I am making steamed BBQ pork buns for a work potluck. I have some steamer equipment, but small scale. I'm looking at making 60+ buns, and would really like to cook them as quickly as possible the morning before I go to work.

How can I create a large steamer setup? I thought my rice cooker and instant pot could be put to use as steamers. It is a standard large office setup, so not sure if the humidity from the steam would be a problem.

  • How much bigger than, e.g., two-tiered steamer in 12 qt stockpot are you trying to go? (And do you have the burner heat output for that?)
    – derobert
    Apr 10, 2018 at 23:21
  • Well my only steaming options right now are a standard rice maker and an instant pot with a steamer rack. Mcguyverying something with the output of a 12 at two tier would be great and would more than double my output if I just used all three together. I was thinking heavy duty aluminum foil layers with holes laid into some large pots with a lid over them and placing parchment under the rolls. I would use a large pan and a grease guard, but I do not do enough frying to own a grease guard it seems. Thanks! Apr 11, 2018 at 3:20
  • 1
    steamer inserts for pots are widely available and cheap... Then you should be able to use as many pots as you have burners, with one or two layers per pot. Search for a steamer basket, plate, or rack. Should be available locally at the store too. Important that you can get them in and out, like with a long pair of tongs.
    – derobert
    Apr 11, 2018 at 4:16

1 Answer 1


Assuming that you're planning to do the steaming at home (your question is kind of confusing that way), the cheapest way to go is to create ad-hoc "steam ovens" using disposable aluminum foil pans.

  1. Buy some disposable aluminum foil baking pans, as large/deep as possible, like a 20" x 12" x 3.5" pan.
  2. line the bottom of these with cookie cooling racks (if you don't have these, use an appropriately-sized disposable rimmed cookie sheet and punch holes in it).
  3. pour in a little bit of water, below the tops of the racks.
  4. put in the buns (should hold a lot of them in each pan)
  5. seal tightly with extra-wide, heavy-duty foil on top.
  6. bake in your oven at 350F

Now, the catch to this is that the cooking time will be different than it would n a regular steamer, because you're getting some heat from the top, and I don't have a ready conversion for you; you'd have to test a bit.

If this is something you do a lot, I'd recommend buying a Thai/Vietnamese-style multi-level steamer, which would allow you to steam batches of 12 to 30 buns pretty rapidly. You can buy these steamers at Asian grocery stores a lot cheaper than you can find them online.

  • exactly what i was looking for. i'll play around with this this weekend. i broke down and just changed what i was going to cook though. i bet if i filled it with boiling water just before i threw the entire thing in the oven it would help with the temp difference from the oven top. thanks!!! Apr 13, 2018 at 15:11
  • Yes, it probably would, good idea.
    – FuzzyChef
    Apr 15, 2018 at 1:44
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    placed on bbq grill and topped with another pan the same size. worked pretty well. make sure to start with boiling water. Jun 7, 2019 at 15:05

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