What Can You Cook In A Steamer?

I’m sure you have all come across a steamer at some point in your life? Either you’ve discovered one at a friend’s house, at the supermarket or happened to have been gifted one, you’ve possibly even had one for a while. Available in mainly two different forms, the bamboo steamer is probably one of the more well-known and traditional setups, compared to its stainless steel counterpart. Steamers are a great way of cooking, as it’s a fantastic way of ensuring your food keeps its nutritional value as well as being an incredibly healthier way of cooking; as steamers need no oil, butter or any other type of cooking fat to aid in your cooking. Just choose your herbs and spices if needed and away you go!

Whether you choose to use a traditional bamboo steamer or its more modern stainless steel metal form, both will provide the same result. And with being able to stack multiple steamers upon one another, you can steam numerous different ingredients at the same time, what a result! So what can you cook in a steamer then? If you are looking to make the most of this piece of equipment, there are plenty of options, so we will get stuck right in.

What Can You Cook In A Steamer?


steam vegetable

Vegetables are a fantastic ingredient to steam. Compared to being boiled in water, steamed veg will not only keep more of their color they will also store more flavor, more nutrients and retain more of their original texture. Especially with green vegetables, you will truly notice the difference in color of your water when you choose to steam compared to boiling. 

  • Cruciferous Veg – broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower taste amazing when steamed. 
  • Leafy greens – these veg will only take a couple of minutes to ensure they are cooked to perfection!
  • Root veg – similar to their boiling time, steaming root veg will take a bit more time to cook, but well worth the wait.


Beef, lamb, pork and chicken all taste beautiful when steamed, leaving them with a moist and tender texture that will be hard to achieve in an oven or on a grill. Make sure that when placing in a bamboo steamer, that you place the raw meat on either some parchment paper or cooking foil. This ensures that any meat does not stick to your bamboo or leaves a scent that can infuse into the wood. Be careful not to cover the entire bottom with your parchment paper or foil to allow the steam to pass through and cook your chosen meat. If you happen to be steaming more than one piece of meat, allow enough space for the steam to circulate to help the meat cook more evenly.

When steaming chicken, make sure that the chicken has been cooked all the way through, a thermometer here will be very useful and make sure the meat reaches a minimum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, (roughly 71 degrees celsius).


Fish is yet another fantastic ingredient that can be steamed. Anything from cod, salmon, prawns to even mussels can be steamed and will help to retain their moisture. Cuts of fish will be ready when the flesh becomes flakey, mussels and clams are cooked when their shells have completely opened, and prawns are cooked through when they have turned pink. When it comes to fish, similar to when cooking with raw meat, it is a good idea to have either parchment paper or foil down, to ensure that there is both no sticking and no scent can be infused into the wood. 


Surprisingly, eggs can be steamed as well, but only when they are kept in their shell, no scrambled or fried eggs here unfortunately! For soft-boiled eggs with a runny yolk, you will need 6 minutes, whilst for hard-boiled eggs, 12 minutes will be ideal.



Bao buns and dumplings are great steamed. If you have bought your dumplings frozen and pre-prepared from the supermarket, instead of following the instructions to boil, place them evenly apart in a steamer and steam until they have softened completely. This method will also be the same if you have made them yourself, steam them until they are tender and cooked through.  When steaming pre-prepared bao buns, steam them for roughly 8 minutes until they are piping hot throughout. And if again you are making your own, steam the bao buns for 8 minutes again so they rise, before stuffing with your filling of choice. Delicious!


If you have some frozen veg or frozen meals you have cooked previously that you need to defrost, a steamer comes in handy! For frozen vegetables, it will only take a few minutes or so to ensure that they are cooked through. When defrosting and reheating a meal in its own right, ensure that it is piping hot throughout before serving.

Extra Tips

To help you in your cooking quest with your steamer, follow some of these tips below to ensure you get the best out of your equipment –

  • If you happen to be using more than one steamer at the same time, put ingredients that will take longer to cook on the bottom, closer to the heat. 
  • Instead of cooking with plain old water, use a broth to help infuse the food with extra flavor. 
  • Be careful when lifting the lid, as there will be some trapped steam and it will be extremely hot!
  • When it comes to cleaning your steamers, stainless steel and bamboo alike are ok to be washed in hot soapy water, but bamboo steamers should never be washed in a dishwasher or left to soak. 

So what can you cook in your steamer? Probably more than you had realized. This handy little bit of equipment is such a fantastic way of cooking so many different ingredients, from tasty and nutritious vegetables, beautifully tender meats, delicious dumplings and everything in between. Now you have plenty of ways to use your steamer and maximize its potential! Happy steaming!

Kunal Sharma
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