With so many gadgets taking up precious counter space, it can be hard to justify adding yet another one into the mix. But a bamboo steamer is one of those rare, versatile tools that make cooking take less time.
Efficiency is the major advantage of bamboo steamers. Not only can steaming veggies, grains, and meats cut down on hours spent in the kitchen, it can also help foods retain their natural flavors and preserve vital nutrients. Since steamers don’t require using oils or fats during cooking, they also make for healthier meals. They can even be used to steam rice.
If you are looking for the best bamboo steamer, read on to learn more about some of the top options available.
- BEST OVERALL: BirdRock Home 8 Inch Bamboo Steamer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: REISHUNGER Bamboo Steamer Handmade Basket
- BEST SMALL: JapanBargain 2221, Bamboo Steamer Basket 6 inch
- BEST LARGE: Helen’s Asian Kitchen Bamboo Food Steamer with Lid
- BEST SET: Prime Home Direct 10 inch Bamboo Steamer Basket
- ALSO CONSIDER: Trademark Innovations BAMB-RICEST Bamboo Rice Steamer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Bamboo Steamer
When it comes to choosing a bamboo steamer, there are a few things to consider, including size, bamboo quality, and whether or not the steamer comes with any accessories. Read on to learn more about what to consider before buying a high-quality bamboo steamer.
Bamboo steamers are made of bamboo—but not all bamboo is alike. It’s important to choose high-quality bamboo made of 100 percent natural bamboo. This will ensure the steamer won’t carry any unwanted smells or interact with the food, like synthetic or blended bamboo might.
It’s equally crucial to choose a bamboo steamer made with BPA-free materials. Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic synthetic compound used to construct many products. Research has shown that it exhibits hormone-like properties that mimic estrogen, which could potentially cause many health issues such as asthma, heart disease, heart attacks, infertility, and even cancer.
It’s also important to avoid steamers with metal on them, as the metal can get very hot and potentially could cause burns.
The size of a bamboo steamer will determine how many people can be fed with a single use. For one or two people, a standard two-tiered steamer with a 10-inch diameter should be fine. The two tiers allow for multiple servings to be cooked at once and should be the minimum number of tiers in a steamer. When cooking for four or more people, a larger, multitiered steamer with a 12-inch diameter is a better option.
Having multiple tiers not only provides more space to serve more food but also allows for the user to steam different kinds of foods on each tier. This way, multiple dishes can be made at once.
Another thing to take into consideration is the steamer’s lid. The lid should be handwoven very tightly to fit snugly onto the steamer’s body. A tight lid prevents steam from escaping and locks moisture inside, which helps the food cook faster. Most lids are designed with a domed shape.
Some bamboo steamers come with a ring attached to the lid, making it easier to lift when the food is finished cooking and preventing the user from burning their fingers. If the steamer comes with a handle, make sure it’s firmly attached to the lid.
While many bamboo steamers look pretty similar, there is some variety in bamboo shade and basket weave. However, there are often design variations from model to model that have to do with functionality.
Some models have more than two tiers to hold more food. Some are stackable, allowing the user to adjust how many tiers they need based on the number of servings they’re preparing. The best bamboo steamers will have enough space between the slats at the base of each tier to allow steam to pass through, ensuring the food on each tier is cooked evenly.
Be sure to look for steamers that are held together with bamboo wicks or nails as opposed to stainless steel or copper wires, which will heat up when the steamer is in use.
Some bamboo steamers come with additional accessories for cooking and dining.
Chopsticks, chopstick holders, sauce dishes, and paddles are common accessories, as is a steamer ring, which lets the cook use the steamer with a Dutch oven or stockpot. Some steamers include a recipe book to help you get started with making tasty meals.
A few models come with liners to prevent food from sticking to the bottom and keep food odors from seeping into the bamboo. Liners can be made of parchment paper, wax paper, and even silicone. Other models include grass steamer mats which sit at the bottom of the steamer. Some even come with accompanying bento or lunch boxes.
Our Top Picks
The best bamboo steamer will provide enough space for multiple food servings and be made out of natural materials. While they are available with various accessories, top-quality bamboo steamers are great kitchen tools on their own. The recommendations below are based on a range of criteria to help you find the right bamboo steamer for your kitchen.
The BirdRock Home 8 Inch Bamboo Steamer features a two-tiered design that’s perfect for those cooking for two. Crafted from 100 percent natural bamboo, this steamer is great for cooking traditional Asian food such as dim sum and dumplings as well as vegetables, rice, beef, chicken, and fish.
