looking to elevate their cooking routine without sacrificing counter space. Its innovative water waste system ensures that the steam released from cooking doesn’t contaminate the fresh water used for steaming.


  • Multitiered Design: Double the size by adding a second tier, ideal for cooking items with varying cook times.
  • Easy Refill System: A convenient water inlet allows for hassle-free refills.
  • Lightweight Construction: Ease of cleaning and portability.

The Buydeem steamer is perfect for steaming a variety of foods – from dumplings to pork buns – ensuring even cooking and consistent results.

Another Good Electric Option: Cuisinart CookFresh Digital Glass Steamer

As expected from a reliable brand like Cuisinart, the CookFresh Digital Glass Steamer delivers a robust and efficient steaming experience. Its thick, weighted glass dish and stainless steel steaming tray create a robust and aesthetically pleasing appliance.


  • Serviceable Dish: The glass dish can be taken directly from the steamer to the table for serving.
  • Versatile Design: Steam with or without the tray for increased flexibility.
  • Simple Interface: Easy to operate with a single knob and intuitive controls.

While the CookFresh Digital Glass Steamer excels at creating delicious steamed meals, its bulkiness might not be ideal for kitchens with limited counter-space.

Best Ceramic Steamer: Nagatani-en Mushi Nabe Donabe

Donabe – the ancient Japanese craft of crafting clay pots – takes center stage with the Nagatani-en Mushi Nabe steamer. This handcrafted pottery masterpiece, made by the oldest donabe maker in Japan, demands a level of care and attention typically reserved for luxury cookware. However, for serious steam enthusiasts seeking exceptional heat distribution and moisture retention, this is the ultimate choice.


  • Exceptional Heat Retention: Clay construction ensures even heat distribution and a perfectly cooked meal.
  • High Absorption: Porous clay absorbs excess moisture for a flavorful and tender final product.

Caution: This donabe is suitable for gas stovetops only and not compatible with electric or induction stoves.

Best Ceramic Steamer Set: Jia IH Ceramic Steamer Set

If you crave the flavor and heat retention of ceramic cookware but prefer a more user-friendly option than donabe, the Jia IH Ceramic Steamer Set is a great alternative.

This set includes a ceramic pot with a matching lid and a bamboo steaming basket with a unique terra-cotta base, offering a range of benefits:


  • Multiple Sizes: Available in three sizes (1.2L, 2.3L, and 4L) to suit your cooking needs.
  • Terra-cotta Base: Contributes to a quasi-water-circulation system that enhances steaming.
  • Versatile Design: The ceramic pot can be used for various cooking methods beyond steaming.

Note: The high absorption properties of terra-cotta can lead to lingering food odors, especially with strongly flavored foods like fish.

Best Bamboo Steamer Set: Concord Bamboo Steamer

Experience the traditional charm of bamboo steaming with the Concord Bamboo Steamer Set, a set that includes a metal pot, a metal lid, and a 10-inch bamboo steamer basket for exceptional steaming capabilities.


  • Traditional Flavor: Bamboo’s natural properties impart a unique flavor to steamed foods.
  • Heat-Resistant Handles: Faux-wood silicone handles provide comfortable and safe handling.
  • Included Accessories: Includes parchment steaming liners and bamboo tongs.

The Concord Bamboo Steamer is ideal for those seeking to bring authenticity and flavor to their steamed dishes while enjoying the comforting aroma of bamboo.

Best Budget Steamer: Joseph Joseph Bloom Collapsible Steamer Basket

For those seeking affordable and efficient steaming without compromising on quality, the Joseph Joseph Bloom Collapsible Steamer Basket is a top contender. Its durable silicone construction, expandable design, and easy-to-clean features make it a standout amongst budget-friendly steamers.


  • Silicone Construction: Offers durability and ease of cleaning compared to stainless steel.
  • Expandability: Foldable design expands to accommodate various food sizes.
  • Easy Removal: A convenient hook allows for easy lifting with a fork.

Although ideal for steaming vegetables, the Joseph Joseph Bloom might not be the best option for larger or more delicate foods.

Best Steamer for Tiny Kitchens: Crate & Barrel Collapsible Steamer and Colander

For those living in small spaces with limited storage options, the Crate & Barrel Collapsible Steamer and Colander is a clever solution. While technically a colander, this versatile tool can double as a makeshift steamer thanks to its collapsible design and efficient steam circulation.


  • Space-Saving Design: Collapses to a small size for compact storage.
  • Versatile Use: Doubles as a steamer and colander.
  • Durable Construction: Sturdy metal construction with malleable silicone for flexibility.


  • Limited Capacity: Smaller size limits the amount of food that can be steamed.
  • Loose Lid: The lid of the pot might not provide a tight seal due to the steamer handles, potentially affecting steaming time.

Final Thoughts

Steaming is a versatile and healthy cooking method that deserves a prominent place in every kitchen. Whether you prefer the convenience of an electric steamer, the traditional charm of bamboo, or the unique properties of ceramic, there’s a steamer out there for your needs and preferences. With this guide, you’re equipped to find the perfect steaming companion for delicious and flavorful dishes. Remember, the steam is always rising, and with the right tools, your kitchen can become a haven for healthy and flavorful culinary creations.

Article Reference

Sarah Mitchell
Sarah Mitchell
Sarah Mitchell is a versatile journalist with expertise in various fields including science, business, design, and politics. Her comprehensive approach and ability to connect diverse topics make her articles insightful and thought-provoking.