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The three Greatest Bamboo Steamers of 2023, Examined & Reviewed

Straight to the Level

Our favourite bamboo steamer basket is the Hcooker 2-Tier Kitchen Bamboo Steamer, which options steel bands that forestall the tiers from warping.

Rising up, steamer baskets have been one thing my mother introduced out solely when she made steamed bao or bakcang (a Taiwanese model of zongzi). She owned massive, restaurant-sized ones that have been all the time saved in our basement. When she introduced them out, it was a manufacturing that lasted a number of days, permitting her to make big batches of meals so she might fill our deep freezer.

My mother was adamant that the steamers have been made from bamboo and never steel. She stated bamboo added a particular scent and taste and that the porous nature of the bamboo allowed steam to be absorbed, which led to higher outcomes. To today, after I scent the actual scent of a bamboo steamer in use, I get despatched again to being 12 once more, anxiously awaiting my first style of my mother’s home made steamed pork buns. 

Now, the primary Chinese language steamers may be traced again 5000 years and have been really pottery with holes that allowed steam by way of. At this time, bamboo steamers are a flexible kitchen instrument that means that you can steam (or smoke) all kinds of meals, like delicate fish, greens, and dumplings. To seek out one of the best ones, we determined to check 10 fashions.

Editor’s Word: The Hcooker set we examined had three tiers once we examined it, however now solely appears to be out there with two. Nevertheless, we nonetheless assume it’s an excellent set that deserves the highest spot for its steel bands, which prevented warping.

The Winners, at a Look


Amazon


The Hcooker set we examined got here with three tiers of steamers, as an alternative of the everyday two, making it extra versatile and permitting you to prepare dinner extra meals without delay. Whereas there solely appears to be a two-tier choice out there now, we nonetheless assume it’s an excellent selection. The steamers have a steel band across the backside and high of the steamer partitions, which reinforces the sides, stopping warping and scorching.

Amazon Helen’s Asian Kitchen Bamboo Food Steamer with Lid

Amazon


The Helen’s Asian Kitchen steamers are made fully of bamboo, which might put on out sooner than steamers banded with steel. Nevertheless, in our testing, the match of the lid and tiers stayed true with minimal warping of the edges and flooring of the steamer. The usual measurement made utilizing 10-inch paper inserts straightforward, and the complete set was budget-friendly.

Amazon Prime Home Direct Bamboo Steamer Basket Set

Amazon


The Prime House Direct Bamboo Steamer set got here with two basket tiers and a lid, in addition to paper liners, chopsticks, and a ceramic sauce dish. It carried out properly in all of the exams and was fairly priced.

The Assessments

Critical Eats/Irvin Lin


  • Steam Broccoli Take a look at: We set every steamer into a wok, filling a basket with six ounces of broccoli set on a perforated parchment paper spherical. We steamed the hardy vegetable for seven minutes to see how straightforward the bamboo steamer was to make use of. We cleaned the bamboo steamer afterward and inspected it to see if there was any warping or harm.
  • Steam Frozen Soup Dumplings Take a look at: We set every steamer in a wok and steamed two basket tiers stuffed with eight frozen soup dumplings every to see how properly the steamer did cooking them. We picked soup dumplings to ensure every tier of the steamer correctly cooked the frozen dumpling and turned the gelatin into liquid with out overcooking the dumpling wrapper. We then cleaned and inspected the bamboo steamer to see if there was any warping or harm after use.
  • Steam Salmon Fillet Take a look at (Winners-Solely): We steamed 10-ounce salmon fillets on a single tier lined with perforated parchment paper to see how fish cooked in our 5 favourite bamboo steamers. We then cleaned the bamboo steamers and inspected them to see if there was any warping or harm after use, in addition to if there was any lingering fish scent.

What We Realized

How a Bamboo Steamer Works

Critical Eats / Irvin Lin


Bamboo steamers are nesting and stacking baskets made from bamboo, with slats that enable steam to rise by way of, cooking the meals. The bamboo steamer is stacked on high of a wok or pot with simmering water, which produces the steam. Woks are historically used as a result of the sloped sides will let you simply stack any measurement steamer in them with minimal quantities of water wanted. You can even use a big pot or buy a bamboo steamer ring that helps match the bamboo steamer over different-sized cookware.

All the Bamboo Steamers Steamed Effectively

In all of our exams, each bamboo steamer cooked almost the identical: Broccoli got here out tender however not mushy, soup dumplings have been steamed properly with a wonderfully cooked wrapper and sizzling soup liquid heart, and the salmon fillets have been flaky with out being overcooked or undercooked. It doesn’t matter what bamboo steamer you purchase, it probably will prepare dinner your meals properly so long as you utilize it accurately. 

