3 Easy Ways to Steam Cauliflower

Steamed cauliflower is a wonderfully easy and nutritious dish. Top with a bit of salt and/or pepper, a pat of butter to meld with its earthy flavor, a sprinkle of soy sauce or tamari for something simple yet delicious, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil to bring out its nuttiness. Steaming cauliflower is super easy – whether you do it in a pan, with a steamer, or in a microwave.

How to Steam Cauliflower in a Pan

This is by far my favorite way to steam cauliflower.

It involves one dish, real steam, great tasting cauliflower:

  1. Bring about 1/4 inch of water to a boil in a large frying pan.
  2. Add about 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and trimmed and cleaned cauliflower florets.
  3. Cover and steam until as tender as you like (about 3 minutes for crisp-tender and up to 8 minutes for completely cooked, soft florets).

How to Steam Cauliflower in a Steamer Basket

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

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

How to Steam Cauliflower in a Microwave

Steaming cauliflower in a microwave is certainly quick and convenient. It is definitely more difficult to get vegetables steamed to a precise and even level of doneness, though, and cauliflower 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: 

  1. Put freshly washed cauliflower florets with water still clinging to them in a large bowl, a small pool of water should form in the bottom of the bowl quite quickly. If you don't see water in the bottom of the bowl, add a tablespoon of water.
  2. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid or plate (avoid plastic wrap in microwaves), and cook on high power for 1 minute.
  1. Test for tenderness and repeat at 15-second intervals until the cauliflower is steamed to your liking.