We spent 200 hours steaming different types of food with 10 food steamers to produce Jen’s top pick, the Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer. Our best food steamer pick is the solution for you if you wish to eat wholesome meals with minimal hassle.
The Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer is a two tier, versatile food steamer which delivers on the promise of a balanced meal essential for your health and wellbeing. Chosen as the best by the overwhelming majority of buyers and voters, the best food steamer that I recommend is adaptable, low maintenance, fits a kitchen of any size and presents advanced features which make it my top pick. And with a silver and black design, it looks good, too!
For those who wish to have the food steamer as a complementary appliance but are not intent on using it daily, for a lower price, but also lower capacity and less advanced features, the Oster CKSTSTMD5-W 5-Quart Food Steamer does a great job of steaming your vegetables and meats, but it is not recommended for rice. If, however, cooking rice is not your main necessity when picking your food steamer, then you may definitely give this food steamer a try. It comes at half the price of my top pick and, though it may not have as many features and equal manufacturing quality, it still does the job you expect – steaming your food.
My step up pick, however, at an overwhelming higher price difference from my top pick, Viante CUC-30ST Intellisteam Counter Top Food Steamer with 3 Separate Compartments , basically does the cooking by itself. At a great cost, too! If you can afford it, however, it is good pick as it provides great independence- you set the timer and the device knows when to begin steaming the different food types so that they will all be ready at the same time! With a unique concept and design, this food steamer does not represent the mainstream in this field, but delivers well on the promise of well cooked and tasty meals ready available upon programming, with no trouble at all!
If, however, you are not yet convinced that a food steamer is the solution for your healthy lifestyle, then let us look into the practice of steaming, its advantages and the best solutions for modern day steam cooking available on the market. I am confident you will be convinced this is the best solution for you, once you look closer into the advantages of owning the best food steamer and, believe me, my top pick has proven the most effective and appreciated out there.
Table of Contents
- Steaming food. A history of tasty and nutritious food
- Health benefits of food steaming
- How to pick the best food steamer for you
- Jen’s Top Pick
- The Budget Alternative
- Stepup Pick
- Conclusions on picking the best food steamer
Steaming food. A history of tasty and nutritious food
Food steaming is not a new way of cooking food; it’s actually one of the oldest ways of cooking out there. Initially it was considered that it originated in China and India, places where rice is very popular, but new discoveries show, for example, that steam pits were used throughout the globe – in southwest America such implements date back 10.000 years. If initially food was steamed in steam pits and stoneware used for cooking dates back to 5000 BCE, nowadays steaming varies from bamboo steamers to special home appliances designed especially for making steaming more effective.
The modern day electrical food steamer, with multiple stacked tiers, however, is quite a recent invention, dating from the 1990s, when it was first put together and patented by Randall Cornfield. Once massively produced, it became an alternative to cooking food over the stove and through boiling or deep frying, opening the appetite of consumers to healthy and savory food.
Though not the most popular cooking technique during this fast food era, food steaming is becoming more and more popular as the studies begin to show the great health risks posed by frying or microwaving food.
One of the oldest cooking techniques, food steaming is gaining popularity in the modern day due to several advantages that make a difference for a person’s wellbeing and general health.
Health Benefits of Food Steaming
Food steaming is a technique which involves the simple usage of steam released by boiling water at high temperatures with the purpose of cooking food stacked in tiers, one over the other. Food cooked in this way is easily put together and does not need any more cooking skills than the basic preparation of the meats, vegetables and rice, then placing them one over the other and waiting for the food steamer to do all the work. It is not difficult to steam your food and it brings health benefits, too!
1. Steaming preserves the vitamins and nutrients
Studies show that steaming your food is the best way of making sure that the vitamins and nutrients are preserved – steaming allows for a gentle cooking, technique which preserves the water-soluble vitamins in food. Over 90% of antioxidants are preserved through steaming, unlike when boiling, frying or microwaving food. If you wish your food to be as nourishing as possible, steaming your food is the best way to cooking it!
2. Steamed food tastes and looks good
Though fans of fried food may not find it as savory, steamed food does not lose its original taste and the technique also helps preserve the structure and shape of food. Those who “eat with their eyes” are very much appreciative of the fact that the steamed food does not only taste good, but also looks good on their plate. By mastering the food steaming technique, your vegetables will not only be nourishing, they will also be a pleasure to set on your plate to eat!
