Best Food Steamers of 2018

Danny Chadwick ·
Updated
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Our team of expert reviewers spent more than 80 hours researching, testing, rating and ranking the best food steamers on the market today. At the end of our analysis, we chose the Hamilton Beach 5.5 Quart Digital Steamer as our top choice because it is also a crock-pot, grill, steaming basket and rice cooker. It performed well our tests, and the foods we cooked in it got high marks from our tasters. It is also compact, so it doesn’t take up much space.  

Best Overall

Hamilton Beach 5.5 Quart

This food steamer performed well in our tests and comes with useful features like a water-level window and delayed-start option. Its powerful heating element makes it good for steaming a variety of foods.
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Best Value

Ovente Three Layer

If you don’t need the best of the best, this food steamer will likely do the trick. It costs less than $20, and its three-tier design allows you to steam multiple foods at once.
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Best for Professionals

Aroma Professional

If you’re in the food service business, this is the steamer you need. It has the largest water reservoir, delivers the most power and steams food the fastest.
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Product
Price
$39.99Amazon
$36.94Amazon
Check Price
$29.80Amazon
$16.73Amazon
$19.99Amazon
$22.99Amazon
Overall Rating
9.3
9.1
7.8
7.7
7.2
6.8
5.8
Performance
10
10
6.1
8.6
7.2
6.7
6.1
Convenience
9.9
8.5
9.5
7.4
5.6
6.7
6.2
Maintenance
6.3
7.5
7.5
5
10
7.5
2.5
Warranty & Support
8.8
10
8.8
8.8
8.8
6.3
8.8
Depth (inches)
9
11.6
15.4
11.5
8.3
8
8.75
Width (inches)
13.75
8.9
9.5
9.8
8.4
7
8.75
Height (inches)
11.1
11.7
16.1
11.1
8.7
10
8.5
Input Power (watts)
800
800
800
650
400
400
400
Vegetable Quality
100%
82%
78%
93%
88%
90%
84%
Fish Quality
100%
95%
73%
88%
83%
86%
86%
Chicken Quality
92%
100%
73%
93%
90%
87%
95%
Rice Quality
87%
100%
97%
95%
88%
76%
56%
Warm Setting
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Total Tiers
2
2
3
2
2
3
2
Ease of Use
100%
100%
80%
90%
90%
80%
90%
Basket Capacity (quarts)
5.5
7.4
12
5
5
5
5
Timer
Exterior Temperature (F)
179
200
203
190
195
165
202
Rice Bowl
N/A
N/A
Water-Level Window
N/A
N/A
N/A
Delayed Start
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Exterior Water Fill
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Water Reservoir Capacity (ounces)
34
34
32
40
16
18
16
Recipe Book
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Online User Manual
N/A
Warranty
1 Year
2 Years
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
Manufacturer Support
Dishwasher Safe
Nested Storage
N/A
N/A
N/A
Cleaning
65%
75%
70%
75%
100%
95%
55%
Best Overall

Hamilton Beach 5.5 Quart

The Hamilton Beach 5.5 Quart is an affordable two-tier food steamer with a removable divider for large items.
Using its digital display, you can set it to steam, delay start and warm, and it includes a rice bowl for steaming rice and small foods. This steam cooker is more versatile than others; the delay start feature is unique to this model, and a post-cooking warmer is found on very few of the food steamers we tested. These features, coupled with its low cost, make it a good investment for healthy cooking. You can prepare a whole meal at once using this one convenient appliance. Food cooks faster in the bottom tier, so you should put food that takes longer to cook below and use the top tier for items that have shorter cook times. For instance, you would place chicken and potatoes in the bottom bowl and green beans or squash on top. It can accommodate small items or large foods, such as corn on the cob or a head of broccoli. You can also cook seafood, poultry, hot dogs, hard or soft-boiled eggs, and rice. When you’re busy, you can put food in the steamer and set it to start cooking at a later time so it’s ready in time for dinner. When your food is cooked, the steamer switches to warm so it stays hot until you are ready to eat.
Pros
  • It scored the highest in our performance and taste tests.
  • This is the easiest food steamer to use of the models we reviewed.
  • The steamer has convenient features like a water-level window and delay start.
Cons
  • The machine doesn’t come with a recipe book.
  • It’s the hardest to clean of the models we reviewed.
  • It took longer than expected to heat up during our testing.
$30.99Amazon
Best Value