Bamboo Is Porous and Susceptible to Warping

Critical Eats / Irvin Lin


So what makes a bamboo steamer higher or worse if the meals all the time comes out the identical? Seems the explanation why bamboo steamers are nice—their porousness—can also be their downfall. Meals author and blogger Lisa Lin agrees with my mother in the case of bamboo steamers. “The most important benefit of utilizing bamboo baskets is the porous nature of the basket and the lid. With bamboo steamers, steam can escape from the edges or the highest by way of the bamboo lid. In consequence, condensation normally would not normally construct up as a lot underneath the lids of bamboo steamers.” 

However the porous nature of the bamboo additionally means it is going to take in water, bending and warping. “The drawback of bamboo steamer baskets is that they will come aside if they’re poorly constructed. My mother helped me restore one by wrapping steel wire across the sides,” Lin says. In our testing, plenty of the bamboo steamers began out with flat bottoms and spherical insets, making stacking them collectively straightforward. However after testing, plenty of them had warped, buckled, or distorted. This led to the ground of the bamboo steamer changing into uneven and the match of the lids or the tiers being too troublesome to stack or come aside. The Hcooker bamboo steamer set has an enforced steel ring on the underside and high of the steamer, holding the steamer from warping and permitting it to stack with ease. Each Helen’s Asian Kitchen and Prime Direct Home additionally didn’t warp a lot, stacking and nesting simply after our exams.

Bamboo Can Scorch or Burn

Regardless of frequent misconceptions, bamboo is a grass, not a wooden. And although there are greater than 1000 species of bamboo, on the whole, bamboo’s flash level (i.e., the temperature at which bamboo burns) is round 465°F to 509°F. That is decrease than wooden’s flash level, which is usually between 485°F and 570°F. In essence, when positioned immediately on a range or warmth supply, bamboo can burn simply. 

To mitigate that, quite a lot of directions for utilizing a bamboo steamer inform you to submerge the steamer partially in water to stop it from scorching. I used this method for the broccoli and the salmon fillet, however I made a decision to comply with the frozen soup dumping package deal directions that stated to not submerge the steamer in water, however as an alternative have the water degree underneath the steamer’s backside, not touching it. Although some of us suggest soaking the steamer in water for half-hour to stop scorching or burning, I additionally skipped this step so I might see how sturdy and burn-resistant the bamboo steamers have been. I did, nevertheless, decrease the temperature to medium-low warmth, so the water was quickly simmering however not at a full rolling boil. 

In the long run, all the steamer baskets handed this check with none proof of scorching. That stated, long-term use of immediately putting the bamboo on a sizzling steel wok or over boiling water can finally result in scorching or burning. Each the Zest of Moringa set and HCooker set have a steel ring across the high and backside of the steamer which helps forestall scorching, making them doubtlessly higher choices in the long term.

The Standards: What to Search for in a Bamboo Steamer

Critical Eats / Irvin Lin / Grace Kelly


One of the best bamboo steamers are made from sturdy bamboo with a thick weave on the highest basket; even higher if they’re lined with steel, which might help forestall warping. Search for a two- or three-tier steamer with a lid, so you may steam extra meals without delay. Ensure that the underside of the basket is flat so the meals lies evenly inside. Lastly, search for a steamer that stacks and nests simply; some steamers had very tight-fitting lids and baskets, which made them troublesome to drag aside and put again collectively.

The Greatest Bamboo Steamers

Amazon Hcooker 2-Tier Kitchen Bamboo Steamer

Amazon


What we preferred: Cathy Erway, James Beard Award-winning meals author and creator of The Food of Taiwan recommends getting a bamboo steamer that has many tiers. “They’re so helpful and versatile—for steaming something that may match inside. Greatest to get ones which have vertical layers so you may steam lots without delay.” The HCooker steamer that we examined comes with three tiers, making it an exceptionally helpful set. Broccoli steamed superbly, with fork-tender (however not mushy) outcomes, the soup dumplings cooked correctly on each tiers and the salmon fillet was completely cooked. We additionally preferred that this steamer was solidly constructed, with hardy 1/4-inch thick bamboo and steel rings that implement the steamer and stop warping. After repeated use, the rings helped the tiers to nest correctly with out sticking or needing to wiggle the tiers and lid aside.

