A food steamer is a handy kitchen appliance which can be used to quickly steam all kinds of foods including vegetables, meat, fish, pasta, rice, eggs, dumplings and more.
This method of cooking helps to retain flavour, texture, and nutritional value, with minimal effort required. It is a particularly healthy and effective cooking technique which does not require the use of cooking oils or other fats. We also love that food steamers allow us to cook all in one self-contained unit, minimising clean up time and mess in the kitchen.
Types of food steamers
There is a great variety of food steamers available on the market today, from the infamous bamboo steamers used traditionally in Asian cultures to modern electric steamers for cooking, that come with additional features and functions. Let us look at just a few different types of food steamers you can choose from.
A benchtop, kitchen appliance with stackable, perforated trays or divided so that large batches of food or different types of food can be steamed at the same time. Water is added to a chamber, and a heating element heats the water until it turns into steam.
Much like a slow cooker or pressure cooker, electric steamers give you the freedom to walk away and come back to delicious, perfectly cooked, nutrient-filled food. These food steamers are very affordable, simple to use, and can come with a variety of functions and features for that extra convenience.
This type of steamer stems from the more traditional method of steam cooking. This is the classic type of steamer that is placed over a gas or induction stovetop, working like a large cooking pot. Inside the pot are several tiers for placing different types of food, with water being added to the base and then heated to produce steam. Stovetop steamers also come in a variety of models.
- Bamboo - Traditionally used for cooking in Asian cultures. Tiered, wooden, steamer baskets placed over a large cooking pot of hot water.
- Aluminium - Tiered or divided metal steamer that can be used on gas stovetops.
- Stainless-steel - Tiered of divided metal steamer that can be used on induction stovetops.
Microwave food steamers are the quickest and simplest way to prepare and cook food, albeit not the best way. They are usually made from plastic and may affect the taste or quality of your food.
The best food steamers to buy
Whether you are looking for a steamer insert compatible with kitchen appliances you already own, or a large electric model to feed the whole family, we have compiled a variety of food steamers to meet your needs.
Below are our top 10 picks for the best food steamers in Australia with a summary of key features, functions, and performance, all of which will bring added reassurance when it comes to choosing the right one for your needs.
Best For Meat
1. Breville The Steam Zone
With a unique and accommodating design, big enough to steam whole fish
Price AUD: --
The Steam Zone from Breville boasts speed, power, efficiency, and a whole lot of convenience, all of which is reflected in its price tag. With Rapid Start Technology, this premium model can reach maximum steaming power in less than thirty seconds, which makes this steamer perfect for families with multiple children or entertaining. This stainless-steel, electric steamer will easily outlive any of its plastic competitors.
Because of its innovative separate zone design, Breville stands out from traditional multi-tiered steamers. It completely separates the cooking processes by using a single level surface which can be divided into two separate cooking compartments. This provides versatility and prevents uneven cooking and contamination of flavours.
If you want to cook just a single large dish, you can remove the separate zones and set up the 40cm base layer. This feature is perfect for steaming meat or even a whole fish.
Our favourite feature must be its ability to synchronize cooking times, so no matter what you are steaming in the separate compartments, you can program both dishes to be ready at the same time.
2. Cuisinart Cookfresh Digital Glass Steamer
A powerful, family-sized steam system, plastic and BPA-free
Price AUD: $273.99
The Cuisinart Cookfresh is a top of the range electric food steamer, providing a 5-L cooking pot, ideal for busy families. If you don’t like the idea of cooking with plastic materials, this steamer has you covered with a 5L glass cooking pot, a stainless-steel steaming tray and a glass lid with stainless steel trim. All parts are dishwasher safe for efficiency and easy cleaning.
The Cuisinart steamer allows you to take control and fully customise your own cooking process with an LCD control panel including start/stop, pause, and reheat buttons, keep warm function, a 60-minute timer and audible alert. For even simpler use, you can also select from five pre-programmed food settings: seafood, poultry, grains, vegetables, and manual mode.
This steaming system delivers the steam from the top down, surrounding the food and cooking it quickly and evenly. The 1L water tank is removable for easy refilling and the two handles on the steamer tray make for easy removal. We love that the glass tray can also be used as a serving dish or for storage in the fridge, keeping the mess and effort to a minimum.
Best For Small Business
3. Morphy Richards IntelliSteam
With new programmed intelligence, the steamer that cooks to perfection
Price AUD: $204.96
The new intelligent electric steamer from Morphy Richards boasts a large 6.8L capacity, ideal for large households and small businesses. The Intellisteam uses BPA-free plastic and stainless-steel steaming baskets, complete with a transparent glass lid so you can monitor your food without lifting the lid.
There is no need to worry about uneven cooking or overcooking your food, the Intellisteam uses three separate cooking chambers, which can be individually timed, so you can cook an entire meal with different types of food and have all of it ready at the same time. The LCD digital control panel allows you to select your own cooking time for each compartment or you can choose to use one of the 8 pre-programmed functions including keep warm.
