How to Steam Broccoli Perfectly Every Time

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Steamed broccoli is the best cure for over-indulgence I know. It’s cleansing, healthful, high in vitamin C, protein (45% of the calories in broccoli are from protein), and fiber.

How to steam broccoli so that it comes out perfectly every time?

The most important thing to know about steaming broccoli is that cooking the broccoli any more than 7 minutes tops risks overcooking it. After 7 minutes the broccoli will turn it olive green, instead of that beautiful vibrant green color we want.

So, to make sure the broccoli is perfectly cooked, here are a couple tips:

Tip 1: Get the steaming water hot and steamy first, before adding the broccoli to the steamer basket. A quick way to get the water hot is to use a tea kettle.

Tip 2: Set your timer for only 5 to 6 minutes. Smaller florets of young fresh broccoli may only need 5 minutes to cook, larger florets of more mature broccoli made need 6. I recommend starting with 5 and then testing the broccoli with a fork to see if it is cooked through.

Steamed Broccoli

As for serving the broccoli, the easiest way to dress broccoli is to dot it with dabs of butter. My favorite way to eat broccoli is to toss it with lots of freshly ground black pepper, and sprinkle it with a little seasoned rice vinegar. (Black pepper, by the way, is one of those perfect pairings with broccoli.)

My parents love their broccoli served with a little mayonnaise on the side, which is surprisingly good. You can also do olive oil and lemon zest (pictured above), olive oil and balsamic vinegar, etc. Good with toasted slivered almonds or toasted sesame seeds too.

How to Steam Broccoli Perfectly Every Time

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of broccoli

Many options here:

  • Olive oil, butter, or mayonnaise (use olive oil if cooking vegan)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon zest or juice, balsamic vinegar, seasoned rice vinegar
  • Toasted almonds, toasted sesame seeds

Method

1 Prep the broccoli crowns and stems: Cut the crowns away from the large stems of the broccoli. Break the crown up into bite-sized florets. Rinse the broccoli florets thoroughly.

Peel and discard the thick outer skin of the stems. Slice the stems or cut them into quarters lengthwise.

2 Bring steamer water to a boil: Place 3/4 to 1 inch of water in a saucepan with a steamer and bring to a boil. (Note that is you don't have a steamer, you can simply put the broccoli directly into an inch of boiling water.)

3 Add broccoli, steam 5 to 6 min: Add the broccoli to the steamer and cover; reduce heat to medium and let cook for 5-6 minutes. The broccoli is done when you can pierce it with a fork. As soon as it is pierce-able, remove from heat, place in serving dish.

Note that green vegetables like broccoli will turn from vibrant green to drab olive green at about the 7 minute mark of cooking. So, watch the time, and don't let the broccoli overcook!

4 Dress with your favorite topping: Dress to taste with butter, olive oil, mayonnaise, lemon zest or juice, seasoned rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, ground black pepper, toasted almonds, or sesame seeds.

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How to Steam Broccoli

Showing 4 of 13 Comments

  • EmmShah

    Good but was missing something. The second time I made it, I added a knob of slivered young ginger. Was perfection!

  • Derek D

    The best way to dress it is lemon juice and some grated Parmesan or Romano. everyone who’s tried it agrees!

  • Chas Lewis

    Thanks to you, I have become a fan of broccoli.

  • Cooper

    Great recipe! I normally don’t like broccoli at all but I loved this! :)

  • Laura

    Another wonderful way is to steam the broccoli for 4-5 min and then moved broccoli onto a fry pan along with 1tsp of butter, and a dash of garlic & salt for another 3-4 min untill soft. It’s delicious!!!

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