Bamboo steamers have been around for centuries, and they’re still going strong today. They make a great addition to almost any kitchen.
Their affordability and ease of use make them popular with home cooks. And when it comes to steamed dumplings? You just can’t beat the results when you use a bamboo steamer basket.
I liked the Joyce Chen Steamer’s performance, quality construction, and positive user reviews. The size makes the Joyce Chen steamer great for both individuals and families.
But there are plenty of other things to consider. Perhaps you’d like a larger capacity steamer, or maybe you want a smaller one. You might want something that includes reusable liners or a lot of parchment liners. Some steamers are better suited for certain types of food. And the list can go on.
Which bamboo steamer is right for you? Keep reading for tips on how to choose and use a bamboo steamer.
Bamboo Steamer Baskets: Product Reviews
Joyce Chen Bamboo Steamer, 10 Inches: Best Overall
Famous restauranteur Joyce Chen designed this 2-tier bamboo steamer. It has a diameter of 10 inches (25.4 cm), making it versatile and able to cook multiple foods simultaneously.
It has two stackable baskets made of woven bamboo and a domed lid to trap moisture. This Joyce Chen bamboo steamer is designed for use with a wok or stockpot.
Cleanup is easy, too. Simply wash with hot water. Be sure to let completely air dry before storing.
User reviews were mostly positive, albeit mixed. Some had issues with odors from the food, and others complained of warping. Customers did rave about their results with dim sum.
Overall, this bamboo steamer is a great, affordable option. But be prepared for it to have a short lifespan.
- 2-tiered design
- Good size
- Great for dim sum
- Not as durable
Steami Bamboo Steamer, 10 Inches: Best for Dim Sum
From Steami comes this 10-inch (25 cm) bamboo steamer. At this size, you can cook enough food for a group or individuals. It has a 2-tier design, so you can cook vegetables and meat simultaneously.
This bamboo steamer set comes with a small recipe guide and 10 liners to get you started. Steami advertises the quality, BPA-free bamboo construction.
Users were pleased with their Steami baskets. They could successfully steam dumplings, fish, potatoes, broccoli, and bao. Some did say that you need to soak this steamer in hot water before the first use.
One of the only customer complaints? The liners that come with the bamboo steamer tend to stick to food. But one reviewer said they didn’t have the same problem with wax paper.
When it comes to affordability, this Steami version falls in the middle range. You’ll find less expensive options, but you’ll also find pricier models, as well. Although I liked this steamer, it’s often unavailable. But if you can find it at a good price, then I would go for it!
- Includes recipe guide & liners
- Versatile size
- 2-tier design
- Quality bamboo construction
- Reports of liners sticking to food
Trademark Innovations Bamboo Steamer, 10 Inches: Best Budget Pick
This Trademark Innovations bamboo steamer has a diameter of 10 inches (25 cm) and has two levels. This steamer’s size is suited for both individuals and families.
The domed lid fits snugly to keep in heat and moisture. This is an inexpensive option for those who are new to using a bamboo steamer.
Several customers reported wood threads sticking out, which can happen. There is also a metal wire that runs through the edges. This isn’t clear from the product description, so be aware. You can’t use this steamer in the microwave.
As with any bamboo steamer, you have to hand wash this one. Don’t expect this bamboo basket to last for years, but it’s a solid, inexpensive choice.
- 100% bamboo
- Two tiers
- Tight-fitting lid
- Not as durable
- Can’t use in the microwave
Prime Home Direct Bamboo Steamer Basket, 12 Inches: Best Large Capacity
Prime Home Direct offers their bamboo steamer in two sizes, a 12-inch (30 cm) and a 10-inch (25 cm) option. The larger 12-inch bamboo steamer can hold more food but requires a larger pot or wok to hold it. This could be a barrier for your average home cook.
This bamboo steamer is made from 100% organic bamboo. It features a 2-tier design, with each basket having a depth of 3 inches (7.6 cm). This steamer is sturdier, with water-resistant walls and a domed lid to prevent moisture from accumulating.
On top of that, the Prime Home Direct steamer set includes a pair of chopsticks and 50 wax paper liners. To clean your bamboo steamer, wash with warm water and let dry completely.
Customers were pleased with their bamboo steamers. They could get good results steam cooking fish, dumplings, dim sum, and steamed buns.
Several did recommend washing or soaking the bamboo steamer before first use to get rid of that earthy bamboo smell.
