The 7 Best Steamer Baskets for Fast, Healthy Meals

Easily steam vegetables, dumplings, tamales, and more with the All-Clad 3-Quart Steamer Baskter, our top choice.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Best Steamer Baskets
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

Steamer baskets are slotted baskets that hold food above boiling water in a covered pan, allowing it to cook without touching the water itself. Chef and cooking instructor Rachael Narins says, "when steaming, the food is bathed in gentle heat that cooks without browning. Flavors don't get diluted, and the steaming helps maintain nutrients that can be lost if you were to boil." Steaming is a great solution for simple, flavorful meals and easy cleanup, and steamer baskets are a beloved tool in kitchens around the world.

We love using our steamer baskets to make side dishes for dinner (think steamed vegetables tossed in herbs) or even for cooking whole meals, like trout with mushrooms. Want an extra burst of flavor? "Adding aromatics like bay leaves or garlic or even some wine to the simmering water will add a touch of flavor to your final dish," Narins says. We researched and reviewed the best steamers on the market to narrow the pool down to seven before selecting the All-Clad 3-Quart Stainless Steel Steamer Basket as our top pick. budget-friendly models to stackable bamboo to electric models, to help you find the perfect steamer for you.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: All-Clad 3-Quart Stainless Steel Steamer Basket

Best Steamer Baskets
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at All-Clad and Williams Sonoma.

Pros: A durable, functional steamer insert fits easily into an eight-inch pan and is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.

Cons: It may not be large enough for preparing big meals.

All-Clad products are a perennial favorite, and their durable, versatile pans make a frequent appearance on our stovetops. "For everyday steaming, I'm partial to my All-Clad stainless steamer insert that fits over my four-quart saucepan. It's pretty and functional, has a nice long handle, and cleans up easily," Narins says.

As a bonus, this steamer basket is easy to clean and dishwasher safe. Built to last, this steamer basket will see you through years of delicious meals. Our one con is that it may not fit all of your ingredients if you're cooking for a big group, but it's perfect for everyday meals and small households.

  • Dimensions: 22.1 x 18.1 x 14.4 inches
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

Best Steamer Basket for Pressure Cookers: Mesh Steamer Basket for Instant Pot

Best Steamer Baskets
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Bed Bath & Beyond and Williams Sonoma.

Pros: An easy-to-clean insert adds even more versatility to your versatile electric multi-cooker.

Cons: The size is only for a six-quart multicooker.

The Instant Pot regularly tops our lists, and for good reason: chefs laud its versatility, safety features, and presets. If you're among the multi-cooker's many devotees who use it to save time cooking meals with minimal fuss, you'll love how easily this dishwasher-safe steamer basket fits into the appliance and cleans up afterward. Not only that, it food steams evenly in it thanks to the state-of-the-art heating element in the cooker's base. If you don't own an Instant Pot, the investment will reap dividends in a variety of kitchen functions. If you already have an Instant Pot, the mesh steamer basket is an affordable accessory that will help your multi-cooker reach its full potential.

  • Dimensions: 8.82 x 8.43 x 6.18 inches
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

Best Bamboo: Joyce Chen 6-Inch Bamboo Steamer

Best Steamer Baskets
Courtesy of Crate and Barrel

Also available at Walmart.

Pros: Bamboo steamers are versatile, stackable, and beautiful enough to serve food in.

Cons: It's not dishwasher safe.

Bamboo steamers are affordable and beautiful options for steaming vegetables, dumplings, fish, and more. You can steam just about anything in a bamboo steamer, and we love that it's attractive enough to go from stove to table. Not to mention, this smaller-sized steamer basket is perfect for weeknight meals.

We also love that it's stackable, which means you can add or remove layers as you need to accommodate everyone at the table. For larger groups or larger dishes (think whole fish), these baskets may be a bit small, but thankfully, our pick for the best large steamer, also by Joyce Chen, works as well as these smaller baskets, with a more substantial capacity.

  • Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 5 inches
  • Dishwasher safe: No

Best Silicone: Oxo Green Silicone Steamer Basket

Best Steamer Baskets
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Ace Hardware.

Pros: It's made of food-safe, dishwasher-safe silicone. It's also large enough to steam fish.

Cons: Despite its flexible design, it doesn't collapse evenly for storage.

Kitchen tools from Oxo's Good Grips line are a mainstay in many kitchens, and this steamer basket combines the ergonomic grip the brand is known for with an eye-catching design. We like the bright color, and the heatproof silicone feet keep your basket, and your dinner, out of the water.

