How to Steam Broccoli

You can add broccoli as a side for so many dishes, but it can seem like a lot of work. Learn how to steam broccoli in a microwave in minutes! Wondering how to steam broccoli without a steamer? Want it soft and tender? Or firm and crispy? See the steaming guide below for answers to all of these plus how to steam your broccoli exactly the way you want it.

A bowl of steamed broccoli.

Broccoli is one of our favorite side dishes. Sometimes I’ll serve my Vegan Broccoli Casserole. Other times I’ll make this Vegan Broccoli Salad. The options when it comes to broccoli side dishes are unlimited! But most days, we simply love steamed broccoli. It goes perfectly with so many plant-based main meals, like Vegan Baked Ziti.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Steaming broccoli in the microwave doesn’t require any fancy steaming gadgets
  • Adding water to the dish with broccoli florets washes away debris in addition to providing the moisture needed for steaming
  • Adding your favorite toppings, like olive oil and seasonings, makes this your favorite easy side dish recipe

What You Need

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Broccoli — You’ll need one head of broccoli for this recipe.
  • Water — We use water out of the tap, but filtered water may be necessary if your water has a strong flavor.
  • Toppings — Use olive oil, Italian seasonings, poultry seasoning, and more.

Ingredient Spotlight

Looking down on a cutting board filled with broccoli florets.

What Broccoli is Best for Steaming?

Select heads of broccoli with bright green florets, compact clusters, and firm stalks. Once the florets start to yellow, they can still be used for steaming, but you’ll want to use them right away. If you wait much longer, reserve them for soups and broths. You can store broccoli in the fridge for up to 7 days. Broccoli offers a plethora of nutrients, from fiber, vitamin K, iron, potassium, and even protein. Light steaming helps broccoli provide the most health benefits.

How to Steam Broccoli

  1. Cut the broccoli into similar-sized florets and stem pieces.
  2. Add water to the bowl and cover with a lid or plate.
  3. Shake the bowl to rinse and clean the broccoli. Continue shaking for several seconds.
  4. Drain most of the water, leaving approximately ¼ cup in the bowl with the broccoli.
  5. Place the bowl in the microwave with either a plate on top or a vented lid (leave it open for steaming).
  6. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your preference for tenderness.

Here are more detailed instructions with step-by-step photos:

Step One: Prepare the Broccoli

  1. Cut the broccoli into similar-sized florets. If you want to eat the stems, cut them into evenly-sized pieces as well. Place the florets and pieces in a microwave-safe bowl.
    Broccoli has been cut into florets and one of the larger florets has been cut in half.
  2. Add 1.5 cups of water to the bowl and cover with a lid or plate.
    A pyrex measuring cup is full of water that is being poured over a bowl of broccoli florets.
  3. Shake the bowl to rinse and clean all the broccoli with water. Continue shaking for several seconds.
    Two hands hold a lid over a bowl of broccoli florets and water. The hands are shaking the bowl to wash the florets.
  4. Then drain most of the water, leaving approximately ¼ cup in the bowl with the broccoli.
    Two hands hold a lidded bowl full of broccoli florets and water. The lid is slightly ajar and the water is being poured out of the bowl.

Step Two: Steam Broccoli

  1. Place the bowl in the microwave with either a plate on top or a vented lid (to leave it open for steaming). You don’t want to seal a lid when steaming in the microwave.
  2. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your preference for tenderness. Microwaving for 3 minutes will produce broccoli that has a bit of a bite to it. Microwaving for 5 minutes will create tender broccoli.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Is microwaved broccoli healthy?

Steamed broccoli is a nutritional win, especially when cooked in the microwave with minimal water. That’s because cooking broccoli in a traditional steamer basket can actually cause some of the nutrients to steam out in the cooking process.

How long does it take to steam broccoli in a microwave?

You can usually steam broccoli florets in the microwave in around 3 minutes. If you prefer extra tender broccoli or if you have a large quantity than normal, you may choose to steam it longer. Either way, you should have nice and tender broccoli within 5 minutes using a microwave.

Do you have to vent microwaved steamed broccoli?

Venting the dish you’re steaming your broccoli in is important. Because pressure builds up in the container as the vegetables steam. Either use a vented lid or place a porcelain plate on top of the bowl.

What can I put on steamed broccoli to enhance the taste?

I recommend combining a bit of fat with seasonings on steamed broccoli. For example, drizzling a bit of olive oil over the broccoli will help the seasonings adhere. Italian seasonings are a favorite, but you can also add ground turmeric or paprika.

Broccoli Steam Time Guide

We all have our preferences for the perfect time to steam broccoli. Here is a guide for how long to microwave broccoli to get it exactly the way you want it. Please note, microwaves vary, so yours may take more or less time depending on your microwave.

  • Soft and Tender — If you want your broccoli most soft, you can extend the cooking time to 4 minutes.
  • Soft with some crispiness — As the recipe calls for, 3 minutes is perfect.
  • Barely soft with lots of crunch — You should microwave your broccoli florets for 2 minutes.

Serving Suggestions

Serve this microwave steamed broccoli with any of the following seasonings and sauces:

Serve steamed broccoli with any of these tasty dishes:

Storage Tips

Transfer steamed broccoli to an airtight container and keep it refrigerated for up to 5 days. You can freeze it for up to 2 months. To do so, lay the steamed broccoli in a single layer on a tray and place the tray in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, transfer it to a freezer-safe bag.

Simple Vegan Side Dishes

If you love making steamed broccoli in a microwave, then you’re into simple side dish recipes. Here are more you’ll want to try:

A bowl of steamed broccoli.

How to Steam Broccoli

Learn how to make steamed broccoli in the microwave with this simple recipe. You'll be pleased to learn how easy it is to have steamed broccoli ready in minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 52kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional Toppings: Drizzle with melted vegan butter, olive oil, minced garlic, etc.

Instructions

  • Cut the broccoli into similar-sized florets. If you want to eat the stems, cut them into evenly-sized pieces as well. Place the florets and pieces in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Add 1 cup of water to the bowl and cover with a lid or plate. Shake the bowl to rinse and clean all the broccoli with water. Continue shaking for several seconds. Then drain most of the water, leaving approximately ¼ cup in the bowl with the broccoli.
  • Place the bowl in the microwave with either a plate on top or a vented lid (to leave it open for steaming). You don't want to seal a lid when steaming in the microwave.
  • Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your preference for tenderness. Microwaving for 3 minutes will produce broccoli that has a bit of a bite to it. Microwaving for 5 minutes will create tender broccoli.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Calories: 52kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 53mg | Potassium: 480mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 947IU | Vitamin C: 136mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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