It fits most kitchen pots and woks, allowing for more versatility in the kitchen. The woven lid keeps the steam inside so the food cooks quicker, and the openings between the tiers help everything to cook evenly. This affordable bamboo steamer comes in one color and is stackable. For those who need something with a bigger capacity, this steamer is also available in a 10-inch option.
The REISHUNGER Bamboo Steamer Handmade Basket is a traditional two-tiered bamboo steamer that comes in both 8-inch and 10-inch sizes. Its stackable design makes it a great option for those who cook a variety of serving sizes, and the dome lid is constructed with an extra-tight weave to keep steam from escaping.
This steamer is not only great for cooking healthy food, but serving it as well. Reduce the need to transfer foods to a serving dish and put this eye-catching steamer out on the dinner table. Affordable and low-maintenance, the REISHUNGER Bamboo Steamer can be easily cleaned with dish soap and hot water. However, it is not dishwasher-safe.
The JapanBargain Bamboo Steamer Basket 6 inch is a small steamer that comes with two stackable bamboo baskets and a domed lid. Made from natural bamboo, this steamer is great for cooking wontons, seafood, bread, dim sum, and vegetables.
This steamer will fit most 9-inch pots and pans and is a great kitchen addition for those who cook single-servings or small meals. It also comes in 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch sizes for those looking for a larger option. Plus, it’s affordably priced and easy to clean with dish soap and hot water. Like most bamboo steamers, this one is not dishwasher-safe.
The Helen’s Asian Kitchen Bamboo Food Steamer is a two-tiered steamer that’s a whopping 12 inches in diameter. Great for steaming everything from dumplings to seafood to even some desserts, this kitchen tool is made of 100 percent natural bamboo, making it both lightweight and durable. With so much space, users can cook multiple servings over nonstick cookware that’s 1 inch smaller than the steamer’s diameter. It also has a tightly constructed lid designed to lock in steam.
This steamer requires an initial cleaning with a dry brush before first use and after every use. It is not recommended to use dishwashing soap on this steamer, as the natural bamboo may absorb the soap’s fragrance.
The Prime Home Direct 10 inch Bamboo Steamer Basket comes with more than just a high-quality, two-tiered steamer. This set comes with two pairs of chopsticks, a sauce dish, and 50 wax paper liners to keep food from sticking to the bottom of the steamer.
The steamer itself is made of 100 percent organic bamboo and features stackable layers that allow for a 3-inch-deep cooking space. The walls of the steamer are water resistant, and the dome-shaped lid locks in condensation. The Prime Home Direct Bamboo Steamer Basket should be hand-washed only, using soap and warm water. It is not dishwasher-safe.
The Trademark Innovations 3 Piece Bamboo Steamer is a 10-inch steamer made of 100 percent natural bamboo. It has two tiers for steaming multiple servings and can be used with most pots, pans, or woks. It comes with a dome-shaped lid designed with a tight weave to retain the steam and condensation. The tiers are stackable with slight openings to allow the food to cook evenly.
This steamer can only be washed by hand with warm water and is not dishwasher-safe. While it’s affordably priced, the downside is that it does not come in any additional sizes. However, its 10-inch diameter is well suited for most households.
Tips for Using a Bamboo Steamer
When it comes to using a bamboo steamer, the most important thing to do is choose a size that will fit your current pots and pans. Ideally, the steamer will rest inside of the pan, wok, or pot being used. That way, it can be filled with the right amount of water, which is a couple of inches or enough that the steamer’s bottom is immersed. Here are some tips for using a bamboo steamer:
- Choose a steamer 2 inches smaller than the pan you’re using.
- Use wax paper or parchment paper as a liner so food won’t stick to the bottom.
- If cooking multiple types of food (such as meats and veggies), place the foods that have the longest cooking time on the bottom tier.
FAQs About Your New Bamboo Steamer
Now that you’ve seen what it takes to pick the best bamboo steamer, it’s time to answer any remaining questions you might have about steamer selection. Below is more valuable information about how to care for a bamboo steamer and how to choose the most high-quality one for your kitchen.
Q. What should I look for in a bamboo steamer?
Look for a steamer that is the right size for your kitchen based on how many servings you most often cook.
Q. What size bamboo steamer do I need?
It depends on how many servings you most often make, but a 10-inch bamboo steamer will work for most households.
Q. How do you clean a bamboo steamer?
Bamboo steamers are not dishwasher-safe. Hand-wash with warm water and mild dish soap. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and allow it to air dry for at least two days.