3 Ways to Steam Chicken Without a Steamer

Steamed chicken is an easy way to prep shredded chicken.
Image Credit: Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez/iStock/GettyImages

Steamed chicken fits the bill when you want a meal with chicken that doesn't have any added extra oil from sautéing. However, lugging out a bulky steamer for a few pieces of chicken isn't necessary; you can use the pots and appliances already in your kitchen.


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Once cooked, steamed chicken can be used in salads or as a stuffing for tacos or burritos. Minced steamed chicken also works well in pot stickers, egg rolls or lettuce wraps.

Prepare the Chicken

Get your chicken ready for its steam bath. Just keep in mind: Whole pieces of chicken, such as thighs or drumsticks, take longer to steam than slices of chicken. And steamed chicken skin isn't particularly attractive, so you may want to remove it.


  1. Cut the chicken into equally sized pieces.
  2. Season the chicken to taste with salt and pepper.
    • Another seasoning option is to lay the raw chicken on a bed of herbs such as tarragon, chervil, rosemary or sage.
  3. Fill a pot or other dish (based on your cooking method below) with water. As the water boils, the steam comes up through the herbs and flavors the chicken.
    • You don't have to limit yourself to water as the steaming liquid. Try wine, fruit juice or chicken broth.


Once your chicken is prepped and ready to go, you have three options for steaming chicken without a steamer.

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1. Create a Makeshift Steamer

If you don't have a vegetable or rice steamer, not to worry. Create your own steamer using a large pot with a tight-fitting lid.


  1. Put a colander in the pot and the chicken slices in the colander. The pot should be filled with enough liquid to almost come up to the bottom of the colander but not quite.
  2. Turn on the stove burner to medium.
  3. When the liquid starts to boil, cover with the lid and turn the heat down to low. The liquid should barely boil.
  4. Steam until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place Into the Oven

Put your oven to work steaming the chicken and freeing up the stove for other dishes. It's as simple as putting a cake or cookie cooling rack inside the baking pan. The rack keeps the chicken up and out of the water.

  1. Cover the pan with aluminum foil before you put it in the oven.
  2. If you want to jump-start the steaming process, fill the pan with boiling water or liquid.
  3. If your racks aren't high enough, scrunch up rolls of aluminum foil and place on top of the rack.
  4. Then, put the chicken on the rolls of foil.

3. Wrap It Up

Steam the chicken wrapped in microwave-safe plastic wrap and aluminum foil. You have your choice of two ways.

  1. Wrap each piece of seasoned chicken — legs, drumsticks and half breasts — tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil.
  2. Place in an oven preheated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The plastic wrap steams the chicken in its own juices. The aluminum foil protects the plastic wrap from melting.
    • You could also wrap a whole chicken and use this same method.
  3. The second method is to place the chicken in a baking pan with a cup of water. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil.

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