crab steamer
Steamed Crabs

This page provides information and links to help in choosing and buying high quality seafood steamers for cooking shrimp, crabs, lobsters, crawfish, clams, oysters, mussels, and other shellfish.

A good option for most cooks is a small one piece seafood steamer. These come in 12-36 quart versions, with either a stainless steel or coated metal construction. These steamers have either a basket or steaming rack to suspend seafood above the water level.

A 12 quart steamer is a good choice for steaming a simple dinner for 2 such as 12-18 blue crabs, 2-3 pounds of shrimp, 2 medium lobsters, or a meal of clams, oysters, or mussels.

For larger amounts of seafood, a three piece steamer is a good option. These steamers consists of three separate parts: a bottom pan which holds the steaming liquids, an upper pot for holding food (the bottom has holes to allow the steam to pass through), and a lid on top to keep the steam in. Three piece steamers are also available in stainless or coated metal, in sizes from 16 quarts and up.

A 19 quart steamer will cook about 36 blue crabs, several dozen clams, oysters or 2 medium lobsters. As with any steamer, the design of three piece steamers should allow seafood to be suspended 2-3 inches between the liquid.

Outdoor steamers are a good choice for summer cook outs and other events where a large amount of seafood needs to be steamed as they keep the steam, odor and mess outdoors.

Outdoor setups typically consist of a steaming pot ranging from 36 to 100 quarts or more, heated by a gas burner. An 80-100 quart steamer pot will easily hold one full bushel of crabs, clams or oysters.

For best results, large size steamers should be used in conjunction with a free-standing outdoor propane gas burner. Smaller burners, rated at around 50,000 BTU are suitable for steamers up to about 60 quarts. Larger versions, rated at 150,000-200,000 BTU are capable of heating pots from 60-120 quarts.

In some cases full featured gas grills are another option for heat, as some models have high output burners made for heating large pots and steamers.

Related Information

Preparation and Cooking

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