Steaming mad? A bamboo steamer is just what you need.
Last Updated June 1, 2023. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 23: Stir-Fry and Congee
We tested a few additional bamboo steamers. We now have two co-winners, Juvale 10 Inch Bamboo Steamer with Steel Rings for Cooking and Zest of Moringa Bamboo Steamer Basket Set. They both do a great job of steaming foods and are highly durable.
Bamboo steamers are great for cooking lots of food efficiently. Our favorite is the Juvale 10 Inch Bamboo Steamer with Steel Rings for Cooking. It does an excellent job of steaming different foods, and it’s well-made and durable to boot. A similar choice is the Zest of Moringa Bamboo Steamer Basket Set, which also did a great job steaming various foods quickly and efficiently.
Originally from China, bamboo steamers are perhaps best known today as the vessels used to cook and serve many popular dim sum dishes. Because they’re made up of bamboo tiers with level interior surfaces, they’re ideal for steaming any food that needs to sit flat during cooking, such as dumplings or bao, or food that might break or become misshapen in a collapsible steamer with a curved base, such as fragile fish fillets. While you can get bamboo steamers in many sizes and configurations, they’re most commonly available as sets of two or three 10-inch round bamboo tiers—a size that is compatible for use with a 14-inch wok or a 12-inch skillet or sauté pan, among other vessels. Each tier provides about 68 square inches of surface area—roughly the same surface area as our favorite metal steamer. But because the tiers are stackable, you can double and triple the capacity as needed. Cooking dumplings for a crowd? Use two or three tiers. A piece of salmon for one? A single tier will do.
The separate tiers have another advantage: You can steam foods with different cooking times simultaneously, removing tiers as each food finishes cooking. Just be aware that foods take longer to cook the farther they are from the heat source. Another advantage is that the bamboo absorbs some of the steam during cooking, preventing condensation from dripping back onto your food and getting it wet. And of course, the steamers are pretty enough that you can serve food right out of them at the table.
A few caveats: Because they’re made of a natural fiber, bamboo steamers are more fragile than metal steamer baskets—they must be washed and dried carefully between uses so that they don’t warp, crack, or develop mold. They can absorb odors from your food or cooking liquid, though at least in our experience, these odors faded after a few washes and didn’t transfer to subsequent foods we cooked. Finally, bamboo steamers take up a bit more room in your cabinet; unlike those metal steamer baskets, they’re not collapsible.
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Valerie is an assistant editor for ATK Reviews. In addition to cooking, she loves skiing, traveling, and spending time outdoors.
Miye is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She covers booze, blades, and gadgets of questionable value.