What we didn’t like: The Hcooker set we examined was 9.4 inches in diameter, which was an odd measurement. (although it is also out there in 8.4- and 10.6-inch sizes). This doesn’t have an effect on its use in any respect, but it surely does make it a bit tougher to seek out correct becoming, pre-cut parchment paper, which usually is available in 8-, 9-, or 10-inch diameter sizes. However, in the long run, trimming parchment paper to suit the steamer or shopping for a 9-inch spherical paper that doesn’t fairly attain the sides is actually solely a tiny annoyance for a bamboo steamer of this high quality. After testing, we noticed that the three-tier choice is now not out there—nevertheless, we nonetheless assume it is a nice choose. 

Value at time of publish: $26.

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 9 3/8 x 9 1/2 inches (stacked) 
  • Inside Depth of Basket: 1 7/8 inches
  • Materials: Bamboo with chrome steel bands
  • Weight: 3 lbs, 7/8 ounces
  • Variety of Baskets: 2 baskets, 1 lid
  • Cleansing and care: Hand-wash solely with delicate, fragrance-free detergent. Let dry totally earlier than storing.

Critical Eats / Irvin Lin


Amazon Helen’s Asian Kitchen Bamboo Food Steamer with Lid

Amazon


What we preferred: Meals steamed properly on this set and, after use, the tiers and lid nested correctly with out sticking or needing to wiggle them. And although there was slight warpage on the ground of the steamers, it was minimal and didn’t have an effect on its use. It solely comes with two tiers, however in the event you don’t use the bamboo steamer typically or have a small household, two tiers are lots. At such a low worth level, it’s an distinctive deal and an excellent addition to your kitchen.

What we didn’t like: The underside flooring of Helen’s Asian Kitchen Bamboo Steamer buckled barely, creating an uneven floor. However the warping was minor in comparison with among the different bamboo steamers we examined.

Value at time of publish: $23.

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 6 1/2 x 10 inches (stacked)
  • Inside Depth of Basket: 1 3/4 inches
  • Materials: Bamboo
  • Weight: 2 lbs, 5 1/2 ounces
  • Variety of Baskets: 2 baskets, 1 lid
  • Cleansing and care: Handwash solely with delicate, fragrance-free detergent. Let dry totally earlier than storing.

Critical Eats / Irvin Lin


Amazon Prime Home Direct Bamboo Steamer Basket Set

Amazon


What we preferred: The Prime House Direct Bamboo Steamer Set carried out properly in all our exams, with minimal warping. It is a solidly constructed set with two tiers that match simply collectively, even after a number of makes use of. It got here with two basket tiers and a lid, in addition to 50 paper liners, two units of chopsticks, and a ceramic sauce dish for soy sauce or different dipping sauces. The set is competitively priced with different units that don’t include all of the extras. In case you are new to bamboo steamer cooking, it’s an excellent introduction set.

 What we didn’t like: The lid did arrive barely dented, nevertheless, this was simply mounted by gently pushing it again into place. The steamer baskets are additionally shallower than different baskets we examined. Nevertheless, this didn’t have an effect on any of our exams and probably wouldn’t make a distinction with most meals. However any meals that’s tall or cumbersome, like massive greens or outsized bao, may not comfortably match into the basket.

 Value at time of publish: $28.

 Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 5 5/8 x 10 inches (stacked)
  • Depth of Basket: 1 1/2 inches
  • Materials: Bamboo
  • Weight: 1 lbs, 13 5/8 ounces
  • Variety of Baskets: 2 baskets, 1 lid
  • Cleansing and care: Handwash solely with delicate, fragrance-free detergent. Let dry totally earlier than storing.

Critical Eats / Irvin Lin


The Competitors

  • Zest of Moringa Bamboo Steamer Basket: This set had nice promise, with steel rings across the edges to stop scorching and warping. It additionally got here with a chrome steel ring and reusable silicone liners for the inside of the steamer. Sadly, the inside bamboo buckled and warped on one tier after our testing, making it troublesome to nest and stack the steamer.
  • Joyce Chen 2-Tier Bamboo Steamer Baskets: This steamer basket had off-center holes within the flooring, and the 2 tiers and the lid have been initially troublesome to nest collectively and pull aside. After testing, the ground of the steamer warped and have become uneven and the tiers have been much more troublesome to separate and put collectively.
  • Norpro Bamboo Steamer: This bamboo steamer carried out effective, however the weave on high of the lid appeared to be made from poor high quality, and the uneven bamboo began to fray and break up.
  • Town 34210 Bamboo Steamer: This steamer arrived broken, with the lid fully unusable, so we couldn’t check it. 
  • IKEA KLOCKREN steamer: The IKEA steamer was a special type of bamboo steamer with a flooring tied along with bamboo string and the inset on the underside of the steamer as an alternative of the highest. Although it carried out effective, the uneven flooring had a big empty spot on the sting that made it really feel prefer it may not be appropriate for delicate cooking, like flaky fish. The steamers additionally warped after use, making it troublesome to stack and nest.
  • Sur La Table Bamboo Steamers: The Sur La Desk’s bamboo steamer was solidly constructed however the bamboo used for the deal with on the high of the lid began to fray on the inside after testing, and the inside bamboo ring of one of many tiers began to buckle and warp barely.
  • Williams Sonoma Bamboo Steamer: This was the one set that we examined that had one tier as an alternative of two or three. It carried out effective, however the lid was warped.

