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It Is Impossible to Find a Functional Stainless Steel Steamer Basket.

It's time for my every-other-decade replacement of my stainless steel steamer basket. I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and picked up a Progressive steamer basket for about $8. As I took it out of the box, the leaves fell out, one after the other. It was like a joke.

Reviews on Amazon show that others have had the same experience. Same for the Trudeau, the Good Cook, and the Norpro products. There's a fancy OXY model but it includes a (non-detachable) plastic pop-up gizmo that isn't dishwasher safe.

Since all the cheap ones seem to be unusable, I've been looking for higher quality versions. But there are none. The Chef Craft 21522, a bit more pricely and highly reviewed, is only 6 inches - too small, as I'm looking for the standard size that expands to 11". The Ekco 1046277 is unrated, but so cheap that I'm assuming it's also Chinese made (nothing against the Chinese; I just don't prefer cheap tools for everyday tasks).

Anyone know any alternatives? Anyone out there with terminal illness who'd consider willing me their old steamer basket?

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  1. Hi, Jim, Happy Holidays:

    I feel your pain. Are you wedded to this particular style? If so, I'd buy from Bridge or Fantes and let *them* sweat the quality control.

    If not, I think there are now three general alternative choices: (1) silicone; (2) bamboo; and (3) SS pentolas. For the first two, see: http://fantes.com/steamers.html For an example of the latter, see: http://www.culinarycookware.com/bourg... I refuse to pay big $ for the latter, but I've been lucky finding several of them at garage sales for $1 or $2.


    1. It isn't true that there are no higher-quality steamers. I have an All-Clad steamer insert which fits their 8-inch saucepans:


      1. If you want an inexpensive one which works, you might consider the bamboo type which are intended for use with a wok.

        1. What exactly the dish you want to steam? Do you want stainless steel? I bought some stainless steel steamer from HomeGoods, but I don't like them. They are very well constructed, very solid and durable, but too few holes, so not enough steaming. I still prefer bamboo steamers. I can write pages and pages about why I went from bamboo to stainless steel and than back to bamboo, but that is for another day.

          Now, if you are into stainless steel, then try stainless steel Dim Sum steamers.


          Of course, it really depends exactly the style you prefer.

            1. re: fourunder

              Hi, fourunder:

              Hey, I'd try that! The video is pretty funny, though, especially the knifework. I like how they speeded up the video of the guy sawing through the ham.

              You have a Chef Basket? If so, how *does* it work inverted as an in-pot steamer basket?


              1. re: kaleokahu


                Sorry to say I have not tried it yet, but would be happy to give it a shot. Although you obviously can purchase it online with some free offers....locally, they are available to me in mall kiosks, Target and Walmart stores for under 10 buck with tax.

                This guy doesn't totally say it crap....


              2. re: fourunder

                I had one over 25 years ago. It was a French salad basket. After washing your greens you were supposed to swing it around and spatter the water all over. Outside was the best place to do that.

                1. re: fourunder

                  I was just going to suggest that very same thing. I have no personal experience with it, but it looks like it could work. But wait -- if you order right now, they'll also include a complete kitchen makeover!

                2. I am happy with my silicone steamer. I gave up trying to find a steamer that lasted more than 6 months. Meanwhile, my mother is using a perfectly functional 40 year old metal one. It's the same design as most, but was obviously purchased before quality levels went to the basement.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: CanadaGirl

                    I don't know why steamers cannot last for awhile. My stainless steel steamers are a single piece construction. So they cannot really fall apart into pieces. My bamboo steamers have lasted for 10 years and they are still going strong.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I've only ever used the collapsible type of steel steamers.

                      I've never fallen in love with bamboo steamers. I know they are popular, but I've tried a few and found the smell of the wet bamboo bothersome. Have I perhaps not purchased good one?

                      1. re: CanadaGirl

                        I suppose the collapsible type increases the chance of break down.

                        "Have I perhaps not purchased good one?"

                        Most of the bamboo ones are similar. Sure you get slightly higher quality ones versus those of the lower quality, but they are not vastly different. The bamboo smell diminishes with usage. On the other hand, the bamboo smell never bother me. Anyway, I am just saying that even the bamboo ones last for a long time.

                  2. I got a SS steamer basket from my local Chinese supermarket for something like 2.99. And I got it when Bush was still president. The one with the "H". Works great. Never failed me.

