Food steamers are one of the healthiest and tastiest ways to cook food. They are versatile too, handling fish, meat, vegetables, rice, and shellfish with a delicacy that other cooking methods lack. An added benefit? They’re affordable as well.

If you’ve ever wondered about getting a steamer and wanted to know which were the best in our opinion, then this article is for you. Read on the see the top 8 food steamers under $50.

  • 2-tier cooking
  • Digital display
  • Low water level alert
  • Auto-Warm function
  • 1-year warranty

  • 7 Easy-Touch settings
  • All removable parts are dishwasher safe
  • Auto shut-off
  • 3-tier cooking
  • 1-year warranty

  • 3-tier cooking
  • Turbo Steam function
  • 60-minute timer
  • Auto shut-off
  • 1-year warranty

  • Stainless steel
  • Works on all cooktops
  • 3-quart saucepot
  • 2-quart steamer
  • Lifetime warranty

  • 60-minute timer
  • Auto shut-off
  • 2-tier cooking
  • Manual dial controls
  • 1-year warranty

  • 60-minute timer
  • 2-tier cooking
  • Dishwasher safe elements
  • 2-year warranty

  • One-touch operation
  • Non-stick inner pot
  • Detachable parts dishwasher safe
  • 1-year warranty

  • Auto shut-off
  • 2-tier cooking
  • Boil dry protection
  • Quick Start function for 30-second steam
  • 2-year limited warranty

Quick Navigation

1. Hamilton Beach 5.5-Quart Digital Steamer

This Hamilton Beach steamer is one of the most popular on Amazon, and for $39.99, we can understand why. It has an easy to read digital display that makes using this thing simple and a low water level alert so you don’t run the risk of boiling the steamer dry. The 2 tiers have large plastic handles to avoid scalding, and it comes with an attachment to steam eggs upright from soft to hard.

It has an automatic setting that switches to keep warm, with an alarm to alert you when the food is cooked. If you want to load the steamer and set the start time, it has a maximum 24-hour delay timer. This steamer is great for fish, oysters, shrimps, and mussels. The steaming process locks in the moisture and the flavors in a way that conventional cooking doesn’t, which is why delicate foods will taste wonderful in this steamer.

On the downside, however, all the detachable parts, like the baskets, are hand wash only which puts a dent in their convenience. And because it only has 2 tiers, it doesn’t have the capacity of other steamers in its class.

Pros

  • Auto keep warm setting
  • Great for fish and other seafood
  • Low water level alert
  • Digital display
  • 24-hour maximum delay start timer

Cons

  • Only has 2 tiers
  • Hand wash only
  • Build quality issues

This Magic Chef steamer is slightly more expensive than the Hamilton Beach model, but it does come with 3 tiers instead of 2, which increases your steaming capacity by a third. It has 7 easy-touch settings for the most common food types to increase convenience. It also benefits from a large digital display.

Unlike the Hamilton Beach model, all the removable elements are dishwasher safe, so again this ticks all the boxes for convenience. It has an auto shut-off feature so you don’t boil the steamer dry, and with its stainless steel exterior, it looks good and should fit into most modern kitchen decors.

On the downside, the timer only allows you to operate the steamer according to the preset menus and doesn’t let you enter your own steaming times. Also, the State of California recognizes that the plastic elements of this steamer may contain harmful chemicals that could cause health issues.

Pros

  • 7 settings for ease and convenience
  • All removable parts are dishwasher safe
  • Auto shut-off
  • 3 tiers for greater capacity
  • Stylish design and looks

Cons

  • Timer only operates on preset times
  • May contain a trace of harmful chemicals in the plastic elements

This 3-tier food steamer is the last word in simplicity. It’s operated by a manual dial that allows you to select the cooking times up to a maximum of 60-minutes. Rosewill has tried to make life as easy as possible by printing suggested cooking times on the body of the steamer as a guide. What makes this product unique is the turbo boost element that generates steam in less than 40-seconds for quicker results.

It has 9.5 quarts of capacity so it can handle most family-size tasks, and because the base has wide inlets that let you top up the reservoir during steaming, you remove the risk of running dry. The baskets are constructed from BPA-free materials and are dishwasher safe, so there’s no messing about with hand washing.

