If you’re looking for a healthier way to prepare your favorite foods, then using a high quality bamboo steamer can be a perfect addition to your kitchen. This type of cooking method doesn’t require hours of cooking time or prepping. Instead, you can enjoy cooking without oils, butter, or any other type of unhealthy additive. These multi-tiered, circular cooking utensils are also very beginner-friendly, so you don’t have to be a pro in the kitchen to enjoy a delicious homecooked meal. I mention “High-Quality” because I have found that some cheap steamers can leave a yucky wooden taste. Pay a few dollars more for a good one.
If you’ve never used a bamboo steamer before, and you’re looking for a top of the line model to prepare fish, steamed veggies, dumplings, and more, then this buyer’s guide that I’ve created will help you choose the perfect model for your kitchen. I’ve also included six product recommendations. Each of these models scored high in a variety of areas including durability, efficiency, and overall quality. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart, where you’ll find each model’s best features and how they rated.
Table of Contents
Bamboo Steamer Comparison Chart
VonShef Premium 2 Tier Bamboo Steamer
This heavy-duty traditional two-tier bamboo steamer is perfect for steaming dim sum, fish, rich, veggies, and more. The steamer features a naturally woven design that works to retain moisture, easily trapping steam inside to prepare a wide variety of dishes. The set also include fifty wax steamer liners, which will prevent food from sticking to the steamer and will also prevent the bamboo from absorbing flavors and odors. The two-tier design will allow you to cook two dishes at the same time, so you can prepare an entire meal in a fraction of the time it would take if you were to prepare each dish separately.
- Comes with two sets of chopsticks
- Includes fifty wax paper liners
- Easy to use
- Not compatible with all types of pots and pans
This steamer measures in at ten-inches, which makes it perfect for preparing large meals. This model can be used with woks, pots, and pans, for perfectly cooked dim sum, dumplings, fish, veggies, or rice. Of course, like other types of traditional bamboo steamers, this model must also be handwashed and allowed to air dry before storing, to prevent damage and mold growth. In terms of quality, this steamer is at the head of the line, featuring a beautiful woven design and high-quality water-resistant bamboo.
Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen
This ten-inch bamboo steamer features two tiers and a tightly woven lid that’s designed to trap steam. The bamboo itself is stain and heat resistant and less absorbent compared to wood, making it easier to clean and maintain. The bamboo will also absorb any condensation, preventing water from dripping back into the food. The two-tier design will allow you to prepare two different dishes at the same time. Unfortunately, this model doesn’t come with any type of liner, so you’ll have to purchase wax liners separately, or you can use cabbage leaves or corn husks to line the sides and bottom of the steamer.
- Easy to clean
- Lid is tightly woven
- Allows you to cook two different dishes at the same time
- Low price
- Internal ring comes loose after a few uses
- Does not come with liners
This model is perfect for seafood, veggies, fish, dumplings, and meat. It can also be used to reheat leftovers, and steam rice to perfection. The thick bamboo works to absorb any condensation, which will prevent water from dripping into the food. This steamer is very easy to use and makes cooking heavy, nutrient-rich foods, simple.
BirdRock Home Bamboo Steamer
This bamboo steamer by BirdRock Home allows you to easily prepare your favorite traditional Asian dishes, but it’s also very versatile, so you can use it for a wide variety of side dishes and main courses. Using the steamer to prepare foods will allow the food to retain more nutrients. Additionally, when you steam food, you don’t have to cook with unhealthy fats, such as canola or vegetable oils. The steamer itself will work for most types of pots, pans, and woks. The baskets are made out of one hundred percent high-quality bamboo and feature the popular two-tier design that will allow you to cook two dishes at the same time. The baskets measure in at 2.4 inches deep and ten-inches in diameter.
- Works with most pots, pans, and woks
- Made from 100% bamboo
- Very difficult to clean if you prepare food without a liner
This steamer is well-built, is made out of thick, one hundred percent bamboo, and will work with most types of woks, pots, and pans. However, if you don’t use a liner when you’re steaming, you’ll find that cleanup can be a hassle. Food can easily get caught in the slats of bamboo, which will require you to manually remove them after you’ve allowed the steamer to soak to loosen the food. Aside from cleaning issues, this model works as expected and allows you to steam your favorite foods to perfection.