                    1. Hi Jim,

                      I own 3 steamers - one is similar to your progressive but the original short handle design. I've had it for YEARS and it is rock solid. I used to use it regularly for steaming mussels. But it hasn't gotten too much use lately now that I have other steamers.

                      My favorite is a 3-tier stainless stove-top model. It looks LIKE the photo I attached and similar to this link. But I actually can't find my exact model - these are easy to get at most asian markets for $25-30. They are all stainless, with a glass lid and a really great value.

                      I've also got the Oster digital steamer. It's "nice" but it isn't overly high-powered so it takes longer to use than my stainless stove-top steamer. But it does come in handy since I can set it for a time and concentrate on other things.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: jkling17


                        Those 3-tier stainless stove top pot works very well. They are really used for nothing but steaming.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          That's not true.

                          You can cook pasta in them by using just the lowest steamer basket.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            "You can cook pasta in them by using just the lowest steamer basket."

                            Yes, and I can also wear it on my head, but that is not a good idea.

                            Unlike a pasta insert, steaming baskets are held at a much higher place. This is great for steaming as it provides a good amount of water reservoir without soaking the foods. This is not ideal for pasta where you will have to fill up a huge amount of water and only to cook a small amount of pasta. These steamer inserts are only an inch or less below the insert level, which mean there is an inch of cooking depth at best.

                            This is the Myland steamer insert:



                            There is less than an inch of depth below the insert point. Conversely, a pasta insert is much deeper:


                            CAN you somehow cook pasta in these multilayer steamers? Sure, but you CAN for many things as well.

                        2. re: jkling17

                          I must head over to Chinatown and get one of those. I keep trying to make friends with the set-up at Ikea, but I can't. It's perfectly nice, but we eat a lot of vegetables and the thing is just not big enough. The steamer is made expressly for the (smallish) pot with lid -- the Stabil items.

                          It's this one, and DON"T BE FOOLED by the photo of the asparagus -- it must be a GMO intended for dolls. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/pro...

                          I keep thinking maybe the Ikea fold-in circle type steamer (the kind like the original poster was complaining keeps on breaking -- same here, FTR) might be a little sturdier than most, but I'm so bitter about buying them and replacing them over and over and over, I keep using the ones I have that are broken. This is past the point of frugal, it's crazy -- but I.can't.let.it.go.

                        3. Like this?


                          That one is dishwasher safe. Friend of mine has it. Works fine; hasn't fallen apart once. I have the cheaper version with just a metal ring at the end of the stem, but it's 9". I've had it for 10+ years and pretty sure I got it at Target and paid around $5 for it.


                          1. Thanks for the replies. Unfortunately, nothing's helpful for me, because 1. I want to stick with stainless steel (I just want decent quality), and 2. I'm talking about collapsing baskets (the Allclad is a different animal)

                            Jen: the target one has a plastic thingee like the OXY...not dishwasher safe. And the cheap Target one has gotten rotten reviews online.

                            Note to those thrilled with their steamers bought years ago, thanks for sharing. I'm very happy you're happy.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: Jim Leff

                              I was going to suggest the All Clad but since collapsible is what you're after --have you tried thrift shops? If none of the newer collapsible ones last and the All Clad multipot insert doesn't do the trick maybe it's worth poking around second hand stores for a good sturdy one. I've picked up some vintage cookbooks and pyrex at our local stores for pocket change.

                              Best of luck with your search


                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                After melting the legs off a cheap metal collapsing basket, I switched to a silicone basket

                                While not perfect (be careful with anything weighty toward the edges), I have not felt a need to replace it.

                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                  That's odd because the website says it is dishwasher safe. My friend puts hers in the dishwasher all the time to no ill effect.

                                  Where did you see reviews for the other one? There aren't any on Target's site, and as far as I know, Chefmate is only sold at Target (at least, I've never seen the brand anywhere else).

                                  Also, you can just pop into the store and check them both out in person. They have them just hanging off the racks in the stores. Easy enough to try it out to see if the leaves pop off or if you like or don't like the little handle thingy, or even buy it and give it a whirl. If you don't like it, return it.

                                  1. re: Jen76

                                    re: the Michael Graves: one thing's for sure....that plastic handle won't have the lifespan of the rest of the stainless steel.

                                    I saw references to the Chefmate/Target steamer in reviews for other steamers on other sites. Apparently, it rusts. Which is weird. Maybe random. YOu're right, I'll motor over to Target and have a look.


