Take the hard work out of a healthy lifestyle with these food steamers
A balanced diet with plenty of veggies is important and surprisingly achievable with the right tools. The best food steamer can be trusted to perfectly steam cook your grub without any help or assistance. They’re not just for vegetables, though. With tiered food steamers, you can cook meat, fish, rice, dumplings or potatoes all in one go. This means less time fussing over the hob and more time spent relaxing.
It’s common knowledge that when done correctly, steaming food is the healthiest way to prepare your meal since it locks in all the goodness without losing its flavour, texture or moisture. There’s no need to use cooking oils, which keeps your fat intake down, and it’s near impossible to burn or overcook your food as most electric steamers have pre-set programs and timers.
If you’re not sure what type of food steamer is best for you, we’ve put together a handy guide that explains everything you need to know. If you’re already familiar with food steamers, read on for our round-up of the best food steamers we’ve found.
How to choose the best food steamer for you
Hob steamer or electric steamer?
If you’re enticed by the nutritional value of steaming your food, and if you enjoy the aesthetic of a snazzy set sitting on the stove, try a classic on-hob steamer. For fancy features, like cooking functions, temperature controls and pre-set timers, opt for an electric food steamer instead. These cost more but require less attention; simply prepare your food, place it in the steamer, choose a program and it’ll beep once your dish is ready to serve.
What capacity is best?
That depends on what you’re cooking and for how many people. For a whole meal (including a main and sides), a 9l capacity food steamer with separate baskets is big enough to feed 4 or more people. However, models with a 6l capacity are still a great choice for preparing tasty mains or sides, and even for cooking for two.
What features should you look out for?
Food steamers with separate baskets are great for cooking everything at once without cross flavouring, while wide and deep compartments are best if you’re cooking large items like chicken. Look out for collapsable tiers if you’re tight on space and make sure they’re dishwasher safe for an easy clean. For fuss-free mealtimes, there are even electric food steamers with pre-programmed cooking functions and timers, as well as ‘delay start’ and ‘keep warm’ features.
READ NEXT: Best kitchen appliances
The best food steamers you can buy in 2023
1. Russell Hobbs 21140 3-Tier Steamer: Best budget food steamer
Price when reviewed: £33 | Check price at Amazon
The Russell Hobbs 3-Tier Food Steamer ticks all the right boxes at a very attractive price point. With a nine-litre capacity, it can prepare heaps of tasty sides or a delicious main for large households and with three baskets which collapse into each other, it’s easy to stow away, too. They’ve even kindly included a 1l rice bowl and dinky egg cup holders.
Once plugged in, the turbo steam ring takes just 40 seconds to start cooking your food, and with a large water reservoir there’s enough to fuel an hour of steaming. Juices from the upper basket run into the compartments below, so be wary of placing a strong flavoured dish, like salmon, at the top. We’d advise putting fish and meat at the bottom, potatoes or veggies in the middle and rice at the top.
Note, you have to unplug the food steamer at the socket if your meal is ready earlier than planned to avoid damaging the timer, and all baskets and accessories need to be hand-washed. But we’re more than willing to overlook that considering its bargain £33 price tag.
Key specs – Steamer: Electric; Capacity: 9l; Programs: No; Dishwasher safe: No
2. Tower Essentials 3-Tier Steamer: Best food steamer for the hob
Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Amazon
This Tower Essentials 3-Tier Steamer doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles found on feature-packed electric models but it gets the job done the old-fashioned way. Simply pop it on the hob and you’ll enjoy freshly steamed veggies, meat loins and potatoes in no time. Made from stainless steel, the mirror-finish adds a stylish touch and the riveted silicone handles make it easy to remove the pan from the heat. It’s dishwasher safe, too, saving you from post-dinner washing up.
The steamers have an encapsulated base for even heat distribution, and toughened glass lids with vents which releases the steam gradually when cooking. Our thoughts? The Tower Essentials Steamer does exactly what it promises: cooks your food without losing any flavour or moisture. It’s perfect for dinner parties or for cooking roasts, since you can stack the pans on top of each other to free up extra space on the stove.
Key specs – Steamer: On-hob; Size: 18cm; Dishwasher safe: Yes
3. Crock-Pot Multi-Cooker 5.6l: Best multi-cooker with a food steamer
Price when reviewed: £90 | Check price at Amazon
There’s no need to invest in an arsenal of kitchen appliances when you can choose a multi-cooker capable of making most recipes. The Crock-Pot Multi-Cooker is our top pick simply because it combines six cooking functions, including roast, saute, steam, slow cook, sear and bake, into one nifty device. Now that’s a lot of bang for your buck.
We were impressed with the multi-cooker for many reasons. One of which is the option to adjust the time and temperature to ensure your food is prepared exactly how you like it. And with an automated keep warm feature, there’s no need to stress about getting your dish straight on the table.
The control dial and heat settings are easy to get to grips with and the toughened glass lid makes it easy to check in on the progress of your meal. This stylish hot-pot is going to be tough to beat, especially since you can whip up a delicious curry, beef stew or even brownies in no time.
Key apecs – Steamer: Electric; Capacity: 5.6l; Programs: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Yes
4. Morphy Richards Intellisteam Food Steamer: Best compact food steamer
Price when reviewed: £105 | Check price at Amazon
Clunky appliances have no place in kitchens that are tight on space; that’s why we like the Morphy Richards 48775 Intellisteam. Designed with dinky areas in mind, the food steamer fits all accessories in the basket while the cord and plug is neatly secured underneath for fuss-free storage. The two compartments are organised horizontally so you can check in on the ingredients’ progress and both can be individually programmed to cook different food items. All that means perfectly cooked mains and sides that are ready at the same time – no more soggy veggies.
The Intellisteam has an easy-to-use digital display, there’s a rice tray and compartment divider included (both dishwasher safe) and it will even remember the last settings you used for each food group to minimise fumbling around. Overall, we think the Morphy Richards Intellisteam is a smart choice for its compact design and many attractive features.
Key specs – Steamer: Electric; Capacity: 6l; Programs: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Yes
5. Philips Avent Baby Food Steamer: Best food steamer for baby food
Price when reviewed: £115 | Check price at Amazon
Naturally, when you begin to wean your little one onto solids, you’ll want to give them the very best. And what’s better than food that’s lovingly prepared with parental love? The Philips Avent Combined Baby Food Steamer and Blender goes one step further as it saves you from switching between kitchen appliances. First, this 2-in-1 gadget will steam your veg, meat, potatoes or fruit; and then when flipped over, locked into place and switched into blend mode, it will combine into a tasty homemade meal.
Use the Philips combined steamer throughout your child’s weaning process, as you start with smooth pulses and gradually begin to introduce chunkier textures like meat and fish. It even comes with an accompanying app and recipe book to give a few useful tips and tricks.
Key specs – Steamer: Electric; Capacity: N/A; Programs: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Yes