- Sturdy bamboo construction
- 2 convenient size options
- 100% bamboo
- Includes chopsticks and liners
- Requires larger pot
- More expensive
BirdRock Home Bamboo Steamer, 8 Inches: Best for Steamed Vegetables
This BirdRock Home bamboo steamer comes in 2 size options, 10 inches (25.4 cm) or 8 inches (20.32 cm). It comes with a two-tiered design and a snug-fitting lid.
The design of the BirdRock Home version is similar to other steamers, but the deck for each tier does sit higher, which limits the vertical space for food like dumplings or buns.
It is easy to use, though. Simply set the bamboo steamer basket in simmering water for 10-15 minutes, depending on the food.
Users were able to successfully steam salmon and vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, and eggplant. But durability is an issue. Some users complained that their steamers warped after just a few uses.
- 2 size options
- 2-tiered design
- Made from 100% bamboo
- Reports of warping
- Less depth for food
Mister Kitchenware Handmade Bamboo Steamer, 10 Inches: Best Splurge Option
This Mister Kitchenware Bamboo steamer is a handmade item with two stackable tiers and a domed lid. It has a diameter of 10 inches (25.4 cm), making it suitable for individuals and groups alike.
It has a flat bottom of woven bamboo and a circular bamboo frame. It comes with a pair of chopsticks, a sauce dish, and 10 reusable cotton liners. To reuse the liners, simply wash them with warm soapy water and hang them to dry.
Several users had success with making pork buns and dim sum.
There are no stainless steel wires in this steamer. And since this Mister Kitchenware steamer is handmade, the quality is superb. The downside, though? The quality can vary among individual pieces more than a manufactured steamer.
- 2 tiered baskets
- Includes 10 reusable liners
- Includes chopsticks & sauce dish
- Handmade bamboo construction
- More expensive
- Not long-lasting
Yuho Bamboo Steamer, 6 Inches: Best Small Capacity
The Yuho brand sells a variety of Asian foods and cooking supplies. Their product line ranges from sauces and pasta to noodles and steamers.
This Yuho 6-inch (15 cm) bamboo steamer is great if you plan to cook single servings and for individuals. But if you need a larger capacity, they make an 8-inch (20.32 cm) and 10-inch (25.4 cm) steamer, as well.
This Yuho steamer has two layers and a domed, woven bamboo lid. Each piece is handmade with 100% bamboo, a fast-growing alternative to traditional materials. No metal bands or wires. Yuho also advertises its eco-friendly packaging and materials.
Speaking of materials, this steamer comes with 10 perforated parchment liners to get you started cooking. It’s easy to use. Simply place above hot water and let the steam cook your food.
Users could steam fish, dumplings, bao, and vegetables in this Yuho steamer.
The biggest complaint? The 6-inch steamer is too small. Be sure to choose one of the larger sizes if you plan to steam more food.
One thing that distinguishes this steamer from the others on our list is the return policy. Yuho claims to offer a full refund in case of dissatisfaction, no questions asked.
I could not find any evidence either way on whether Yuho actually follows through with this offer. If they do, it would be a clear signal that Yuho stands behind their products.
- Handmade construction
- Two-tiered design
- Includes parchment liners
- Return policy?
- Small capacity (6-inch version)
- Reports of some splinters
Zoie+Chloe Natural Bamboo Steamer, 8 Inches: Best Eco-Friendly Option
This Zoie+Chloe Natural Bamboo Steamer comes in two sizes: 8 inches (20.32 cm) or 10 inches (25.4 cm). It comes with two cotton liners which can be washed and reused again and again.
The two stackable baskets are made from 100% bamboo. No metal liners or wires. Customers used this steamer to steam dumplings, dim sum, fish, and cook rice.
Some did have issues with mold and with the steamer ring breaking. This mid-range steamer should perform well, but it may not last as long as other options.
- Includes cotton liners
- 2-tiered design
- Good size
- 100% bamboo construction
- Reports of molding
- Not as durable
Reishunger Handmade Bamboo Steamer, 8 Inches: Best for Rice
This Reishunger Handmade Bamboo steamer comes in an 8-inch (20 cm) option and a 10-inch (25 cm) option. It comes with two cotton liners to steam food without imparting odors into the bamboo. Reviewers liked using the cotton liners to steam rice.
The 2-tiered design allows you to steam fish while warming vegetables. Some users recommend purchasing a stainless steel steamer ring if you don’t have a pot that can hold the basket properly.
The woven bamboo lid is domed and fits snugly to trap moisture and heat while gently cooking meals.
