How to Steam Broccoli

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Master How to Steam Broccoli to enjoy as a side dish or to add to pasta recipes, casseroles, and beyond. Healthy dinner side dish recipes need not be fussy; it takes just 15 minutes to make this versatile steamed broccoli “recipe.”

A steam basket full of broccoli in a saucepan.


 

When you hear “steamed broccoli,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Many readers have written in to tell me that they either associate this with a bland, overcooked side dish recipe (often one that started with frozen broccoli) that their parents used to serve with dinner. Others have said that steamed broccoli is notoriously linked with diet food.

I’m here today to make a case for this misaligned vegetable. Once you discover how to steam broccoli so it’s crisp-tender with a vibrant green color and full of garden-fresh taste, you’ll be jazzed to enjoy it on its own or folded into an array of broccoli recipes.

It can be easy being, well, at least eating, green, and this steamed broccoli recipe is proof. All it takes is a skillet, a basket, and some water.

Equipment and ingredient notes

  • Steamer basket: This OXO stainless steel steamer basket is simple, but it gets the job done, and it’s been my go-to for years. See more options in The Best Steamer Baskets.
  • Broccoli: Choose bright green broccoli that has a firm stalk without yellowing florets or brown spots. Broccoli should feel heavy for its size. Whole broccoli should be stored in an open bag in the refrigerator. Use broccoli within 3 to 4 days. Cut the fresh broccoli florets into pieces of uniform size for steaming so they cook evenly. One pound of fresh broccoli is the equivalent of about 6 cups.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a medium or large pan, add 1 inch of water. Add steamer basket (with feet extended) and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add broccoli to steamer basket.
A steamer basket full of broccoli.
  1. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and steam for 4 to 5 minutes (or until desired doneness is reached).
A steamer basket full of broccoli.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 6 servings (½ cup steamed broccoli each). 1 pound broccoli yields about 6 cups raw florets or 3 cups steamed florets.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Microwave: To steam broccoli in the microwave, place florets in a microwave-safe bowl or microwave-safe dish. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of water and cover loosely with a lid or plate, or cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap and poke several holes for ventilation. Microwave until broccoli is crisp-tender, about 2 to 4 minutes. (Larger florets will require more time.)
  • Instant Pot: Add 1 cup water and your steamer basket to the bottom of a pressure cooker and fill with broccoli. Set the timer to zero (0) minutes, wait for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, then wait for it to naturally release. In total, this process takes about 10 minutes.
  • Favorite flavors: Stove top steamed broccoli is excellent plain, but for more flavor, drizzle with olive oil or melted butter, add a sprinkle of garlic powder or Parmesan cheese, or squeeze with fresh lemon juice. Some salt and black pepper is excellent, too!
A bowl of steamed broccoli.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I steam vegetables without a steamer basket?

If you don’t have a steamer basket, use a metal colander set in a large pot with a lid. Or, see my microwave method above in Recipe Tips and Variations.

How should I season steamed broccoli?

This 1-ingredient steamed broccoli recipe is a blank slate. Of course it’s incredible with my easy Cheese Sauce for Broccoli. For a dairy-free and lighter alternative, I love to add a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, or a few shakes of soy sauce. Or if you prefer, you could sprinkle on spices to transport this steamed broccoli around the world to match the main dish’s origin. Try taco seasoning, garam masala, Ras El Hanout, Italian seasoning, za’atar, berbere, Herbes de Provence, Chinese five spice, and beyond; the only limit is your imagination.

What are the best recipes that use steamed broccoli?

If you’d rather enjoy steamed broccoli as part of an entree than on its own as a healthy side dish, options abound. Add steamed broccoli to grain bowls like my Mediterranean Buddha Bowl, fold some into pasta dishes (Baked Ziti, One Pot Chicken Alfredo, and Baked Mac and Cheese would all be brilliant with steamed broccoli in the mix), or feature it instead of fresh broccoli in a Veggie Platter or Cheese Board.

Can I steam frozen broccoli?

To steam frozen broccoli, just add broccoli what from the freezer to your steamer basket. Cover and steam until heated through. Easy!

Is steaming broccoli healthier than other cooking methods?

Some research suggests that steaming vegetables is one of the best ways to retain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients among vegetable cooking methods. Source: National Library of Medicine.

A bowl of Teriyaki meatballs over rice with broccoli.
Easy and flavorful, these Teriyaki Meatballs start with my wildly popular turkey meatball recipe and finish with a sweet and sticky homemade teriyaki glaze. They are so delicious paired with cooked rice and steamed broccoli.

Bonus veggie basics

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A steam basket full of broccoli in a saucepan.

How to Steam Broccoli

Master How to Steam Broccoli to enjoy as a side dish or to add to pasta recipes, casseroles, and beyond. Healthy dinner side dish recipes need not be fussy; it takes just 15 minutes to make this steamed broccoli "recipe."
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Cooling Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings (½ cup each)
Course Pantry, Salad
Cuisine American
Calories 51
5 from 1 vote

Equipment

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • In a medium or large saucepan, add 1 inch of water. Add steamer basket (with feet extended) and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add broccoli to steamer basket.
  • Reduce heat to medium, cover, and steam for 4 to 5 minutes (or until desired doneness is reached).

Notes

  1. Steamer basket: This OXO stainless steel steamer basket is simple, but it gets the job done, and it’s been my go-to for years. See more options in The Best Steamer Baskets.
  2. Broccoli: Choose bright green broccoli that has a firm stalk without yellowing florets or brown spots. Broccoli should feel heavy for its size. Whole broccoli should be stored in an open bag in the refrigerator. Use broccoli within 3-4 days. Cut the fresh broccoli florets into pieces of uniform size for steaming so they cook evenly.
  3. Yield: This recipe makes 6 servings (½ cup steamed broccoli each). 1 pound broccoli yields about 6 cups raw florets or 3 cups steamed florets.
  4. Storage: Store leftovers covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5 cupCalories: 51kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 825mgPotassium: 478mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 942IUVitamin C: 135mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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