FAQs

What are some great benefits of a bamboo steamer?

Bamboo steamers are made from porous bamboo, which permits steam to soak up and escape as an alternative of condensing and dripping again down in your meals. This porous nature means delicate dumplings and steamed pork buns are cooked correctly, aren’t soggy, and don’t develop powerful pores and skin. Bamboo steamers may also be stacked and nested, which lets you prepare dinner extra meals or a number of forms of meals without delay.

What must you do to a bamboo steamer earlier than utilizing it?

Some web sites suggest soaking brand-new bamboo steamers in water for half-hour earlier than utilizing them to stop scorching or burning. However so long as you place the steamer with its backside edge within the water, this should not be obligatory—simply ensure that the underside tier flooring isn’t touching the water although. You need to steam the meals, not boil it. In case you steam with out the water touching the underside fringe of the steamer, both soak the steamer initially, or ensure that to cut back the warmth so the water is at a simmer as an alternative of a tough rolling boil, so the warmth of the pan doesn’t burn or scorch the bamboo.

How lengthy does a bamboo steamer final?

Bamboo steamers don’t final eternally. Nevertheless, the lifespan of a bamboo steamer depends upon how often you utilize them and the way you handle them. Ensure that to handwash your bamboo steamer, and let it dry fully earlier than storing it. A typical bamboo steamer ought to final wherever from six months to a 12 months if often used, however considerably longer if it isn’t used typically and is saved correctly. If there may be any signal of mould or mildew, it’s time to switch the steamer.

How do you prepare dinner in a bamboo steamer?

Bamboo steamers are used with considerably deep pots or woks, which let you relaxation the steamer in water. A wok is conventional and permits for numerous sizes of bamboo steamers. When you have a pot, it is advisable ensure you have one that’s the proper measurement in your bamboo steamer to suit on high. Or you should buy a bamboo steamer ring that can will let you place the steamer on any massive pot. Meals is usually positioned on parchment paper rounds, cabbage leaves, dried and soaked bamboo or banana leaves, or in a plate or bowl set contained in the steamer to stop sticking For extra details about cooking with a bamboo steamer try our article: Wok Skills 101: Steaming.

How do you wash a bamboo steamer?

It’s best to by no means run your bamboo steamer by way of a dishwasher. As a substitute, all the time handwash your bamboo steamer with a light scent-free detergent, because the bamboo can take in smells, together with the scent of a dish detergent. As soon as clear, ensure that to totally air dry the steamer. Although the steamer might look dry after a day, it could actually nonetheless retain moisture and can mould or mildew if saved damp. It’s finest to let the steamer dry for at the least two or three days earlier than storing. As an added precaution, I all the time retailer my bamboo steamer with desiccant packs, simply in case.

Do I would like a wok to make use of a bamboo steamer?

Although it’s conventional to make use of a wok for a bamboo steamer, you should use any pot that the bamboo steamer will match on (or into). In case you do not need an appropriately sized pot in your steamer, you can too purchase a bamboo steamer ring, that means that you can place it on numerous pots after which place the bamboo steamer on the ring.  

Why We’re the Consultants

  • Irvin Lin is a meals blogger and freelance author who has written many critiques for Critical Eats, together with stand mixers, half-sheet pans, and bowl scrapers
  • He’s the creator of the cookbook Marbled, Swirled, and Layered, which was chosen as top-of-the-line baking cookbooks of 2016 by The New York Occasions. 
  • He’s an IACP-award-winning photographer, an IACP-nominated blogger, and a blue-ribbon baker. 
  • For this evaluate, we examined 10 bamboo steamer baskets through the use of them to prepare dinner broccoli, soup dumplings, and salmon. We additionally interviewed Cathy Erway, the James Beard Award-winning meals author and creator of The Food of Taiwan, and meals author and blogger Lisa Lin.

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