The NESCO 5-Quart BPA Free Food Steamer is a smaller steamer with a lower wattage and smaller capacity. If you’re looking for a bare-bones model and just cooking for one or two people, the NESCO is a good choice.
We tested fish, chicken, vegetables and rice in the NESCO steamer and compared the results with the other top steamers on our lineup. The results from the NESCO were among the weakest we tested. Steamed fish and vegetables tasted average, and the chicken was good. The rice, however, was watery and gritty when we cooked it according to the steamer's directions.
The NESCO food steamer was easy to set up and start cooking. There’s two tiers totaling five quarts of steamer space, and the water reservoir holds 16 ounces. This is far less water than some of the other steamers we tested, and some cooking applications will require that you refill the reservoir while you're food is steaming. Some steamers allow you to add water without interrupting the cooking process, but not the NESCO. In order to refill the reservoir, you need to open the steamer and unstack the trays. The steamer includes a timer that shuts off the unit when the time is up, and the steamer includes a rice bowl. There isn’t a water-level window, and you don’t have a delayed-start option or a dedicated warm setting.
Another disadvantage of this steamer is that the exterior got hotter than most of the units we tested. We used a laser thermometer to measure the temperature, and it reached over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Our biggest disappointment with this steamer, however, was how difficult it was to clean. While it says it is dishwasher safe, it took us longer to completely clean each of the pieces than any of the other steamers we tested. The layers also don’t collapse and nest well, so it will take up a lot of space in your cabinets or pantry.
NESCO gives you a one-year warranty for their steamers. The NESCO website has easy online registration, and you can find about a dozen recipes online. Customer service was responsive by email, and we were able to quickly get help by phone during typical business hours. You can also access the user manual on NESCO’s website if you misplace your paper copy.
While the NESCO didn't produce our favorite results, a small, inexpensive steamer is the right route for a lot of smaller kitchens. While it's missing some of the convenient features found in higher-end steamers, if you're looking for a cheap way to experiment with food steaming, this unit is a good option.