9 of the best food steamers to buy

21 April 2021

stainless steel food steamers

Get steamy in the kitchen with our pick of the best food steamers for quick and healthy cooking.

There are many reasons why steaming your veggies, meat and fish is recommended when cooking up a storm in the kitchen. It helps retain vitamins and minerals, locks in flavour, and prevents vegetables from turning to mush. And by using a quality food steamer, you can quickly and easily prepare healthy meals for the whole family.

Whether you want to kick your diet into touch, are fed up with overcooking the Sunday roast veg or want a handy tool for cooking lots of different food at the same time, there are options for everyone.

If you have a large family, there are three-tier food steamers with hefty nine-litre capacities, high-tech versions if you want a helping hand in the kitchen, simple bamboo options to pop onto pans and gadgets designed to prep food for babies.

We’ve rounded up a selection of the best food steamers available to buy in the UK right now, including tried-and-tested recommendations from the Mumsnet forums.

Here are the best food steamers to buy in 2021.

1. Best overall food steamer: Tefal VC100665 Ultracompact Food Steamer

“We have a three-tier Tefal one which is great. We use it loads, mainly for veggies.”

1. Best overall food steamer: Tefal VC100665 Ultracompact Food Steamer

Tefal food steamers are highly rated by Mumsnetters and this ultracompact electric version also receives impressive online reviews for its ease of use and compact design. The three separate steaming levels and rice bowl allow you to cook an entire meal in one go, making cooking healthy family meals a cinch.

It has a 60-minute timer with an automatic shut-off function which means there’s no need to continually monitor what’s cooking. And because it’s clear and has a visible water level indicator, you can just top it up with water when needed so food stays nice and moist. The three stackable bowls are stored upside down on the base which makes it easy to store away.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 38 × 28 × 23cm
  • Capacity: Nine litres
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

2. Best budget food steamer: Russell Hobbs Three-Tier Food Steamer 21140

2. Best budget food steamer: Russell Hobbs Three-Tier Food Steamer 21140

If you’re new to the food steaming party, this budget buy could be a great introduction at under £25. Despite it's small price tag, it still packs a punch with a powerful 800 watt turbo steam design that creates steam in 40 seconds. It has three tiers which means you can cook food simultaneously without having to juggle lots of different pots and pans on your cooker hob. The separate basket layers provide a generous nine-litre capacity which makes it ideal for entertaining or for larger families, and it has two water inlets, one on each side, making it super easy to refill with water on the go. Along with the three baskets, it comes with a one-litre rice bowl and an egg basket.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 25 × 25 × 25cm
  • Capacity: 9 litres
  • Dishwasher safe: No
Buy now from Amazon

3. Best stainless steel food steamer: Lakeland Three-Piece Stainless Steel Steamer

3. Best stainless steel food steamer: Lakeland Three-Piece Stainless Steel Steamer

For a more traditional gadget, this Lakeland three-piece steel steamer could be perfect for you. It’s suitable for all hobs including induction hobs and comes with a 15-year manufacturer's guarantee. A big plus is that it comes with two extra-deep baskets which can hold larger portions so it’s great for entertaining or for large family gatherings. It has a vented glass lid which means you can keep an eye on the food while it cooks and it can be popped in the dishwasher when you’re done, although many people prefer to give it a quick scrub in the sink.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 20 × 28 cm
  • Capacity: Base four litres
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
Buy now from Lakeland

4. Best baby food steamer: Tommee Tippee Baby Food Steam Blender

“Tommee Tippee steamer and blender looks good.”

4. Best baby food steamer: Tommee Tippee Baby Food Steam Blender

If you want to ensure your little ones are getting all possible nutrients but without the hassle of steaming and blending separately, this 3-in-1 baby food maker and steamer is a great buy and features in our roundup of the best baby food makers you can buy. Once a steam cycle has finished, the unit automatically starts blending so you don’t need to decant between steps, reducing mess and time, meaning more time spent with bubs. It steams anything from fruit, vegetables and meat and preserves key nutrients and flavour. And it has an easy push button to select the steam or blend function.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 26 × 30 × 34 cm
  • Capacity: Not specified
  • Dishwasher safe: No
Buy now from Amazon

5. Best vegetable food steamer: Tefal VC140165 Convenient 2 Bowl Steamer

“We have a Tefal one which is great and we use it all the time.”

5. Best vegetable food steamer: Tefal VC140165 Convenient 2 Bowl Steamer

If you’re looking to serve up the perfect al dente veggies for your family’s Sunday roast, this Tefal 2-Bowl steamer could be a great addition to your kitchen. It has two large stackable bowls with a six-litre water capacity. It isn’t the biggest on the market but it’s great for getting the perfect bite on those carrots and broccoli. There’s a 60-minute timer with an auto-off setting and as with other steamers, there’s a visible water level which means you know when to top it up. As an added extra, it comes with additional bowls for rice and pulses. It’s worth mentioning that reviewers have rated it highly for how easy it is to take apart for cleaning and storing after use.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 32 × 31 × 25cm
  • Capacity: Six litres
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
Buy now from Argos

6. Best bamboo food steamer: Harcas Premium Organic 2-Tier Bamboo Steamer

“You don't actually need a fancy electric one in my view. You can pick up a bamboo one with removable tiers for next to nothing. I do everything in mine and it looks nice too.”

