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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best for Professionals
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.
Best for Chicken & Rice
You can fix healthy, tasty chicken and as much as five cups of rice with the BELLA Food Steamer 13872. It starts steaming in about 30 seconds, so you can quickly start cooking chicken without using unhealthy oils or breading. The two-tiered basket keeps different foods separate, and this steamer cooked faster than any other model we tested.
The steamer comes with a five-cup rice bowl. You add water to a drawer-shape area, and a water level indicator shows you how much is in there. If the water level gets too low, the machine shuts off automatically. You adjust the temperature using a simple dial, and a green indicator light lets you know the steamer is working. All of the BELLA Food Steamer 13872’s removable parts are dishwasher-safe.
Easiest to Clean
The Oster Double Tiered Food Steamer can cook an entire meal, and at the end, you have little work to do since it is the easiest food steamer to clean of all the machines we tested. You can hand-wash it or put the removable parts in the dishwasher.
This low-priced food steamer performed well during our tests, and the vegetables, chicken, rice and fish we made got a hearty thumbs-up from our taste-testing panel. However, the two-tiered food areas are rather small, as is the water reservoir. Still, this Oster model cooks well and is simple to clean.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Much Does a Food Steamer Cost?
We tested steamers ranging in price from about $14 up to $40, with an average price of approximately $25. Price doesn’t necessarily indicate a steamer’s quality. Rather, you should consider its capacity, features and ease of use as well as how easy it is to clean.
Is Steamed Food Really All That Healthy?
Steaming is one of the healthiest way to cook everything from beef to broccoli, according an article published by Healthy Options. Among other things, eating steamed food can help you lower your cholesterol – steaming meat removes fat, unlike frying, baking and grilling. Also, you don’t need to use butter, oil or any other fat to cook meat when you use a steamer.
Steaming is also an excellent way to prepare vegetables since it cooks them thoroughly without sapping them of essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, steamed vegetables retain their taste, color, juices and freshness better than those cooked other ways. Other cooking methods, such as boiling, can destroy naturally occurring vitamin B, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, biotin B12, pantothenic acid and vitamin C as well as minerals like calcium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc.
An article published online by Shape Magazine also encourages steaming many foods, especially vegetables, chicken breasts, fish and shellfish. “It's perfect for fish and shellfish because it doesn't dry out the delicate flesh. Halibut, cod and snapper steam particularly well,” the article states. Shape recommends jazzing up your steamed meals with herbs and other natural flavorings and to avoid using salt, which will wash off. For example, you can steam a fish fillet in foil with some garlic, grated ginger, onion, basil leaves and a bit of lemon juice.
How to Choose a Food Steamer
As you look for the best vegetable steamer for your home, consider the following:
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.
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.