Ovente Three Layer

This food steamer costs less than $20 and is the lowest-price model we reviewed. It’s a small steamer that fits well in apartments and homes that don’t have much counter or cupboard space.
We found that it is easy to assemble and use, and for its price, the Ovente Three Layer fared relatively well in our tests. You can use it to steam fish, chicken, vegetables and rice, and it does so adequately – though not as well as the more expensive models we evaluated. The Ovente Three Layer has three tiers and a 400-watt steaming element. As it cooks food, the exterior stays cool to the touch. While 400 watts is acceptable if you only steam food occasionally or make small meals, other models we reviewed can produce up to 1,000 watts of power. Other tradeoffs for the low price include the omission of features such as a water-level window, delay start and a warm setting. Also, it’s the smallest model we reviewed, which diminishes its food and water capacity – if you need a steamer to cook large meals, look elsewhere. This steamer has a one-year warranty period, which is standard among the models we reviewed. You can find help on the manufacturer’s website or by phone and email. However, if you lose your owner’s manual, you’re out of luck because it’s not available online.
Pros
  • At less than $20, this steamer is a good value.
  • It is quite easy to clean.
  • You can steam up to three dishes at once.
Cons
  • It doesn’t have a delay start feature.
  • There isn’t a water-level window, so you have to guess when to refill the tank.
  • The machine doesn’t have a warm setting.
$26.99Amazon
Best for Professionals

Aroma Professional

If you run a food service business, you need equipment designed for professionals, and the Aroma Professional is likely the right steamer for your kitchen.
It’s single-tier, high-wattage appliance with a wide base, and it heats up quickly so you can start steaming food almost immediately. During our testing, we found the Aroma Professional to be one of the best food steamers available. The fish, vegetables and rice we steamed in it all came out well cooked and scored favorable reviews from our taste testers. It has the highest-capacity water tank of all the steamers we reviewed – 80 ounces – and there is a water-level window that makes it easy to monitor how much is left. It’s heating element puts out up to 1,000 watts of power, so you can start steaming your food within minutes of turning on the machine. However, the appliance’s exterior temperature can reach 211 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the hottest we saw as we evaluated food steamers. If you have problems with this steamer, Aroma’s website is full of useful information. The FAQs section covers most common inquiries, and you can reach customer support directly via phone and email. We found the company’s customer service representatives to be both courteous and knowledgeable.
Pros
  • This steamer delivers 1,000 watts of power – the most of any model we reviewed.
  • It has the largest water reservoir we saw – 80 ounces.
  • It comes with a recipe book.
Cons
  • The machine gets very hot to the touch – up to 211 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • It only has one tier.
  • There isn’t a delay start function.
$29.80Amazon

Why Trust Us?
 
We spent more than 80 hours comparing the best food steamers you can buy online. We considered dozens of models and cooked many pounds of food. Afterward, we had taste testers sample the results and give feedback of how each model performed. Each steamer was subjected to a battery of tests to see if it delivers on its promises, and we compared each model’s features to see which one gives you the most value for your dollar.

How We Tested 

We subjected each of the food steamers we reviewed to a battery of tests to gauge how effective they are at steaming common types of food. 

Fish Quality
We cooked 6 ounces of fish for the time suggested in each food steamer's manual. Testers then tasted the fish and judged it based on how well it absorbed the flavors from our aromatics and how moist and tender it was. On average, fish cooked in 19 minutes, but the best steamers cooked it in as little as 15 minutes.

Chicken Quality
We set each food steamer to cook 6 ounces of chicken for the time specified in its product manual. Testers tasted each sample and scored the steamers based on whether they produced chicken that was tender, moist, flavorful and not overcooked. On average, chicken cooked in 25 minutes, but the best steamers cooked it in as little as 20 minutes.

Vegetable Quality
We steamed 1/2 pound of similarly sized small potatoes in each food steamer for the time specified in its user manual. We then taste tested each batch and judged the potatoes based on tenderness and flavor infused from the added spices. Potatoes came out nearly perfect in each case – they were fully cooked and tender. On average, potatoes cooked in 27 minutes, but the best steamers can cook them in 20 minutes. 

Rice Quality
We cooked 1 cup of rice, covering it with water in the provided rice bowl or a separate bowl if one was not included. We cooked each batch for the time suggested in the steamer’s manual and then taste tested the results. On average, rice cooked in 36 minutes, but the best steamers can cook it in 20 minutes. 

How to Choose a Food Steamer 

As you look for the best vegetable steamer for your home, consider the following:

Size
Food steamer size is measured in quarts, and most models are 3 quarts or bigger. They also usually have one to three tiers. When you buy a model with more than one tier, you can stack different items and steam them at the same time or cook large foods and big batches.

If you buy a combination rice cooker and food steamer, the size is relative to the number of cups of rice the cooker makes. The larger the rice cooker, the larger the steamer basket will be. Small steamers are great for cooking a single dish, while a three-tier model can cook a whole meal.

Versatility
Dedicated food steamers can accommodate a variety of foods, but if you often cook rice, it makes sense to get a rice cooker and food steamer combo. These machines typically limit the variety of food you can prepare at the same time because there is only one basket for steaming other foods. Still, if you usually eat rice and meats or vegetables together, a food steamer and rice cooker combo is a convenient way to prepare a meal. 

Ease of Use

Food steamers come in electronic and stovetop varieties. Electronic steamers have timers, so you can set them and do other things while you wait for your food to cook. Stovetop varieties need some monitoring – you have to keep an eye on water levels and perfect your timing so your food is cooked the way you want it. The best steamers are dishwasher safe so there are no pots to clean.

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