4 Easy Hacks for Steaming Food Without a Steamer Basket

Steaming food without a steamer basket is easy with these hacks: use a metal strainer or colander, aluminum foil and plate, disposable pie pan, or microwave for quick, healthy cooking.

steamer basket alternative

Steaming is a healthy, quick, and versatile cooking method. But what if you don’t have a fancy steamer or steamer basket? Well, fear not! With a little creativity, you can use common kitchen tools to steam your food. In this blog post, we will explore four easy hacks for steaming food without a steamer basket. So let’s get started!

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1. Using a Metal Strainer or Colander

Brussels sprouts steaming in a sieve on top of the kettle, close up view.

The metal strainer or colander is a common kitchen tool that can double up as a makeshift steamer. It’s perfect for steaming vegetables, fish, and even dumplings. All you need is a pot with a lid and a heat-safe colander or metal strainer.

Here’s how you can steam your food using a metal strainer or colander:

  1. First, fill the pot with enough water so that it is just below the bottom of the strainer when it is placed on top. The food in the strainer should not be touching the water.
  2. Then, place your strainer or colander on top of the pot. Add your food to the strainer or colander.
  3. Cover the setup with a lid. If your strainer or colander has handles that prevent the lid from fitting properly, you can cover it with aluminum foil.
  4. Finally, bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and let your food steam until it is cooked to your liking.

For optimum results, make sure the lid fits snugly to trap the steam. If you’re using a strainer or colander with large holes, you might want to line it with a clean dishcloth or cheesecloth to prevent smaller foods from falling through. Just ensure that the cloth doesn’t touch the boiling water below.

2. The Aluminum Foil and Plate Method

If you have aluminum foil and a heat-proof plate, you are all set to steam your food without a steamer basket. This method is excellent for steaming larger foods like corn on the cob or lobsters.

Follow these steps to create your DIY steamer:

  1. Start by tearing off three pieces of aluminum foil, each about the size of your hand. Roll each piece into a ball.
  2. Place these foil balls at the bottom of a medium-sized pot. The foil balls should be distributed evenly.
  3. Rest a heat-proof plate on top of the foil balls. Ensure the plate is large enough to cover the pot but small enough to sit above the foil balls without touching the sides of the pot.
  4. Add your food to the plate and fill the pot with half an inch of water. The water level should remain below the plate.
  5. Cover the pot, bring the water to a boil, and let your food steam until done.

Remember to check the water level every so often and add more if needed – you don’t want the pot to run dry. Also, be careful when removing the plate from the pot; steam can cause burns, so use oven mitts or a towel.

3. Disposable Pie Pan Steamer

TIDTALEO Cake Containers Round Container with Lid Steamer Food Deep Roasting Pan Tin Foil Pans with Lids Disposable Aluminum Pot Aluminum Foil Liners Thick Food Foil Pot Baking Foil Pot Pie

A disposable pie pan can function as a one-time-use steamer. This hack is especially useful if you need a larger steaming surface or if you don’t want to use your regular kitchen tools for steaming.

Here’s how to turn a pie pan into a makeshift steamer:

  1. Puncture several holes in the bottom of the disposable pie pan using a skewer or a knife. These holes will allow the steam to rise and cook the food.
  2. Place three to four balls of aluminum foil at the bottom of a pot. The foil balls should be big enough to support the pie pan above the water level.
  3. Rest the pie pan on top of the foil balls and add your food to the pan.
  4. Add water to the pot until it is just below the level of the pie pan, cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and let your food steam until done.

If you’re using this method, remember to handle the pie pan carefully after steaming. It will be hot and potentially flimsy because of the heat. Also, ensure the holes in the pie pan are small enough that your food won’t fall through.

4. Microwave Steaming: The Simplest Solution

Microwave oven; photo in kitchen environment.

Microwave steaming is arguably the simplest and fastest method of all. It requires minimal equipment – just a microwave-safe bowl and a microwave-safe plate or microwave cover.

Here’s how to steam food in the microwave:

  • Place your food in a microwave-safe bowl, and add a tablespoon of water to create steam. If you’re steaming multiple items, make sure they are arranged in a single layer to ensure even cooking.
  • Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate or use a microwave cover. This traps the steam inside and helps cook your food evenly.
  • Place the bowl in the microwave and cook on high for a few minutes, depending on the type and quantity of food. Check the food periodically to ensure it doesn’t overcook.
  • Once done, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and let it stand for a minute before uncovering it. This allows the steam to be distributed evenly and prevents burns when handling hot food.

While microwave steaming is convenient, be mindful not to overcook your food, as this can lead to nutrient loss. Also, opt for fresh, high-quality ingredients to preserve the natural flavors during the steaming process.

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