3. Steaming does not discriminate – any food may be steam cooked
Though the time necessary for steaming may vary depending on the type of food, there is virtually no whole food which cannot be steamed – this makes the food steamer a good addition to your kitchenware as it can save you a lot of time usually necessary for food preparation and the actual cooking. Whether you wish to steam your rice, get hardboiled eggs, the corn on the cob, vegetables that are generally quite tough to soften, as well as meat and fish, steaming can do a great job at making your meal tasty. The imagination is the limit, the only condition being to limit yourself to whole foods.
4. Steaming uses just steam – no oil needed
While the classical art of cooking involves several ingredients and cooking the food in different stages and adding different oils and ingredients in order to turn it delicious, steaming needs just water – it’s natural and healthy. Water turned into steam at high temperatures is all that is necessary to cook any type of food through, while preserving its savory taste and all the health benefits.
5. Steaming saves you the trouble of cooking
Steaming is easy. Anybody can do it. You don’t need special training, you don’t need to be taught to do it – just read your steamer’s user manual and you’re ready to steam cook your food- prep your food and place it in the steamer and then wait for it to be ready. It takes little trouble, while the food steamer takes little space on your kitchen counter and virtually anyone old enough to handle a kitchen appliance can do it.
How to pick the best food steamer for you
We have already established that steaming your food is the best way towards a healthy lifestyle that does not involve the trouble which generally comes from having to prepare and cook your food, but how to choose the best food steamer for your needs? Which should be the criteria to look after when you go about buying a food steamer?
1. Set a budget. It helps!
Well, the first thing you have to do is assess how much you wish to spend. The things I buy are generally determined by the budget I can afford to spend on them. One thing, however, you have to keep in mind – the product you wish to spend your budget on must meet your needs – it’s useless to buy a small food steamer for a family of 10 – you will waste your money because there’s no way you can cook that much food in a small appliance! So, don’t save up if it’s not going to pay up! Being on a budget still means you have to buy what best fits your needs!
2. Pay attention to those features
After you set your budget, do a little research. See what’s out there in terms of features – some products offer more for the same amount of money paid for those which lack them. Some features make a product more expensive, without them being essential for a regular use. You have to know what to expect from your food steamer so that you don’t waste your budget on useless features.
Food steamers, from low end to high end, may generally present the following features:
– steamer baskets or tiers, which can vary in size or be equally sized – while the equally sized tiers allow you to arrange them in any order you wish, the ones of various sizes must respect the largest to smallest order of stacking.
– egg supports – some models have an accessory that allows you to place the eggs for steaming. If you intend to steam cook your eggs, then you should buy a food steamer that has one
– rice bowl – the obvious food that everybody thinks of steaming is rice. If rice were the reason you’re buying the food steamer, you should make sure your food steamer is equipped with one
– external water gauge – this feature shows the level of water in the steamer – since steam cooking is dependent on the steam produced by boiling water, keeping your steamer’s water at full lever makes sure the cooking process is not interrupted.
– external water inlet – in order to avoid your steamer from going without water and stopping the cooking process, this feature allows you to add water with no trouble at all.
– clockwork timers – cheaper food steamers have a clockwork timer which you can turn to set the time for cooking. Trials by customers, however, indicate that some clockwork timers do not keep time well, stopping before the allotted time has elapsed.
– digital timers – the more expensive alternative to clockwork timers, they are very efficient at keeping time, allowing you to set the desired interval for cooking. Some high end food steamers also allow programming the time when you wish your food to begin and end cooking.
– keep warm function – after your food steamer has finished cooking, it can switch to the keep warm function, making sure your cooked food does not go cold and it’s ready to eat when you have time for it.
3. Make sure you have the space for it
Whether you wish to use your food steamer on a regular basis or only periodically, you should consider how much space your food steamer can take up on your kitchen counter. If you don’t plan on using the food steamer daily, then you’d best evaluate how much storage space it occupies. If you want it for daily use, then make sure it won’t cramp your kitchen space – this will make you less likely to enjoy cooking and eating in your kitchen. Take time to check the size of the appliance, it can be important!
