Best Steamer 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

There are so many reasons why electric food steamers are an essential kitchen appliance. They are great for anyone looking for a healthier lifestyle, as they lock in nutrients as they gently cook food, creating healthier and more flavourful food.

Space is also freed up on your hob, as the tiered system lets you cook more with less equipment and in a smaller area. Plus, you aren’t just limited to cooking vegetables, with recipes for meat, pasta and even puddings out there.

To find your perfect one, you need to consider capacity, ease of use, storage space, price and any extra features which may come in handy. Bearing this in mind, we have searched for and found the ten best steamers currently out there to help you narrow down your decision without you having to do any of the hard work.

The Best Steamers – Our Top Picks

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
Cuisinart STM1000U Cookfresh Professional Glass Steamer
  • Tiers: 1
  • Capacity: 5L
  • Top Three Features: Quick steaming, digital control, keep warm/reheat
  • Stackable?: N/A
Click for Best Price
Salter EK2726 Healthy Cooking 3-Tier Food Steamer
  • Tiers: 3
  • Capacity: 7.5L
  • Top Three Features: Timer, small capacity, stainless steel base
  • Stackable?: Yes
Click for Best Price
Philips AVENT Combined Baby Food Steamer and Blender
  • Tiers: 1
  • Capacity: 450ml
Click for Best Price

Best Digital Steamers

Cuisinart STM1000U Cookfresh Professional Glass Steamer

If high quality, digital control and a compact size are your three main wishes then this Cuisinart glass steamer ticks all of the boxes.

Firstly, the quality. With a glass basket and stainless steel attachments, there is no denying that this is going to be a long-lasting and sturdy appliance to use. They’re all dishwasher safe, and they clean up very well without any staining or colouring from certain foods.

The digital control gets you up and running in seconds, with an illuminated power button, large display screen, and start/pause button. There is a keep warm function, and you can opt to reheat your food as well, which could well make your microwave redundant.

Size-wise, there is only one tier, but two additional stainless steel baskets come with the purchase so you can split the space if required. One is a steaming bowl, and one is closed and suitable for rice.

As a bonus, if you’re cooking for guests, the glass basket can be lifted straight off the steamer and placed on the dinner table as a serving dish. A 1-litre water compartment should last a while, and an audible beep sounds if it starts running low.

It might not be cheap, but you certainly do get a special product for the price. Capacity may not be suitable for families, so bear this in mind.

Specifications

  • Tiers: 1
  • Capacity: 5L
  • Top Three Features: Quick steaming, digital control, keep warm/reheat
  • Stackable?: N/A

+ Downloads

Cuisinart STM1000U Cookfresh Professional Glass Steamer User Manual

Download

We like

  • Great quality
  • Digital controls easy to navigate
  • Works as a serving dish too

We dislike

  • Price, especially as it is relatively low capacity

Final Verdict

It may only really suit one or two people at a time but we guarantee it is an item that won't let you down in both the short and long term.

Morphy Richards Compact Intellisteam Food Steamer

A deceivingly large food steamer, the Intellisteam is a favourite with a lot of users and effortlessly combines ease of use with efficiency.

Some models which feature the same compact two compartments/one tier design retail for at least double, so we think this is fantastic value, especially given the name brand. The compartment comes as one large basket, and a removable divider lets you split it into two.

We loved the pre-programmed settings which makes getting used to the timings much easier. Just pick from fish, vegetables, meat, eggs or rice, and the durations are all sorted for you. It will even work to get both sections ready at the same time if they contain different foods.

We loved the fact that, if divided, each half can be turned on separately, so if you’re only steaming a single serving of broccoli to go with your pie, then you don’t have to get the entire appliance going which could add time to the cooking and heating.

The end results were some of the best of all we tested. Rice was fluffy, veg was al dente, fish was perfectly steamed, and even the eggs were perfect when both soft and hard boiled. If part of our testing were blind taste tests, then we would have said they were the results of an appliance at least twice the price.

An alarm sounds if the water drops below the minimum level, and a pull-out refill inlet makes topping it up effortless without allowing additional steam to escape during cooking, as with some other open refill models.

For the price, we think it is a great option. Perfect for singles or couples, but also large enough for part-preparing family meals.