Silicone comes with pros and cons. "Silicone baskets are great for some people, but I find the flexibility of the material makes lifting it out of the pan precarious," says Narins. In addition, this steamer basket doesn't fold down as flat as we'd like for storage, so it may not fit easily in tight kitchen cabinets.

  • Dimensions: 7.25 x 3.75 x 10.5 inches
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

Best Collapsible: Oxo Stainless Steel Steamer With Extendable Handle

Best Steamer Baskets
Courtesy of Crate and Barrel

Also available at Bed Bath & Beyond and Crate & Barrel.

Pros: The collapsible basket saves storage space, while its extending handle keeps hands safe from heat.

Cons: Collapsible baskets can be more difficult to remove from pans than other types

Collapsible steamer baskets look almost like flowers, folding down into a circular basket, then folding up like a closed bloom for easy storage. A collapsible basket saves space in a small kitchen and, since the basket itself folds down, can be adapted to pans of multiple sizes, adding versatility to your kitchen routine.

With collapsible steamer baskets, you want to be careful: because they contain moving parts, they can be harder to remove from the pot without tipping than single-piece baskets. Another feature that can work against collapsible pans: the handle. Most collapsible baskets have a small metal handle that's hard to grasp and often gets hot. Our favorite feature about this basket is its extendable silicone handle, which makes it much easier to use than other collapsible models. It's also more durable, too.

  • Dimensions: 10.5 x 10.5 x 5 inches (when open)
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes

Best Large: Joyce Chen 12-Inch Bamboo Steamer Basket

Best Steamer Baskets
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Williams Sonoma and Home Depot.

Pros: This stackable steamer basket holds more food than our other picks, and it's visually stunning to boot.

Cons: It's not dishwasher safe and not collapsible.

This larger version from Joyce Chen offers many of the same benefits as our pick for the best bamboo steamer basket: it's durable, beautiful, versatile, and can be used for presentation or preparation. The basket fits easily over larger pots, and its lid stays tight for even steaming.

Moreover, this steamer is large enough to accommodate bigger cuts of meat and fish, and to hold enough food to feed a crowd. Its stackable baskets let you cook as much or as little as you need. The only downside? Its large size might make it harder to store in small kitchens.

  • Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 6.25 inches
  • Dishwasher safe: No

Best Value: Starfrit Stainless Steel Steamer Basket

Best Steamer Baskets
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart and Wayfair.

Pros: This affordable steamer basket collapses down to save cabinet space.

Cons: It's not recommended for the dishwasher.

The Starfrit stainless steel steamer basket was an easy choice for Best Value. It has many of the features of our favorite collapsible model from Oxo, including an extendable handle, and it collapses down to save space and to fit in multiple sizes of pans. This steamer also has silicone feet, which help protect your pans from scratches. The only downside is that it isn't dishwasher safe, but it's easy to clean with warm, soapy water.

  • Dimensions: 5.7 x 3.8 x 5.5 inches
  • Dishwasher safe: No
  • Our Favorite

    A steamer basket is a simple tool that can streamline and simplify cooking. It can also open up a world of culinary possibilities, from buns to fish to tamales and beyond. We recommend the All-Clad 3-Quart Steamer as the best steamer basket for most cooks. For a large capacity steamer basket, we recommend the 12-Inch Joyce Chen Steamer. Ultimately, choose the steamer basket that will hold the number of servings of food you need, fits in your space, and has the features you find most important.

    Factors to Consider

    Capacity

    Consider how much food you hope to cook in your steamer basket. Are you steaming up a serving or two at home, or are you cooking for a crowd? If your needs vary, you might do best with a stackable steamer basket, which allows you to customize the capacity.

    Functionality and Features

    Think about how you cook, and the amount of kitchen space you have to store your new steamer basket. For simple dishes in a small kitchen, a collapsible basket might be the best fit, whereas a large, stackable basket is a versatile choice for people with the cabinet space to store it. And, if you love your multi-cooker, why not save space and add more functionality with a steamer basket that easily fits inside?

    The Research

    To find the best steamer baskets, we drew on our expertise and input from chef and cooking instructor Rachael Narins to evaluate products based on factors like capacity, ergonomics, functionality, and storage.

    What Didn't Make the List

    There are many great steamer baskets on the market, but not all are as versatile or affordable as our top picks. Here are a few that we liked but that didn't make the final cut.

