Steamed brussels sprouts are unfairly maligned. While over-steaming can bring out a soggy blah in these tiny cabbages, a delicate steam can highlight their nutty flavor. Steam brussels sprouts just until they're fully tender to the bite (a fork should go into them easily, but doing so shouldn't make the sprout fall apart), but still a lovely green and with some bit of resistance when you bite into them.
In other words, avoid mush!
How to Steam Brussels Sprouts In a Pan
This is my absolute favorite way to steam brussels sprouts: one pan, real steam.
Bring a scant 1/2 inch salted water to boil in a large frying pan or saute pan. Add the brussels sprouts, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the sprouts are tender to the bite and the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes (depending on how crisp you like your cooked sprouts).
How to Steam Brussels Sprouts 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 brussels sprouts in the steamer basket, set over the boiling water, cover, and steam until tender to the bite, about 5 minutes.
How to Steam Brussels Sprouts In a Microwave
Steaming brussels sprouts in a microwave is certainly quick and convenient.
It must be noted, however, that it is more difficult to get any vegetable steamed to a precise and even level of doneness in a microwave.
Put cleaned and trimmed brussels sprouts in a large bowl with a scant tablespoon or so of water on the bottom, cover the brussels sprouts 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 brussels sprouts are steamed to your liking.
Note: Brussels sprouts 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.
How to Serve Steamed Brussels Sprouts
No matter how you steam them, steamed brussels sprouts are perhaps at their most delicious with a bit of butter melted over them and a sprinkle salt (and freshly ground black pepper, if you like). That said, there are plenty of other options, including a simple spritz of lemon juice or tossing them with a bit of toasted sesame oil or chile oil. Using compound butter on steamed brussels sprouts is another tasty option.