Specifications

  • Tiers: 1
  • Capacity: 6L
  • Top Three Features: Keep warm function, two compartments, dishwasher safe parts
  • Stackable?: N/A

+ Downloads

Morphy Richards Compact Intellisteam Food Steamer User Manual

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We like

  • Good capacity yet compact
  • Dividable basket
  • Pre-programmed cooking times and settings

We dislike

  • Quite hard to get clean

Final Verdict

Super easy to get going, with no faffing and stacking baskets and having to time additional foods yourself. A definite game-changing steaming hero.

Best Manual Steamers

Russell Hobbs 21140 3-Tier Food Steamer

For a great price, there is a lot included with this steamer. It is easy to use, easy to clean and also looks modern and sleek.

There are three tiers and a generous 9-litre capacity, which gives ample room for families and large households. An external water full feature will prevent you needing to unstack everything to refill if its running dry, and part of the base is semi-transparent so you can see the water fill level and will know when attention is required.

Steam is generated very quickly, which is a factor a lot of steamers out there struggle with. This is achieved with Turbo Steam, which should get you going on average in 40 seconds. It will turn itself off if the water runs dry for safety.

The baskets are stackable for compact storage and are clearly marked to let you know which order they should be assembled in.

In terms of additions, there is a little basket for rice steaming included, and the clockwork timer isn’t the most advanced but seems to be pretty accurate once you get the hang of it. It isn’t the sturdiest or best quality but wasn’t any less plastic-y than some which retail for 3x the price.

The Russell Hobbs 21140 is our top pick because price, usability and capacity all receive top marks. End results were all fabulous, and the other user reviews are predominantly glowing. Great too if you want to see what all the fuss about steaming is about.

Specifications

  • Tiers: 3
  • Capacity: 9L
  • Top Three Features: 60 min. timer, external water fill, turbo steam
  • Stackable?: Yes

+ Downloads

Russell Hobbs 21140 3-Tier Food Steamer User Manual

Download

We like

  • Price
  • Turbo steam for quicker heating
  • Lid fits all bowls

We dislike

  • Can take a few goes to get used to stacking and fitting all baskets securely

Final Verdict

Steamers don't have to be fancy, futuristic pieces of kit and this one shows that sometimes, that's the best way for it to be.

Salter EK2726 Healthy Cooking 3-Tier Food Steamer

Stylish and featuring a clear timer and rice bowl, this is a good steamer for the price.

It can be used with one, two or all three tiers in action, so you are flexible in terms of the food you cook with it. All of the tiers stack for compact storage, separately to the base. The rice bowl fits nicely in any compartment, and there are two generous handles either side for easy removal and emptying.

Talking of handles, one gripe which is common across the steamer board is the lack of easy lid removal. Most have two small handles either side, and any escaping steam is always a bit hot on the hands. This model features a large plastic handle across the top, so removal and grip are easy, and you can stay clear of the steam and heat transfer.

One of the smallest on our list, but there is a larger 9L model available if this is better suited to your needs. There is also a plastic base option available from Salter, but we have to admit that the stainless steel version is the most aesthetically pleasing.

There is no water refill option, so you have to unstack all of the tiers and fill up the base. Most include this feature now, so we don’t know why there isn’t an easier way. As a bonus, at least it means that no more steam escapes than is necessary.

It is pretty sturdy and well-built, and the auto-shutoff will save you from any mishaps. Not the most feature packed, but great for the price.

Specifications

  • Tiers: 3
  • Capacity: 7.5L
  • Top Three Features: Timer, small capacity, stainless steel base
  • Stackable?: Yes

We like

  • Price
  • Stacks well and safely

We dislike

  • Timer is a bit stiff

Final Verdict

Simple to use, suitable for small portions and the end result is great so we'd be happy to use it on a daily basis.

VonShef Food Steamer

With each tier offering 3 litres of cooking space, this is a great option for anyone who wants the flexibility of switching between enough room for a meal for one and cooking for the whole family.

A bowl is included which can accommodate rice and grains, so if you wanted to make an entire meal using just the one appliance, it is possible. This and the three tiers are all dishwasher safe if cleaning is a big concern.

