What Can You Cook in a Steamer: Making the Most of Your Steamer

If you own a steamer or are in the market for one, then you want to ensure that you use it to its full potential.

It is, after all, a rather bulky piece of kitchen equipment, and along with your coffee machine, blender, and toaster, you may be asking yourself if it’s worth the counter space.

So, what can you cook in a steamer?

We will look at some of the different types of food that can be cooked in a steamer to find something that will help you make more use of your steamer than ever before.

Steam Me List

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Below is a list we’ve put together of the different types of food that cook well in a steamer.

We’ve grouped the list into sections for easier reading so that you can easily skip the food you already know about.

1. Vegetables

First up is the most obvious one, vegetables. Probably the most popular reason for buying a steamer is to steam veggies.

This is so popular because steaming vegetables is a healthier choice than boiling.

More nutrients are preserved in the vegetables and not lost to the water in which boiled vegetables are submerged.

Leafy greens

These can be steamed to perfection in just a couple of minutes.

Root vegetables

Root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, fennel, and turnip can all be cooked in a steamer.

They take longer than other vegetables due to their density, the same as when boiled, but they will retain a lot more flavor and vitamins.

Whole carrots will take around ten minutes, whereas a potato may take up to 30 minutes.


Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale respond extremely well to steaming.

Some people even think it gives them a sweeter taste. Cut the larger vegetables into smaller pieces and steam for around six minutes until crisp.

Pumpkin and squash

You can cut your summer squash and pumpkins into cubes and similarly cook them to root vegetables, or you can just steam them whole.

Leaving them whole saves you a lot of prep work, which is great as they are very difficult to chop.

When they are cooked, you can just scoop the insides out.

Depending on the size of the pumpkin, steaming it whole could take up to an hour, but then chopping it would be a better choice.


Steaming frozen vegetables is a fantastic way of cooking them without them going too mushy. They will take just a couple of minutes if in smaller bite sizes.

2. Meat and Fish

Not many people think of steaming their meat and fish in a steamer, but it works really well as it maintains moisture levels better than baking or roasting.

To add flavor, you can add herbs and seasoning directly onto the food or your steaming water.

3. Fish and Shellfish

Steaming fish is a great way of retaining moisture in the flesh. As always, cooking times will depend on the size of what you are steaming.

Fish will be ready when its flesh becomes flaky, while prawns are ready when they have turned pink, and clams and mussels are cooked when they are fully open.

4. Beef and Lamb

Tender cuts of beef and lamb can be steamed with great results that retain volume and moisture. Tougher cuts of meat don’t fare so well, though.

Cooking times will be similar to roasting the product, but the steam isn’t as hot as oven temperatures; the steam will cook the meat faster than dry air.

5. Poultry

You can steam breasts, legs, thighs, and wings, or you can even steam your poultry whole.

It’s useful to have a meat thermometer on hand when cooking poultry to ensure that the inside of the meat reaches a minimum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Eggs

For perfectly cooked eggs in their shell, you’ll need to steam them for six minutes for soft-boiled eggs with runny centers.

For hard-boiled eggs to use in salads or sandwiches, leave them steaming for 12 minutes.

Related: More foods you can steam with a steamer.

Other Uses for a Steamer

You can even use your steamer to defrost and reheat meals you’ve cooked and frozen. When reheating, always ensure that the food is piping hot all the way through to ensure that it’s safe to eat.

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Steamed to Perfection!

If you’re wondering what you can cook in a steamer, the answer is pretty much anything!

Steaming food is a fantastic way of cooking food to perfection. It retains moisture and nutrients that would otherwise be lost by boiling or roasting.

Not only is steamed food better for you, but you can also cook a whole meal using a steamer with several layers and add each layer one at a time, according to its cooking time.

Remember that each time you open the steamer, you will lose a lot of heat (and steam) so try to keep it to a minimum.

Also, ensure that you have enough water in the bottom of your steamer, so it doesn’t dry out.