                                  2. re: Jim Leff

                                    Hey Jim - got a pair of pliers? Put the leaves back in place, and gently crimp the stainless steel bit that holds them in place. And if pliers won't work, a small blade flat head screwdriver will do the same thing - helps crimp the leaves in place. Just start off slowly in the crimping, as if you do it too much, the leaves won't open.

                                    I've got three stainless steel steamer baskets, all collapsible. Two are old and tend to be the ones I grab first. Both have 3 straight peg-like "feet", and a center rod with a single pull ring to pull the steamer out of the pot. The other one is a Progressive - had the same problem with the leaves falling out as well as actually *losing* the center rod. This one has two rings on either side of the basket leaves.

                                    But the crimping process has been used on the older versions of the steamer baskets as well as the Progressive one. Like you, I prefer them, but if for *some* reason I need a third steamer basket, I also have the Progressive one. (Not that I've ever needed three steamer baskets on my stovetop. Yet.)

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      Already tried it, thanks. Felt like an exercise in futility. Whole thing's just so cheap and crappy......

                                      1. re: Jim Leff

                                        Dayam. Well, "cheap and crappy" usually means "made in China". (Exception can be for "crappy" when it comes to food...although sometimes it is.)

                                        OK, is this one at Sears/Kmart like the Progressive one? http://www.mysears.com/Essential-Home... And they even have a payment plan for you! ;-)

                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                        that's what I do with mine, too, Linda -- mine is a relic left over from either my college kitchen or hubby's; not sure which one, but it's nearing the end of its second decade, with no end in sight. If it's a college-kitchen leftover, I know for sure it was neither expensive nor found anywhere more glamorous than Target or KMart (predating Walmart's arrival, no less).

                                        I've seen some silicone ones that I might consider, but not until this one finally breaks for the last time.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          I like the stainless steel ones, probably for the same reason (that I can't quite put my finger on) that Jim Leff does. :-)

                                          With a total of three of them, and two of them being the older kind that I like, I think I'm set for the rest of my life with steamer baskets.

                                    2. I found a solution for a rice cooker / steamer that doesn't use non-stick coating, it has no plastic exposed to the food, and it's all stainless interior:


                                      The steamer tray may be big enough for your needs. The one thing I disliked about it was the small hole in the glass lid, apparently a steam release safety. You could find a different lid to replace the bad lid, cover the whole with a spoon, or just leave it be.

                                      1. I too like the collapsable SS steamer baskets. I like them because I can use them in different size pots and they fold up small to fit inside drawers. I have a small kitchen with little storage.
                                        Now, my old steamer collasable basket has held up very well over the years. My new one, which I baught because it was bigger, is doing ok, except I did keep loosing one of the leafs. I was able to bend the little hinge thing, and so far it is staying in. I don't remember what brand the basket is or even where I got it.
                                        The downside to the collapsable ones is that the leaves can fall out and I think they are hard to clean. Cleaning it is usually when I will knock a leaf out. But they are space saving and versatile, so I just deal with it. They are not very expensive and I like that too.

                                        The ones I have are all SS. I would never try to use one with any kind of plastic on it, because of it maybe melting. I am not really into silicone for cooking.

                                        Oh and I have used a stainless steel collander as a steamer basket. It works pretty good.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: dixiegal

                                          ... and even if it doesn't melt per se, who knows what it's leaching into your food/steaming water...

                                        2. I've always been tempted to snap the handles off of my smaller s/s colander and use that inside a slightly bigger pot for steaming. The only thing holding me back is the fact that the legs aren't very high and won't permit a decent level of water. If anyone knows of a colander with taller legs, that may work.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: breadchick

                                            I don't think my colander has any shorter legs than my collapsable steamer basket. Wonder if you could put the colander in a pot small enough in diameter to hang the handles of the colender over the edge of the pot. Of course the lid might not fit very well. Or maybe a meat trivet in the bottom of the pot to lift the colender up higher?

                                          2. Have you tried the IKEA one? Six bucks, and mine is holding up just fine.


                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                              I never ever considered Ikea. Brilliant! Thanks!

                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                I too am totally disgusted with the never-ending series of almost instantly broken steamers. Considered and rejected the bamboo steamers for the same reasons as already mentioned. I have actually tried using two broken stainless steel steamers shoved together - the bottom one already had lost its center stem. It wasn't quite as ridiculous as it sounds, but it's also not like I'm *recommending* it! :/

                                                That IKEA steamer JK shared does look sturdier than most.

