What Is a Steamer Used For in Cooking?

A steamer is a kitchen appliance used to cook food using steam. Steaming is a healthy and versatile cooking method that preserves the nutrients and flavors of food. Steamers are commonly used to cook vegetables, seafood, and other delicate foods.

Benefits of Using a Steamer

  • Preserves Nutrients: Steaming helps retain more nutrients in food compared to other cooking methods like boiling or frying.

  • Enhances Flavor: Steaming allows the natural flavors of food to shine through without overpowering them with added fats or sauces.

  • Versatile: Steamers can be used to cook a wide variety of foods, including vegetables, seafood, poultry, and even desserts.

  • Healthy: Steaming is a low-fat cooking method that does not require added oils or butter.

Types of Steamers

There are two main types of steamers:

  • Electric Steamers: These steamers use electricity to heat water and generate steam. They typically have multiple tiers for cooking different foods simultaneously.

  • Bamboo Steamers: These steamers are made of bamboo and are placed over a pot of boiling water. They are commonly used in Asian cuisine.

How to Use a Steamer

Using a steamer is simple:

  1. Fill the steamer’s base with water: Add enough water to reach the indicated level.

  2. Place food in the steamer baskets: Arrange the food in the steamer baskets, ensuring there is space for steam to circulate.

  3. Cover the steamer: Place the lid on the steamer to trap the steam.

  4. Steam the food: Cook the food for the recommended time, depending on the type of food and the desired doneness.

Foods Suitable for Steaming

Steamers are ideal for cooking various foods, including:

  • Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, and green beans are excellent choices for steaming.

  • Seafood: Fish, shrimp, and shellfish can be steamed to retain their delicate flavors and textures.

  • Poultry: Chicken and turkey breasts can be steamed to create moist and tender dishes.

  • Desserts: Steamed cakes and puddings are light and fluffy, with a unique texture.

Tips for Steaming

  • Use fresh, high-quality ingredients: The quality of the food will significantly impact the taste of the steamed dish.

  • Season the food before steaming: Add herbs, spices, or marinades to enhance the flavors.

  • Don’t overcrowd the steamer: Ensure there is enough space for steam to circulate around the food.

  • Check the water level during steaming: Replenish the water if it evaporates completely.

  • Experiment with different steaming times: The cooking time will vary depending on the food and the desired doneness.

Steamers are versatile kitchen appliances that offer a healthy and flavorful way to cook various foods. By preserving nutrients, enhancing flavors, and being easy to use, steamers are a valuable addition to any kitchen.

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In professional kitchens, steamers are an indispensable tool. They are commonly used in K–12, casinos, hotels, healthcare facilities, independent restaurants, and college/university operations. Shellfish, rice, and vegetables can be cooked quickly and effectively with a commercial food steamer. Steamers are dependable and simple to operate.

Steam cooking reduces labor costs and overall operating expenses for operators. It also removes the need for kitchen staff to lift heavy stock pots, all while taking up less space.

Cooking Tips : How to Use a Steamer


What is steam cooking good for?

Steamed foods contain more nutrients such as Vitamin C, antioxidants and folic acid. And your food will not only be better for you, it will be more flavourful too! Steam ovens also cook food quickly. The direct heat from the steam means that things like veggies and fish are cooked in about fifteen minutes.

What is steaming a cooking method best used on?

In Western cooking, steaming is most often used to cook vegetables—it is rarely used to cook meats. However, steamed clams are prepared by steaming. With Chinese cuisine, vegetables are usually stir fried or blanched and seldom steamed. Seafood and meat dishes are steamed.

What is the difference between a steamer and a cooker?

The main difference is that pressure cookers cook with high-pressure water vapours at a higher temperature (up to 120 degrees Celsius). The temperature can be adjusted, which can change the cooking time. Steam cookers, on the other hand, always cook at 100 degrees Celsius, which is water’s boiling point.

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