Users were able to make steamed fish, bao, and potstickers with no problems. Some customers had issues with wooden threads and warping, while others had issues with mold.
Reishunger recommends towel-drying your bamboo steamer or airdrying it away from direct sunlight.
- 2-tiered design
- Good size
- Includes cotton liners
- Easy to use
- Not as durable
- Reports of warping and mold
Best Bamboo Steamer: Buying Guide
Why Choose a Bamboo Steamer?
Not only is a steamer incredibly versatile, but it allows home cooks to prepare healthy meals in a snap.
A bamboo steamer will not impart any flavor into the food. Plus, bamboo soaks up the extra moisture, so you don’t have to worry about food turning into a soupy mess.
Another perk: Bamboo steamers are inexpensive, making them a budget-friendly way to prepare healthy food.
Bamboo steamers are also eco-friendly. Bamboo is BPA-free and is compatible with more sustainable living. No toxic chemicals, no synthetic dyes or glues, nothing. Just natural bamboo.
What Size Bamboo Steamer Should I Get?
This is perhaps the most important consideration when buying a bamboo steamer. It does no good to purchase a steamer that cannot hold enough food or buy one so large that you never end up using it.
Use the chart below as a quick reference on bamboo steamer size:
|6 inches||Single servings; individuals|
|8 inches||1-3 servings; doesn’t require a large pan|
|10 inches||Single or multiple servings; great for up to 5 people; most versatile size|
|12 inches||Multiple servings or large pieces of whole fish, great for large families or crowds, requires large wok or pan|
Tiers are just layers of individual steamer baskets. Some steamers just have a single tier. Many steamer baskets have two tiers. This second tier allows you to cook more food than a single tier.
Three tiers are best for preparing multiple servings, but they’re not as common as two-tiered baskets.
Liners or Parchment Paper
Bamboo is an absorbent material, so it will take on the flavors and odors of the food. For this reason, it’s best to line your bamboo steamer with parchment paper, wax paper, or even lettuce or cabbage leaves.
Some bamboo steamers will include steamer liners or sheets of parchment paper as a nice bonus feature.
You can also purchase reusable cotton liners to cut down on waste.
Traditional materials for steamers are primarily bamboo (used with a wok), but there are other steamer options available these days.
Stainless steel steamer baskets are quite common, as well. A metal steamer is non-absorbent, so it won’t take on odors. However, most expert steamers say that a metal steamer doesn’t produce the same quality results as bamboo.
Some bamboo steamers include stainless steel bands around the rims. These stainless steel bands should add durability and help the steamer last longer.
However, even with a steamer ring, you shouldn’t expect your bamboo steamer to last a lifetime. They will eventually wear out and require replacement.
Steam cooking requires a cover, so naturally, the best bamboo steamers will include a lid. But the quality of the lid is important to get the best results. A tight-fitting lid is essential. A proper cover will keep steam inside and lower cooking times.
How to Use a Bamboo Steamer Basket
What Is a Bamboo Steamer?
A favorite of traditional Chinese cooking, a bamboo steamer is incredibly versatile. It’s great for dim sum or steaming food like fish, vegetables, and dumplings. Most bamboo steamers feature two stacking steamer baskets with a tight-fitting lid. Each of the baskets has a bottom of woven bamboo strips that allows steam to come through and cook food.
Are Bamboo Steamers Healthy?
Bamboo steamers go hand-in-hand with healthy cooking. Steaming foods packs a one-two punch by preserving the flavor and nutrients of foods without requiring cooking oil or added fat.
What Should I Cook with a Bamboo Steamer?
Steaming food is the most obvious way to use a bamboo steamer. Steaming preserves the nutritional content and flavor profile of the food inside. This cooking technique is ideal for vegetables, dumplings, and delicate foods like fish. After steaming, simply add a drizzle of sesame or soy sauce and a side of rice for a healthy meal.
How to Use a Basket Steamer
Using a bamboo steamer is a relatively simple process. Separate the tiers and line each basket with parchment paper. You can also use lettuce leaves or cabbage leaves to line the steamer baskets.
After lining each basket, fill them with food in a single layer. Stack the tiers and place the lid snugly on top. Now you’re ready to start cooking.
Heat 2 inches of water in a shallow pan or wok to a boil. Place the entire steamer in the boiling water, making sure the water does not touch the food.
Steam the food to the desired doneness. Use potholders to remove the baskets.