                                                I'm planning to just quit with the fold-up steamer style b/c it's pissing me off too much (!). Planning to get this kind instead: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/pro..., which is made to go with: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/pro... I'm not thrilled about getting a new pot, but trying to hack other kitchenware into a steamer that won't break or burn somebody is not worth the pain.

                                                Man, do I hate shoddily-made crap and the economy and mindset that goes with it.

                                                1. re: Mawrter

                                                  I have that Stabil (and that 365+ pot). They work great.

                                                  I think the traditional umbrella steamer inserts are just an inherently flawed design.

                                                  1. re: fmed

                                                    I have a variation on that theme - I purchased it as a standalone - it has 4 ridges at the bottom to fit pots of diminishing sizes. And I already have a lid that fits perfectly.

                                                2. re: Jim Leff

                                                  I have that one too and not a problem.

                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  That one would also work as a cake cooling rack! Double purpose- score!

                                                2. Ikea: worst yet. Two demo models, both missing leaves. Hard to open in the first place. Just utter crap. And tiny.

                                                  Target: fancier one is, as I suspected, not dishwasher safe due to the plastic thing. And these things are a drag to handwash. The cheaper one is the same small crappy one seen everywhere else.

                                                  There is obviously one single factory making these things, and big retailers are snatching them up cuz they're cheap...and not bothering to see that they work.

                                                  And I appreciate the alternative suggestions, but I've been cooking with collapsible steel steamer baskets my whole life and I like them. When they work.

                                                  Next: restaurant supply stores and eBay.

                                                  If you own one of things, treat it carefully!

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                    How much are you willing to pay for one?

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      apparently not as much as the gas need to drive around looking for one....

                                                      : 0 )

                                                  2. You can look on ebay or at Home Goods to see if there is a steamer that fits one of your pans. I picked up a steamer piece made by Cuisinart that fits my older Cuisinart pans. It fits like a double boiler, but has perforations. Alternatively, you can use a wire mesh colander that sits inside a pan. I have also seen silicone steamer inserts. I know what you mean about the junk sold for steamers. Too bad.

                                                    1. I know it's probably overpriced, but I just checked the website and Pampered Chef has a collapsible steamer. Their warranty is pretty good.


                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                        Nice find, thanks! FWIW, here it is on their American site: http://www.pamperedchef.com/our_produ...

                                                        Unfortunately, the "more info" page notes that it's made in China. But I guess I ought to be less uptight about that. After all, my iPhone was made in China, and they did quite a good job with that. And, as you say, I can always return it.

                                                        Thanks again (eh?)!

                                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                                          Hey Jim, Perhaps this time, when you go to open the box up - you might not use your "steam powered claw hand" ... :-)

                                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                                            Nice and proper usage of "eh". :)

                                                        2. I actually own a perfectly functional stainless steamer basket which I forgot I had. It seems to be from Crate and Barrel. Hope this helps.

                                                          9 Replies
                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                            I'm asking about the expanding type (C&B doesn't carry one).

                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                              I don't understand about the expanding part. You want it to do more than open up like a lotus?

                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                Sorry, I quickly checked Crate and Barrel's site, and they seemed to only have non-collapsible ones. But, yes, now I see this: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/kitchen...

                                                                Made.....in China. And a couple of the reviews describe it as cheaply made. It looks very much like the model sold by Pampered Chef....but cheaper.

                                                                I"m not thrilled with the plastic grip thingee and the silicon feet....more stuff to break. But this is probably the best one can buy, at the best price. So...thanks!

                                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                  I forgot that I had looked a long time for one of these several years ago. The Crate and Barrel version, plus a silicone version, are the results of that search. The stainless version I have is fine, although it does have a plastic handle. It is actually better than another version of this that I threw out because it was hopeless. The item pictured in the provided link seems identical to mine. I would say it is pretty good, and would certainly do for awhile until you found a better one. The stainless "leaves" seem to be good quality. The legs are stable and not loose.

                                                                  I also forgot that I have a silicone steamer, but I found it hard to use.

                                                                  I finally found an insert that fits into a saucepan I own, and if I want to steam, that's what I use now.

                                                                  If there is a Crate and Barrel around you, you could visit and have a look at the item to make sure it is OK before buying. I don't know what to tell you about buying something not made in China. Sometimes that is the only reasonable alternative.

                                                                  1. re: sueatmo


                                                                    AVOID the "stainless steel collapsible" steamer from Target.

