How Do I Choose the Best Large Steamer?

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  • Written By: Cynde Gregory
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 01 May 2020
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Cooks who like the health benefits and convenience of cooking meats, grains, and vegetables with steam but regularly feed a good-sized gang will want to turn their attention to large-capacity steamers. A larger steamer can handle larger cuts of meat or an entire chicken along with generous portions of denser vegetables and pretty much anything else the cook tosses in. The best large steamer will boast digital controls, an automatic shutoff when food is done, and safety features, such as low-water warnings and safe steam venting.

Larger amounts of food can be handled in one of two dimensions. The steamer can begin with a good-sized base and build upward using stackable grids, or it can be both wider and longer than more compact versions in order to handle several lobsters or a larger cut of meat, for example. If counter space is an issue and the cook prefers an electric steamer over a stove top model, one with stacking trays is the only way to go. Professional cooks as well as those with miles of countertop can consider one that cooks on a single level.

A large steamer needs to be durable, particularly if the cook expects to use it frequently. It produces far greater quantities of steam and holds heavier items than a mini steamer and is more likely to suffer as a result. Flimsy materials or so-so construction might produce a less expensive steamer, but it will cost more in the long run due to replacement parts and energy use.

A top-end large steamer will have digital controls that permit the cook to set a delayed time start and control the cooking temperature. Some models release an occasional puff of steam to keep cooked foods warm until they are ready to be served. A steamer that makes reading the water level or adding water during use difficult is best avoided.

One nifty feature to look for in a large steamer is a compartment or screen where ginger, herbs, or spices can be placed. The steam blasts these flavor enhancers and shoots the fragrant water particles around the cooking food. This is an especially nice feature for delicate dishes that perform best if they aren’t covered with bits of seasoning.

While white, plastic steamers are popular among cooks for their clean appearances and inexpensive price tags, the wise cook thinks twice about cooking food directly on plastic trays. Recent research indicates that this can result in chemical leach, and the results, while tasteless, are far from harmless. Stainless steel or glass tray inserts are far better choices.


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