How To Steam Broccoli? – Best & Easy Way

How To Steam Broccoli

How To Steam Broccoli? – Best & Easy Way

Steamed broccoli is an easy and healthy side dish that’s packed with nutrients. Learn how to steam broccoli perfectly (crisp-tender) so you don’t end up with mushy or lackluster broccoli. And if you want to jazz it up, just add some of the flavor variations mentioned below.

Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family whose large flowering head, stalk, and small associated leaves are eaten as a vegetable.

The word broccoli comes from the Italian plural of broccoli, which means “the flowering crest of a cabbage”, and is the diminutive form of broccoli, meaning “small nail” or “sprout”.

Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually dark green in color, arranged in a tree-like structure branching out from a thick stalk which is usually light green.

The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same Brassica species. In 2017, China and India combined to produce 73% of the world’s broccoli and cauliflower crops.

Broccoli resulted from the breeding of cultivated Brassica crops in the northern Mediterranean starting in about the sixth century BC. Broccoli has its origins in primitive cultivars grown in the Roman Empire. It is eaten raw or cooked.

Broccoli is a particularly rich source of vitamin C and vitamin K. Contents of its characteristic sulfur-containing glucosinolate compounds, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane, are diminished by boiling but are better preserved by steaming, microwaving, or stir-frying.

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Boiling broccoli is ideal for soups where you want the flavors and nutrients to leak out into the broth. If you’re using the broth as part of the recipe, that’s a great option. But if you’re tossing the water, remember that some nutrients will be lost.

If you are planning to serve broccoli as a side, steaming will be the best option in order to retain its antioxidants and vitamins which may be lost during the boiling process. You can learn more about broccoli and why it’s one of the 8 anti-inflammatory foods I eat every week.


A quick and easy way to steam broccoli without a steamer basket is to microwave it with a little water.

Place broccoli florets in a bowl with just enough water to cover the bottom (or 2 – 3 tbsp).
Cover bowl with a plate or microwave-safe lid.
Microwave broccoli for 2 – 5 minutes depending on your desired consistency.

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2 lb. broccoli, cut into florets
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


  1. In a high-sided skillet over medium heat, bring about ¼” deep water to a boil. Add broccoli and cover with a lid. Let steam until just tender, 5 minutes. 
  2. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle with olive oil before serving.

How to Steam Broccoli in a Steamer Basket

The classic method of steaming uses a steamer basket or insert.

  • Bring about an inch of water to a boil in the bottom of a pot into which your steamer basket or insert fits.
  • Put trimmed and cleaned broccoli florets in the steamer basket, set over the boiling water, cover, and steam until tender to the bite, about 3 for crisp-tender and up to 8 minutes for fully tender florets.

How to Steam Broccoli in a Microwave

Steaming broccoli in a microwave is certainly quick and convenient. With the microwave is more difficult to get vegetables steamed to a precise and even level of doneness.

  • Put freshly washed broccoli florets with water still clinging to them in a large microwave-safe bowl. A small pool of water should form at the bottom of the bowl. If you don’t see water in the bottom of the bowl, add a tablespoon of water.
  • Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid or plate (avoid plastic wrap in microwaves) and cook on high power for 1 minute. Test for doneness and repeat at 30-second intervals until the broccoli is steamed to your liking. Broccoli steamed in a microwave may require a bit of draining or drying depending on how much liquid you used and how powerful your microwave is.

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How do you steam broccoli on the stove?

In a high-sided skillet over medium heat, bring about ¼” deep water to a boil. Add broccoli and cover with a lid. Let steam until just tender, 5 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

How do you make steamed broccoli taste better?

Cut broccoli into 2-inch florets. In a steamer set over boiling water steam broccoli, covered, until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. While broccoli is steaming, finely chop garlic and in a small skillet combine with oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

How do you steam broccoli in a Ziploc bag?

Chop any large vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and add them all to a microwave-safe plastic bag. Seal the bag 3/4 of the way across if using a ziplock bag but be sure to leave a small gap so the steam can escape. Put the bag into the microwave and cook on high for about 3 minutes.

Enjoying and Storing Steamed Broccoli

Besides eating the broccoli on its own, steamed broccoli makes a great topping for a baked potato, a colorful addition to scrambled eggs, or enjoyed cold in a raw vegetable platter with a dip.

It can even be mashed up and added to mashed potatoes for a healthy pairing. Crisp-tender broccoli will last the longest if it is cooled and dried prior to storing in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It does not freeze well and will likely defrost as a mushy mess. 

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  • How to Steam Broccoli without a Steamer
  • How to Steam Broccoli in Microwave
  • Steam Broccoli Recipe
  • How to Steam Broccoli in an Oven
  • How to Steam Broccoli with a Steamer Basket
  • How to Steam Broccoli and Carrots
  • How to Steam Broccoli and Cheese
  • How to Steam Broccoli and Green Beans

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