There is one issue that might put you off: the numbers around the dial and the suggested cooking times rub off over time. This leaves you guessing the cook times, which can be a significant inconvenience.

Pros

  • 3 tiers for greater capacity
  • Turbo steam function
  • 60-minute timer
  • Dishwasher safe baskets
  • Auto shut-off

Cons

  • Build quality issues
  • The print rubs away from the body of the steamer
  • Takes longer to steam thoroughly

This Mockins set is the first cooktop steamer and not an electric variety. It has a 3-quart sauce pot and a 2-quart steamer pot, so the size isn’t going to match up to others in this list, but not everyone needs massive capacity.

This steamer is ideal for couples or single people, and because it’s a cooktop variety it’ll last for years and years. It operates on all styles of ranges, from induction to gas, and its high-grade stainless steel construction will keep it looking good too.

This pot has large bakelite handles that stay cool during the cooking process, and the vented glass lid allows you to see what’s happening inside the pot. This set also has a lifetime replacement or refund warranty for the ultimate peace of mind, which beats the standard 1-year warranty offered on the electric steamers into the shadows.

The downside with this set is the fact that it takes up valuable space on the stove, whereas stand-alone models free your cooktop space for other things. Moreover, it isn’t as energy friendly as the electric varieties and lacks the finesse of these smarter steamers too. You also won’t get any clever gadgets on this, because this model is of the old-fashioned variety.

Pros

  • Steamer and a sauce pot in one
  • Robust construction
  • No moving parts to malfunction
  • Excellent value for money
  • Ideal for beginners

Cons

  • Very basic
  • No timers or water level alerts
  • Needs a stove top to operate
  • Not as energy efficient as electric varieties

This 2-tier Aroma electric steamer is one of the cheapest around, at less than $30, which means it’s fantastic value for money. It doesn’t have the largest capacity, at 5 quarts, but it should be ample for the average user, and it has an easy to use manual dial that makes selecting the correct steaming times simple.

Aroma also list the average cook times of the most popular foods like rice, asparagus, chicken, and potatoes on the body of the steamer. The plastic is BPA-free, and the detachable elements are dishwasher safe, so cleaning will be easy. Aroma claims that it delivers steam in under a minute, so there won’t be extended periods to wait while it heats up, and the 60-minute timer automatically shuts off when it’s done.

On the downside, the steamer is quite cheaply made, with flimsy plastic baskets, so if you do intend to put them in the dishwasher, you may shorten their lifespan considerably. Also, the tiers don’t snap together like other steamers so they feel loose and unstable. What’s more, the tiers are poorly designed such that they tend to leak water everywhere.

Pros

  • Fantastic price
  • 60-minute timer
  • Auto shut-off
  • BPA-free plastics
  • Easy to use manual dial

Cons

  • Cheaply made
  • Leaks water
  • Tiers don’t stack properly

This Oster model is one of the best value food steamers on this list, and it retails at less than $25, which means it’s a real bargain. Along with its low price comes a surprising array of features, including auto shut-off, a 60-minute timer, 2 tiers for multi-level steaming, and the detachable parts are dishwasher safe and all supported by  a 2-year limited warranty.

What we liked about this model was the large baskets that give plenty of room to your vegetables or fish. Clearly, the price point is a winner for Oster, because they’ve shifted well over 1,000 of these units on Amazon alone.

The downside to this steamer is that the plastic elements are not BPA-free, meaning that you could be exposed to small traces of harmful chemicals which may exceed your Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI). It also leaks like a sieve and takes forever to heat up, but at this price, it’s still great value for money.

Pros

  • Great price
  • 60-minute timer
  • Auto shut-off
  • Dishwasher safe parts
  • Manual dial controls

Cons

  • Not BPA-free plastic
  • Takes a long time to heat up
  • Cheap construction
  • Leaks

This Aroma steamer is our top budget pick, retailing at less than $20. That’s an incredible price, and with over 4,000 sales on Amazon, it makes this model a best seller. It isn’t the largest steamer money can buy, but it will steam a single portion of rice, fish, and vegetables effortlessly.

