How to Steam Vegetables

By Stovetop or Microwave, Steaming Vegetables is Simple!

Steamed green gabbage in colander, wooden spoon
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When I sit down to prepare my meals, I know for certain that vegetables will always find their way onto my table. Although I like to grill vegetables, steaming them is one of my preferred methods. By steaming a vegetable, its color, texture, and flavor is better retained, as is the vegetable’s nutritional content. Steaming is also one of the easiest ways to prepare vegetables and can be done in minutes.

Stovetop Steaming vs Microwaving

Other than buying an actual food steamer, there are two main ways of steaming vegetables: on the stovetop and in the microwave. Both methods are quick and easy and the results are generally the same. But for each different vegetable cooked, there are some variations, such as the time spent cooking. You do not need any special equipment. Most people will have a saucepan, lid, and colander already in their kitchen, and that is all that is needed for steaming on a stovetop. For steaming in a microwave, a microwave-safe bowl and plastic wrap is used.

How to Traditionally Steam Vegetables

As a general rule, when steaming on the stovetop, you will need a large pot and a steamer basket or colander that will fit inside. Fill the pot with enough water so that it just barely reaches the bottom of the colander or steamer basket. Once the water comes to a boil, add vegetables and place a loose fitting lid on top to cover.

If your lid is more fitted over the colander, position it so that one side hangs over the colander just enough to let the steam escape. The colander, position it so that one side hangs over the colander just enough to let the steam escape.

How to Steam Vegetables in the Microwave

When steaming in the microwave, the method is generally the same.

Place vegetables in a microwave-safe bowl, add no more water than what it takes to rinse your vegetables before washing. No additional water is needed! Cover the bowl with microwave-safe plastic wrap, leaving one corner open to vent.

How Long to Steam Vegetables

All vegetables will have different cooking times depending on their size and thickness. Below you will find some of the more commonly steamed vegetables and their cooking times for both stovetop and microwave steaming.

Asparagus: On the stovetop, asparagus are steamed approximately four minutes for thin spears. Add an extra minute or two for thicker spears. For asparagus, time steaming in the microwave is relatively the same: four to six minutes.

]Broccoli: Broccoli florets are steamed on the stovetop about five minutes. Look for a dark color change and you will know when the broccoli is done. In the microwave, allow broccoli florets to steam three to five minutes.

Brussels Sprouts: On the stovetop, Brussels spouts are steamed approximately ten minutes. In the microwave, Brussels sprouts cook more quickly, in about seven minutes.

Carrots: Carrots that are sliced about ¼” thick are steamed on the stovetop about six to eight minutes.

In the microwave, steam for about five minutes.

Cauliflower: Cauliflower florets will steam on the stovetop in about six minutes. For microwave steaming, cook cauliflower for three to four minutes.

Green Beans: Steam green beans on the stovetop for about five minutes. In the microwave, steam green beans for three to four minutes.

Peas: Peas steamed on the stovetop take about three minutes. In the microwave, steam peas for one to two minutes.

Zucchini: On the stovetop, steam zucchini for six to seven minutes. In the microwave, steam for six to eight minutes.