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Best Stainless Steel Food Steamers

Updated on October 29, 2011

Considering Purchasing a Food Steamer?

Steaming vegetables is far superior to boiling, because a lot more of the necessary vitamins are preserved. Our bodies need these vitamins and nutrients for optimum health and to protect against the onset of disease, so it makes perfect sense to prepare our food in the most conscientious way possible.

If you boil vegetables for a long time, then up to eighty percent of the vitamins and minerals inside can be completely destroyed. In the past, this was the usual way to prepare vegetables - al dente was simply not on the menu. Now, however, we are much better informed about the nutritional value of our food, and the days of soggy cabbage and flimsy, over-cooked carrots are over. The reason for such high nutritional loss when boiling is thought to be because of the prologned contact the vegetables have with the water itself, as opposed to only the steam.

Microwaving vegetables in another option of course, but I still prefer steaming. There still seems to be a debate over whether or not microwaving vegetables is a good idea or not. The debate began when, as part of a study for the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, florets of broccoli which had been microwaved lost almost all of their flavonoids. However, the broccoli had been covered by a lot of water, which is thought to be a key component in the destruction of the flavonoids. Perhaps cooking in a microwaveable pot with a lid and minimal water would produce better results. But another theory is based on the way microwave ovens operate, and the opinion that the molecular structure of food is changed and deformed due to the frictional heat created when cooking, thus destroying nutritional content. I would not like to comment too much on either of these theories since I am not a scientist, but, aside from making soups, pasta sauces and curries, I always use steaming when cooking vegetables.  And anyway, steamed vegetables taste better.

Joy Chen 3-Tier Steamer
Joy Chen 3-Tier Steamer

Steaming with a Stainless Steel Pan and Insert is Quick and Easy

You can purchase electric steamers as separate units, which plug in to the wall and have their own timers. Many people seem to like them. However, my chosen method is to use the type of steamer that is placed over the pan on the hob - all that is required is a little water in the bottom of the saucepan, a steamer pan and a lid to keep the steam in. I choose this method because it is fairly inexpensive and simple, and also because I prefer to cook with stainless steel - I am not a big fan of plastic because some plastic products contain hormone-altering chemicals such as BPA (bisphenol-a), which can leach into food when heated. High quality (18/10) stainless steel will not react with the acids or alkali in foods, therefore leaving no metallic taste. Stainless steel is also extremely easy to get completely clean, whereas plastic will eventually harbor some of the food residues and become tainted. Steaming on the hob with a tiered steamer is also energy and space-saving, if you are used to having lots of different saucepans on the go - all you need is one hob. I usually boil potatoes in the bottom pan, then add vegetables to steam for  about five to ten minutes or so (depending on what they are) before the potatoes are ready. It couldn't be more simple, plus it is heathier too. Of course, whichever method you use for preparing vegetables, there will inevitably be at less some nutritional loss due to heating, unless you eat them raw.

Below are details of 4 excellent stainless steel food steamers which tier over the pot on the hob:

Paula Deen 3 Quart Stainless Steel Steamer

This 3 quart stainless steel pan and steamer insert is a durable, high quality steamer that will last for years. The aluminium base has a copper cap that conducts and retains heat. With its rubberized and riveted handle, the pan is comfortable to hold with a good grip. The steamer has a tight fitting, glass lid. This steamer is one of the smaller steamers available, perfect for singles, couples or small families of up to four.

Farberware Stack 'N' Steam Stainless Steel Steamer

The Farberware Stack 'N' Steam Food Steamer (pictured right) is another product made from high quality 18/10 stainless steel. It has a steamer insert that sits over the pot, and comfortable, stay-cool handles with a secure grip. The tight fitting lid keeps the flavor and moisture locked inside.  The base is aluminium, covered by stainless steel, which ensures the even heating of food.   

Buy Cook N Home Juicer Steamer on Amazon

Cook N Home 9 1/2 Quart Juicer Steamer

This is a two-in-one tiered steamer, which can either be used as a jucier to extract juice from fruits for drinking or making jelly etc. or as a simple steamer for vegetables.  It is a 9-1/2 quart steamer with plenty of capacity.  To use it as a juicer, just add fresh fruit to the top insert.  As the fruit steams, it will drip into the center pan and can be collected via the inserted tube.  To use it to steam vegetables, use without the center pan and tube as a regular steamer.

The base of the pan has an aluminium core, encased in stainless steel.  This conducts heat quickly and evenly.  It is easy to hold and has a tight-fitting lid to lock in flavor and moisture.  Also includes a free recipe book.

Joyce Chen 3-Tier Steamer

This is a 6 quart steamer, ideal for larger families. It is 3-tier, which means that there are two stainless steel inserts which sit above the pot. It is a product of excellent quality, with a tempered glass lid that keeps in flavor and moisture. It boasts easy to hold handles and plenty of room for cooking lots of vegetables and other foods all at once.


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