Are you in the market for the best electric steamer Australia has to offer? Well you’re in the right place. The team and I here at Best Five have been looking at five to suit every budget.
Whether you’re looking for something small or full fledged, cheap and cheerful or a brand superstar, you’ll find it in this buyers guide.
You definitely don’t need to spend a fortune, most budget electric steamers are worth it too.
What can I cook with a food steamer?
We all know that steaming food, especially vegetables, is possibly the healthiest way to cook. You can also cook chicken, fish, rice and even fruit in a steamer.
Steaming keeps the nutrients, the minerals and vitamins, in the food and helps to retain their fabulous vibrant fresh colours.
There’s no need to add unhealthy and calorific fats or oils when you use a steamer. And the steam doesn’t penetrate the flesh in the same way that water does when food is boiled so the food has a moist and tender texture rather than a soggy or mushy one. Steaming is also a relatively quick way to cook.
So, what in particular can you cook in your steamer? Well, the Chinese use steaming a lot in their cooking and we can turn to them for inspiration.
Dumplings, spring rolls and wantons are all simply divine with all sorts of different fillings to try from prawns to chicken to vegetables. Or try wrapping a fillet of fresh trout or salmon in baking paper with butter and herbs and steam – gorgeous.
You’ll find plenty of recipes for steaming food online if you look. It’s very popular, and justifiably so. If you’ve just invested in an electric steamer the chances are it has a recipe starter book with it.
Best Electric Steamer
All these electric steamers have been chosen as they offer a combination of features, affordability and fast delivery, with extended warranties and good reviews.
1. Breville BFS600BSS The Quick Steam
The Quick Steam is an innovative electric food steamer from Breville with 30 second instant steam and 20-minute auto steam options.
The so-called Healthsmart is the latest food technology helping you to get the best out of the food you eat by retaining all the essential vitamins and minerals in it.
And if that’s not enough you also get food that looks fantastic – fresh, vibrant and colourful – and has a moist tender texture. Food simply tastes so much better when it’s been steamed, and when you know how good it is for your health and well being.
No need to add unhealthy oils or fats. And you’d be amazed at what you can steam once you start looking and experimenting.
The Quick Steam has a ‘keep warm’ function which keeps your dinner warm after the digital timer has gone off until you’re ready to eat.
With three steam trays, you seriously can cook an entire meal in this steamer. You can use the 20 minute pre-set timer function or customise your own timing up to two hours with the digital timer, which includes a turn-on delay setting up to twelve hours.
The steamer has a safety alarm if it runs low on water, and auto shut off if it runs out. The Breville Quick Steam has a large family size capacity and is easy to clean.
Styled in brushed stainless steel the Quick Steam looks at home on any benchtop but will just as easily store away when not in use.
2. Sunbeam Vitasteam Deluxe Manual
The Vitasteam Deluxe Steamer from Sunbeam is a 3-tier electric steamer with a versatile small single to large family size capacity. With three stackable 3L baskets you can cook all sorts of different foods all at the same time.
So you can use the lowest try to cook your proteins like fish, poultry or meat. The second tray for hard vegetables like potatoes and the upper tray for softer vegetables.
A separate bowl will hold up to six cups of rice at the same time as the other baskets are cooking your other foods. If you’re wanting to steam foods with a sauce or fat/oil then you can do so by using the separate rice bowl supplied.
With a separate Instant Steam Sleeve in place, the Vitasteam generates steam within thirty seconds for almost instant cooking if that’s desired.
The 60-minute timer with auto off function and alert buzzer lets you cook your meal exactly how you like it.
The trays are shatter resistant and easy to clean. There is a removable drip tray to collect fat, juices and condensation for easy cleaning and to prevent build-up in the water reservoir.
The reservoir has an external water level indicator, and there is a neon on/off light to indicate when the appliance is steaming.
3. Tefal Mini Compact Steamer
Designed for singles and couples, the Mini Steamer from Tefal has a surprisingly large capacity for a compact unit. It is a three-tiered steamer with a total 6.5L (6.5kg) capacity.
There is also a separate rice steaming bowl provided which is great. So, in fact, you can cook for larger numbers by using all three layers at once as well as your stovetop or oven for proteins, for example.
The trays stack upside down into each other to make a very small unit to easily store away between uses. And in keeping with the compact and versatile profile, the lid can be used as a colander.
Because it is a three-tiered system the Tefal Mini steamer can still cook an entire meal in the same fashion as the larger ones can if you’re cooking for yourself or for a couple.
This is a technologically simple appliance. The water level is visible and there is no timer so that is the way you determine the cooking time. The steamer will buzz when the level is low but that is all the warning there is (apparently). There is (seemingly) no auto shutoff. There is no on/off button so it’s a question of turning the steamer on and off at the power point.
Cleaning the Tefal steamer is not as easy as other steamers on the market, but the advice here is to not use any sauces or liquids other than water with this steamer.
