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Great seafood deserves to be steamed to perfection with the right tools. If you have a family that is really into celebrating local crabs in their diet or are trying to perfect the perfect clam dish, it helps to have the right pot.
An outdoor seafood steamer is a great way to broaden our horizons for outdoor occasions. But, it has to be the right steamer.
My top pick in outdoor seafood steamers.
My top pick is the Barton 52 Quart Steamer Burner. The reason for this is that it is one of the most multifunctional items in this guide. The Bayou Classic steamer and burner kit come close with several similar features.
But, this one has a better capacity. While other models provide a cheaper and simplistic approach for dealing with crab and crawfish, this one goes much further. You can steam lots of seafood for a range of dishes in the quality basket.
The pot comes on top of a burner complete with a regulator, making it an all-in-one option for camping trips or cook-outs. There are then extra accessories to make it really easy to cook whole birds in here too.
Other products may be more focused on seafood with clever design elements and a nicer look. But, they don’t have the versatility.
Why get an outdoor seafood cooker.
An outdoor cooker for seafood gives you the perfect opportunity to steam lobster, crabs, clams, and anything else you like away from your kitchen. Steamer pots at home are great when you want to mix up the weekly menu and splash out with a fun seafood dish for your family.
You can contain the chosen ingredient in the suspended basket and make it soft and tender. From there it is ready for the plate or for use in other recipes.
Doing this outside lets you bring this culinary option to alfresco dining in the yard, camping trips, big community catering events, and even competitive cookouts. But, you need the right cooker for the best experience.
Seven of the best outdoor crab steamers around right now.
First of all, I want to talk about an aspect of the listing for this set that I have always had a bit of a problem with. When you have something that calls itself a 5-piece set, it isn’t unreasonable to expect five different pieces of cookware.
What you actually get here are two pots of varying sizes, the boiling basket for the seafood, and the corresponding lids. With that said, having that extra stockpot is a nice touch, especially when this set isn’t that expensive compared to other models.
The star of the show Is the massive 80-quart pot with its insertable basket. That is meant to allow for 45 pounds of shellfish if you are keen to feed an army.
Both pieces are professional grade aluminum so should be lightweight and relatively durable. The pots have handles at the top for lifting and basic lids to keep the steam instead.
The basket also has a larger handle for ease of use when adding and retrieving the seafood.
This next option is more simplistic and focuses more on the seafood steaming than anything else. While I was unsure about it at first because of its design and kitchen-friendly look, it does appear to be safe for outdoor use on a stovetop or outdoor burner.
It is only 19 quarts, so not nearly as big as some of the other models here. But this does mean that it is also more portable than the massive top pick with hits big stand and giant basket.
One thing that I particularly like about this one is that it has a domed lid to help trap the heat and moisture for a better steaming experience.
It is made of carbon steel for strength and durability, with an additional porcelain-enamel coating. There is a real sense of quality here and it also looks quite nice at the same time with the speckled effect.
There is the feeling that this could work just as nicely in your kitchen at home as outside during a family gathering. The only other downside here is that there are no additional features or accessories.
This is one of the most simplistic options and it is one that you would probably skim over when looking through options online. Others are more interesting or more attractive while this is as unassuming as possible to get the job done.
The selling point is the size. At 62 Quarts, this thing is massive for families and should offer more than enough room for large quantities of food.
This could help in dealing with mass catering for parties, family gatherings, or for big cooking competitions in the future.
The design is straightforward with the tall stainless steel pot, the internal steaming basket, and the lid. Set it up on the camping stove or burner and let it do its thing.
There aren’t the same clever aspects like a domed lid, but you do get handles on the side. It is noticeable on Amazon that this was frequently bought with a heavy-duty single burner.
This shows that you can get a more affordable option like this and then build on the set-up. The two together give this the functionality of my top pick model. But, adding this extra purchase does ramp up the cost significantly.
This next option is just one big pot – so you do end up with the same disadvantages as other options with a lack of features and accessories. But, this is a very popular and well-made pot that does the job well.
There are different sizes available so I recommend going through the options and checking the prices before you buy. I’ve focused on the 53-quart one here because I think that is a more practical size for families that want to use this when cooking outside.
Not too big and not too small. But, there are smaller portable options down as far as 24 quarts and the largest is 180 quarts.
This stainless steel pot has a basket that sits neatly inside with a collapsible handle. The handles and the lid are the standard shapes and in the regular position on the pot.
Few designers seem to want to play around with this to try and make it any more ergonomic or convenient.
There are some concerns about the durability and construction of these handles from some users, but not enough to be of massive concern to new buyers.
The last of these stand-alone pots is this option from Chard. By this point, a lot of these products begin to look the same as there is a blueprint in the design.
Here you get the main stockpot, the basket to hang inside for steaming, the safety hanger, and the handles in all the right places. There is the promise of no-rust aluminum construction and general ease of use.
It certainly has a lot of positive ratings from users, which is why I included such an unassuming product in this list. I would have gone with something with more of a wow-factor, but the prettier models aren’t necessarily any good for outdoor use.
I also think that this might be a good option for those that want something a little more portable. It is difficult to gauge an appropriate size for your family’s needs.
Too big and you can’t transport it around or you may struggle with cooking times.
Too small and you might not get the portion sizes you need. Still, this thin, portable 30-quart option should be good for backyard cookouts and camping rather than any commercial or mass-catering affair.