Zojirushi Rice Cooker

best steamer baskets
Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Rice cookers streamline meal prep by yielding fluffy, perfect rice, and the Zojirushi includes a basket for steaming vegetables, meat, and fish. Ultimately, it didn't make the list because it isn't as versatile as the Instant Pot, and it requires a higher initial investment.

Our Place Spruce Steamer

best steamer baskets
Courtesy of Our Place

Our Place is known for its simple, striking aesthetics and quality products, and this bamboo steamer basket is no exception. It fits easily on their pans and comes with paper liners to keep food from sticking. Yet, we chose Joyce Chen's bamboo steamer baskets as the Best Bamboo and Best Large, which have a tiered design to fit more food.

Mushi Nabe Donabe Steamer

best steamer baskets
Courtesy of Jinen

Ceramic steamers are not as cheap or versatile as other models, but they cook food beautifully, and if you have your heart set on a ceramic steamer, this is a great choice. The Mushi Nabe Donabe Steamer is, no doubt, the most beautiful on our list. We would use it to serve food as quickly as we would cook in it. It is an all-in-one unit, with a pot, steamer, and lid, made to be used on a gas stove or in the oven. It didn't make our list, however, as it isn't compatible with electric or induction cooktops.

Pro Panel Q+A

Q: How can you use a steamer basket?

A: "Steaming is so simple and works for so many foods," says Narins. "It's perfect for delicate egg dishes, custards, puddings, and even some breads. There is nothing quite like steamed Boston brown bread. It's a simple way to cook fish, crabs, and shellfish since the flavors aren't diluted. For the advanced cook, pre-soaked rice can be steamed, resulting in perfectly light, fluffy, separate grains. It's a simple, efficient way to make a healthy, low-fat, flavorful meal."

If you're new to steaming, it's best to start small, build up your confidence, then move on to steaming more complex dishes, according to Narins. "If you're a beginner, start with something simple like green beans or broccoli cut into florets. Let the water come to a simmer, making sure it does not touch the basket, then add your vegetables and top with a lid. You want to remove the vegetables when they're bright green or cooked to your taste."

Q: What are the different kinds of steamer baskets?

A: You'll find a variety of steamer baskets on the market. "There's the classic expanding flower style that is placed in the bottom of any pan, the perforated double boiler style that goes on top of a pan, flexible silicone baskets, couscous pots, the tall and narrow asparagus steamer basket, copper clad steamer pots, stand-alone steamer appliances, and the beloved bamboo stacking basket," says Narins. In addition to stovetop and oven steamer baskets, there are standalone electric steamers, plus steamer baskets that fit inside your existing pressure cooker or rice cooker.

Q: How much water does a steamer basket need?

A: "You want to make sure there's enough water to steam your food and not boil off before it's done. And you need to be careful when lifting the lid because steam that hot can burn you. The water in your lower pan should not touch the bottom of the steamer basket," says Narins. An important part of steaming food is keeping the steam in, so make sure your pan and steamer basket are covered with a tight-fitting lid.

Q: How do you keep dumplings from sticking to a steamer basket?

A: "Vegetables won't stick to your steamer basket, but dumplings, tamales, and other foods can. To prevent anything from sticking to your steamer basket, lightly oil the bottom with pan spray or brush the surface with a touch of neutral oil. Alternatively, you can line the basket with clean, non-treated banana leaves, corn husks, cabbage leaves, grape leaves, fig leaves, or a perforated piece of parchment to prevent any sticking. The leaves or husks will also add a bonus bit of flavor," says Narins.

Q: How do you steam without a steamer basket?

If you don't have a steamer and are in a crunch, you can improvise, according to Narins. "You can put a small rack in a pan that has a lid, add water underneath it and place your foods on top. If you have a mesh strainer or colander that fits into a pan and you can put a lid on it, that works, too. Do you own a perforated half-size hotel pan? Stack that on top of a deeper hotel pan, add water and a lid – or if you're a chef, foil or a sheet pan – and steam away," she says.

Our Expertise

Julia Skinner, Ph.D. is a culinary educator, avid home cook, and author of Our Fermented Lives: How Fermented Foods Have Shaped Cultures and Communities. She is the founder of Root, which offers online cooking classes, a recipe newsletter, and more.

Rachael Narins is a chef-instructor, best-selling cookbook author, and the founder of Chicks with Knives, a culinary consulting company. She lives and cooks in Los Angeles.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles