How to Steam Broccoli
It only takes 3 minutes.
Steaming broccoli is a fast and healthy way to cook this nutritious vegetable. It preserves broccoli’s vibrant green color and fresh flavor without the addition of oil. While boiled broccoli is often soggy, steamed broccoli is characteristically crisp-tender. Plus, when you boil broccoli, some of the nutrients leach into the boiling water. You don’t have to worry about that with steaming.
Your steamed broccoli will be a great meal-prep building block because it’s like a blank canvas. It can be served on its own as a simple side or stirred into many dishes later. However you choose to enjoy it, start steaming with our easy step-by-step guide below.
Wash the Broccoli
First things first, you’ll want to make sure your broccoli is completely washed. Although the heads you buy from the grocery store aren’t usually super dirty, dirt can be hiding in some of the nooks and crannies. The best way to thoroughly wash broccoli is to submerge the head in a large bowl of water. If it boba up, weigh it down with another bowl filled with water. Let it soak for a few minutes then rinse them under a stream of cold water.
Trim the Broccoli and Cut It into Florets
Many people cut off and discard broccoli stems, but you can actually steam and eat them too. If the end of the stem is dry, you’ll want to trim off that bit. Then peel off the outer tough skin with a vegetable peeler. Slice the peeled stem into rounds until you get to the part of the stem where the florets branch off. Using your chef’s knife, slice down through the head of cauliflower to whittle off florets, turning the head as you go. Try to cut the florets into even sizes so they cook at the same rate. Now it’s time to start steaming your broccoli (florets and stem slices!).
Choose a Steaming Method
In a Skillet
This method is fantastic for people who don’t own any specialty equipment.
- Fill your skillet with about 1/2-inch of water and bring the water to a boil. Make sure you don’t use more water, otherwise the broccoli will boil rather than steam, making for soggy results.
- Add your broccoli to the skillet and cover it with a lid.
- Cook until the broccoli reaches your desired level of tenderness, about 3 to 5 minutes. Test out your broccoli with a fork: the tines should just be able to go into the stems of the broccoli, but it shouldn’t be limp or have a brownish hue.
- Drain the broccoli and season with salt and pepper.
In a Steamer Basket
Presenting the most classic way to steam broccoli: in a steamer basket. If you don’t own one, you can use a metal colander instead — as long as it fits inside one of your pans. The step-by-step is below, but if you'd like a complete recipe, check out Food Network's recipe for Steamed Broccoli.
- Pour about an inch of water into a skillet or wok and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Put the broccoli florets in a steamer basket and season with salt.
- Set the steamer basket over boiling water and cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes depending on the size of the florets.
- Remove the steaming basket from the skillet.
In the Microwave
The microwave is a fast, smart way to steam broccoli. The only downside is that you have to open it up frequently.
- Add your freshly washed broccoli florets to a microwave-safe bowl. Don’t dry them off because you’ll want some water clinging onto them. It’ll drip into the bottom of the bowl; if you don’t see any there, add several tablespoons. This water will turn into steam.
- Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate.
- Microwave the broccoli on high heat, checking every 30 seconds for doneness. All in all, this should take about 3 minutes, although cook time depends on the size of your florets.
- Remove the broccoli from the bowl and season with salt and pepper.
In the Instant Pot
Surprise, electric pressure cookers can steam gorgeous crisp-tender broccoli in 10 minutes. All you need is a steamer basket insert.
- Place 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot. Add the broccoli to the steamer basket and place that in the pot too.
- Close the lid and select the steam setting for 0 minutes, which means the veggies will be done as soon as the Instant Pot comes to pressure. All in all, it’ll take about 10 minutes for it to pressurize and naturally release.
- Remove the broccoli from the steamer basket insert and season with salt and pepper.
Use Your Steamed Broccoli
Steamed broccoli is an empty canvas. You can eat it with salt and pepper or serve it with some lemon wedges to up the ante. Use it in recipes that call for already cooked broccoli like this Broccoli and Red Onion Quiche or these Broccoli and Cheddar-Stuffed Potato Skins with Avocado Cream (above). You can also toss your broccoli into lunch salads and grain bowls straight from the fridge without even warming it up – it’ll soak up dressing wonderfully.
Store Your Steamed Broccoli
Store your broccoli in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days (if you can go that long without gobbling it up!)