Did you know though that there are tools you can get to improve the cooking function of your appliance? Today we’re taking a look at the best microwave steamer to add to your arsenal.
Microwave steamers are great for cooking vegetables, proteins, and some even double to make rice! If you’re ready to make quick, healthy meals or sides, we’ve got the guide to help you choose the best one for your family, needs, and lifestyle. Let’s get into it!
The Sistema Microwave Collection steamer is our top pick for best microwave steamer. It’s available in tons of shapes and sizes to suit whatever you’re cooking. Since it stacks well, it’s also well-suited to apartment and dorm living.
The slotted basket keeps your food from getting soggy, while cool touch handles all around make it easy to retrieve your cooked meal. Not only does it reduce cook time from a stove or oven, but cleanup is a snap as well in the dishwasher.
I do find the “cool touch” handles can be warm from the steam if you don’t let it cool down for a minute or so before grabbing the container. However, this is an incredibly versatile and well-rounded steamer that I wouldn’t hesitate to reach for any day.
Available in a variety of shapes and sizes to cook many things
Cool touch handles to prevent burns
Steam release valve reduces splatters
Snap on lid for secure transport
Stack well for storage
Freezer safe for easy meal prep options
Dishwasher safe for fast cleanup
Made of durable and BPA free plastic
Lid can be finicky to snap into place correctly
Central pillar makes food retrieval easier, but cuts down on basket space
Two-tiered system for cooking multiple things at once
Works as a steamer and colander
Basket keeps food out of the water
Dishwasher safe for easy cleanup
Longer vegetables won’t fit in round unit without breaking them up
At 10.5” diameter it doesn’t fit in some smaller microwaves
2x-3x the cost of other similar plastic steamers
Not compatible with microwaves over 1200W
Can’t use for rice, it’s a steamer only
What is a Microwave Steamer?
A microwave steamer is a layered cooker with holes in the top level. You place water in the bottom and your food on the top during cooking. As the heat turns the water to steam, it rises through the holes and cooks your food without waterlogging it.
Really, the advantage to the steamer basket is that you’re able to achieve that moist, steamy cooking method and your food won’t be drowning in water.
In fact, excess fat and juice will naturally trickle down into the base as well.
Note that there are some steamers that don’t offer the removable basket.
To me, this somewhat defeats the purpose. However, they’re still fully capable of steaming, but you won’t be able to season anything and need to plan on it being mushy if you go this route.
Having the steamer basket is a perfect choice when you’re steaming bread that you don’t want getting all soggy and gross. Learn how to steam a bun in the microwave, and I bet you’ll see how useful a steamer basket can be!
Using a steamer also means there’s no draining required before serving, which can be both hot and dangerous! Instead, you’ll be able to remove your food, allow it to cool, and deal with it later.
Plus while steamers are great for vegetables, they’re equally awesome at cooking some other things. I love versatile kitchen tools!
How to Use a Microwave Steamer
Remove the inserts
Add ½ cup to 1 ½ cups water (depending on size of basket and how long you’re cooking) to the base of the steamer basket. You want the bottom entirely covered, and to allow for evaporation during cooking, so longer cycles need more water
Place the food you want to steam into the insert
Add any butter, oil, or seasonings desired
Set the insert back into the steamer over top of the water
Secure the lid on top, and place the steamer basket into the microwave
Cook following recipe directions until food is steamed
Remove steamer from microwave, carefully remove lid, and remove insert to serve
Just be careful when you first open the lid, as there will be some hot steam built up that will escape. Open it away from you, and I recommend putting on an oven mitt as well to protect your hand.
If this is your first time looking at a microwave steamer, it’s probably helpful to know what the top features of one are. This will help you compare and decide what is most important to you when buying!
Steamer Basket Capacity
Capacity of a microwave steamer basket is incredibly important because this determines how much food fits into it. Whether you’re cooking for one or five people is going to play a big part in what steamer is most useful for you.
Common Steamer Capacities
Number of People Fed
Now, the size is also subjective to what you’re cooking in it.
For instance, if you’re steaming rice as a side dish to a different main dish, then you’ll be able to feed more people. However, if you’re cooking the bulk of your meal in the steamer, the number of full bellies will be fewer.
Another important trait to check out is the material your steamer is made from. Most commonly, microwave steamers are available in:
Not all ceramic versions are dishwasher safe, so if easy cleanup is important to you, that may factor into your choice.
Both ceramic and glass are prone to breaking on impact. If you have kids in the house or are just prone to dropping things, maybe plastic is a better choice.
Plastic will sometimes hold stains (like your Tupperware) and retain odors. If you’re often cooking fish or something stinky then maybe another material is a better option.
Also remember that microwave steamers are designed with materials specifically for use in the microwave.
Just because you have another container at home that’s capable of steaming doesn’t mean it’s safe. Learn more about the microwave safe symbol and what to look out for!
Microwave Steamer Storage and Size
The last major trait to look for in a microwave steamer relates to size and storage. Overall, you want to look for one that’s going to fit your food needs, but also your kitchen.
If you’re short on space, choose a microwave steamer that’s collapsible when not in use for easy storage.
Alternatively, a steamer with multiple inserts provides more vertical height to cook without taking up additional floor space.
Oh and one often overlooked tip: measure your microwave. If you’ve picked up one of these best dorm microwaves they’re great for small shared spaces, but not so much for large steamers.
Make sure you choose one you can actually use!
What Can I Cook in a Microwave Steamer?
Here are some of the most common items to cook in a microwave steamer:
Pudding, Custard, or Flan
Note that not all microwave steamers can cook all of these things. A lot depends on the style, material, number of inserts, and overall design. Vegetables and fish are the two most common uses.
If something like rice is really important to your diet, make sure to pick a model that safely cooks that as well. Alternatively, check out our best microwave rice cookers for a different tool to get the job done!
Microwave steamers are such a useful tool for quickly and easily making healthy veggies, fish, and more. We hope our buying guide, reviews, and recommendations help you find the perfect one for your needs.
If you’re a fan of microwave cooking, you may also want to learn more about the microwave pressure cooker for use in turning out meals that feel slow cooked. It’s great for stews, curries, and more. Then, steam your sides to go with the meal! I love quick and easy cooking options!
I enjoy trying new recipes, creating my own, and dabbling with new techniques all the time. My husband loves to protest when I make him my guinea pig, but it’s all for the love of food!
My cooking philosophy is that great tasting food doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming to make. I'm a home cook with over 20 years of experience feeding myself and others. I've learned from a variety of different people, things I've learned online, and some trial and error as well.
I enjoy cooking a variety of foods, from convenience to comfort foods, as well as international cuisine. You can rest assured that all of my recipes have been actually made, thoroughly tested, and most importantly: tasted! I want you to enjoy my food as much as I do!