Being stuck at home has given us more time to rethink our set-up, whether that's home improvements or what we’re eating. If you’ve decided that you want to clean up your diet, then it's worth considering healthier ways of cooking.
Steamers use the steam off boiling water to gently cook foods like vegetables and fish. It’s said that boiling can sometimes strip foods of nutrients and vitamins – so steaming is a way of preserving these, along with the flavour and freshness.
Steamers come in all different shapes and sizes. If you want to add another pot or pan to your kitchenware collection, stainless steel models are perfect. Some have up to three tiers, while others fit on top of existing pans.
However, if your stove is already cluttered and you have some extra space on your counter top, you can opt for a standalone steamer. Some allow you to cook or add on different tiers of baskets or compartments, while most have digital or manual timers.
Prices can vary from around £30 to nearly £160 dependent on whether you want plastic or glass, and if high-tech functions matter to you or not. As steamers already use water to steam the foods, they’re pretty easy to clean with soapy water, while most are also dishwasher proof.
See our pick of the best steamers for healthy and delicious dishes.
Cuisinart Cookfresh Professional Glass Steamer
It may be one of the most expensive steamers on the market, but if you’re really investing in your health, and have the space, this model will look very chic in your kitchen.
The steamer consists of a large rectangular glass dish, which sits on a base connected to a water filter. Different trays can be added into the glass dish, depending on what you’re cooking. We steamed fish and vegetables, in the different trays, simultaneously, and after just 15 minutes they tasted fresh and full of flavour.
The digital display countdown timer was a bonus, as was the pause button when we wanted to check our food. The only slight hesitation is its size, which was hard to store after we’d used it.
Russell Hobbs Three Tier Steamer
Simple and easy to use, this standalone steamer, with a timer, is great if you’re in a hurry.
Add the water in the bottom compartment and it starts to heat up in just 40 seconds of turning the dial on. Its three tiers can hold up nine litres of food, which we found handy when cooking bigger meals. The extra bowl was great for cooking rice and even eggs. Food came out cooked well and tasted super fresh.
After we’d finished it was easy to clean the baskets and stack them in a cupboard out of the way. We loved the two-tone white design of the model, and the material felt more expensive than some of the other plastic designs.
Morphy Richards Intellisteam Food Steamer
This large steamer also comes with three different compartments. This ensures you can avoid flavour contamination when you’re cooking meat, vegetables and rice at the same time.
The digital controls were a great extra, but were a little confusing at times, especially when we just wanted to use one of the compartments. We cooked salmon, on the pre-set fish button, but were disappointed when it came out a little dry. However, we had better luck with the rice and vegetables, which retained their flavour.
The compartments all come away easily from the main section for ease of cleaning. If you’re looking for a more intelligent steamer then its price point is pretty reasonable.
Lakeland Three-Piece Steamer
If you prefer a classic stainless-steel steamer, which will look at home with your other pots and pans, then Lakeland’s affordable design is just that.
We loved how deep the steaming pans were. They could house two different types of vegetables. If you’re cooking for friends or a large family then the extra tier is also a plus, while the vented glass lid means you can check on the progress.
Vegetables took around 10 minutes to cook and tasted fresh, while the handles didn’t get hot while cooking. Cleaning was easy too, just a quick scrub after we used them, but it's dishwasher safe too if you prefer.
Stellar Casserole with Steamer Insert Non-Stick
Who doesn’t love kitchenware with two functions? This steamer, which sits on a casserole dish, is perfect if you already have a cluttered pots and pans cupboard.
We loved the speckled grey design of the casserole dish, which is scratch resistant and can be used on its own for stews and casseroles. The steamer itself was sturdier than some of the other designs and its depth meant it could hold enough vegetables for the whole family.
Cooking only took around 10 minutes after the pan had reached the boil, while the see-through vented lid meant we could see our food cooking, but didn’t need to worry about it boiling over.
Also available from Horwood
Le Creuset Stainless Steel Multi-Steamer with Glass Lid
This chic little stainless-steel multi-steamer can be neatly placed over three different sized Le Creuset pans or casserole (20, 22, and 24 cm) dishes – meaning you can boil foods and then add this steamer on at the last minute.
The deep pan steams food, including fish, chicken and vegetables quickly and efficiently – while the heat-resistant glass lid helped to retain their flavour and nutrients. We cooked chicken in the steamer - which came out moist and full of flavour, while vegetables were well cooked but not soggy.
Unlike most of the other models the steamer doesn’t have handles, which we thought was a bit of an oversight – so oven gloves are a must as it gets very hot. Plus, the price does seem a little steep for just one pot – but you’re paying for is the name and it's durable and premium construction.
VonShef 800W 3 Tier Steamer
VonShef's stand-alone steamer was easy to use and yielded some great results. Fill with water and it starts to heat your food within 15 seconds, while the countdown timer is a good reminder if you’re multi-tasking.
The three tiers mean you can add on different baskets depending on the amount of food you want to cook. We used one for fish, another for veg and the top one for quinoa, which we placed in the bowl that was provided. They came out tasting fresh and were packed with flavour. The whole meal felt healthier and lighter.
If you forget to fill this model with water, the boil dry prevention mechanism cleverly turns the device off for you – helping you avoid any accidents. It's also easily washable with a quick scrub and rinse and it’s dishwasher safe.
Tefal Steamer VC145140 Convenient Series
This attractive looking steamer has a white base and stainless-steel baskets. Tefal's device has two tiers - each of which with a six-litre capacity.
Water is added to the base and you’ll be alerted if you need to add more – which can be done via the water draw if you are mid-steam. Storage is compact as you can stack the baskets on top of each other and the base.
The timer, which can be set for up to 60 minutes, is a plus. Vegetables cooked in the model came out fresh and flavoursome, while rinsing was all that was needed to clean the baskets.
Also available from Very
We loved the efficiency of the Cookfresh steamer by Cuisinart – its glass design helped to retain the flavour and freshness of the food, while the digital pre-sets made it simple to use. If you’re on a tighter budget, the VonShef three tier steamer was great for steaming bigger quantities of food in one go and the quality was exceptional.