How to Cook With a Bamboo Basket Steamer

by Carol Luther

About Carol Luther

I was an editor for two non-profit newsletters. In 2007, I wrote more than 100 SEO How-to articles for WRG. I also recently completed a series of Workforce Development Mathematics test items for ACT. These projects are covered by Non Disclosure Agreements. However, I can provide references for them, if desired.


Bamboo steamers let you prepare healthy dishes while being a greener cook. Bamboo is a renewable forest resource, and steam cooking allows you to impart flavor while you reduce your use of fats. This cooking technique helps to retain the nutrients in your food. Steamer baskets also let you prepare more than one dish simultaneously in one cooking utensil.

Step 1

Soak your steamer baskets in cool water for 15 minutes before the first use to remove the bamboo smell and taste.

Step 2

Prepare the wok or pot by putting it on your stove burner and adding 1 or 2 inches of water.

Step 3

Place the steamer in the wok or on the rim of your pot and check to be sure that the water level is not high enough to touch the steamer rack.

Step 4

Line the steamer racks with parchment paper, cabbage leaves or banana leaves to keep the racks from absorbing the flavors of your foods.

Step 5

Arrange your food in one layer on each rack of the steamer basket, without crowding it.

Step 6

Bring your wok or pot to a boil, then close the steamer by putting the top on the highest basket.

Items you will need

  • Bamboo steamer
  • Wok, shallow pot or skillet
  • Water


  • Bamboo steamers can have two or more baskets. Put the food with the longest cooking time in the bottom basket. If you only need one rack, set the extra basket aside and cover the filled basket with the steamer top.
  • Bamboo steamers have tops that absorb excess steam, so they keep condensation from dripping onto your food and making it soggy.
  • Your wok should be at least 3 inches wider than your steamer. If you use a pot, the pot should have a smaller diameter than the steamer; make sure the steamer-pot combination is stable.
  • Broth or herb infused water adds flavor to the food that you cook in a steamer.
  • Put a coin into the water before you turn on the heat. As long as it rattles, you will know you still have water in your pot. If the rattle stops, your pot has boiled dry.


  • The water in your pot or wok should never be high enough to touch the bottom rack of the basket.
  • Be careful of escaping steam when you open your steamer.

Photo Credits:

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or