These days it is pretty hard to find a home without microwave as a staple kitchen appliance. Especially in the United States, where we are accustomed to a busy and fast-paced lifestyle, microwave cooking is an indispensable time-saver.
And steaming food in the microwave is the next move in convenient, healthy eating trends. Luckily, there are several of the best microwave steamers on the market available to help make the job easy.
One thing that your microwave can do pretty well is steam food like meats and vegetables. That is good news because steamed food is exceptionally tasty and healthy. Steaming preserves nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are sometimes lost in the cooking process.
Best Microwave Steamer Reviews
From multi-functioning steamers that are suitable for cooking and storing to special safety features, there are a few things you will want to look for to get the most bang for your buck.
Microwave food steamers are becoming more common and with wide availability comes competition.
1.Sistema Large Microwave Steamer
The microwave steamer is just one piece in a collection of microwavable cookware from Sistema. All of their pieces are stackable, freezer-safe, and dishwasher safe. However, our favorite feature is probably the heat-safe easy-lift tabs that protect your fingers from burns.
Sistema is a global competitor in plastics for the kitchen. It got its start in New Zealand, but quickly found success around the world through beautifully-designed, functional, and food-safe storage products. Specializing in food-safe plastics for the kitchen, it only makes sense that they would reach into the microwavable steamer market.
2. Progressive International Fish/Veggie Steamer
If you are looking for something a little more portable to make healthy lunches at the office, Progressive International has a one-quart microwave steamer that is perfect for the job. It is made from BPA-free, high heat polypropylene plastic and is safe for use in the microwave and cleaning in the dishwasher.
Progressive International is no stranger to innovative kitchen tools. They have been reimagining the kitchen for over forty years. Modern convenience and on-the-go lifestyles have led them to create a microwave steamer perfectly sized for college dorms and office break rooms.
3.OXO Good Grips Microwave Steamer
OXO Good Grips makes its version of a microwave steamer for a great product from a leading brand name backed by a quality guarantee. It has a large capacity for family meals, design features for easy handling during hot, and peace of mind with BPA-free plastics.
OXO is a prominent American manufacturer that has been exceeding our expectations in the kitchen for more than thirty years. Their commitment to quality is excellent, and they can’t wait to tell you about it – or about how they will stand behind their product and make it right if it’s not perfect. What more can you expect from an American company?
4. Microwave Steamer Collapsible Bowl
For a simple microwave steamer that checks off all of the boxes, the Euchoiz collapsible steamer is great. It is made from safe materials, including food-grade silicone with heat resistance up to 480 degrees Fahrenheit. The collapsible design saves space and is convenient for storing and travel. And it comes in different sizes to accommodate different needs, from individual meals to family spreads.
Similar to many other products found on Amazon, this is a no-name brand name that likely rose to popularity thanks to Amazon resellers. As long as the product works, the brand name behind it is probably not a deal-breaker unless you are just really snobby towards kitchen gadgets.
5. Snips Microwave Steamer
You can cook, serve, and store in one unit for convenience, so there is no need to dirty extra dishes. It has a moderately large, 16.8 cup capacity and separate reservoirs for food and water with a clear lid.
Snips is an Italian company with almost 50 years of kitchen innovation under its belt. If you are familiar with the level of quality associated with Italian goods, then this company’s line of kitchen gadgets should be no different. The company is committed to quality, social responsibility, teamwork, and innovation.
What is a Microwave Steamer
A steamer is a kitchen gadget like a pan that has two layers. The bottom layer, closest to the heat source, holds a small amount of water. As that water is heated, it produces steam released through vent holes into the upper chamber. The food sits in the upper chamber, and as it is surrounded by steam, cooking the food.
Traditional steamers work on a stovetop but have limitations in the amount of time and effort required to use them. Since microwaves have become commonplace in homes around the world, manufacturers have found a way to adapt this cooking method using microwave-safe materials.
The good thing about microwave steamers is that they are designed to heat, serve, and store in one container. Their convenience is so much more than just being able to cook food quickly in a microwave. We have put together a roundup of what we think are the best microwave steamers on the market to help you out.
What to Look for in a Microwave Steamer
A few features seem to come standard on all microwave vegetable steamers and a few more that vary from one brand to another. They are not expensive kitchen gadgets, but there is still a range of prices and quality to look for. Here are a few things that buyers should specifically look for when shopping for a microwave food steamer.
