Choosing Between Bamboo vs Stainless Steel Steamers

Steaming is one of the oldest cooking methods in Chinese cuisine and is still widely practiced today. Whether it's dumplings, baozi, or vegetables, a good steamer basket is essential for achieving the perfect texture and taste. While there are many options available on the market, the most popular choices are bamboo and stainless steel.

In this comparison guide, we'll explore the benefits of steaming, the pros, and cons of bamboo and stainless steel steamer baskets, and provide you with a list of the best steamer baskets available.

Benefits of Steaming

The benefits of steaming food go beyond the traditional Chinese kitchen. The advantages of steam cooking are enjoyed worldwide and are not just limited to dumplings. Steaming is known for its gentle and even cooking, which results in moist and perfectly cooked food. In contrast to baking, which involves harsh heat, steaming uses the gentle heat of steam to cook the food evenly and retain its juiciness.

Here are some reasons why you might prefer steaming over baking:

  1. Even Cooking: As steam envelops the food, it cooks more evenly than baking in an oven. Some modern combi ovens used in restaurants even inject steam to achieve an even bake, a feature not commonly found in home ovens.
  2. Moisture Retention: The steam prevents the food from drying out, resulting in a juicier and more tender final product.
  3. Health Benefits: Steaming preserves more vitamins and minerals in the food compared to boiling or frying.
  4. Low Fat: No oil is required for steaming, making it a healthier option.
  5. Easy Cleanup: With fewer dishes and no oil splatters, cleaning up is a breeze.

Bamboo Steamer Basket vs. Stainless Steel Steamer Basket

The two most common types of steamer baskets are bamboo and stainless steel. Let's take a look at their differences:

Bamboo Steamer Basket


  • Traditional and aesthetic design.
  • Lightweight and easy to handle.
  • Multiple tiers can be stacked for increased cooking capacity.
  • Bamboo is a sustainable material with a low carbon footprint.
  • Retains moisture and prevents food from drying out.


  • Susceptible to mold growth if not properly dried and stored.
  • Can deteriorate over time due to exposure to moisture.
  • Requires careful maintenance to prolong its lifespan.

Stainless Steel Steamer Basket


  • Durable and long-lasting.
  • Resistant to mold and bacterial growth.
  • Easy to clean and low maintenance.
  • Suitable for professional kitchens where regulations apply.


  • Can get hot and cause burns if not handled with care.
  • May rust if made from low-quality stainless steel.
  • Does not provide the same moisture retention as bamboo.
Bamboo Steamer vs Stainless Steel

How to Use a Dumpling Steamer Basket?

Using a dumpling steamer basket is simple, and you can follow these steps for a successful steaming session:

  1. Fill the base of the wok or frying pan with water, ensuring it doesn't touch the steamer basket.
  2. Choose the appropriate-sized basket for your wok or frying pan. It should sit a few inches above the water level.
  3. Place parchment paper or a banana or cabbage leaf at the base of the basket to prevent the food from becoming too soggy and sticking.
  4. Fill the basket with food, ensuring there is enough space between items for steam circulation.
  5. Cover the basket with a lid or a cloth and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat.
  6. Steam the food until it's cooked through, adjusting the heat as needed.
  7. Remove the basket carefully, as it may be hot, and serve the food.

Can I use a Vegetable Steamer to Steam Dumplings?

Yes, you can use a vegetable steamer to steam dumplings, but it's not the best option. Vegetable steamers have an uneven shape, which may cause uneven cooking. Additionally, they don't offer the same capacity as a traditional Chinese steamer basket, making them less suitable for cooking larger batches.


While bamboo steamers offer a traditional and aesthetic option for steaming, they require careful maintenance to prevent mold and deterioration. Stainless steel baskets, on the other hand, are durable and low-maintenance but can get hot.

Choose the best option for your needs based on your cooking style, capacity requirements, and personal preference. Enjoy the benefits of steaming and savor the delicious results!

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