Mister Kitchenware Bamboo Steamer
If you’re looking for a fast and simple way to steam veggies, meat, fish, poultry, rice, or buns, then this steamer by Mister Kitchenware delivers. As you may already know, steaming is gentler on food than poaching, boiling, frying, or simmering. Not only will your food taste better, but steaming actually helps to preserve vitamins and minerals, while also allowing food to retain its texture, flavor, and color. When you steam food, you also won’t have to cook with oils or unhealthy fats. This model features the classic two-tier design. These stackable layers have slatted bottoms that allow steam to flow in and around the food. Each tier is ten-inches in diameter, 2.4-inches deep, with an interior diameter of 9.25-inches. The bamboo material is designed to absorb any excess moisture during the steaming process, so food will remain nice and crisp. The lids feature a domed shape which helps to improve steam circulation.
- Dome lid design
- Low price
- 100% money-back guarantee
- Bamboo will absorb condensation
- Does not come with instructions
This model is built tough, easy to use, and features an innovative lid design that does an excellent job of improving heat circulation, thanks to the dome shape. The manufacturer is so certain that buyers will love their new steamer that they currently offer a sixty-day 100% money-back guarantee. Buyers who are not satisfied with this model can contact customer support for a full refund. This model is designed to handle a variety of dishes, so you can get really creative in the kitchen using your new steamer to make bread, fish, poultry, rice, veggies, and many different types of dishes.
Yuho Asian Kitchen Bamboo Steamer
This two-tier steamer is made out of 100% bamboo, which is grown for over three years. The steamer does not contain any plastic, wire, or metal. The steamer also comes with a storage box and ten parchment steamer liners. The storage box is made out of recycled materials and will protect the bamboo from dust, dirt, and debris. The included liners can be used for any type of food and will prevent food from sticking to the surface of the steamer and between the slats, which can make it difficult to clean. Additionally, using the liners will also prevent the steamer from absorbing any unwanted odors, such as fish.
- Includes parchment liner paper
- Storage box
- Does not contain plastic, metal, or wire
- Low price
- Not designed to cook for a large group of people
This model is somewhat on the small side. The average steamer measures in at ten-inches in diameter, while this model is just six-inches. However, if you’re not cooking for a large group of people and you’re looking for a smaller steamer to cook for two to three people, then this size will be perfect. Aside from the smaller size, this model performs exactly the way the manufacturer claims it does, easily and quickly steaming veggies, fish, and rice to perfection, in just a matter of minutes. With the addition of the parchment liners, even cleanup is a cinch. This model is a great buy for the cook on a budget who is looking for a healthier way to prepare their favorite dishes.
Trademark Innovations Bamboo Steamer
This steamer is made out of 100% bamboo and features two-tiers, so you can prepare two dishes at the same time. The domed lid promotes better heat circulation, compared to flat lids, so your food will steam even faster. This is a ten-inch steamer, so you can use it to prepare food for up to five people. This model can be used to steam buns, dim sum, dumplings, fish, veggies, meat, and poultry. Because it’s made out of bamboo, it must be washed by hand and air dried before storing.
- Domed lid
- Made out of 100% bamboo
- Low price
- Handle on lid is too small and difficult to grab
This budget-friendly steamer comes with two steaming baskets, so you can prepare an entire meal in the steamer, at the same time. The included domed lid is designed to improve heat circulation, for a faster steaming process. Additionally, this model will work with most types of pots, pans, and woks, and features a solid design that can handle regular daily use.
Bamboo Steamer Buyer’s Guide
When you make the decision to eat healthier, one of the first things you want to change is not just the type of food you eat, but how you prepare it.
When you prepare food with a bamboo steamer, it allows the food to retain most of its nutrients, unlike when you boil fish or veggies, since the boiling process will leach important nutrients from food. You’ll also notice that steaming your favorite foods prevents them from losing flavor or becoming soggy or overcooked. In fact, there are many benefits that come with preparing Filipino rice recipes using a steamer or steaming your favorite side dishes, which I’ll cover below.
