How to Steam Broccoli {4 Ways}

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Broccoli is a delicious vegetable full of health benefits. Learn how to steam broccoli 4 ways to ensure it is perfectly tender.

Table of Contents
  1. What is the key to the best steamed broccoli?
  2. How to Prepare Broccoli for Steaming
  3. Steam broccoli in a steamer basket.
  4. Steam broccoli without a steamer basket.
  5. Steam broccoli in the microwave.
  6. Steam broccoli in the Instant Pot.
  7. How to Serve Broccoli
  8. How to Steam Broccoli Recipe

Steaming is one method of cooking vegetables that lets them retain their taste, color and nutrients.

Today I’m sharing the best and easiest ways to steam broccoli that can be used in countless different broccoli recipes. No more limp, drab broccoli. I’ll teach how to prevent mushy broccoli and 4 ways to to steam this vegetable.

steamed broccoli in a steamer basket

What is the key to the best steamed broccoli?

Have you ever wondered why some is a bright green color, crisp-tender and full of flavor while other cooked broccoli is a dull green, mushy and lacking in fresh flavor?

It’s all about the cooking time. If broccoli is mushy and dark green, it’s been overcooked. If there is one thing to learn from our tutorial, it’s to watch the broccoli closely and don’t overcook it.

About this steamed broccoli recipe

This recipe makes crisp-tender broccoli that makes an excellent side dish. It’s vegan and gluten-free. It’s great as a side dish or in a stir fry.

cut broccoli florets on a board

How to Prepare Broccoli for Steaming

The first step to steaming broccoli is to wash it, then cut the broccoli florets into bite-size pieces. If you’d like you can steam the stems as well.

The outsides of the stem can be tough, so peel off the outside stem with a vegetable peeler, then slice the stems into bite-size pieces.

Steam broccoli in a steamer basket.

  • Add 1″ of water to a medium saucepan. Place the steamer basket into the pot. (I used a Staub dutch oven.) Bring the water to a boil over medium heat.
  • Then place the broccoli florets into the steamer and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to low and steam for about 5-6 minutes until the broccoli is tender. The timing will depend on how big you’ve cut the broccoli, but it should still be a vibrant green color. If it is not vibrant green, it has cooked too long, so watch the time closely.
  • As soon as it is tender, remove the broccoli from the steamer and place it in a serving bowl so it does not continue steaming.
fresh broccoli in a steamer basket in a staub pan

Steam broccoli without a steamer basket.

Follow the instructions above, except place the broccoli florets directly in the water instead of in the steamer basket. Cover and steam for about 4-5 minutes. I find the broccoli cooks slightly faster this way, so watch it closely.

steamed broccoli in a pan with water

Steam broccoli in the microwave.

  • Place the broccoli florets in a microwave-safe dish and pour about 4 tablespoons of water over the top of the broccoli. Cover the bowl with a microwave safe lid or plate.
  • Cook the broccoli for about 2-4 minutes (shorter time if the florets are small, more time if they are larger), then check it to make sure it is tender. If it is not yet tender, cook for an additional minute at a time until tender. Be very careful when removing the cover of the bowl. It’s very, very hot and the steam can burn as well.
  • Drain off the water and serve.

Steam broccoli in the Instant Pot.

  • Place 1 cup of water in the insert of the Instant Pot (or other electric pressure cooker). Place the steamer basket or the wire rack into the insert.
  • Place the broccoli in the steamer basket (or on top of the wire rack).
  • Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to seal.
  • Set the timer to pressure cook on high for zero minutes. Allow the pot to come to pressure, then when the timer goes off, open the valve to quick release the steam. This is important to use the quick release method so the broccoli stops cooking.
  • Once the pressure has released, open the pot, pull out the steamer basket or wire rack and place in a serving bowl.
steamed broccoli in the instant pot

How to Serve Broccoli

I like veggies served simply. A squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt is all that’s needed to flavor this veggie.

You can also make a homemade cheddar cheese sauce to serve overtop. Because cheese sauce is always a good idea!

Serve steamed broccoli alongside a protein like bbq chicken or creamy pork chops… and even on top of baked potatoes.

overhead view of a bowl of steamed broccoli
overhead view of a bowl of steamed broccoli

How to Steam Broccoli

5 from 1 vote
Broccoli is a delicious vegetable full of health benefits. Learn how to steam broccoli 4 ways to ensure it is perfectly tender.
Servings 4

Ingredients
 

  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • water

Optional toppings:

  • butter
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • lemon juice
  • sesame seeds
  • soy sauce

Instructions
 

  • Cut the bunch of broccoli off of the stalk and into bite size florets. Discard the stem, save it for another use, or you can steam it as well. If you choose to steam the stalk, use a potato peeler to peel away the tough outsides of the stalk, then slice it into bite size pieces.

In a steamer basket:

  • Add 1 inch of water to a medium saucepan. Place the steamer basket into the pan. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat.
  • Then place the broccoli florets into the steamer and cover the pan with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and steam for about 5-6 minutes until the broccoli is tender. The timing will depend on how big you've cut the broccoli, but it should still be a vibrant green color. If it is not vibrant green, it has cooked too long, so watch the time closely.
  • As soon as it is tender, remove the broccoli from the steamer and place it in a serving bowl so it does not continue steaming.
  • Top with your desired toppings and serve.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Without a steamer basket:

  • Follow the instructions above, except place the broccoli florets directly in the water instead of in the steamer basket. Cover and steam for about 4-5 minutes. I find the broccoli cooks slightly faster this way, so watch it closely.

In the microwave:

  • Place the broccoli florets in a microwave-safe bowl and pour about 4 tablespoons of water over the top of the broccoli. Cover the bowl with a microwave safe lid or plate.
  • Cook the broccoli for about 2-4 minutes (shorter time if the florets are small, more time if they are larger), then check it to make sure it is tender. If it is not yet tender, cook for an additional minute at a time until tender. Be very careful when removing the cover of the bowl. It's very, very hot and the steam can burn as well.
  • Drain off the water and serve.

In the Instant Pot:

  • Place 1 cup of water in the insert of the Instant Pot. Place the steamer basket or the wire rack into the insert.
  • Place the broccoli in the steamer basket (or on top of the wire rack).
  • Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to seal.
  • Set the timer to pressure cook on high for zero minutes. Allow the pot to come to pressure, then when the timer goes off, open the valve to quick release the steam. This is important to use the quick release method so the broccoli stops cooking.
  • Once the pressure has released, open the pot, pull out the steamer basket or wire rack and place in a serving bowl.

To serve the broccoli:

  • Top with your favorite toppings such as a drizzle of olive oil or butter, squirt of lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, freshly shredded parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Notes

Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the broccoli serving 4 people. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 52kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.05g | Sodium: 50mg | Potassium: 480mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 947IU | Vitamin C: 136mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 52
Keyword broccoli, easy vegetable recipe, gluten free, healthy side dish

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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