A steamer basket may be an overlooked kitchen gadget, but is an indispensable tool for soft, quick-cooked food. Steaming is a method of moist-heat cooking that guarantees tender vegetables and juicy dumplings. You can also use a steamer basket for fish, bao buns, and even tamales.
To find the best steamer baskets, we thoroughly tested several different options, evaluating their performance, durability, and ease of use. We used the baskets to cook broccoli and frozen dumplings, taking note of factors such as capacity and cleanup. Read on to discover the very best picks that made the cut.
Farberware Professional Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer
Easy to load and unload with food
Sturdy metal design
Smaller capacity than others
For a reliable and heavy-duty performer that will cook your broccoli and dumplings to perfection every time, look no further than this stainless steel Farberware steamer. The wide and extendable handle makes for easy pickup with tongs. Plus, the basket base expands to 11 inches, making it a versatile choice for many different sizes of pots and pans.
As for cleaning, although there were some bits of broccoli stuck in the perforations, we found it removed easily enough with a few scrubs. We tested durability by dropping the steamer onto the ground and countertop and were impressed that it survived quite well with minimal denting around the base. With its reasonable pricing and sturdy build, this steamer basket is a very solid choice that will hold up to all the vegetable steaming you could imagine.
Price at time of publish: $18
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 1.65 inches | Dishwasher safe: Yes
Joseph Joseph Bloom Steamer Basket
Fun colorful design
Cannot use in microwave or pressure cooker
At just under $10, this silicone steamer is fun to look at and use. The green and yellow colored design is a bright and refreshing departure from monochrome kitchen gadgets. Its petal-like sides are adjustable, so the steamer can fit in nearly any pot and allows for compact storage. Plus, it has a hook for your fork for easy lifting. The lightweight construction does not discredit its durability though—it held up through large servings of dumplings and veggies without straining or falling apart.
One caveat we noticed from testing is that the steamer has limited capacity due to how the petals curve inwards. This won't be an issue if you're using the basket in a large pot, but it may not be ideal with smaller vessels since food items like dumplings cook best when spaced out.
Price at time of publish: $10
Material: Silicone | Dimensions: 6.3 x 6.3 x 3.94 inches | Dishwasher safe: Yes
OXO Good Grips Silicone Steamer
Handles don't get too hot
Easy to clean
Handles can unlock from each other
Kitchenware big name OXO has impressed us with this flexible and sturdy silicone steamer. A big perk of it is its space-saving feature. The basket can turn into a sling and you can hook the handle onto the feet of the basket to allow for more compact storage. However, as we discovered during testing, this can make for less stability when placing dumplings inside the basket. The sides are a bit sloped, so there may be limited space at the base of the basket to set your food items. So it may not be as ideal for steaming food items that have to be placed specifically (like delicate dumplings) due to this wobbly structure.
Testing highlighted how easy cleanup was, thanks to the basket’s smooth perforations. They also noted it would be ideal for use in an Instant Pot. The silicone did not get too hot even with use in high heat, making removing the basket from the vessel a breeze.
Price at time of publish: $17
Material: Silicone | Dimensions: 7.25 x 3.75 x 10.5 inches | Dishwasher safe: Yes
KitchenAid Universal Steamer Basket
Durable high quality
Pricier than other options
It's all in the name. This steamer basket impressed us with just how universal it truly was. It fit perfectly in both the small and large stock pots we tested with, plus there was room to put the lid on the pot (and it still felt spacious enough). We loved how user-friendly this basket was—the handles extended as soon as they were grabbed. This made it really easy to lift in and out with tongs.
The stainless steel basket is visually nice as well; the polish makes it feel more high-value. The metal feels thick and sturdy, and held up well during the durability tests. When cooking dumplings, we discovered that the petals of the basket sat flatter than others, which made it easier to stand the dumplings up and fit a lot more. Spacing them apart allowed for thorough cooking of the dumplings.
We also liked how the dumplings hardly stuck to the steamer, making for easy and seamless removal. Out of all the stainless steel baskets we tested, we found this one to be the simplest to clean. This is key when it comes to these baskets as food can easily accumulate and get stuck in the little metal holes.
Price at time of publish: $25
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 6.4 x 6.4 x 2.8 inches | Dishwasher safe: Yes
"It was easy to use and very versatile, fitting well in both the smaller and larger pots (making good use of space in both)."
MSC International Joie Silicone Steamer
Easy to clean
Takes up less storage space
Very strong petals
Can attract dust
If you're working with individual portions or smaller cookware, this compact steamer is ideal for you. It fit great in the small stockpot we tested with and maintained its strong petal shape. However, this also meant the basket was not the most flexible—it couldn't expand more in the large pot or accommodate much capacity. We were able to snugly fit a half pound of broccoli but noticed that they cooked less evenly than in other steamers. This could be due to the smaller holes in the base of the basket.