It has a one-touch operation, and the inner pot is non-stick, so cleaning it should be easy, and for added convenience, the detachable elements are dishwasher safe. It also has a “Keep Warm” feature that maintains your food at a fixed temperature for hours, so it will be piping hot whenever you are ready to sit down for your meal. It also has BPA-free materials, so the food isn’t contaminated with harmful chemicals.

Selling a product for this price, you would expect there to be a few gripes with this steamer which might annoy you. The measuring markings on the pot are hard to read, it splatters as it heats rice, the cord is very short, and there are the usual build quality issues like the flimsy control button. Setting aside these issues, however, this pot is still fantastic value for money.

Pros

  • One-touch operation
  • Unbelievable price
  • Non-stick pot
  • Dishwasher safe elements
  • Keeps warm for hours

Cons

  • Small compared to other steamers
  • Splatters when steaming rice
  • Feels cheaply made
  • Marking are hard to read

This 2-tier Bella steamer has a manual control dial that makes operating it easy, and it also has a boil dry protection feature to ensure that you don’t burn out the heating elements. It comes with auto shut-off as well as a pull-out filler tray to top up the water reservoir during steaming. The clever thing about this steamer is the quick start function that produces steam in under 30-seconds, which means that you can start steaming straight away. The capacity is a generous 7.4 quarts, making it ideal for family mealtimes. In addition, Bella has taken the guesswork out of steaming with a handy guide to different food types and cooking times.

There are issues with this steamer; the timer is inaccurate, for instance, which means that greens can be overcooked and turn mushy. It also leaks water on the countertop, the numbers on the dial are hard to read, and it makes a ticking noise like an egg-timer when in use, which can become annoying. Putting all those negatives aside, we think this steamer deserves to be on the list for capacity, price, and performance.

Pros

  • Quick start function
  • Boil dry protection
  • 7.4-quart capacity
  • Auto shut-off
  • Steaming guide

Cons

  • Makes a constant ticking noise
  • The numbers on the dial are hard to read
  • Build quality issues
  • Leaks water on the countertop

Comparison Chart

FEATURESHamilton Beach SteamerMagic Chef SteamerRosewill SteamerMockins Steamer PotAroma SteamerOster SteamerAroma Pot-Style SteamerBella Healthy Steamer
ControlsDigitalDigitalManualN/AManualManualManualManual
TypeElectricElectricElectricStovetopElectricElectricElectricElectric
Size Inches7.28 x 13.7 x 12.69.4 x 15.4 x 16.112.2 x 9.25 x 15.6311.6 x 11 x 8.211.5 x 9.75 x 11.138.4 x 8.4 x 8.811.1 x 10.4 x 8.111.61 x 8.94 x 11.73
Weight Lbs3.975.34.594.853.151.153.34.65
Tiers23322222
BPA-FreeYesNoYesYesYesNoYesYes
FeaturesHamilton Beach Steamer
ControlsDigital
TypeElectric
Size Inches7.28 x 13.7 x 12.6
Weight Lbs3.97
Tiers2
BPA-FreeYes
FeaturesMagic Chef Steamer
ControlsDigital
TypeElectric
Size Inches9.4 x 15.4 x 16.1
Weight Lbs5.3
Tiers3
BPA-FreeNo
FeaturesRosewill Steamer
ControlsManual
TypeElectric
Size Inches12.2 x 9.25 x 15.63
Weight Lbs4.59
Tiers3
BPA-FreeYes
FeaturesMockins Steamer Pot
ControlsN/A
TypeStovetop
Size Inches11.6 x 11 x 8.2
Weight Lbs4.85
Tiers2
BPA-FreeYes
FeaturesAroma Steamer
ControlsManual
TypeElectric
Size Inches11.5 x 9.75 x 11.13
Weight Lbs3.15
Tiers2
BPA-FreeYes
FeaturesOster Steamer
ControlsManual
TypeElectric
Size Inches8.4 x 8.4 x 8.8
Weight Lbs1.15
Tiers2
BPA-FreeNo
FeaturesAroma Pot-Style Steamer
ControlsManual
TypeElectric
Size Inches11.1 x 10.4 x 8.1
Weight Lbs3.3
Tiers2
BPA-FreeYes
FeaturesBella Healthy Steamer
ControlsManual
TypeElectric
Size Inches11.61 x 8.94 x 11.73
Weight Lbs4.65
Tiers2
BPA-FreeYes