6. Best bamboo food steamer: Harcas Premium Organic 2-Tier Bamboo Steamer

There’s no mistaking that bamboo steamers have a lot more kerb appeal compared to normal food steamers. And they’re not just for Asian cuisine, you can steam pretty much anything in them. The Harcas 2-tier bamboo steamer fits most woks and pans and as with other steamers, it allows different foods to be steamed at any one time. It’s made from premium bamboo and is reinforced with stainless steel bands making it extra sturdy and durable unlike some bamboo steamers which can be a little flimsy. When you’re finished with it, simply give it a quick rinse and dry before storing away. Word of warning, you might need to remove the lid from the baskets when storing.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: Each tier is 25cm high
  • Capacity: Not specified.
  • Dishwasher safe: No
Buy now from Amazon

7. Best quality food steamer: Morphy Richards Compact Intellisteam Food Steamer

“Just bought another from John Lewis. I wore my last one out!”

7. Best quality food steamer: Morphy Richards Compact Intellisteam Food Steamer

Looks can be deceiving with this Morphy Richards food steamer. Although it says compact, it’s anything but with its six-litre capacity that can prepare a dinner for two. It comes with a removable divider wall, a collapsible steam basket, and a flavour scenter to infuse food with herbs or spices. It also comes with smart pre-programmed timers that are suited to different foods, taking the guesswork out of cooking. Your favourite settings can even be stored in the memory of the steamer for next time. Other handy features include a keep warm function and a recipe booklet.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 29.5 × 36 × 24.5 cm
  • Capacity: Six litres
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
Buy now from John Lewis & Partners

8. Best tiered food steamer: VonShef Food Steamer with 3 Removable Tiers

8. Best tiered food steamer: VonShef Food Steamer with 3 Removable Tiers

The largest steamer on our list, the VonShef food steamer is also quick to start cooking your food. Each of the three tiers, or baskets, has a three-litre steaming space and the 800W steaming element means it takes only 15 seconds to start cooking your ingredients. As the bowls are clear you can keep an eye on your food but it also comes with a handy timer to remind you when it’s ready. And if all else fails it has a boil-dry mechanism which turns it off if water runs out. All the stackable tiers and accessories are dishwasher safe.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 32 × 25 × 43 cm
  • Capacity: Nine litres
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

9. Best hob food steamer: Tower Essentials 3-Tier Steamer

9. Best hob food steamer: Tower Essentials 3-Tier Steamer

If you prefer to steam your food on the hob, this no-nonsense three-tier steamer from Tower Essentials could be perfect. It’s suitable for all hobs including induction and is dishwasher and oven safe up to 200 degrees Celsius. Reviewers are keen to praise the quality of the steamer and generously sized steaming baskets. It has built-in steam vents, meaning you can easily control the steam release to ensure ideal cooking results. The silicone-covered riveted handles make it easy and safe to use and carry from hob to worktop.

Key specs

  • Dimensions: 19.5 × 27 × 29 cm
  • Capacity: Not specified
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
Buy now from Amazon

How to choose the best food steamer

There are several things to consider before buying a food steamer and we’ve tried to cover the basics by providing some simple tips below.

Firstly, size. How many people are you cooking for? If it’s only for you, or you and a partner, a three-tier 12-litre capacity food steamer probably won’t be necessary. But if you have a large family or entertain regularly then size and capacity will matter.

Most steamers have a capacity of around nine litres, which is big enough to cook a meal for four. If cooking for one to three people, it might be better to opt for a smaller steamer that will take up less space. A six-litre capacity is a good option for preparing tasty mains or sides, and for cooking for two.

Another thing to check before you buy is a good instruction/recipe manual. That may sound a bit nerdy but a good manual will give you advice on which basket to use for different types of food and the volume of food and weight you should ideally use. As a rule, food will cook more slowly at the top compared to the bottom basket.

The next thing to look for is efficiency. If choosing an electric food steamer, it should cook food quickly and evenly and most run at 800 watts. Some claim to start steaming within 15 seconds but many start at about 60 seconds.

The final thing to look for is versatility. Figure out how much food you can cook at the same time and check if it comes with separate rice and egg bowls. Added extras are always a bonus as it means you can use it for more things and hopefully it won’t just gather dust in the back of the cupboard!

What are the benefits of steaming food?

Steaming food does not require oil so you can avoid producing unwanted fats, making dishes lighter and healthier. Fewer vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are lost compared to dry-heat cooking, which often means a decreased need to add salt or oil as the food retains more flavour, texture, and colour.

What's the best type of food steamer to buy?

If you want to cook lots of different foods at the same time in an efficient way then a three-tiered food steamer is great for heating everything at once without cross flavouring. For things like cooking a whole seabass or salmon, wide and deep compartments are best. Clearly most people would prefer a steamer that’s dishwasher safe and as they can often be quite bulky, collapsible tiers are a good option. Electric food steamers are hassle-free as they come with electric timers, so you pop the food in and get notified by a buzzer when it’s ready to eat.

Which size food steamer is best?

A three-tiered steamer is great if you want to cook different items at the same time but the size depends on how many people you’ll be cooking for, as mentioned above. If it’s just for you and your partner, a smaller two bowl steamer would probably be best like the Tefal VC140165 we recommend. However, if you have a large family or entertain a lot a three-tier food steamer will definitely be the right choice for you.

Can you make rice in a food steamer?

Yes, absolutely and a lot of food steamers come with a rice bowl. Simply place the rice in the steamer filled with cold water (the water should not be boiling when the rice is placed into the steamer). Turn on the heat to high, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the rice sit in the steamer with the lid on for at least five more minutes.

What is the best food steamer to buy?

The Tefal VC100665 Ultracompact, Electric, Food Steamer is our best buy for several reasons. As well as having all the basics sorted (generous capacity, dishwasher safe, good price) it receives some impressive reviews from our Mumsnetters for its quality and durability.

How we chose our recommendations

Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out what food steamers were being recommended.

We then did some research across the wider web, looking at what food steamers had won accolades or been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites, and what customer reviews said about them. Having collated all that information, we then narrowed our list down to the best food steamers online at the moment.

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