Updated May 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best steamer pots

Of all the cooking methods out there, steaming might seem like a fairly safe and unremarkable choice, but it's a classic for a reason. The right steamer pot is much more versatile than you might imagine. From fresh-tasting al dente vegetables to soft, fluffy dumplings, you can make all kinds of delicious foods in a steamer pot.

To choose the right model for you, first consider what material you want your steamer pot to be made from — the vast majority are stainless steel, but you can find other options out there. You'll also need to consider the size of the pot, how many steaming baskets it has, the lid style, and whether it will work on your stove.

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When you steam vegetables, they retain more of their nutrients than when you boil them, so steaming is a healthy way to cook your veggies.

Key considerations

Material

Stainless steel is a hugely common material for steamer pots to be made from. This is because it’s a nonreactive metal that doesn't rust and is inexpensive, too. The downside of stainless steel is that heat transfer isn't great. As such, stainless steel steamer pots often have a copper or aluminum core or base to improve heat transfer.

Although not quite as common, hard-anodized aluminum is another material you might find a steamer pot made from. Hard-anodized aluminum has been chemically hardened to make it nonreactive and give it a naturally nonstick finish. It has excellent heat transfer, though it does take a while to heat up.

You can also find raw aluminum steamer pots, which are inexpensive but aren’t of the highest quality. Because raw aluminum is highly reactive, you generally shouldn't use the pot part for anything other than steaming.

Steamer baskets

The steamer basket fits into the pot and is what you place your food directly into to steam it. The majority of steamer pots have just one steamer basket, but some have two baskets that can either be used individually or both at the same time. If you have two steamer baskets, you can cook twice the amount of food at once, which is great if you have a large family or often cook for friends. The food in the upper basket can take slightly longer to cook than the food in the lower basket, so you may need to switch them over part-way through cooking.

Expert Tip
Always place ingredients in your pot loosely to allow steam to completely cook items.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Pot diameter

Check the diameter of your chosen steamer pot to get an idea of how much you might be able to steam at once. Of course, wider pots give you a larger area to fit the food you want to cook, but if the diameter is too large, it might not fit comfortably on your burner.

Pot depth

The depth of the steamer pot can make a big difference to the amount you can fit inside, assuming that the basket matches the depth of the pot. A deep steamer pot is great for steaming foods that can be piled up to steam, such as vegetables, but not so great for food that must be steamed in a single layer, since you won't be able to fit a greater amount in and it can be awkward to remove from a deeper basket.

Features

Induction-friendly

If you have an induction stove, it's important to choose a steamer pot that will work on your burners. The majority of stainless steel steamer pots will work on an induction stove, but it's not a given because there are different types of stainless steel. As such, it's best to check the listing carefully (it should state if it's induction-friendly) or contact the manufacturer. Both raw and hard-anodized aluminum will not work on an induction cooktop unless it has an induction plate or something similar set into it.

Lid

A steamer pot must have a lid, as steam needs to be trapped inside to cook the food. However, it should have a small vent hole in it to stop too much pressure building and steam and water spluttering out from around the edges. We'd recommend a clear glass lid, so you can keep an eye on the progress of your food without lifting the lid.

Handles

More often than not, steamer pots have two short handles, one on either side, but sometimes they have a single long handle or a long handle on one side and a short handle on the other. This won't make much difference to how you use the steamer pot, so go with your preference, if you have one.

Oven-safe

Some steamer pots are oven-safe, which is handy if you want to use yours for anything other than steaming, or if you sometimes like to keep your steamed food warm in the oven until everything else is ready.

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Expert Tip
Glass lids are great for watching ingredients (even through steam and condensation), but you should treat them with great care due to their breakability.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Steamer pot prices

Inexpensive

If an inexpensive steamer pot is what you're after, you can pick one up for as little as $15 to $30. These tend to be compact in size and will generally only have one steamer basket. The quality won't be exceptional, but it will be fine for occasional use.

Mid-range

Mid-range steamer pots cost roughly $30 to $50. In this price range, you'll find some sturdier stainless steel options plus some larger pots and models with two steamer baskets.

Expensive

Expect to pay between $50 and $100 for a high-end steamer pot. These are generally made by well-respected cookware brands and are made from top-notch materials, such as hard-anodized aluminum or the highest quality stainless steel.

Expert TIp
Check to see what protection the manufacturer offers on any pot you’d like to buy.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Tips

  • Check whether your steamer pot is dishwasher-safe. A large percentage of them are, which makes post-meal cleanup far easier.

  • Arrange foods in your steamer pot properly. Large foods, such as bao buns, must be arranged in a single layer in the steamer basket with room for air to circulate around them. Smaller foods, such as broccoli florets, can be piled loosely in the steamer basket.

  • Learn the proper cooking times for foods you like to steam. Oversteamed vegetables, for instance, can be mushy or soggy, while undercooked veggies are too hard for many people's tastes.

  • Consider how often you'll use your steamer pot. Unless money is no object, there's not much point in choosing a top-of-the-line model if you'll only use it a few times a year. On the other hand, if it's something you'll use daily, get the best steamer pot you can afford.

  • Exercise caution when taking the lid off your steamer pot. Steam will rush out and can cause scalds or burns.

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Add aromatic ingredients — such as onions, garlic, and herbs — to the steaming water to subtly flavor the food you're cooking.

FAQ

Q. Can I use a steamer pot without the basket as a regular pot?

A. Yes, absolutely. The pot itself is just like a regular saucepan or stockpot, so you can use it as such when you're not steaming food in it. That said, some aren't designed for heavy-duty use so might not be of the quality you'd expect from a saucepan for daily cooking.

Q. Can I make tamales in a steamer pot?

A. While you can cook tamales in a regular steamer pot, the majority of people like to make tamales in large batches, due to the work that goes into their preparation, so your average steamer pot is unlikely to have the capacity you need. If you primarily want a steamer pot to make tamales, choose a dedicated tamale steamer or an extra-deep stockpot-style steamer pot.

Q. Are steamer pots better than electric food steamers?

A. Steamer pots and electric food steamers both have their pros and cons, so it's not as simple as saying that one is better than another. However, one of the main benefits of steamer pots is that they cook food quicker than electric food steamers. They're also more versatile since you can use the pot part as a standard saucepan.

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