Jen’s Top Pick: The Best Food Steamer
I’ve now presented you with the reasons why food steaming should be one of the ways to cook your food, as well as what to look for when you wish to purchase a food steamer that meets your needs. Now, I am going to show you why the Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer is my top pick!
1. It’s affordable and durable
The Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer comes with a stainless steel and black design and is equipped with two plastic tiers for steaming your food. Its manufacturing company prides itself with over 50 years of experience and guarantees the product meets the highest expectations, being tested for durability and reliability. The over 1500 customer reviews also point to the reliability of the product.
2. It has plenty of useful features for a perfect steam cooking experience
– the divider between the two steaming bowls may be removed when steaming a larger quantity of food
– it includes a rice bowl which may also be used for steaming small foods
– eggs can be cooked upright
– it has a digital touchpad for setting the time and other functions
– once the cooking is done it switches to the keep-warm function for one hour before the food steamer turns off
– the delay-start function allows you to set the time when you wish the steamer to begin cooking your food
– it alerts you when the water is too low, so that you can add water and the cooking won’t stop if the steamer runs dry
– it has a water drawer through which you can easily add water to the steamer, without going through the trouble of taking the steamer apart and risk scalding yourself.
3. It takes up little space
The Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer fits in your kitchen cabinet as it has a nested storage design, which allows it to take up little space. If you wish to keep it on the kitchen counter, the product dimensions are 8.6 x 13 x 12.7 inches.
Why do people like my pick?
When choosing the best product to fit your needs, price should never be the only thing you consider, but you should always do a comparison to make sure you get the best product for the money spent. In addition, you must look over the reviews because such reviews tell you what to expect in terms of quality, duration of functioning and possible flaws.
These are the main reasons why people like my top pick:
– The steamer is perfect for cooking larger items and making large portions
– Makes perfect hard boiled eggs
– The delayed start time is very useful for when you are away from home but want a cooked meal for when you get back
– The water heats up instantly and it begins cooking immediately
– The water tank is quite large and may store water for 60 minutes of cooking
– There is no metal in direct contact with the water, therefore it is best for areas where there is hard water
– The product is easy to clean, all but the base can go inside the dishwasher
– It has a long lifespan – one user updated after using it for five years and informed that it is still working like new
These main reasons can be identified throughout the 1300+ positive reviews and confirm why we like this product – a durable device, fit for cooking various quantities of food and different types of food, fast and effective, with the least operating problems.
The cheap alternative to my top pick for a food steamer
Kitchen appliances may be expensive to buy, especially when you wish to have many of them that fulfill many functions. Therefore, very often we may give up our expectation of a product’s multi-tasking or great quality material in exchange for getting the product for its main feature – in this case, steaming food.
In this regard, my cheap alternative pick, the Oster CKSTSTMD5-W 5-Quart Food Steamer is a favorite.
It is the best buy for the price, though it is not as versatile as my top pick – the difference in price really makes a difference in quality:
– it has an automatic timer instead of a digital one
– it shuts down automatically when time is up, but it lacks the keep warm function
– though it has two tiers, it does not fit large portions, as the bottom of the top tier cannot be detached
– the water used for steaming may boil out during the cooking, depending on the quantity of food placed in the steamer
– leakages of water were identified as the major flaw of this product, together with the thin plastic used for its manufacturing.
On the other hand, the majority of those who used the product and took into consideration the price they paid for it, were very happy with the small size of the product, the fact that it was easy to clean, easy to assemble and it steamed food really fast.
As such, it is all a matter of considering what your expectations are and how much you paid for the product. This is why my top pick, though double in price, was identified as much better than the cheap alternative because the difference in cost rendered the different features and the better manufacturing materials.
The expensive choice
If budget is not a concern, there are some groundbreaking products which can be very attractive to those searching for a great quality, special features food steamer. Such a product is the Viante CUC-30ST Intellisteam Counter Top Food Steamer with 3 Separate Compartments , a high end food steamer which has a special design and operates a little differently, though it respects the same concept.
