We Tested 10 Steamer Baskets—Here Are the Best Ones

Our favorite was the KitchenAid Universal Steamer Basket.

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best steamer baskets horizontal lead

Serious Eats / Ashlee Redger

Straight to the Point

Our favorite steamer basket is the KitchenAid Universal Steamer Basket. It had a sturdy design, large capacity, and polished finish. For half the price, we also liked the Consevisen Steamer Basket. It was smaller, but included an opening in the handle where it could be picked up with a fork. For a silicone steamer basket, we recommend the OXO Good Grips Silicone Steamer. It was super easy to clean and stayed cool to the touch, even after cooking.

When it comes to steamer baskets, there are two camps: people who already know and love the handy little tool…and the people who don’t (yet). A steamer basket makes quick work out vegetables, the easiest-to-peel “boiled” eggs, and more.

There are different types of steamer baskets (trays, bamboo steamers), but this review is focused on universal steamer basket inserts that are meant to be used with a variety of cookware, like saucepans and Dutch ovens. Many of the models we tested have some ability to extend or collapse based on the vessel you have, rather than sets or brand-specific inserts. 

A versatile and high-performing steamer basket doesn’t have to be a splurge. All of the inserts we looked at were between $10 and $30 (at the time of publish). We evaluated 10 different models—made of stainless steel, silicone, and even plastic—to find the best ones.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best Overall Steamer Basket: KitchenAid Universal Steamer Basket

KitchenAid Universal Steamer Basket

Compared to the super-shiny and easily scratched surfaces of other stainless steel models, the polished finish of the KitchenAid steamer basket made it feel high-end, and the sturdy construction proved it. This steamer was also amongst the most durable when repeatedly dropped. It fit in a smaller saucepan, and can fully expand for larger vessels.

The Best Budget Steamer Basket: Consevisen Steamer Basket

The Consevisen Steamer Basket performed better than the other lower-priced models and some of the higher-priced ones, too. It was a little less durable than our other winners, but steamed just as well. It was narrower than other metal steamers, making it a good pick for smaller saucepans and Dutch ovens.

The Best Silicone Steamer Basket: OXO Good Grips Silicone Steamer

While the stainless steel models’ foldable petals made them more versatile, they also made them harder to clean. This OXO silicone steamer basket was a breeze to wash and would be great for cooking piles of vegetables or long fish fillets.

The Tests

two hands holding the handles of a silicone steamer basket filled with dumplings and lifting it out of a pot

Serious Eats / Ashlee Redger

  • Steamed Broccoli Test: We cooked a 1/2-pound of broccoli with each steamer basket in a 3-quart saucepan to test how the models performed in a smaller pot. After steaming, we noted how well each basket contained the hot broccoli inside while lifting it out of the saucepan.
  • Frozen Dumpling Test: To estimate capacity, we filled each steamer basket with as many frozen dumplings as it could fit (without overcrowding), then steamed the dumplings in a wide, 7-quart stockpot.
  • Drop Tests: We dropped each basket from a foot above the countertop five times, then from hip height onto the floor five times to gauge sturdiness.
  • Open and Close Test: We opened and closed our winning steamer baskets 20 times each to replicate repeated uses, and noted any changes that could affect durability.
  • Usability Tests: Throughout our evaluation, we tested how straightforward each steamer basket was to use. We also looked at how easy each one was to maneuver while hot with either tongs or a fork (if the handle had an opening for one).
  • Cleanup Tests: We cleaned the steamer baskets by hand with a sponge and soapy water after each use, noting any difficulties.

What We Learned

Handles Mattered for Ease (and Safety)

a fork lifting a steamer basket filled with dumplings out of a stockpot

Serious Eats / Ashlee Redger

The handles of steamer baskets come in a wide variety of shapes and styles, and can greatly affect a steamer’s ease of use. The most effortless to manage straight from the pot were the double silicone handles of the OXO Good Grips Silicone Steamer, which stayed manageably cool to the touch even after long steaming sessions. On all the others, though, there were variations on a handle in the center of the basket. Some of the handles had holes built-in, perfect for slipping the tines of a fork into and lifting that way; others just provided a knob at the top to grasp with oven mitts or tongs. Both styles worked well, depending on one’s preference. On a majority of stainless steel models, these handles were removable for cooking larger items, either via a built-in mechanism like the Starfrit Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer’s easy twist-to-unlock method or (more commonly) by unscrewing the handle manually, like with the Consevisen Steamer Basket