We don't recommend this steamer for larger households, since it is only able to handle a limited number of veggies (and maybe a few dumplings), but liked that it was very easy to use and clean. Overall, we found this to be a convenient and straightforward steamer, best for small servings.
Price at time of publish: $15
Material: Silicone | Dimensions: 2.75 x 8.75 x 8.75 inches | Dishwasher safe: Yes
"It would be a good steamer for a dorm room for a college student with a small steamer setup to make veggies and just a few dumplings."
Best Stainless Steel
Martha Stewart Stainless Steel Folding Steamer Insert with Handle
Thick sturdy construction
Cooks food evenly
Handle can be stiff to open and close
As any good steamer basket should, this Martha Stewart pick has a heavy-duty metal construction and a wide base. It has an extendable handle that, although a bit stiff, is easy enough to be lifted with a fork and remove the steamer from a pot with a steady hand.
During testing, we realized this basket would be best suited for larger pots—the petals' expanded diameter measures out to 11 inches. This makes it ideal for more substantial servings of veggies and dumplings. Whip this one out for your dinner parties or potluck prep.
Price at time of publish: $45
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 9.61 x 7.01 x 3.74 inches | Dishwasher safe: Yes
The Farberware Professional Vegetable Steamer was a tried and true favorite thanks to its sturdy construction and effortless steaming capabilities. We also were impressed by the Joseph Joseph Bloom Steamer Basket for its adjustable flexibility and budget-friendly value.
How We Tested
We selected 10 of the top-rated steamer basket on the market, making sure to include stainless steel, silicone, and different-sized models. We cooked broccoli and frozen dumplings with each of the baskets, observing how efficiently they cooked and cleaned up. Our expert tester also dropped each steamer basket onto the countertop and ground to accurately observe damage. Then we assigned ratings based on performance, ease of use, durability, and ease of cleaning.
What to Look for in a Steamer Basket
The most common material for steamer baskets is stainless steel, silicone, and plastic. The right one depends on your personal kitchen needs/preferences. Silicone baskets are convenient for their lightweight construction and ability to be compacted for storage. Silicone also tends to be easier to clean since stuck-on food remnants rinse off with less effort.
On the other hand, stainless steel is a more effective heat conductor than silicone or plastic, which is ideal for ensuring a good steaming of your food. We noticed during testing that the stainless steel baskets were able to handle more dumplings and veggies than their silicone counterparts. This was due to the basket petals’ ability to be laid down flat, expanding the surface area.
Make sure that your pots can accommodate the steamer basket you choose. Check the expanded diameter of the basket as well as the height (including the handles) so that you know it can all fit securely in a pot, especially with the lid on. If you’re planning on cooking hefty portions or for a large family, choose a basket with a large capacity. We recommend going for a stainless steel model in this case since its flatter petal design can accommodate more items.
How long does it take to steam food?
Steamer baskets are used and appreciated for their quick-cooking abilities. Of course, the length of time required for each food will depend on the size of the items. We definitely recommend spacing apart more dense food items like dumplings and bao buns to ensure that they get evenly and thoroughly cooked. Veggies like broccoli can be piled up more and still get steamed well. It should only take between five and eight minutes to achieve soft, tender florets.
What can you use steamer baskets for?
Steamer baskets are commonly used to cook vegetables (including broccoli, cabbage, and corn), frozen dumplings, bao buns, and even fish. Steaming is a popular method of cooking for its soft moist results in a matter of minutes and achieves this without the use of oil. Plus, they are quite user-friendly. Simply place the basket in a properly sized pot with an inch of water or two of simmering hot water, then place the lid on top to lock in that steam cooking magic.
What's the difference between a food steamer and a steamer basket?
Both vessels will effectively steam your food, it’s just a matter of different techniques. Bamboo food steamers are traditionally used in Chinese cuisine for dim sum and work well due to bamboo’s natural ability to absorb moisture. Similar to a metal or silicone steamer basket, you place the bamboo food steamer in a pot of hot water. The woven construction of the basket allows you to stack tiers and cook different food items in layers.
Another difference is that bamboo steamers require more upkeep to maintain the integrity of the fragile bamboo. Since the material absorbs so much moisture, make sure it gets fully dried to prevent any mold growth.
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This article was written by Rachel Lee, an Associate Commerce Editor at Dotdash Meredith, where she researches, writes, and edits content dedicated to finding the very best products on the market.