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How To Use A Food Steamer -Methods To Use

Steaming is an Asian ancient healthy way to cook food without losing its nutrient quality and taste. It’s the best way to get your food done after a long day at work due to its simplicity to get the job done. Learning how to use a food steamer might be intimidating and confusing, but some patience is needed. Over the years, many people have been looking for ways of preparing their regular foods with steamer and not just vegetables.

Do you want to know how to use a food steamer? Steaming requires you to boil water and let the steam cook the food; it retains the food’s natural smell and color by retaining the food’s natural microelements and vitamins. Like fish steaming retains its valuable vitamins and Omega 3 fish oils. Your entire meal can be cooked conveniently in one steamer as most steamers have different tiers/bowl that allows other food to be cooked simultaneously. Foods like veggies, meats, seafood buns and bread, dumplings, and desserts can all be steamed.

What is a steamer

A steamer is used for cooking meat and vegetables over steam created with the use of boiling water. Depending on its structure and use, it can be a simple or elaborate appliance, but it has one purpose – to cook the food with the assistance of steam by applying pressure with a lid.

A Pressure cooker also relies on steam for cooking, but it requires a closed environment to maximize the levels of pressure so as to cook food at higher temperatures. A steamer only uses steam at normal pressures and is created with the use of boiling water. Steaming, as opposed to boiling, is usually more Preferable.

Using steam heat allows the temperature of the cooking water to be kept low, preserving nutrients in food and preventing it from scorching while also allowing for shorter cooking times than other methods.

Electric vs Stove-top Steamer

how to use a steamer

Knowing the kind of steamer you are using will not only help you avoid mistakes but learn the best that will suit your cooking. Here are some overviews that will be helpful in the use of both electric and stovetop steamers.    

Steamer Basket 

  • The steamer basket is the most common steamer used for vegetables. What is needed is to insert it into a pot, then place it on a stovetop    
  • The cooking process comes with simplicity; add some water to the pot, then put your veggies inside the basket placed inside the pot. Cover the pot and allow the water to boil; the steam will cook your food     
  • Time to steam your food varies from another depending on the type of food and quantity you are steaming   
  • Has its pros and cons                

Electric Steamer

  • The electric steamer has a steam basket, too, but the appliance is a standalone cooking machine that you can place on your countertop and use.
  • Put water into the steamer water tank, then put your veggies into the steamer and close. Set the time you want to use in steaming through the steamer buttons
  • Electric steamers come in different sizes; some are in multiple tiers. It allows you to cook another meal all at the same time.
  • Always read product descriptions and reviews before buying any appliance. 

Tips on how to use a food steamer

how to cook with a steamer

Just add little water

Water is the major component of steaming, and it has a direct impact on what you are cooking. You don’t have to add plenty of water but try to figure out the correct quantity needed for the particular food you want to steam. When using a steamer basket, it is vital not to let the water level get to the basket. Once the water is above the basket, then the food will get messed up. You must keep checking the water tank to avoid any water dry up that may cause the pan to burn.

Allow the water to boil 

Allowing the water to boil first will make your food come out well. Sometimes it is just put everything in all at once, but it will come out better if the water is boiled before putting your food.

 Don’t oversteam

Always have a set time for your veggies and other food; make sure you know the average steaming time of your foods, as this will help you see the time to be set and when to remove it from the steamer. When veggies stay too long in steamers, they tend to become soggy. The first step is to plan your cooking as steaming is widely known as a fast cooking method. Whenever you noticed your food had stayed longer than the targeted time in your steamer, don’t just off the steamer but remove the food. Else the heat will continue cooking the food to a messy level.

If you don’t know the perfect time to set for your steaming, it’s better to start with a lower tine and steam to check at an interval to see if you are to extend the steaming time

You can use Stock and Herb

You might need to do something new and different by adding the herb to the steaming water to give a good flavor. If you feel like being creative with your steaming, then you could add some herbs to the water, such as rosemary sprigs, sliced garlic, dill sprigs of lemongrass. They may have an impact on the steaming time, so always be on the lookout.

Tight Air Seal

Ensure that the steamer lid cover is appropriately fitted to the steamer because any form of steam escape will only leave your food undone. If you’re using a steam basket on the stove and you noticed a loose fit would sometimes occur. When you see this, you only need to add a tea towel between the top of the steamer and the lid. Moreso, if the electric steamer has a loose cover, it’s better not to use it at all.

Measure Everything Carefully

Your steaming time can also depend on the quantity of food you are putting into the steamer, and that’s why you need to measure the amount you are putting in to help you determine an accurate steaming time. Try to make what you are putting into the steamer be of the same size as the smaller one cooks faster than the bigger ones; it is one of the steaming tips you won’t get everywhere.

Season the Food Before Steaming

You can also season your food before steaming them; it will help the seasoning penetrate the foods deeply. Seasoning meat before steaming allows the recipe to marinate to bring out the flavor.

Thaw the Food First

You can leave your frozen food to thaw first before steaming, or you can just Easily and quickly put them in the steamer to defrost it. It’s a safe defrosting method that won’t damage your steamer.

Related Post: How to soften beans after cooking

Frequently Asked Question

How much water do you put in a steamer?

For electric steamer, Put about 1 inch of water in the steamer tank before putting your food, and if it’s stovetop steamer, boil 1 inch of water in a pot or kettle before placing the steamer basket in the pot. Make sure the water level doesn’t get to the basket. 

How do electric food steamers work?

Electric steamers come in different designs and sizes, like stackable tiers and trays in 1-3 layers. Water is added to the tank and heated to produce steam that will, in turn, cook the foods.

Do you put water in an electric steamer?

All you need is to add 1-2 cups of water to the tank provided at the electric cooker’s bottom. 

What are the benefits of steaming vegetables? 

The number one goal is to retain the veggie’s nutrient. Steaming helps in conserving veggies’ color, fiber, and flavor, vitamins like zinc, potassium, and phosphorous. It’s way better than boiling, where major nutrients are lost through the water. 

Can you steam meat in an electric steamer?

Steaming fish is one of the new ways to maintain meat moisture levels than roasting or frying. You can add season directly to the meat before cooking or add it to the steaming water. Only steam tender meat.  


Steaming comes with simplicity, especially when you have taken your time to learn how to use steamers. It may be confusing and frustrating when trying to learn how to use a food steamer, but with continuous learning, you will get it right without any difficulty.

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