Bamboo Steamer Benefits
If your goal is to create healthy meals on a budget, then you’ll love the many benefits a steamer has to offer, including:
- As I mentioned above, boiling veggies can remove vital nutrients. Using steam to cook your food can be a gentle alternative to cooking veggies and other types of foods. If you’re looking for a healthier way to prepare food, then steaming is the perfect solution and one that will preserve the vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients in your favorite foods.
- If you’re preparing foods that are very fatty, such as certain types of fish and meat, then the oil will drip off the food, into the water, significantly reducing the food’s fat content.
- Most models of steamers are affordable, so you can purchase a top of the line model for around $20-$30
- Steamers are available in a variety of sizes and can be found online or in most specialty kitchen stores or department store chains.
- A steamer will allow you to prepare food much faster than other cooking methods. When you’re new to cooking with a steam, it’s important that you check on your food often, since most food will cook faster than you’ll expect.
- Steamers allow you to cook several types of food at the same time, which will shorten the amount of time it takes to prepare a meal. As an example, you can cook rice in one tier and veggies or fish in the other.
- Because steaming food is a much gentler process compared to other types of cooking methods, the food will not only retain important vitamins and minerals, but it will also keep its color, texture, flavor, and shape. Additionally, steaming will not dry out the food.
- Cooking with a steamer doesn’t require much equipment. All you need is a steamer and a pan or wok to place it on. Most kitchens already have something that a steamer can safely rest on.
- These cooking devices are very beginner friendly. While there’s definitely a slight learning curve involved, since you need to time the steaming process correctly, to prevent overcooking food, for the most part, using a steamer will take most of the guesswork out of preparing veggies that are still crisp, and fish, meat, and poultry that are moist and tender.
Now that you know more about the benefits that come with preparing food with a steamer, let’s take a look at some of the important features you need to look for to ensure you purchase a model that’s durable, easy to use, and designed to last.
Most steamers will come in sets of two to three tiers, with a lid. On the inside of each tier is a cooking surface that’s made out of bamboo slats that have been placed close together to prevent food from falling through. However, the distance between these slats is spaced far enough to allow the steam to flow through and around the food.
Each steamer is designed so that the tiers fit snugly on top of each other, without allowing the steam to escape.
Pan or Wok
A wok is the perfect type of pan to use for a bamboo steamer. This type of steamer is specifically designed to work with woks. When preparing food, you’ll add just a couple of inches of water to the wok and place the steamer over the top so that it’s resting high enough that the food isn’t touching the water. The curve of the pan will ensure that the inside of the steam doesn’t touch the hot metal cooking surface.
However, if you don’t own a wok, a regular pan should work just fine, just make sure the pan you use is wide enough. When you use a regular pan instead of a wok, you can use more water. This is a big help if you’re preparing food that has a long cooking time, since you won’t have to babysit the pot and constantly check the water levels.
If you don’t have a pot or pan that’s compatible with your steamer you can also purchase a steamer ring, which sits on the lip of a pot. This metal adapter will make the lip of a pot or pan wider to accommodate a steamer and provides a stable surface for it to rest on.
A good steamer will be made out of 100% bamboo with a design that’s BPA-free. If the steamer contains materials with BPA, it could potentially pose a health issue. Steamers that are made out of premium quality bamboo are more durable and will last longer. Lower-priced bamboo steamers tend to fall apart in a matter of months, or they’re not woven tightly enough to promote an efficient steaming process.
If you’re cooking for several people, then you need a steamer that’s big enough to prepare enough food for the entire family. For bigger families, you’ll need a model with at least two tiers. If you want to prepare several popular Indonesian dishes at the same time, then multiple tiers will also be a must.
The steamer’s lid should fit perfectly onto the body of the steamer and should be tightly handwoven. This prevents the steam from escaping so food will cook faster. If the lid is equipped with a ring for easy lifting, then the ring must be firmly attached.
Steamers that are made out of bamboo are surprisingly affordable. You can find these steamers available in a variety of price brackets ranging from $11 up to $40. Higher priced models will come equipped with more tiers and features, while lower priced steamers often feature a very basic, single tier design.
- Avoid placing the steamer directly on a heat source or fire.
- When preparing food, make sure the water in the pan is up to the rim of the steamer.