My expensive pick is a one of a kind food steamer. Not everybody is able or willing to pay up for a food steamer, but those who do can, get a device which has the following features, according to the manufacturer:
– 3 separate and independent compartments, each cooking the food allotted to them at different temperatures and for different intervals
– The product is able to automatically program the time necessary for cooking the various foods, so that all food, no matter its texture, is ready at the same time
– Programmable digital control
The product is an intelligent product which allows for the different smells not to mingle, there is no steam released during the cooking period, there is a removable divider which enlarges the cooking compartment by uniting two smaller ones, the intelligent timing which allows for all the food to be ready at the same time.
However, we were concerned about the poor quality of materials which shows over time (one year usage), as the plastic may present pressure cracks, condensation collects under the know and remains there, the knobs fall apart and need gluing; the considerable size (14.5 x 13.5 x 15.1 inches) which does not make it a product to keep on your kitchen counter all the time; the bothersome necessity to clean a lot of parts after using the product.
Though very expensive and quite bulky, the Viante CUC-30ST Intellisteam Counter Top Food Steamer with 3 Separate Compartments may represent a high end steaming experience, but, objectively speaking, at not much of a difference from my top pick.
The food steamer market is not a small one – there are plenty of food steamers available and many good products, too! Among them, the food steamer which may be considered good enough to compete with my top pick may be Oster 5712 Electronic 2-Tier 6.1-Quart Food Steamer , but at a considerable price difference.
There are some differences from my top pick, such as the fact that it has a larger cooking capacity of 6.1 quarts instead of 5.5, it has a LCD display with a 95 minute timer and the possibility to delay cooking for up to 12 hours.
In addition, all the other features offered for this price are basically the same with my top pick: the possibility to add water without taking the food steamer apart, eggs holder, adjustable trays which allow for larger foods to be cooked.
Overall, at almost double the price, this product does not make too much of a difference from my top pick, but rather it could appear as the expensive alternative.
Reviewers who bought the product share the same positive experiences with my top pick – long term use, perfect for cooking rice and vegetables, fast steaming, easy to program to have food cooked for later, easy to clean and to assemble. The critical reviews basically center around the same issues like my top pick – made out of plastic, difficult to clean up, but in addition users have also denounced the error in the drip tray which lacks a handle and is very difficult to empty out, as well as leaks and the difficulty to dry the water inlet which in turn leads to molding.
As such, I may assess that a more costly product, even if not the expensive pick, but within the range of my top pick, might not necessarily mean better quality and efficiency in cooking, but it may rather serve as an example to emphasize that you should search for the best balance between quality and price, because the results may be more satisfying than just contending yourself to paying a higher price expecting a high quality product which may not deliver.
Food steaming is quite a new experience nowadays, but one that more and more people decide to embrace due to its health benefits. A good food steamer may be essential to becoming loyal to this lifestyle, just as easy as a bad quality one can be a deal breaker. As such, it is essential to ponder, when choosing the best food steamer, not only the price, but also the features you get for a certain price. Also, when analyzed objectively, the reviews available may help you get an informed opinion concerning what to expect from the product you invest in.
My top pick, Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer, being one of those food steamers with the most reviews out there, presents all the features deemed indispensable by food specialists and buyers and would be a very good and permanent addition to your kitchen appliances.
Should you just wish to have a food steamer without intending to use it on a regular basis, my cheap alternative, Oster CKSTSTMD5-W 5-Quart Food Steamer might just prove to be enough for your needs.
If, however, you can afford to outdo yourself and buy a food steamer that is different but highly efficient and has all the great features, the Viante CUC-30ST Intellisteam Counter Top Food Steamer with 3 Separate Compartments is, for certain, a great buy and delivers a wonderful cooking and, obviously, eating experience.
Regardless of your option, buying the best food steamer for you is what matters because this product can provide much help in transitioning towards a healthy lifestyle while enhancing the taste of your food. You’re transitioning to a whole food, healthy diet and you are researching easy and affordable ways of implementing it? You wish to get the most nutrients out of your food, but you don’t have the skills or the time to spend in the kitchen learning new things or cooking complicated dishes? The food steamer is the solution for you! Steaming food has been popular from the ancient times and it is now made even more attractive by the availability of products which allow you to do it rapidly and comfortably, with almost no bother at all. What more can you wish for when you’re eating tasty food and staying healthy?