On some of the steamer baskets, the handle had a telescoping capability that was meant to expand smoothly when the top of the knob was lifted, designed to keep one’s hands away from hot food and steam. This feature tended to be neutral or even negative to the overall experience of the steamer basket, as many telescoping handles either did not function correctly (like the Martha Stewart Stainless Steel Folding Steamer Insert, which had a stiff handle that would not telescope unless forcibly pulled) or became wobbly after use (like the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Steamer). The exception was our winner, the KitchenAid Universal Steamer Basket. Its handle expanded fluidly when lifted, then fell back into place when released. In most cases, we found that handles that did not telescope were preferable to ones that may do so unpredictably, potentially causing splashes of boiling water or falling food.

For Capacity and Versatility, Flatter Was Better

a stainless steel and silicone steamer basket side by side

Serious Eats / Ashlee Redger

During testing, we found stainless steel models to be more adaptable than the silicone and plastic models—not because of the metal itself, but because of the structure it provided. A static basket- or bowl-shaped steamer basket, like the MSC International Joie Silicone Steamer was fine for steaming piles of veggies, but offered limited space for food that needed to be placed in a single layer or with room in between pieces, like dumplings. Once expanded, the foldable petals of the stainless steel models offered additional surface area to set items without overcrowding. During testing, the Joie Silicone Steamer could only hold five dumplings around its base; the average for the metal steamers was 16!

Even between the stainless steel steamer baskets, there were some differences. Some models like the KitchenAid had petals that expanded down into a flatter layer, which made it easier to cook more food at once. It also made it less likely that the food would shift while moving the steamer into the pot or during cooking, which could result in sticking or tearing of the outer layer on delicate items like dumplings.

The Criteria: What to Look for In a Steamer Basket

a hand picking up a steamer basket with a pair of tons

Serious Eats / Ashlee Redger

A great steamer should be a workhorse in the kitchen and convenient to use, with a handle that’s easy to lift and maneuver (either with an opening for a fork or a knob that can be grasped with tongs). It doesn’t need a telescoping handle—but if it has one, the handle should expand and collapse easily, so it doesn’t drop by surprise when the basket is loaded with ingredients. For households that mostly steam vegetables, a silicone bowl-shaped steamer is an easy-to-clean solution. For larger meals or items that need to be spaced out, a stainless steel steamer basket that can expand down into a flat layer not only offers more surface area to steam on, but is practical to fold up and store away.

The Best Overall Steamer Basket: KitchenAid Universal Steamer Basket

KitchenAid Universal Steamer Basket

What we liked: Throughout each test, the KitchenAid Universal Steamer Basket proved to be sturdy and easy to use. Its middle-of-the-road size made good use of space in a smaller, 3-quart saucepan while steaming broccoli, then expanded nearly flat to hold plenty of dumplings in the larger 7-quart stockpot. Compared to the other metal models, the polished stainless steel was thick and did not dent as much around the base during the drop tests. Even after the durability tests, the movement of the petals remained controlled and smooth instead of becoming loose and floppy (one of only a few models to achieve this).

What we didn’t like: Like the rest of the collapsible stainless steel steamers, the KitchenAid required extra care during hand washing to remove every bit of food in the perforations and around the folding petals after each use. 

Price at time of publish: $22.

Key Specs

  • Dumpling Capacity: 19
  • Base diameter: 6.5 inches
  • Extended diameter: 10 inches
  • Materials: Stainless steel with silicone feet protectors and plastic handle
  • Care instructions: Dishwasher-safe, but handwashing recommended
  • Instant Pot-friendly?: Yes
A stainless steel steamer basket on a marble surface

Serious Eats / Ashlee Redger

The Best Budget Steamer Basket: Consevisen Steamer Basket

Steamer Basket Stainless Steel

What we liked: This inexpensive steamer completed all of our tests with few complaints. In design, it is nearly identical to the more expensive Farberware Professional Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer, but includes a fork opening in the handle. It was the smallest of the stainless steel models—but once extended, it still held more dumplings than all three non-stainless steel baskets and nearly as many as the Farberware (which held 12). Its 5.5-inch base means it could fit smaller pots, too.

What we didn’t like: The handle of the Consevisen basket—which had to be assembled by pushing it into the base before use—remained extremely stiff throughout all of the tests and would only extend or collapse when forced, rendering the telescoping abilities moot (although not missed). Because of some minor denting and petal loosening, it ranked slightly lower in durability than the KitchenAid, Farberware, and Martha Stewart steamer baskets during our drop tests. However, it would be inexpensive to replace, should more serious damage occur.