You could buy the steamer above with a separate burner, or you could look into getting a product with the burner included. The first of these that I want to highlight comes from Bayou Classic.
This is a brand where you can find a lot of different products in the outdoor cooking range. In addition to the more basic steamer pots, you have this turkey fryer with a propane burner base and a steamer pot insert.
Like many outdoor pots, this one focuses more on cooking birds than seafood. However, you do get the same functional steamer basket.
There are some nice features on the burner and the pot to enhance the experience. This includes the 360- degree windshield and the range of additional tools.
There is a skewer, grab hook, 12’’ thermometer, and a seasoning injector for the meat. The biggest downside here is the capacity.
There are stand-alone steamer pots at double the size, as this is only 32 quarts. Also, the final model in this list – and my top pick – does a lot of the same with that extra space.
I believe that I have saved the best until last with this model. But, I appreciate that some people may see this as an over-the-top choice with too much focus on other things.
A lot is going on here to help you make seafood dishes, turkey, stews, and more. You get the removable basket for steaming seafood and vegetables within the fryer and there is a stew pot.
It all sits on a solid frame with sturdy legs to stand on its own outside. That burner comes with the hose and regulator, all of which have CSA certification.
This version is 52Qt, which means a large capacity for as much food as you want. Keep in mind that there is a similar option available with a taller stand at a cheaper price. But, that one is smaller at 30 quarts and might not be as stable.
I also like that there are additional tools, such as the long temperature probe that can determine a temperature between 50 and 500 degrees.
A bonus here is that you can even clip this to the side of the pot for hands-free use. There is also the marinade injector, for when you do want to make turkey, and a poultry rack to hold the bird in place.
Finding the best outdoor seafood steamer for your needs.
In this guide, I reviewed a series of seven top outdoor steamers. The first five offer you the cookware alone. You may get just the one quality stockpot with the additional basket or potentially some additional items to go with it.
These require you to already have a burner or other suitable way to cook the food. The final two options are pots that come with the burner.
This all-in-one approach can be more beneficial but also costly. Still, you do get more for your money with the additional accessories.
You should now have a better idea of what to expect from these cooking pots and which may be the best option for your needs. I have included my top pick for those that want a quick recommendation and then you can see more on the seven options.
I also want to talk more about what to look out for.
What should you look out for when buying an outdoor seafood steamer for your family?
1) The capacity.
The size of the pot is perhaps the most important feature of all here. You need to be sure that it isn’t too big to be practical for your needs or too small that the portion sizes are all wrong.
Each listing should give a clear indication of capacity and you can convert this to gallons or to pounds of crab/crawfish/etc.
2) The ease of use of the steamer basket.
The steamer basket is the most important feature in this pot for the shellfish. It needs to sit above the base with ease and no danger to you or others when taking it out.
Look for an outdoor steamer cooker with collapsible handles and hooks to make things easier.
3) The portability of the set
Portability is also important if you are going to have the best outdoor crab cooker for big events away from home. This is another area where capacity is important.
Is it too big to fit in the car? Most pots have handles on the side. Make sure that these are well-constructed and set into the pot for heavier models.
4) The durability of the materials.
The use of materials in these pots might not be the first thing that you look at when there are more important details or interesting features. But, there are variations between products.
You will find that a lot of products are either aluminum or stainless steel. The latter is often preferred for regular cooking in commercial situations but the aluminum can be light and practical too.
There is also an option in this guide with carbon steel and an additional porcelain-enamel coating. This is uncommon in these outdoor pots.
5) The use of user-friendly design features.
Ease of use is essential when dealing with these large pots, especially if you have a pot and burner combo.
You need to be able to load the seafood into the basket, put that basket into the pot, put a well-fitting lid on the top, and then place it on the burner.
You don’t want any risk of the pot falling over, the lid coming off of the food becoming irretrievable and overcooking.
6) The additional functions and features for other meals or ingredients
Some products come with additional features and cookware for dealing with other meals. Some will focus on the cooking of turkey and other poultry.
This could mean a rack and other tools for an even cook in the large pot. Some go even further with thermometers, probes, and ways of any spices and marinades. You may also find a pot set with a smaller stockpot.
7) The inclusion of any means of cooking the food.
Many consumers will get the straightforward pot and then source the right burner later. Or, perhaps you are borrowing a burner at an event.
But, you can find products that offer both in one package. This is is great for personal cook-outs and camping trips. Check the quality and certification of the system and look for additional protective features.
8) The look of the pot
Aesthetics aren’t that important when dealing with this sort of product. It needs to be practical first. A lot look exactly the same and are indistinguishable side-by-side.
Others that might not be as practical for outdoor use may have a different look to the exterior – something that you could proudly use at home.
9) The cost.
Finally, there is the price. I have tried to provide a range of models at a fair price. You don’t want to go too cheap and sacrifice on quality or features, but you don’t want to go too expensive for a commercial model if you don’t have to.
Consider the pot and burner combos as a way of saving some money.
Which is the best outdoor crab steamer for your needs.
There is a lot of choices here when searching for the best possible option for an outdoor steamer cooker. If you have modest needs and only plan to feed your small family, some of the compact pots are great if you already have a burner.
But, you can get the same basic features and ease of use in larger items for community events and bigger catering needs. If you have more than seafood in mind, consider the pots that provide more features for other meals and turkey cooking.
Check the specifications and compare your choices for the right capacity and design for your needs.