I love steamed vegetables! Whether it’s broccoli, string beans, peas, or carrots, they are amazingly delicious when cooked in a steamer. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I love my Instant Pot so much - it makes some mind-blowing steamed veggies!
The steam trapped inside the Instant Pot speeds up the cooking and makes sure the veggies maintain their taste, texture, and color. They also retain nutrients and the fiber isn’t damaged, which is the best part about eating vegetables.
However, you can’t make properly steamed vegetables (or steamed anything) without a steamer basket.
What is this, you ask? Well, so did a lot of readers. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of questions about steamer baskets and steaming in an Instant Pot in general, that I thought it best to dedicate an entire blog post to this topic.
So, if you want to know what is, how to use it, where to find such an IP accessory, keep reading. I’ll start by answering some of the questions I had in my inbox and finish with a top 5 best steamer baskets (in my opinion).
- What Is A Steamer Basket?
- How Do I Use A Steamer Basket In My Instant Pot?
- What Can I Use Instead Of A Steamer Basket?
- Can I Steam Vegetables Without A Steamer Basket?
- Does Instant Pot Come with a Steamer Basket?
- Does Instant Pot Come With A Rack Or Trivet?
- Does A Steamer Basket Fit 3 Quart Instant Pot?
- Does A Steamer Basket Fit 8 Quart Instant Pot?
- Can I Use Any Steamer Basket In My Instant Pot?
- What Is The Best Steamer Basket For Instant Pot?
What Is A Steamer Basket?
In short, a steamer basket is a standard accessory that fits inside an Instant Pot and allows the steam to penetrate the veggies. It usually has stilts and handles so it’s easy to use, and it can be made from stainless steel (with holes), mesh, silicone, or other food-grade materials.
Luckily, there are lots of different products on the market and everyone can have their pick. For instance, you can get a stacked basket, which allows steaming on different levels and of different foods. There are also sectional steamers, which you can use while cooking other foods.
Still, the main purpose of the steamer basket is to hold the food (usually fresh or frozen) and make sure the food doesn’t touch the water or liquid (needed to create pressure in the pot). This way, the food is exposed to the hot steam and becomes tender and ready to eat.
How Do I Use A Steamer Basket In My Instant Pot?
The concept is rather simple - the steamer basket goes directly into the inner pot of the Instant Pot. First, you have to add the required quantity of water (in the same inner pot) so the IP can build pressure and create steam.
Next, place the veggies or dumplings in the basket, close the lid, and set the timer. The last step is a bit tricky and requires a bit of trial and error because you can’t sample the state of your veggies while steaming. The secret is to time the cooking according to the type of vegetables and their state (fresh or frozen). Also, if you’re steaming dumplings, the time will be different.
Lastly, you can add seasonings if you want, but I prefer adding them at the end after the steam has done its job.
As a side note, the steaming function is not just for veggies and dumplings. You can also steam meat such as oysters, fish, or even chicken. The secret is to adjust the timing and the pressure according to each type of food.
What Can I Use Instead Of A Steamer Basket?
If you’re using the Instant Pot for steaming, I don’t recommend using an improvisation. The accessories that are specially designed for the pot are created to resist high temperatures and protect both your food and the pot.
What NOT to do:
- Don't use plastic products!
- Don't use any accessories that hinder the lid.
- Don't use any accessories with chipped paint.
What to do:
- You can try a stainless steel colander. Just make sure it fits well in the inner pot.
- You can put the vegetables directly in the bottom of the Instant Pot, like I did here.
- You can order a steamer basket and make something else this time.
- You can make your own steamer basket as you can see below.
DIY - How to make a Steamer Basket at home
- Grab two aluminum pie plates
- Punch holes in one (using a knife or a fork), flip it upside down and put it inside the pot
- Fill the pot with water just right up to the top of the plate
- Get the second one and flatten it with a rolling pin or a similar object.
- Get a parchment round and place it on top of the flattened pie plate and punch holes through both items.
- Place the items on top of the first plate and there you go, your own homemade steamer basket!
The whole point is to get your food up and away from the water and keep it contained in something resembling a bowl or basket.
Can I Steam Vegetables Without A Steamer Basket?
You can steam vegetables without using a steamer basket, just by placing the vegetables on the bottom.
I did it a few times as a test, as you can see in my Instant Pot steaming vegetables recipe. Is was a great side dish, however as expected, the results are not the same.
You can also use a homemade improvised steaming basket. Please note that steaming can be a dangerous job because, in an uncontrolled environment, there is the risk of burning your hands and/or face while handling an improvised steamer.
So if you have an Instant Pot and a steamer basket there is no reason for you to do so.
Does Instant Pot Come with a Steamer Basket?
A steamer basket is not one of the accessories delivered with an Instant Pot. However, it is the kind of accessory you only buy once. It’s also affordable, easy to clean, and doesn’t need much space for storage.
Does Instant Pot Come With A Rack Or Trivet?
The Instant Pot comes with this simple metal rack:
Please note that this trivet is not a steamer basket and can’t be used for steaming.
Does A Steamer Basket Fit 3 Quart Instant Pot?