The Intellisteam brings flexibility and versatility to home cooking with extra accessories to aid your culinary journey, including a steaming shelf, rice tray and 2 sauce bowls. Keep in mind if this model is your pick, it is quite large, so you should consider your bench space and storage at home first.
4. Breville the Quick Steam Digital
3-tiered, vertically stacked steamer providing more bench space in your kitchen
Price AUD: $103.00
The Quick Steam is an innovative electric food steamer from Breville which delivers speedy results while still retaining the natural vitamins and flavours of your food. With three plastic steaming baskets, stacked vertically, you can prepare food for the whole family. The Breville Quick Steam has a large family size capacity and is easy to clean.
It won’t take long for dinner to be served, as the unit takes just 30 seconds to heat up. If you’re cooking casually, the 20-minute automatic steam function will be your best friend. Otherwise, you can program a steaming time of up to two hours if you are seeking greater precision. Just make sure you fill up with enough water for longer steams.
A 12-hour delay start function means you can come home from work to find part of your recipe already done. Once the steamer has completed its cycle, the automatic keep warm function will ensure your food remains at serving temperature for up to one hour.
Styled with a brushed stainless-steel base, this unit will look right at home on any benchtop but will just as easily store away when not in use. The only feature that doesn’t score points from us is that it is predominantly plastic made, which isn’t our favourite cooking material.
5. Tefal Convenient Series
A durable steamer, easy-to-use and easy-to-clean
Price AUD: $89.95
The Tefal Convenient Series holds a 6L capacity, ideal for large families who want to avoid cooking with plastic materials. This compact unit comes with a 2-bowl stainless steel steamer that is easy to use and convenient to store. Both bowls are stackable and can be stored upside down, neatly on the base of the appliance, taking up minimal space in the kitchen.
The durable, stainless steel bowls are also dishwasher safe making clean up time a breeze, along with an easy-to-clean, glass lid.
The 60-minute timer, with automatic switch off, alerts you with a beep once your food is ready, so there is no need to watch your food cook for the whole duration. Moreover, the water level is visible and can even be re-filled during cooking.
This unit is one of our favourite picks for best electric steamer in Australia, as it allows you to enjoy all the benefits of steam cooking while reducing stress and mess and taking up minimal space in the kitchen. It also comes with an additional plastic bowl which is a perfect accessory for rice or puddings.
6. Mister Kitchenware Handmade Bamboo Steamer
A traditional, 2-tier bamboo steamer, bringing yum cha to your own home
Price AUD: --
Mister Kitchenware delivers the best bamboo steamer on the market today. All bamboo steamers are not built the same. We love that this one is made entirely out of bamboo, with no wires to rust or stain, which can often lead to contamination and a bad taste in your food.
This is an affordable stovetop, 2-tier steamer, which is ideal for couples or small families looking for healthier ways to prepare and cook food. This model is also ideal for cooking dumplings at home, the traditional way.
Although this is a stovetop unit, it cannot be placed directly over a gas or induction stovetop. You will require your own separate cooking pot or wok to use in conjunction with the bamboo steamer.
With a 10 -inch circular bamboo frame, this steamer features a slatted bamboo base that allows the steam to move freely within the cooking chamber. The domed bamboo-mesh lid helps circulate the heat and the reusable mats prevent your food from falling through the bottom and from getting the steamer dirty.
Bamboo steamers are not dishwasher safe and require a little more attention when it comes to cleaning and maintaining them. Vinegar is a natural and safe way to disinfect and deodorize your bamboo steamer. Make sure you let it completely dry on the rack before storing it away, to avoid mould and ensure for safe and healthy cooking each time.
7. Le Creuset Stainless Steel Large Multi-steamer
A stainless-steel, stovetop insert for efficient steam cooking
Price AUD: $77.66
The Le Creuset 3-Ply Multi-Steamer with a heat-resistant glass lid provides an easy way to ensure your food is cooked the healthiest way possible. This type of steamer is ideal for people who don’t have the bench space for a large electric model, crafted from premium grade 18/10 stainless-steel, it has been intelligently designed for safe and healthy stovetop, steam cooking. This large multi-steamer is our top pick for best vegetable steamer, but it is also suitable for fish and poultry.
The insert effortlessly fits all Le Creuset pans with a diameter of 20-24cm, with the stepped base guaranteeing multifunctional use. Perfect for all cooking styles including gas, induction, and ceramic cooktops, it can also be stacked for cooking up larger quantities.
The tight-fitting stainless-steel and glass lid help trap in heat, moisture, and nutrients, while the ergonomic handles are reinforced with stainless-steel rivets for strength and easy handling. We love that this steamer is all glass and stainless-steel, making it dishwasher-safe for quick and easy cleaning.