The timer can sit anywhere between 0 and 60 minutes, and if water does run out before you get the chance to top it up, then the power will cut out, so the elements aren’t damaged with running dry. When you do need to top up though, a small inlet at the side of the base makes pouring from a jug or bottle simple.

Despite being plastic, the baskets are quite strong and thick so even though you’ll have to still take care when washing and handling, they are sturdier than some of the alternatives we reviewed.

The body is stainless steel which feels quality, and for the price, there are few out there which offer this build. It is a modern design which will look at place in any kitchen.

Specifications

  • Tiers: 3
  • Capacity: 9L
  • Top Three Features: Detailed timer, dishwasher safe, large capacity
  • Stackable?: No

We like

  • Good quality for price
  • Easy water refill
  • Easy to clean

We dislike

  • Baskets get very hot during use

Final Verdict

We like the stainless steel design which is much nicer than the usual white of those at the lower end of the scale, and it is super easy to use. Great for the price.

Cookworks 2 Bowl Steamer

Looking for a steamer which does the job well yet comes in at under £20? This Cookworks option is great for small families or anyone who regularly cooks for themselves, and the quality is surprisingly good for the price.

It is very much a back to basics offering, with a simple clockwork timer and max/min water level indicator. The baskets are plastic and not the strongest we reviewed, but we don’t see why they shouldn’t last long enough for you to get a good few years use out of them at the very least.

The refill tray pulls out of the main body, which is great for keeping in extra steam and doesn’t make top-ups awkward. If water levels are running low, it will automatically cut off, so it doesn’t boil dry and stop working.

Both steamer bowls are the same size so they won’t pack down for smaller storage, but the stacked height isn’t too excessive anyway. Both compartments can be separated if this makes things easier.

Overall, it is basic but does the job and is best if you’ll be focusing on vegetables or rice, although things such as fish and chicken are still achievable with a bit of practice.

Specifications

  • Tiers: 2
  • Capacity: 7L
  • Top Three Features: Price, good size, timer
  • Stackable?: No

+ Downloads

Cookworks 2 Bowl Steamer User Guide

Download

We like

  • Price
  • Simple to set up

We dislike

  • Plastic is weak and could easily crack

Final Verdict

You can't expect an all-singing all-dancing model for the price, but all things considered, it is a great bit of kit which does the job - which is all we really wanted.

Philips AVENT Combined Baby Food Steamer and Blender

A bit of a bonus pick. Not your typical multi-person food steamer per se, but if you are looking for a model primarily for home cooked baby food, then this compact dedicated one may appeal.

Vegetables, meat, pulses and fish can all be steamed, and it is pretty powerful at the job too. Once it is all steamed, you can just flip the jar over and blend it all. No need to dirty several pots and pans and appliances.

It is easy to fill with water, and there are few parts, so it is easy to keep clean in between uses. Removing the contents from the jug is easy thanks to the pour spout, and once you are past the weaning stage, you can still use it as a blender or steamer for smaller portions of food.

So if this is your primary use for a steamer, and the rest on the list are just a bit too large and bulky for the small portions, this is one of the best baby food steamers available and incredibly popular with users. Plus, it’ll save you buying it all ready-made.

Specifications

  • Tiers: 1
  • Capacity: 450ml

+ Downloads

Philips AVENT Combined Baby Food Steamer and Blender User Manual

Download

We like

  • 2-in-1 use
  • Minimal hassle to use
  • Flexible in use

We dislike

  • Lid is incredibly tight for first few uses

Final Verdict

One of the best baby food steamers out there because it does everything from vegetable to plate without you having to lift much of a finger.

Morphy Richards 3 Tier Food Steamer 48755

Whether it be vegetables, potatoes and rice or fish, chicken and pasta, this steamer produces healthy results which still manage to remain tasty and flavoursome.

Talking of rice, the dedicated tray which comes with this model is a 1.1-litre capacity, so there will be plenty of rice to go around if you’re cooking for the family.

If you are after a steamer with which the base of the baskets is removable, then this one ticks that box. The walls fit into a green-tinted plastic tray, so if you need to make a slightly taller compartment for larger food, this is possible with a bit of experimenting. The main purpose, however, is that it makes them much easier to clean.

A drip tray makes emptying any leftover water simple, so you don’t have to tip the entire base of the device at an awkward angle.