                                                                    I bought one. The leaves fall off like maple leaves in Autumn but WORSE--the legs within in three weeks are half corroded away! Worse--the corrosion is not white. White corrosion would mean zinc metal legs, the green indicates that the legs are likely a nickel/copper alloy (white brass). True you don't eat the water under the steamer but nickel is toxic. I'm just astonished at the utter crap from Target.

                                                                    1. re: steve603

                                                                      But, per the rest of this thread, the problem's not Target. The same unit is sold by all retailers. There is not, so far as I can tell, a really high-quality old style stainless steel steamer basket being made right now.

                                                                      And I definitely DO eat the water under the steamer. If I steam vegetables, there's a lot of vitamins there. I'll drink it straight, or I'll cook pastina in it (to absorb the liquid).

                                                                      1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                        I wonder if you could use a stainless mesh strainer? They come in 2 or 3 sizes, and if you figure out how to get it out of a pan without burning yourself, that might work as well as a steamer.

                                                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                          Actually I have a few another "cheapie" similar steamer that I bought at Walmart last year. The legs on that steamer appear to be made of some metal that does not corrode in a similar manner.

                                                                          From the view of being an RN, a Safety Specialist and a chemist--I cannot help but wonder if the metal legs are not creating a toxic situation. Safety does not seem to be a great concern in China.

                                                                          I've looked at a few "vintage" steamers (made more than 10 years ago) and all the legs appear to be stainless. If my camera could take close-up photos I'd place one here. The corrosion is extreme and the center post is made of the same corroding metal. This product should be recalled and I am making a complaint to the CPSC.

                                                                        2. re: steve603

                                                                          Much appreciated - thanks for the heads-up re: the chemicals. It astounds me that that's even legal to sell... truly an age of caveat emptor. :/

                                                              2. If you're still looking, they also make another kind of adjustable stainless steel steamer thingie. More of a stand or platform than a basket, but the leaves don't fall off.

                                                                1. So, did you ever find a suitable replacement steamer?

                                                                  If not, consider a Thrift Store. A friend of mine was touting the Unique Thrift Shops for unusual items and great bargains. .... I happened to be in an area for business and I passed one, so I decided to stop in out of curiosity to see what it was all about.

                                                                  I saw no less than three Chef Craft style steamers for $1.61 each. I was able to pick up the following items. on the cheap..

                                                                  Serving Plates 1.91 each
                                                                  Large Ramekins......74 each
                                                                  Roasting/Broiler Pans....3.94 each
                                                                  Ceramic Vertical Poultry Roaster.....2.64
                                                                  French Fry Pans.......$4.74 each

                                                                  I feel the French Fry Pans alone would make me return there to try and find a similar bargain... and maybe another pan one day.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                    Second-hand is the way to go, yup. I inherited a couple from relatives, and unless I do something dumb, they should work for decades.

                                                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                      Had read your post way back when and thought of it tonight when I found a Vita Saver stainless steamer. Was at Savers (used stuff) and purchased a made in USA NOS (new old stock) Vita Saver for 3.99. Looked on Ebay and they are there and not terribly expensive. So, if you are sill in need, I think you will be very pleased with the quality.

                                                                      1. re: bostonhound

                                                                        Nice score! I'm treating my two legacy steamer baskets with all due TLC!

                                                                      2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                        I, too, bought the Progressive "easy reach" steamer (Model 2090L) and could not believe how terrible it was. I loved the pop up telescoping handle, but you're absolutely right that its construction was pure junk. The leaves are wobbly (though they never fell off), the knob on the telescoping handle popped off a long time ago, and I had to solder one of the legs back on (which was wobbly right out of the box.)

                                                                        Oddly, this model steamer basket was "recommended" by Cooks Illustrated in September 2010, and they *finally* issued a Feb 2014 update, stating:

                                                                        "Our winning steamer basket, the Progressive Easy Reach Steamer Basket, model 2090L, has not held up well over time with regular kitchen use, with legs and "leaves" coming off. We are withdrawing our recommendation of this product and promoting in its place the Joyce Chen 3-piece Bamboo Steamer and the OXO Good Grips Pop-Up Steamer as our top-ranked recommended models in each style."

                                                                        So, there you have it.

                                                                        Incidentally, I have a no-name metal steamer from a Chinese market with extremely sturdy leaves and legs, though no telescoping handle.

                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                    2. After buying the same crummy steamer mentioned by Jim at BBB, which like his fell apart almost immediately, I tracked down a good one at Sur La Table, http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO..., for under $10

                                                                      I believe it is identical to the 1st steamer we had in our household, purchased back in the mid-70s .