- If the water level is too low, you must top it off with hot water to prevent the temperature from rapidly dropping.
- When removing the steamer from the pot or pan, always use extreme care since the contents will be very hot.
Care and Maintenance
Fortunately, most models of steamers are very easy to clean, especially if you always line the tiers. However, bamboo is not a dishwasher safe material, so the steamer must be washed by hand. The best way to clean one is to wash it in hot water. Some people will use a mild dish detergent, others will not. This is because the soap can cling to the bamboo, even after rinsing. To prevent this, you can rinse the steamer well, then fill up the sink and allow it to soak for fifteen minutes to remove any remaining soap residue.
A steamer must be bone dry before storing, otherwise, if stored damp, it can become moldy.
Using a Bamboo Steamer
Using a steamer is simple enough, but how you use it can depend on the type of food you’re preparing. Keep the following tips in mind when you prepare your first few meals with your new steamer:
You don’t have to line the tier but doing so can help prevent certain foods from sticking, especially if you’re cooking dumplings. Lining will also prevent the bamboo from absorbing the odors of certain foods. You don’t want the rice you’re steaming to taste like fish or broccoli.
What you use to line the tier is entirely up to you. Some good choices include corn husks, banana leaves, lettuce or cabbage. Some people will also use parchment paper, cutting it to size to fit the steamer perfectly. You can also purchase perforated, precut parchment paper for steamers, which will make cooking with it that much easier.
Preparing the Pot or Pan
If you’re using a pan or wok, fill it with three inches of water. Keep a close eye on the boiling water and make sure it doesn’t make contact with the food, once you’ve placed the steamer inside. If you’re using a pot, you can add more water since pots are much deeper than woks or pans.
When you’re steaming with a shallow pan, the steamer’s sides should not come into contact with the pan, otherwise the bamboo will burn.
There are a couple of ways to go about putting food in the steamer. The first method is to place the food that’s to be cooked directly on the liner or slats. This will result in a healthier way to prepare your food since the oils that are present in many fish and meats will drip into the water. However, there are some recipes that will call for the food to be cooked in their natural juices. For this type of recipe, you can place the food in a dish, then place the dish on the steamer’s slats. This will allow the food to retain the natural juices. Of course, you’ll need to use a dish that can withstand higher temperatures without melting.
If you want to cook an entire meal at the same time using two or three tiers, keep in mind that the food that’s placed in the bottom tier will cook much faster than the tier on top, since it will be closer to the water. For example, if you have one tier with veggies and one tier with fish, you’ll want to place the fish on the bottom and the veggies on top. This will also prevent the juice from the fish from dripping on your veggies.
Cover Your Food
The last step is placing the lid on over the steamer. Make sure you check on the food often to make sure that the water hasn’t totally evaporated. You’ll also want to check on your food to prevent it from getting overcooked.
Cooking with a Steamer
Steaming food is a very versatile method that you can use to cook a healthier meal or heat up some leftovers. When you’re cooking with this type of steamer, you won’t be limited to just Korean rice recipes or other types of Asian cuisine. Cooking your food via steam can be used for a wide variety of dishes.
Steamers are perfect for veggies, and allows them to retain their crispness, flavor, and color. Steaming is also the best way to prepare dumplings.
Fish will cook incredibly fast via steaming. All you have to do is drop the fish in with some seasoning and lemon and it’ll cook in a matter of minutes. Marinated chicken and meats can also be prepared in a steamer, although the cooking process is much longer.
Shrimp and crab are other dishes that you can steam with impressive results. Other foods that can be prepared with a steamer include bread and rice. Many people will use their steamer to moisten or warm up day-old rolls. Instead of tossing out stale bread, steam essentially breathes new life into it.
If you want to add some serious flavor to the food you’re steaming, you can use some type of broth or wine, instead of water.
Who knew that steamers could be so versatile and easy to use? Many people are beginning to realize the benefits of using the best bamboo steamer to prepare their food instead of boiling or frying. Steamers are a good alternative to other cooking methods that rely on oils, butters, and other types of fats. Using one is also an affordable way to prepare a meal that’s healthy and light. Once you use a steamer for your favorite fish and veggie side dishes, you’ll quickly come to rely on it daily to prepare healthier meals, faster.