We found that it was one of the most difficult to get used to time-wise, and things took slightly longer than with some similar capacity models. Limescale also seemed an issue, and it built up quickly, so this will add to your cleaning.

The water indicator is also hard to view in certain lights as it is against a dark background, so we would recommend getting used to the timings of the water evaporation yourself as a backup. Assembling the entire stack is also a bit time consuming if everything is separate as there are so many individual components. Everything must be in a particular order, and the numbers on the side aren’t easy to see, so it is one for anyone who will be leaving it out on the bench ready to go.

The timer is only marked with 10-minute intervals so is a bit tricky to get the hang of and set accurately – bear this in mind if it is something you’d struggle with, as picking a number such as 14 minutes is a bit hit and miss.

Specifications

  • Tiers: 3
  • Capacity: 9L
  • Top Three Features: Instant steam production, timer, easy cleaning
  • Stackable?: No

+ Downloads

Morphy Richards 3 Tier Food Steamer 48755 User Manual

Download

We like

  • Cleaning is easy
  • Steams and cooks well

We dislike

  • Sparse timer markings
  • Building it up can be confusing

Final Verdict

The removable base idea is unique yet very handy for cleaning, and although a few usability improvements could be made, it is still a good pick if you're a sucker for the big names.

Logik L90SSS17 Steamer

Dishwasher safe compartments, a 1.4-litre water reservoir and 9-litre cooking capacity, this Logik model is a safe bet for anyone who wants to see what all the steaming hype is about.

The compartments are all a nice size and easy to both stack and grip if you’re removing them, and the water level indicator may only be slight but is clear to view.

The timer is one of the clearest we have seen, with every minute marked right up to 60. Perfect if you’re fussy about precision. A power on indicator will let you know when it is up to its magic, and it will automatically shut off when the timer ends, or the water level is too low.

An external fill feature will help you prevent this happening. Our only gripe is that it doesn’t stack down for easy storage, but the overall dimensions aren’t too drastic anyway so if you have enough room on your kitchen benches then it will happily sit on top. It certainly is not the ugliest design, which should keep you happy.

Specifications

  • Tiers: 3
  • Capacity: 9L
  • Top Three Features: External fill feature, timer, compact size
  • Stackable?: No

+ Downloads

LOGIK L90SSS17 Steamer User Manual

Download

We like

  • Clear precise timer
  • Handle on lid is easy to grip

We dislike

  • Fitting it all together securely takes a bit of practice

Final Verdict

It looks a little on the cheap side and isn't the easiest to store or stack, but the usability is high and clear so it is a great all-rounder.

Tefal VC145140 Convenient Series Steamer

The majority of steamer baskets you see on the market will be plastic, so the fact that this steamer combines the efficiency of an electric steamer with the sturdiness of a set of stainless steel steamer pans is a factor which will appeal to a lot of people out there.

Regarding usability, the timer seems pretty accurate, and it starts steaming quickly enough. You can use one basket on its own if that’s all that’s needed, and they’re both dishwasher safe. It stacks down to a nice storage size, and water can be refilled without removing the baskets.

Stainless steel bowls do mean you can’t see the contents as they cook, but if you place your faith in the reliable timer and get used to the appliance, then this shouldn’t be an issue. As a bonus, they don’t stain with certain foods – other plastic options we reviewed went slightly orange with carrots/green with broccoli condensation after a few uses.

The big downfall that we can’t really get past is that the steam holes are on the larger size. If you were to steam peas or other small items, they may well just drop through. It is also a bit of a monster in terms of storage thanks to the round shape even when collapsed, so not the best if you’re low on storage space or worktop availability.

A large amount of steam also leaves the holes in the lid, which is kind of the whole point, but if you don’t have a cooker hood or open window, then it may be a bit much. Should stainless steel cooking pots be your biggest wish though, then don’t let these niggles put you off as they’re easy to work around.

