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Buying guide for Best instant pot steamer baskets

If you’re as thrilled with your Instant Pot as many others are, you’ve probably tried out most of its default settings – maybe even the yogurt maker feature. Now you can take this handy kitchen appliance to the next level by adding a steamer basket.

Instant Pot steamer baskets are pretty versatile. Depending on the model, they can provide simple steaming, steam on multiple tiers – allowing you to steam two foods at once – or cook more delicate foods by keeping them above the surface of the main pot insert.

There are several variations of steamer baskets on the market that are compatible with Instant Pots. Which one will work the best for you? 

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The steamer basket can double as a trivet or rack within the Instant Pot when a food item needs to be cooked at a more elevated level than normal.

Instant Pot steamer basket considerations


Proper fit is the number one consideration when choosing an Instant Pot steamer basket. The product should indicate which size of Instant Pot it fits (based on quart capacity). Trying to cram a basket made for a 5-quart Instant Pot into a 3-quart model isn’t recommended; it won’t perform as well, and metal steamer baskets may scratch the inside of the appliance’s liner.

Also, the steamer basket should elevate whatever you’re cooking above the main water level in the Instant Pot. This keeps the ingredients inside from being boiled, and instead lets the steam inside the pot cook the food, so that key nutrients aren’t boiled away with the water.

Ease of cleaning

Cleaning a steamer basket can be difficult, depending on the type. Mesh steamer baskets are versatile and affordable, and often hold plenty of food, but that food can get trapped within the mesh and be tough to clean out – especially gummy foods like rice. Punched-hole steamer baskets are easier to clean, but are often much smaller and hold less food.


Look for baskets that are corrosion resistant, as they will spend a lot of time in a wet, damp environment. Lower-priced steamer baskets may use rivets or screws that rust easily in the water, shortening their service life.

Basket Type

One type of steamer basket that is becoming increasingly popular is the stacked steamer. Two or more steaming chambers are stacked one on top of the other, placed directly into the Instant Pot. The steam flows upward through the stack, cooking the food inside.

Sectional steamer baskets have rigid inserts that split the container into two, three, or four separate chambers so that cooks can steam small amounts of different foods in the same basket.

Instant Pot steamer basket features


Steamer baskets for the Instant Pot are commonly made of either stainless steel or silicone. The stainless steel types provide structure and rigidity, while the silicone baskets are lighter, easier to handle, and perform many of the same functions as their metal counterparts. All of these baskets have a way for steam to reach the food, through slats or holes punched in the bottom of the basket.


All Instant Pot steamer baskets share the same basic parts, or components that make up the basket. These are:

  • Handles: Look for a basket that has an easy-to-access handle or handles. Some baskets have handles that are coated with silicone so that they can be grabbed while hot.

  • Basket: This is the main compartment of the steamer basket. It can be shallow or deep and allows steam to flow freely through the food. Mesh baskets are usually woven tight enough to keep small bits of food in place. Metal or silicone baskets with inlet holes for steam may not hold smaller food pieces.

  • Stand: Most steamers have legs or a sturdy base that keeps the basket elevated above the water in the Instant Pot. The height of the stand varies. Consider what you tend to cook and how elevated the basket needs to be.

  • Lid: Some types of steamers, such as stackable steamers, include a lid to enclose the chamber. They aren’t always required to use the steamer baskets, but can help maintain a constant temperature within the basket and prevent water from dripping down directly onto the food.

  • Lifting insert: Used especially for stackable steamers, this additional insert fits around the steamer and has either two handles for lifting or a single half-hoop handle. It makes removing the steamer basket much easier and safer.

Instant Pot steamer basket prices

Most steamer baskets for the Instant Pot won’t put much strain on your wallet, but they do vary a bit in price.

The lowest-priced baskets are the stainless steel collapsible basket that’s common in many American kitchens, and smaller silicone baskets. These range between $7 and $10.

In the middle range are the deep, wide-mouthed mesh baskets that hold lots of veggies. They run about $9 to $12 depending on their size.

Top-end steamer baskets are sturdy and have connectors made of non-corrosive materials; they start at about $12 and go as high as $23.


  • While not as versatile as those that are purpose-built for the Instant Pot, a collapsible stainless steel steamer basket works fine in a pinch.

  • Bamboo stackable steamer baskets may also be used in an Instant Pot, but can be difficult to remove safely.

  • Deep steamer baskets hold more food than shallow baskets, but you may need to stir the items in the middle of the cycle to ensure they all cook evenly.

  • While just about any steamer basket may fit, those that are developed specifically for the Instant Pot will perform the best.

  • When using steamer baskets made of different materials such as wood or silicone, check the Instant Pot manual to make sure they won’t damage the appliance or its insert.

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Steamer baskets can be used during a pressurized cook cycle with no problems.


Q. How do stackable steamers work?

A. With a stackable steamer, you can place two steamer baskets in the Instant Pot at the same time, one above the other. It’s important to know that steam from the food in the top basket will drip down onto the food in the bottom basket. You can use this to your advantage, such as letting the seasoning from vegetables drip down onto the salmon that’s being steamed at the bottom.

Q. Can a steamer basket be used as a rack for “pot-in-pot” cooking?

A. Absolutely – as long as the cooking vessel being used, such as an ovenproof dish, doesn’t damage the basket. For example, you can place a metal steamer basket into the pot upside-down and rest the dish or pot on top of that.

Q. Can a steamer basket be used to bake a cake inside the Instant Pot?

A. The steamer basket would work best in this case as a stand to elevate the cake pan above the water inside the Instant Pot.

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