How to Steam Broccoli In the Microwave

It takes about 3 minutes and there’s no oil necessary.

August 02, 2022
boiled broccoli in white bowl on table


boiled broccoli in white bowl on table

Photo by: eyewave/Getty Images

eyewave/Getty Images

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Broccoli is one of the most versatile vegetables available. It can be fried, baked, roasted, seared or grilled, and it comes out just as tasty each time no matter which way you cook it.

But if you’re looking for a fast way to cook perfectly tender broccoli without dirtying a frying pan, consider steaming it in the microwave. This shortcut method is quick and easy, so it’s the perfect way to prepare a healthy side dish on busy weeknights. It only requires a few pieces of kitchenware — no oil necessary — meaning it’s easy to clean up, too. This method yields tender broccoli every time, so once you know how to steam broccoli in the microwave, you’ll be making it on repeat. Here’s how to do it.

How to Cook Broccoli

Learn all the different ways to cook perfect broccoli that will win over even the pickiest eaters.

Boiled broccoli with spices in a plate. Black background. Top view.


Boiled broccoli with spices in a plate. Black background. Top view.

Photo by: Vladimir Mironov/Getty Images

Vladimir Mironov/Getty Images

How to Steam Broccoli In the Microwave, Step-by-Step

1: Cut Broccoli Into Florets

To start, cut broccoli into uniform florets. Remove and discard the super-tough ends and any woody bits. Though you can cut them into larger chunks, bite-sized pieces that are uniform in size work best, because they cook quickly and evenly. Remember that the size of your broccoli florets will dictate cook time, and larger pieces will need to be cooked longer.

2: Place Florets In a Microwave-Safe Bowl

Place the florets in a microwave-safe bowl and season them with salt. Select a bowl that is made from microwave-safe material like glass or ceramic and opt for one that has tall sides that can trap steam. You’ll need to cover the bowl, so if you don’t have an accompanying lid, make sure the opening of the bowl is around the same size as a small plate.

3: Cover and Cook

There are two ways to properly steam broccoli in the microwave, and it all depends on whether or not you can cover the bowl with a lid or plate.

If you have a lid or microwave-safe plate, after you’ve placed the broccoli in the bowl, add a few tablespoons of water to it (2 to 3 tablespoons per head of broccoli works best). Cover the bowl tightly with a lid or plate. Remember to always stick to microwave-safe materials, and never use aluminum foil. It’s best to avoid plastic wrap, too. Once the dish is covered, cook for 3 minutes on high. Depending on the power of your machine, you might want to continue cooking in 15 second intervals, until you reach the desired level of doneness. By increasing time slowly, you’ll be sure to yield tender broccoli without ending up with a pile of mush. Be mindful of the size of your broccoli florets and adjust cook time as necessary. After the broccoli is cooked, there shouldn’t be any water left in the bowl. If there is some excess water, be sure to strain it carefully before serving.

If you don’t have a suitable lid, don’t worry — there’s a perfectly easy solution that works just as well. After you’ve placed the broccoli in the bowl, skip the step where we added water to the bowl. Instead, wet a few paper towels with water and wring them out. Cover the cut broccoli with the wet paper towels and proceed with cooking the broccoli in the same way, but add 30 seconds to the cook time. The moisture from the paper towels will create enough steam to cook the broccoli thoroughly. Be mindful that the towels will be quite hot when you remove them from the microwave.

A plate with broccoli, arugula, tomato and boiled egg on a plate on the table. Ketogenic diet. Close-up


A plate with broccoli, arugula, tomato and boiled egg on a plate on the table. Ketogenic diet. Close-up

Photo by: Elena Rui/Getty Images

Elena Rui/Getty Images

How to Use Steamed Broccoli

Steaming broccoli is an efficient way to cook one of the most versatile vegetables. It’s a fantastic building block to have on hand for quick dinners, so it’s the perfect veggie to meal prep in big batches. Aside from being a delicious and hearty weeknight side dish, steamed broccoli can serve a ton of other purposes, too. Looking to serve a refreshing, crunchy salad at your next backyard barbecue? You can easily turn this simple vegetable into a hearty salad with the addition of almonds and cranberries. For an easy breakfast that will serve a crowd, try a broccoli and red onion quiche. Lastly, for a hearty appetizer, serve steamed broccoli with your favorite homemade hummus or cheese dip.

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