Specifications

  • Tiers: 2
  • Capacity: 6L
  • Top Three Features: Stainless steel baskets, external water fill, water level view
  • Stackable?: Yes

+ Downloads

Tefal VC145140 Convenient Series Steamer User Manual

Download

We like

  • Easy grip handles
  • Good to keep clean
  • Round size is different - food fits well

We dislike

  • Storage is a bit cumbersome
  • Nowhere for lid to fit when stored
  • Rice bowl included but is very small

Final Verdict

Stainless Steel pots should last longer, and be easier to care for, especially if you tend to be a bit haphazard when handling kitchen equipment. If you’re concerned about using plastic when cooking, they should also appeal.

Help and Resources

Steamer Buying Guide

Price

The retail cost of steamers may well surprise you. There are some budget options available starting at around £15, and the average price only really goes up to ~£30. Some more expensive options are out there, but they don’t always offer more for the money. A few may feature extras such as delayed starting, digital timers and compact storage, though.

Stackable steamer pans which you use on your hob are also available, and you may be torn as to which to buy, but when comparing them by price, we think the electric versions offer much more versatility for the money.

Extra Features

Basic electric steamers do the job perfectly well, but there may be some additional things to look out for depending on your cooking and kitchen habits:

  • Stackable Compartments: Most steamers work on a tier system, but for storing them away when not in use, some offer variable sized baskets, so they all fit inside one another. This reduces the height and is especially handy if you’ll be keeping it in a cupboard. Beware that there is a firm order they must be re-assembled in though, so they can’t be swapped and changed easily when in use
  • Rice Bowl: It is hard to get rice just perfect, but steamers can do the majority of the work for you. If this appeals, look for a model with a rice steamer insert. It can take a while to cook, but results are generally impressive
  • Timer: A lot of electrical cooking appliances now feature timers to make your life easier and save your food during those hectic times. There are digital and clockwork timers available with steamers; the former is usually more accurate, but the latter offers good basic guidance
  • Delayed Start: Working alongside the timer, some digital models may allow you to choose the time they get to work, so your veg is ready when you get home
  • Keep Warm: Great if you’ve mistimed all the components of your meal or something has come up, but you’ll still need to ensure that there’s enough water in the base

Capacity

This is an important factor when buying any new cooking appliance. For feeding four people, you probably want about 9 litres to work with. Most are split over three level tiers, which gives you approx. 3 litres per basket.

Most can be used with just one or two tiers in operation, in case you’re cooking for one some nights. There are smaller, more compact options out there too.

FAQ’s

How Does A Steamer Work?

Fill the bottom water reservoir with the correct amount of water for both the timings and the steamer contents, and turn it on. The steam will rise through the holes in each basket and warm the chambers, cooking the food as it goes.

Never use too much water, or too little. You can experiment with adding herbs and spices to the water or food if your steamer allows, too.

Why Should I Buy A Steamer?

  • Nutrition: When steaming, more vitamins and nutrients are retained within the food than with other methods, such as boiling. This is because there is less opportunity for them to escape into boiling water or oil etc.
  • Space: You have a big Sunday roast to cook. Do you want to be cooking all your vegetables in your three saucepans on the hob which takes up space and means you’re going to have to juggle them all, or do you want everything in one manageable, space-saving stack where you just turn the timer and leave them to it? If you’re low on space or cooking equipment, they are ideal and most will store away smaller than a set of saucepans, too
  • Versatility: Most pictures will show them packed with veggies, but you can also steam rice, pasta, chicken, fish, shellfish, puddings and even fruit in a steamer
  • Baby Food: A great, easy way to both prepare your baby’s dinner while keeping it all healthy and packed with all the good stuff. There are some dedicated single serving options out there, too

How Long Do Steamers Take To Cook?

This all depends on what it is, how you like it and your particular steamer. There is guidance available online about general ideal times, and your steamer may include some instructions with the purchase too.

Just remember that if you’re cooking fish or chicken, this will take longer than any vegetables, so you need to bear this in mind when stacking. Peas will take less time than brussel sprouts or potatoes, and a full chamber will take longer than one with a few carrot batons in.

Are There Any Negatives Of Steamers?

Your food may not look quite as appealing as some vegetables can lose their colouring in the process, and taste may be quite bland as there aren’t as many opportunities to add seasoning during the cooking process.

They may take longer than a pan of boiling water as they don’t produce as much steam and heat straight away, and cleaning can be hard depending on the shape and design. But in our opinion, the benefits far outweigh these.