The Tefal Mini seems to have some drawbacks but has received pretty consistently positive reviews for what it is so if you’re in the market for a small steamer without any bells or whistles at a low price point this may be it.
4. Breville BFS800BSS The Steam Zone
The Steam Zone from Breville must be the king of all steamers on the market at the moment. Certainly, it’s priced that way! And it looks the part.
Featuring an innovative and unique design in stylish stainless-steel this 2200W electric steamer can manage a whole fish or two different foods in two separate cooking vessels to either avoid cross-contamination of odours and flavours or simply to cook for different times yet synchronised to finish cooking at the same time.
The product is revolutionary, but one wonders why it hasn’t been done before!
The 40cm base layer is large enough to steam a whole fish, chicken etc. But it will also hold two smaller stainless-steel baskets for other foods that you may not want to cook together for whatever reason. Alternatively, you can stack traditional bamboo baskets on either side if you like, up to three levels.
The two different steam ‘zones’ on each side give you control over the cooking on each side. So, you can control the start and end times of each independently to suit yourself. Most commonly that would probably be to synchronise the finish time of each side.
As with other steamers, the Steam Zone has instant steam called Rapid Start Technology which reaches maximum steaming power in less than thirty seconds.
Because it is made from stainless-steel the Steam Zone steamer will easily outlive any of its plastic competitors. That also makes it a very good looker in the kitchen, not one that you necessarily want to put away either!
5. George Foreman GF3TSM Food Steamer
The white food steamer from George Foreman is an affordable three-tier steamer which will suit most kitchens.
Use it to cook up healthy and tasty meals from pretty much anything you have in your fridge or pantry. Proteins like fish or poultry, vegetables, rice and even fruit are great to look at and to eat when they’ve been steamed.
The George Foreman steamer uses a turbo steam ring design to quickly start cooking the food. You can use up to three baskets at one time, so potentially an entire family meal all at once.
There is also a separate rice bowl supplied. The steamer has a timer for perfect cooking every time. And there is an auto shut off switch for safety when the water runs low.
The steaming baskets are dishwasher safe so it’s easy to clean, and the steamer is compact for easy storage when not in use.
Customer reviews of this steamer are overwhelmingly positive, mostly saying that it is what it promises to be, no more and no less.
It is an inexpensive steamer which does that job well time and time again. No frills. No major downfalls or disappointments.
Electric steamer vs stovetop steamer?
Whilst many people have steamers which sit on top of the stove, an electric steamer can be a better option for a few reasons.
It frees up space on the stovetop when you are cooking with a number of pots and pans at the same time, as often happens with a large family meal or when you are entertaining.
While electric steamers do tend to be made from plastic this does not seem to affect their durability.
Electric steamers usually have three layers which means that you can almost do an entire meal in one go: potatoes on one layer, protein on the next, and vegetables on the top.
Although one criticism of electric steamers is that they take up bench space, they can be stored away in a cupboard when not in use, just as a stovetop steamer would be.
How do you use an electric steamer?
As usual, it’s important to always read the User Guide that came with your electric steamer as every brand is different.
But really, using an electric steamer is literally as easy as 1, 2, 3. Firstly you need to assemble it in accordance with the instructions.
Some are very simple, others a little more complicated. The bottom is the well or reservoir which needs to be filled with water to the indicated fill point.
Then there may be a diffuser plate which sits on top. Then you simply place the baskets on top, one at a time as you’ve put the food you’ve prepared into each of them.
The baskets should clip onto each other to keep them secure during the cooking process. And finally a lid with handles.
Plug the steamer in and turn it on after the reservoir has been filled and the baskets added.
Next, you need to turn the timer on in accordance with what you’re cooking. The User Guide should tell you the various times appropriate to the basic foods which most people cook in steamers. Otherwise, you can look online easily enough.
When the timer goes off turn the steamer off at the power point off and take the lid off. Remove the food with tongs, being careful of the steam.
Safety precautions to take with a steamer?
Because it is an electric appliance and water is involved there are safety precautions to be strictly adhered to with electric steamers to avoid fires, burns and scalding.
Never submerge the power cord or base unit in water. Only use the steamer indoors and on a flat stable surface. Do not have the power turned on if there is no water in the reservoir.
Be careful when opening the lid either during the cooking process or after the timer has finished to avoid scalding from the steam or burns from the heat of the lid and baskets.
Keep the steamer unplugged when not in use. Do not disassemble or attempt to clean the steamer until it has cooled down completely.
After much deliberation we have come to the conclusion that the best food processor Australia has to offer is the Breville BFS600BSS quick steamer. It offers a lot of features at an affordable price, making it perfect for the average Australian household.
Duncan is a world traveller who loves to explore new cultures. Currently he’s a freelance writer for Best Five who has studied at a prestigious university in the USA.