7 Incredible Methods to Steam Food Sans a Steamer

Figuring out how to steam food without a steamer can be advantageous for anyone looking to exploit its benefits without investing in a complete steamer basket or electric system. Steaming vegetables and other foods can be an excellent method to unlock their full flavor with just a small amount of boiling water.

Although steaming appliances have many advantages, such as expediting the steaming of vegetables and ensuring that you can cook multiple types of food simultaneously, they can be expensive purchases. Consequently, you might want to test the results before investing excessively if you're uncertain about regularly cooking vegetables and other items.

The positive news for those who don't wish to purchase a steamer basket is that you don't require a special tool to achieve perfectly steamed vegetables. With a dash of inventiveness and the appropriate improvised tools from your kitchen, you can begin promptly.

Today, we will cover some of the easiest methods to steam vegetables without a steamer.

What Is a Steamer? Learning How to Steam Food

To discover the advantages of steaming without investing in a steamer, you'll need at least a basic understanding of what a steamer accomplishes. A steaming basket or electric steamer are various appliances accessible for the kitchen to aid in easily steaming veggies and other foods. Steamers simplify the art of steaming food, allowing you to steam everything from broccoli and collard greens to salmon without injuring your hands or struggling with cling wrap.

Conventional steaming baskets hold the food you want to cook via steaming above boiling water for you to achieve optimum results with chard, carrots, chicken, and various other foods. On the other hand, efficient electrical steamers can also function as multipurpose pots or pans, perfect for effortlessly steaming everything from rice and potatoes to complete meals.

How to Steam Without a Steamer

Steaming without a steamer entails discovering clever methods to expose your food to boiling water without submerging the items in the water. There are numerous ways to accomplish this, including utilizing your microwave or a pot on your stove. Here are some of your options.

Plate and Tin Foil

If you're boiling water in a pot on your stove, you can steam vegetables like Swiss chard and carrots by simply filling a medium pot with approximately half an inch of water. Then, place around three balls (Golf-ball sized) of aluminum foil at the bottom of the pan and rest a heat-resistant plate on top.

Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, add your veggies to the plate, and cover the pot again. Steam until the broccoli, carrots, or whatever else you're cooking has attained the ideal tenderness level according to your preferences.


A heat-resistant plate inside the microwave is another way to shorten your cooking time when you desire to steam broccoli, green beans, and other veggies without a steamer. You have to place the vegetables you want to cook inside a microwave-safe bowl with a tablespoon of water and cover the entire thing with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe plate.

Cook the food until it reaches your desired tenderness level. This typically takes approximately 5 minutes for potatoes, but it depends on the recommended cooking time on your microwave. If you utilize this technique to steam vegetables without a steamer, you will need to periodically check on your food to ensure proper cooking.

Utilize an Improvised Steaming Basket

Another choice is to fill a large pot with about half an inch of water and bring it to a boil. You can then create a cooking utensil out of a pie tin (it must be empty prior to use). Create holes in the pie tin and fold it until it can hang over the top of your pot like a traditional steamer.

cooking crabs for a delicious afternoon meal

You can use high heat to boil the water until the vegetables are cooked as desired. Ensure that your makeshift steamer remains steady when using this method. Additionally, avoid covering the heat-resistant handle on your pot with the tin. You will need to grasp it when removing your vegetables from the steam.

Experiment with a Metal Sieve or Colander

When searching for alternative methods to steam vegetables without a steamer, using a sieve or colander is often one of the most viable options. This is a safer approach compared to creating a DIY steamer, as you can typically find a strainer with heat-resistant handles, making it easier to remove from your cooking pot.

It will resemble a metal strainer similar to a steamer basket if you have seen one before. The key to success with this technique is to ensure that the strainer basket fits securely onto your pan without touching the water.

To use the strainer as a steamer, place the vegetables inside and position it over a large pot of boiling water at an elevated height. Unless you have the perfect fit between your pot and your strainer, you may find that the steaming time is slightly longer with this method. The steam will often escape around the food, so you may need to wait a bit longer.

How to Steam Vegetables Without a Steamer: Alternative Approaches

If you have already attempted the cooking methods mentioned above and are still wondering how to steam vegetables without a steamer, there are some alternate options you can easily try.

Splatter Screen or Wire Cooling Rack

If you use a strainer for steaming vegetables and end up with excessive water in your veggies, you can attempt using a splatter screen instead. Splatter screens can offer more guidance for steamed vegetables and meat.

Another possibility is to place a wire cooling rack on top of a Dutch oven to create space for your steamed foods.

Bamboo Steaming

If you don't have a steamer for your vegetables but have access to bamboo baskets, you can try the traditional steaming method. Simply place the bamboo basket over a large pot on your stovetop.

This approach bears resemblance to the ovenproof plate method mentioned earlier. However, the basket helps preserve the steam to expedite the cooking process for the vegetables.

Prepare Steamed Vegetables in the Oven

If you’ve acquired a roasting pan and an oven, you can incorporate a small quantity of water to the roasting pan and place it in your oven with the vegetables you desire to steam.

Significantly, you’ll need to inspect the food as it’s cooking various times with this technique to ensure that it’s steaming instead of roasting or burning. Additionally, if you’ve just commenced cooking with steam, you might discover it more challenging to utilize this technique as it can be arduous to obtain the equilibrium of roasting and steaming accurately.

Utilize a Baking Rack

A baking rack can serve as a satisfactory substitute for a metal colander or a strainer for your steaming session. Nevertheless, resembling positioning a plate on some foil balls or using a colander for steaming, it might take a while to steam vegetables and other foods in this manner. The surplus steam that can escape from your food, the lengthier it will take to cook.

Steaming Vegetables Without a Steamer Is Feasible!

Learning how to steam food without a steamer isn’t as intricate as most believe. You’re already on the right path if you have some aluminum foil, a metal strainer inside a large pot, or a roasting tin, you can fill with water.

It might require some time to discern how to steam vegetables without a steamer flawlessly. Keep practicing!

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