Price at time of publish: $11.

Key Specs

  • Dumpling Capacity: 11
  • Base diameter: 5.5 inches
  • Extended diameter: 8.5 inches
  • Materials: Stainless steel with silicone feet protectors and plastic handle
  • Care instructions: Dishwasher-safe
  • Instant Pot-friendly?: Yes
a stainless steel steamer basket on a marble surface

Serious Eats / Ashlee Redger

The Best Silicone Steamer Basket: OXO Good Grips Silicone Steamer

OXO Good Grips Silicone Steamer

What we liked: The silicone was naturally nonstick and a cinch to clean. The side handles can be interlocked across the top of the steamer during cooking and were cool enough to touch afterward, eliminating the need for tongs or a fork to lift it out of the hot pot. Without a handle in the center, this steamer basket would be excellent for cooking larger vegetables (like corn on the cob) or a long piece of fish.

What we didn’t like: When used in the smaller pot, the basket's handles easily became unhooked from one another and pushed the lid up slightly, allowing steam to escape. Without a sturdy structure, the silicone folds into a sling when lifted—which could lead to food shifting or falling out from the open sides. Because the walls are slanted, capacity is limited for items that have to be spaced apart from one another, like dumplings.

Price at time of publish: $17.

Key Specs

  • Dumpling Capacity: 8
  • Diameter: 8.5 inches
  • Materials: Silicone
  • Care instructions: Dishwasher-safe
  • Instant Pot-friendly?: Yes
a green silicone steamer basket on a marble surface

Serious Eats / Ashlee Redger

The Competition

  • OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Steamer with Extendable Handle: This model had a removable handle that was easy to maneuver with both tongs and a fork, but it suffered in the durability tests. The handle became wobbly after it was removed according to directions the first time, and the thin steel petals felt flimsy and floppy. Both issues worsened significantly after the drop tests.
  • Starfrit Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer: The Starfrit steamer performed similarly to the other metal baskets, but its perforations were slightly jagged and roughed up our sponge and fingertips during cleaning.
  • Joseph Joseph Bloom Steamer Basket: While the aptly named Bloom Steamer Basket was one of the most visually appealing models, the slanted, concave petals wrapped up and around the contents of the basket in the smaller pot, limiting the capacity and crowding the vegetables inside.
  • Sayfine Vegetable Steamer Basket: This steamer basket sustained the most damage during the drop tests with significant dents around the bottom. It had exposed screw tops in the base which made cleaning harder and lacked both a true handle (it only had a thin key ring at the top) as well as protective covers on the metal feet to prevent scratches on the bottom of the pot.
  • MSC International Joie Silicone Steamer: While cute, the Joie Silicone Steamer was too small to fit anything beyond a serving or two. It does best with small pieces of food (like chopped vegetables) that can be piled inside the “bowl” of the steamer, as the walls do not easily fold down to accommodate items that need more space (like dumplings).
  • Farberware Professional Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer: The Farberware steamer performed nearly as well as the KitchenAid in every test, but was $2 more in price and had a lower capacity (it held 11 dumplings versus our winner’s 19). 
  • Martha Stewart Stainless Steel Folding Steamer Insert: This model was the most durable of all the ones we tested: the thick stainless steel barely dented when repeatedly dropped. It was also the largest, with a 7-inch base and 11-inch diameter once expanded. Unfortunately, its wide size meant it barely fit in the 3-quart pot and didn’t even fully expand in the 7-quart, making it too cumbersome to be efficient for everyday use.

FAQs

What is a steamer basket?

Steamer baskets are used to hold food (often ingredients like vegetables, fish, frozen dumplings, etc.) just above simmering water, allowing it to cook quickly and gently in the steam that builds up in a covered pot.

How do you use a steamer basket?

Steamer baskets can be inserted into a pot that has about an inch of simmering water in the bottom. For best results, the water level should be just below the steamer basket so the food in the bottom of the basket is not sitting or boiling in the water, and the pot should have a well-fitting lid that prevents steam from escaping. For items that require 15 minutes or more to steam, be sure to check the pot and add more water if necessary to avoid the pot from boiling dry, which can damage both the steamer basket and your cookware.

Can I use a steamer basket in an Instant Pot?

Most stainless steel and silicone steamer baskets can be used in the Instant Pot, but it is recommended that you check the manufacturer’s guidelines for your steamer basket before using it under pressure.