- Modern, food-safe materials based on what we know about plastics today. Polycarbonate is the most common plastic for food-grade use because it is strong and durable. But harmful chemicals like BPA are also commonly found in polycarbonates. Older models may contain these harmful chemicals as their use has only recently begun phasing out.
- Ease of Use, Cleaning, and Storage. One of the top reasons that kitchen gadgets get buried in the cabinet and never see the light of day is that they are too tedious to set up, use, or clean. These gadgets are meant to save time and be more efficient, make sure the concept was thought all the way through. Look for nesting or collapsible designs, dishwasher-safe materials, and minimal pieces.
- Safe-use Design Features. Steam is incredibly hot, and microwaves are known for producing incredibly hot food, so combining the too only means one thing, whatever comes out of this steamer is going to be hot. Look for designs that feature stay-cool handles or automatic vents that make handling them easier.
- Size, fit for needs, and fit for space. Microwave steamers come in different sizes and shapes for a reason. Some are better for large capacity cooking for families, and some are better for limited space and tiny microwaves. Look for an option that fits in your microwave, and that can handle the size of meals you plan to prepare.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are considering purchasing a microwave steamer for the first time (or even a replacement for an older model), then there are a few things that have changed in the world of kitchen technology that you should be aware of first.
Are plastics safe to put in the microwave?
Plastic products, especially for food, have been made from a variety of different materials over the years. Over time we have learned more about these materials and found that some are not as well suited for food as we had originally thought.
Look for plastics that are labeled as BPA-free or Phthalate-free. BPA is a main product found in many polycarbonate plastics, so if the product is polycarbonate, double-check to make sure it is also labeled BPA-free. BPA exposure from things like baby bottles and food containers may be harmful to brain development, memory, and moods.
Phthalates are another class of chemicals found in everything from cosmetics to plastics and even food products. We are still learning more about phthalates, but the research compiled so far looks like there may be links between exposure and common chronic diseases. If you can avoid them (and it’s hard because they are seemingly in everything), you should.
All of the microwave steamers on our list are BPA-free, and some are also phthalate-free. The demand for social responsibility on manufacturers means that it is actually pretty hard to find a polycarbonate food product manufactured in the last five years that is not BPA-free. If you have older kitchen plastics, this would be a good reason to toss them and replace them.
Is steaming food in the microwave healthy?
Steaming food, compared to other cooking methods, is considered a healthier option. The main reason is that it preserves the food’s nutrients. The fiber content, minerals, and vitamins that foods have naturally are affected by the cooking process. In some cases, you can bake or boil away all of the good qualities that food has unintentionally. But steaming your food will preserve the nutrients and make sure that you are getting the most out of your meats and vegetables.
The short answer is that, according to Harvard Health, yes – steaming food in the microwave is healthy. By healthy, we mean that it retains the nutrients of the food. In order to do that, it needs to cook quickly with the least amount of exposure to the heat source. Even without steaming, microwaves achieve the quick part, so combining the quick-cooking action of the microwave with the nutrient-preserving method of steaming is a win-win.
What kind of foods can be made in a microwave steamer?
If you are new to the idea of steaming more than your vegetables, you are in for a nice surprise. There are many different foods that can be prepared in a microwave steamer to provide healthier, more convenient options.
Starting with the most obvious, fresh or frozen vegetables are easily prepared in a microwave steamer. If cooking fresh, you may want to soak your vegetables in some cold water beforehand to get rid of any bugs. You can steam any vegetable, but broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, leafy greens, asparagus, and green beans seem to turn out the best.
You can also steam cook rice, although most people have a separate rice cooker for this purpose due to the volume that rice tends to make. But I suppose you could make an individual serving in one of these microwave vegetable steamers.
Fish is the easiest of the meats to steam in the microwave. It works the best with white fish like cod, haddock, halibut, and flounder. Salmon is also commonly prepared in a microwave steamer. You can also make eggs – as in poached eggs – right in a microwave steamer.
The Takeaway on the Best Microwave Steamers
Microwave steamers are known for the abundance of convenience that they provide, not necessarily for their significant size. Most of the models on the market are good for preparing meals for one or two people at most.
Even if you find a larger model, it may not fit well in your microwave. Before buying, make sure to take into consideration how often you will use it and what will fit in your microwave.
The one downfall to these time-saving, healthy food-preparing hacks is that the heat and moisture exposure tends to warp the plastic materials. Some models are more prone to warping than others, but it seems to be a common problem across the board.