Best For Baby
8. Davis & Waddell D4605 Universal Steamer
An affordable and comprehensive stovetop steamer
Price AUD: $49.99
David and Waddell have produced a durable, stainless-steel steamer insert, constructed so it is non-reactive and will not affect the delicate flavours of your food. This steamer insert is great for small households, looking to incorporate steam cooking into their culinary routine and also makes for a great baby food steamer. Steam everything from vegetables to seafood and still retain the most vital nutrients - the perfect way to create delicious and healthy meals.
The stay-cool riveted silicone handles provide a secure grip and are designed for durability and strength so you can transport your cookware with ease. No need to lift the lid, just monitor your cooking through the tempered glass lid (with steam vent). That way you can ensure all the heat and moisture are retained throughout the cooking process. With a 15-year guarantee this will be a trusty kitchen essential for years to come.
Davis and Waddell have made this universal steamer compatible with 16cm, 18cm and 20cm saucepans, oven proof, and dishwasher safe for easy use and cleaning.
9. Sunbeam Vitasteam
A trusty, affordable model that can feed the whole family
Price AUD: $52.95
The Sunbeam Vitasteam Deluxe 3 tier electric food steamer makes creating healthy and delicious meals easy, with an impressive 9L capacity, this is a great model for families on a budget. We love the versatility that this steamer provides for portion sizes, ranging from a single serve to larger quantities for the whole family. With three stackable 3L baskets you can cook all sorts of different foods all at the same time.
This also comes with a separate bowl that can hold up to six cups of rice at the same time as the other baskets are cooking. If you want to steam foods with sauces, fats, or oils then you can do so by using the separate rice bowl supplied.
With an instant steam function, this unit can start cooking in 30 seconds for quick and easy steaming. The 60-minute timer with Auto-Off allows you to cook your meal exactly how you like it, and automatically turns off when it has finished cooking. The reservoir has an external water level indicator, and there is a neon on/off light to indicate when the appliance is steaming.
The downside to this handy unit, is that it is not dishwasher safe. To ensure longevity and prevent damage, it is recommended to hand wash the trays. However, these shatter-proof BPA-free trays pack down neatly together for compact storage.
10. Hamkaw Microwave Steamer
The quickest and easiest way to steam small batches of food
Price AUD: $15.75
Hamkaw delivers a microwave-safe steamer made of food grade PP material that is deemed safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly, heat resistant, durable and dishwasher safe. This steamer is designed to cook all kinds of foods and its compact, portable size makes it ideal for office workers and students who still want to eat healthy while managing busy routines.
With a unique design and handles that stay cool for easy lifting and transporting, it is easy to separate the food from the water used to steam. It ensures rapid heating while avoiding soggy results. The steam release vent on the lid allows for splatter-free heating. Once your food is ready, just gently push the lid and it will open from the middle with both side tabs allowing easy lifting of the basket. Be sure to keep your hands and face away when the steam releases.
Although microwaving and cooking with plastic materials isn’t for everyone, this little steamer is a great, affordable way to introduce healthy cooking to your routine, especially for those on-the-go workers and students. It also makes for a great portable steamer for weekends away and family holidays.
How to choose the right food steamer
When it comes to choosing the right food steamer, there are a few important things to consider. As you can tell from the models featured on this page, there are different types of food steamers available, with different features to choose from. Here is what you should consider when choosing to buy one.
Ultimately your pick will come down to the preferences that are most suited to your budget and lifestyle.
Material and type
Steamers can come in a variety of materials: bamboo, stainless-steel, aluminium, and plastic. While it won’t necessarily impact the overall functionality, the material can be a determining factor in price and how easy it is too clean.
You also need to consider what type is most suited to your home. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are different types of food steamers: Electric, Stovetop, and Microwave. Electric Steamers are affordable, easy-to-use, and come with several different features; however, they may not be the best choice for households with minimal bench space and storage. Stovetop or microwave steamers provide an alternative solution.
Features and functions
There are certain additional features that you might benefit from in an electric food steamer. Whether it is something simple like a digital timer to prevent overcooking or pre-programmed functions for easy use. They might even come with interchangeable trays or containers for different types of food, for example rice bowls or separate steam trays.
Container or capacity size can vary significantly. Consider how many people you are cooking for or the amount of food you like to prepare for the week.
Also consider your personal cooking routine, how many different types of food you like to prepare at once. Steamers with multiple tiers or dividers let you keep certain foods separate from one another.
Multi-cookers vs food steamers
Food steamers are a great way to prepare and cook healthy meals, but if you want a bit more versatility and you like to get busy in the kitchen, you could also consider choosing a multi-cooker instead.
Multi-cookers provide you with not only food steaming options, but an abundance of cooking style options including, pressure cooker, slow cooker, bake, grill, roast, sear and much more.
If a multi-cooker seems like a more suitable choice for your culinary needs, you can check out our related article here.