Buyers Guide


The Value of a Food Steamer

Steamers are relatively inexpensive products, especially when you can pick them up for under $50. They do vary in terms of quality and functions, but all perform the principle task of steaming food well. They are convenient too because they free up cooktop space for other things. The timers included on most steamers also mean that you can set it and go. Some have an auto shut-off function that stops the steamer from boiling dry, and some even keep the food piping hot for when you are ready to sit down for your meal.

Durability of a Food Steamer

On the whole, steamers are built to last, but you do get what you pay for. The main faults seem to center on the plastic baskets in which the food sits. These are often flimsy and can become brittle over time. Many manufacturers state that their plastic parts are dishwasher safe, however, the dishwasher is a harsh environment for cheap plastic and thus could reduce the usable lifespan of the basket.

Steamers that cost less are bound to have elements that fail or don’t meet your expectations, and if you were paying hundreds of dollars for a top of the range steamer, then you would have legitimate concerns if it failed in any way. As prices decrease, so too does that quality, and it seems that overall we have migrated to a position where we expect these electrical items to break.

Advantages of a Food Steamer

We lead increasingly busy lives that force us to seek out time-saving devices. Setting a delay timer on a steamer and having your food prepared while you are doing other things is the ultimate in convenience cooking, and what’s more, it’s super healthy.

Steamers are great tools for preparing healthy and nutritious food. If you are looking for that alternative way of making meals, then a steamer is something to consider. They steam delicate meats and fish perfectly, locking in flavors, moisture, and nutrients.

Some additional benefits of food steamers include:

  • Healthy – Nothing locks in flavor while retaining all the goodness of food better than a steamer. Boiling vegetables, for example, typically washes out the nutrients, leaving you with a mush, but steaming does the opposite and gives you great tasting, firm vegetables.
  • Convenient – Set the timer and go, or free up stovetop space for other things. A steamer allows us to prepare entire meals in a way that is good for the environment, good for our bodies, and good to eat.
  • Energy friendly – Steamers can run at a fraction of the price that firing up the range can cost.

Disadvantages of a Food Steamer

  • Storage – Having a steamer is yet another gadget that you need to store away. If space is a premium, or you already have many other time-saving products to store, steamers simply add to that collection. And given their awkward shape, they aren’t the easiest things to stow away.
  • Limited versatility – Not all foods can be steamed, and often when fish and meat gets steamed it can look a little less visually appealing.
  • Slower cooking times – It’s a fact of life that if you want healthy steamed food, you will probably have to wait a little longer while it cooks because steaming is a slower process.
PROSCONS
Steamers
  • Healthy food
  • Conveniently prepared food
  • Energy friendly
  • Difficult to store away
  • Limited versatility
  • Slower cooking times

FAQ

What is Proposition 65? I’ve seen it a lot on Amazon.

Proposition 65 is for California residents and is officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and the Toxic Enforcement Act 1986. It requires that warnings are given on any product that might expose California citizens to harmful chemicals that might cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. If you are concerned about polluting chemicals found in the plastic of domestic products, seek out anything that claims is BPA-free.

Are Steamers safe to use?

They are as safe as using a kettle. Steamers do produce hot steam and boiling water residue, but as long as you are careful, and use the steamer following the maker’s guidelines, then you should have no cause for alarm or fear.

Can you steam frozen vegetable in a steamer?

Yes, you can, but expect the cooking times to take longer. For example, frozen broccoli or cabbage might require 15 to 20 minutes to steam completely.

Final Thoughts

Owning a food steamer opens up a whole new world of healthy eating. You will never look back once you’ve tasted steamed fish and vegetables. Boiling will become a thing of the past, and the goodness you retain in the food is almost as good as eating the vegetables raw. At such a small cost, you owe it to yourself and your family to give steaming a go.