How to Use a Pressure Cooker Steamer Basket

If you already own a pressure cooker, but do not yet have a pressure cooker basket, then we strongly encourage you to invest in one! Steamer basket inserts can be used to prepare fruit, vegetables, fish, and even eggs!

When purchased new, most modern pressure cookers will come with a simple steamer basket insert; however, there are many different types of baskets to choose from, including compartmentalized baskets and multi-level baskets. These basket types can be used to cook multiple different foods at one time. The foods that require the most time to cook should be placed at the bottom of the basket – closest to the heat source, and items that require the least amount of cooking time should be placed at the top of the basket.

Traditionally, water is used for steaming foods, but did you know that you can flavor the water that you steam your food with? Common additives include wine, herbs, and vinegar. Alternately, you can also use wine, broth, or even tomato sauce to cook your food. If you choose to go this route, then you can use the steaming liquid as a sauce for the food. Steam does impart a small amount of flavor to the food you are cooking it with, but it is minimal. The liquid that you use to steam your seafood or vegetables can be saved and safely stored in your refrigerator for up to a week. The stock can be used to cook other delicious dishes.

How to Use the Steamer Basket

Using a steamer basket is quite simple. For the most part, it simply involves following the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use and for how long with specific foods. Here are a few additional tips you can use to get the most out of your steamer basket:

  • When you are using water to steam your foods, allow it boil for 5-10 minutes before placing the basket in the pressure cooker and closing the lid.
  • If your pressure cooker offers several pressure levels or positions, always choose the lowest one unless otherwise instructed.
  • When it comes to preparing seafood or fish, always use the recommended cooking settings to avoid overcooking the food.
  • When cooking succulent food or fish, grease or brush the basket slightly to prevent your ingredients from sticking to the basket.

Perforated Inserts

If your pressure cooker does not have its own perforated insert, then you should consider investing in a collapsible stainless steel steamer. This type of steamer insert opens and closes like a flower, and it is preferable to choose one made of stainless steel, since it is durable and resistant to rust and corrosion.

These steamers are available in multiple sizes. You should choose the largest available one that will fit your pressure cooker. This maximizes the amount of flat surface available to cook food on. The center “stem” of the flower like basket should be removable, so you can move it if you want to steam a single large dish.

If your pressure cooker was accompanied by a perforated insert, then it most likely came with a trivet. You should always use the trivet in conjunction with your steamer basket because most steamer baskets that are made by the manufacturer are not equipped with feet to keep the basket raised up out of the steaming liquid.


A couple of notes about steamer basket inserts…

  • If you’re in a bind and do not have a steamer basket insert on hand, a wire mesh basket or a colander crafted from heat proof material will work in a pinch.
  • Electric pressure cookers that have non-stick interiors should only be used in conjunction with silicone steamer baskets. Metal baskets will scratch the interior lining of the pressure cooker.

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