How Long to Cook Vegetables: A Beginner’s Guide to Preparation Times

updated Jun 5, 2019
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When it comes to vegetables, I tend to stick to a routine. Roasted Brussels sprouts tonight, sautéed broccoli tomorrow. Do you ever gaze across the produce in the grocery store or the farmer’s market and wonder how you’d prepare something new? Look no further. Here’s a beginner’s guide to proper preparation times.

If you’re new to the kitchen or trying to shake things up a little, it’s helpful to know which vegetables cook in a similar manner. Of course, you can use a wide variety of cooking methods (steam, grill, roast, sauté) and the size of the vegetable will further determine the cooking time. In general, if you’re trying out a new vegetable, go ahead and buy up a big bag at the farmers’ market and try cooking it a few different ways until you find the one best for you.

For the sake of comparison, the following guide assumes boiling.

Cooks Quickly (5 minutes or less)

• Asparagus
• Broccoli
• Carrots
• Corn
• Eggplant
• Green Beans
• Mushrooms
• Peas
• Spinach

Cooks in 10 to 15 minutes
• Brussels Sprouts
• Cauliflower
• Squash

Just Keep Cooking (15 minutes and beyond)
• Artichokes
• Beets
• Collard Greens and other hearty greens
• Potatoes

• Cook vegetables until soft, but so they still have a bite to them (think green beans that remain firm rather than droopy).
• To keep vegetables from overcooking before serving, submerge in ice water to stop from cooking and again briefly in boiling water when you’re ready to serve.

For a complete chart of vegetable cooking times, including microwave, see TLC’s Vegetable Cooking Guide.

It’s Reader Request Week at The Kitchn! This post was requested by M. LEE.

(Images: Tamar Adler via The Kitchn)