You can find special ones that will fit. Since it's a small size, most of the regular steamer basket won't fit the 3-quart Instant Pot.
Does A Steamer Basket Fit 8 Quart Instant Pot?
It all depends on the circumference of the basket. So, before you make any purchase, make sure to measure the circumference of your IP inner pot and calculate the ideal size of the steamer basket.
The basket should fit easily inside the pot, without scratching the walls.
Can I Use Any Steamer Basket In My Instant Pot?
Yes, As long as it fits inside the pot and it’s made from heat-resistant material. Still, before you purchase a basket, I recommend asking the IP community. If there are people who already use it, you can get useful information regarding durability and more.
What Is The Best Steamer Basket For Instant Pot?
I’ve tried and reviewed several steamer baskets over the years, so I decided to share my preferences with you. Please keep in mind that options may differ from person to person due to size, material, and price.
1. Kitchen Deluxe Vegetable Steamer Basket
Extendable handle, silicone feet, and foldable legs are only a few of the features that made me place this basket first on my list! It also folds in a compact package that can be easily stored in a deeper drawer or on a shelf.
I love the way it blooms (it reminds me of a flower opening up) and adjusts to the size of the pot! This way, you can use it in almost any pot, and the silicone legs keep the bottom from getting scratched.
It’s large enough to fit bigger veggies (like artichokes) but it cal also be used for boiling eggs. So it’s versatile and easy to understand!
The basket is made from brushed premium quality stainless steel that can be cleaned in the sink or the dishwasher. Also, the handle is extendable so it can be adjusted to fit any type of pot (tall or short). The handle is also useful when removing the basket from the pot as it’s easy to grab even with oven mitts.
The verdict: This is the ideal steamer basket for IP users as it will fit any size and it can withstand high temperatures.
2. Silicone Steamer Basket
This steamer basket is made entirely out of silicone (highest quality material, BPA free) and features a basket-like design. It fits in 6-qt and 8-qt Instant Pot devices (and pressure cookers & pots of the same size) and it has sturdy feet to keep the liquid from reaching the food.
The basket is 5.3” tall (including the feet) so it won’t work with shorter pots. On the other side, no veggie can go awry since the food is well-contained within the basket. The handles secure the food during the steaming process and help to remove the basket from the pot.
When you’re done using it, the basket is easy to clean (dishwasher safe) and it folds within itself, which makes it easy to store.
The verdict: While the basket can’t adjust its size to fit any IP size, it’s a great fit for the 6 and 8 Quart designs. It’s also easier to clean that baskets with mesh or tiny holes (where food can get stuck) and doesn’t occupy much space.
3. Instant Pot Silicone Steamer Basket
As you can tell by the name, this product is an official IP accessory. It is made from high-quality food-safe silicone (FDA & LFGB tested inert silicone that’s BPA free) and it resists to high temperatures (450F / 230C).
However, it doesn’t have legs of its own (it must be used with a steam rack or a trivet) and it’s not very big (it doesn’t accommodate too many veggies). On the other hand, you can buy two or three of these and stack them. This way, you can steam different types of foods, on different levels. In terms of circumference, it can be safely used with different pressure cookers ( 5, 6, and 8 Quart).
Lastly, the basket is easy to clean (it is dishwasher safe) and doesn’t retain bits of food.
The verdict: It’s a good steamer basket that won’t leave a dent in your budget. However, it’s not as convenient as the first two products I’ve discusses since it’s not very spacious and it doesn’t have feet.
4. Original Sturdy Steamer Basket
I enjoyed using this one because it’s roomy and sturdy (it doesn’t wobble when on its own). Even more, besides using it for steaming and boiling eggs, you can also use it for straining (like when you’re preparing a bone broth).
Made of quality 18/8 stainless steel and food-safe silicone (for the handle and feet), the basket is perfectly safe to use in an Instant Pot (6 and 8 quart). Since it’s a large basket, you can fill it to the brim with veggies and have an entire meal ready in just a few minutes.
The verdict: It’s a very nice steamer basket if you have the room to store it (it doesn’t fold or collapse). Otherwise, it is dishwasher safe and it is useful when you prepare larger meals.
5. Hatrigo Steamer Basket
I am not a big fan of kitchen accessories made with mesh because, if food gets in the mesh, it’s rather difficult to remove. Still, a steamer basket with mesh is a fantastic tool since it also strains any liquid and allows the veggies to cool down faster.
This basket is available in different sizes (3qt, 6qt, and 8qt) so you can easily select the one that fits your IP. Also, the stainless steel and silicone involved in making the basket are food-safe and don’t rust.
The verdict: If you’re happy using a kitchen tool with mesh, then this is a very useful and versatile product! While it doesn’t fold for storage, it is sturdy and durable as the years go by.
The steamer basket is not a standard accessory in your Instant Pot package, but I think it should be. It’s a fantastic tool for people who like eating healthy and, for the summer, it makes all the difference!
Still, it’s great that you can find it so many different types and at such great prices! So, if you plan on starting a healthier diet, make sure you get one of these products for your IP - it makes all the difference!