Best Steamed Broccoli

Steamed broccoli is an easy, healthy side dish that turns out bright green and crisp tender every time. Here’s how to cook broccoli…the best way!

Steamed broccoli

Ready for what might be the easiest side dish recipe ever? OK maybe a little exaggeration, but it’s the closest we’ve come. This one has it all: it’s healthy, delicious, and takes only 5 minutes to cook. Steamed broccoli might sound a little drab, right? But let us assure you: an olive oil drizzle, red onion slivers and good sprinkle of salt make humble veggie stellar. Alex and I are often looking for simple side dishes: this one is now in our “pair with everything” repertoire! Here’s how to cook broccoli, and the best way to season it to complement any meal.

Steamed broccoli with feta cheese

How to cook broccoli (a tutorial)

The best way to cook this nutritious veggie? Steamed! Steamed broccoli is super quick and simple: the main adage is don’t be temped to overcook it! Steaming it for 3 to 5 minutes results in broccoli that’s bright green and crisp tender. Cooking even a few minutes past that goes from bright and crisp to faded and mushy. Here are our tips on how to cook broccoli using a steamer basket.

Gear required: You’ll need a steamer basket or steamer pan to make this recipe. Here’s a steamer basket you can buy online.

Step 1: Chop the broccoli into florets.

Chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Note that thicker pieces and larger florets will take slightly longer than smaller and thinner, so try to make them as uniform as possible.

Florets of broccoli

Step 2: Bring water to a boil.

Rule number one of steaming vegetables is this: bring the water to a boil first! Don’t be tempted to just throw everything in the steamer and bring the water to a boil. You’ll boil the water in a saucepan or pot before you add the veggies.

How to cook broccoli

Step 3: Add the broccoli, cover, and steam for 3 to 4 minutes, until crisp tender.

Once boiling, add the broccoli in the steamer basket and cover the pot with a lid. (If your steamer doesn’t have a handle, place it in the pan before boiling the water, then add the brocolli once boiling.) Cook with the lid on 3 to 4 minutes until just tender. Test a piece with a fork and taste to assess whether it’s done. The cook time will be different every time based on the thickness and age of the broccoli (tender, young broccoli and thinner broccoli takes less time).

Alex and I like our broccoli on the crisp side, so that’s what you’ll get in this recipe. If you’d like it more tender, cook 1 minute more. Just be careful not to cook much longer or the color will immediately fade and it will become mushy and overcooked!

Steamer basket

Step 4: Drain and season.

Carefully remove the broccoli to a bowl. Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, feta cheese (optional), and red onions. As noted in the recipe below, we like to soak our red onions in water for a few minutes, which helps to reduce onion breath and remove a bit of the “spice”. You can do this while you cook the broccoli: it only needs a few minutes.

Easy side dish recipe

How to season steamed broccoli

Once your broccoli is perfectly steamed, there are many ways to season it. In this recipe, we accessorized with red onion for a little shape and color contrast. Then it’s mixed simply with olive oil and salt and pepper. Adding feta cheese crumbles takes it from good to great, and it’s one of our favorite ways to eat broccoli.

If you don’t use this idea, there are literally hundreds of way to season broccoli (and lots of other broccoli recipes). Here are a few more ideas:

  • Olive oil and some grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • A shake of rice vinegar and sesame seeds
  • Drizzle of balsamic reduction
  • Lemon zest
  • Slivered toasted almonds
  • Goat cheese or feta crumbles
  • Minced garlic
  • Panko and dried herbs

Want more easy side dish recipes?

And that’s it: how to cook up the best steamed broccoli! We used it all the time to pair with everything from meatloaf to salmon to shrimp to pasta. If you’re looking for other side dishes to add to your repertoire, a few more we might recommend:

This steamed broccoli recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, omit the feta.

Print
Steamed broccoli

BEST Steamed Broccoli


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Steamed broccoli is an easy, healthy side dish that turns out bright green and crisp tender every time. Here’s how to cook broccoli…the best way!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds (2 large heads) broccoli
  • 1/4 cup red onions, thinly sliced (or substitute green onion)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Chop the broccoli into florets.
  2. If using, thinly slice the onion. Place it in a bowl of water while you’re making the rest of the recipe, then drain. (This helps to reduce onion breath and remove some of the spicy bite. If you use green onion, skip this step!)
  3. Place 1 1/2 cups water into a saucepan or pot and bring it to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, add the broccoli in the steamer basket. Steam with the lid on 3 to 4 minutes until just tender (test with a fork). We like our broccoli on the crisp side: if you’d like it more tender, cook 1 minute more. Just be careful not to cook much longer or the color will immediately fade and it will be overcooked!
  5. Carefully remove the broccoli to a bowl. Toss with the olive oil, kosher salt, feta cheese (optional), and drained red onions. Top with freshly ground black pepper.

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Steamed
  • Cuisine: Vegetables

Keywords: Steamed Broccoli, Easy Steamed Broccoli, Easy Side Dish Recipe

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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