For more, check out this brief video on how to use a bamboo steamer:
What About Tiers?
It really depends on how much food you want to cook. In general, though, I say bring ’em on! Three tiers give you maximum capacity for steaming vegetables or potstickers. And just because you have multiple tiers doesn’t mean you have to use all of them each time.
Having more than one tier makes for efficient cooking. You can steam fish in the bottom tier while steaming vegetables in the top tier.
Most bamboo steamers have two tiers. All the ones on my list have two baskets.
Do I Need to Soak a Bamboo Steamer?
Some people recommend soaking a bamboo steamer before the first use and pre-soaking it before each use. They claim this helps the basket steam better and last longer.
I would recommend soaking the steamer in water before the first use. However, pre-soaking before each use is not absolutely necessary.
If you wish to presoak your steamer, place the unlined bamboo steamer baskets in cold water for 5 minutes.
How to Clean a Bamboo Steamer
Bamboo is porous, so it will absorb odors. If you don’t use baking paper or steamer liners, the food can make your bamboo smell. Always use some type of liner to help prevent that from happening.
And while your first instinct might be to wash steamer baskets with dish soap and water, remember that bamboo will absorb the scent of the dish soap.
It’s best to rinse your steamer in hot water, scrubbing away any food. Let the baskets air dry completely before storing to avoid mold. To remove any food odors and disinfect, rub a halved lemon over the bamboo baskets.
It may go without saying, but you should always hand wash your bamboo steamer. Never put your steamer basket in the dishwasher!
Do I Need a Wok?
No, you don’t need a wok, although it does have some advantages. A wok has wide, sloping sides provide that ample room for a range of steamer sizes. While a wok is a traditional choice when using a bamboo steamer, it’s not the only choice.
If you don’t have a wok, you can use a large pot or sauté pan. Your pan needs to be large enough to hold your bamboo steamer and a couple of inches of water.
You can also put your steamer on top of a smaller saucepan, but balancing a multi-tiered basket can be tricky. Plus, you’d have to remove the entire basket to add water, which isn’t necessary with a sauté pan or wok.
How to Use a Steamer for Dumplings
To use a bamboo steamer for dumplings, follow this simple process:
- First, choose a rimmed pan large enough to accommodate the steamer’s size. Fill the pan halfway with water. You want the water to touch the bottom rim of the steamer, but you don’t want the water to touch the food.
- Line the basket with a liner. This could be wax paper, parchment, cotton liners, or even leaves from lettuce or cabbage. Gently arrange your dumplings on the bottom of the steamer in a level layer.
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Arrange the steamer on top of the boiling water and secure the lid.
- Keep a close eye on the water level. Allow the steam to gently cook the food according to the recipe. Occasionally check to make sure the water has not evaporated completely. If needed, add hot water to produce more steam and prevent burning.
What are the Disadvantages of a Bamboo Steamer?
Steamers are great for cooking without oil and maintaining the nutritional profile of food, but they do have a couple of drawbacks.
They’re not the most durable pieces of cookware. Expect to purchase a replacement every couple of years, or even less. Of course, this can vary somewhat among brands.
Bamboo is also notorious for absorbing odors. Especially stinky foods like fish can leave a lingering smell. To help with this, use liners to steam foods. This will provide a barrier between the food and the basket deck.
Also, be sure to use water to steam foods and avoid broth or chicken stock. Flavored liquids will not add much flavor to the dish but will add odor to the bamboo.
Lastly, because of bamboo’s absorbent qualities, it’s more likely to mold. It’s essential to clean your bamboo basket after each use and let it air dry or towel dry completely before storing it. This will help prevent mold from forming. Once your basket starts to mold, it’s no longer usable.
As with any cooking technique, some risks are involved with steamers. It’s important to be aware of those so you can safely cook food.
Steam burns, or scalding, can occur without proper caution. And boy, do those hurt! To avoid steam burns, be careful when removing the lid and never put your face directly over the steamer basket.
Another tip? If you’re steaming food for a longer time, make sure you don’t run out of water. This could lead to a scorched bamboo basket or even worse. Periodically replenish your pan with warm water to avoid burning.
Best Bamboo Steamers: The Last Word
Ready to steam delicious, healthy meals? I’d recommend getting the Joyce Chen Bamboo Steamer. It can hold enough food to be efficient, and it consistently performs well. It’s also affordable and easy to clean. In sum, it’s one of the best bamboo steamers for your money.
Whichever option you choose, you can steam foods like an expert with a bamboo steamer.