Perfect Steamed Broccoli

updated Nov 11, 2022
How to Steam Broccoli Recipe

Broccoli this crisp-tender and vibrant is destined to be served with cheese sauce!


Prep4 minutes

Cook3 minutes to 8 minutes

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Credit: Laura Rege

Perfectly steamed broccoli can be a simple side to serve on its own, smothered in sauce, or tossed with cooked pasta or rice. In this easy step-by-step recipe, learn how to prep and steam broccoli so that it is vibrantly green and crisp-tender every single time.

While roasted vegetables are romanticized for their crispy textures and the caramelized flavors, and stir-fried veggies are hot, fresh, and fast, steaming is the ultimate method for intensifying foods’ natural flavors and colors. My go-to choice for easy weeknight steaming is broccoli. It’s perfect for nights when I’m all out of ideas and rely on tried-and-true techniques to get dinner on the table.

What Is the Best Way to Steam Broccoli?

While you can steam broccoli in the microwave, I prefer to use the stovetop. To steam a head of broccoli, you have two equipment setup options.

  • Large saucepan with a lid and steamer basket
  • Large skillet with a lid

Using a steamer basket lifts the vegetables above the water level so that the broccoli is cooked via steam, not boiled in water. If no steamer basket is available, use just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and avoid submerging the broccoli.

Credit: Laura Rege

Tips for Making Better Steamed Broccoli

  • Use quality ingredients. The first step toward making truly tasty broccoli begins with good-quality ingredients. Look for fresh broccoli that is green and not yellowed. The stalks should be firm, and the florets tightly packed.
  • Avoid overcooking. Cooking the broccoli for too long will turn the florets a dull olive green with a sulfurous aroma.
  • Play around with the seasoning. Season broccoli simply with kosher salt and black pepper. Red pepper flakes add spice, while grated Parmesan cheese and lemon also play well with this veggie. My mom always served steamed broccoli with a dollop of mayonnaise, which isn’t a far jump from garlicky aioli if you’re in the mood for fancy.

How to Serve Steamed Broccoli

How to Steam Broccoli Recipe

Broccoli this crisp-tender and vibrant is destined to be served with cheese sauce!

Prep time 4 minutes

Cook time 3 minutes to 8 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 12 ounces

    broccoli or broccoli crowns (1 medium or 2 small)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, for serving (optional)



  1. Cut the broccoli florets. Cut the stalks off 12 ounces broccoli. Cut the florets into 1 to to 1 1/2-inch pieces.

  2. Peel and slice broccoli stems. Trim the tough, woody ends of the stems. Peel with a vegetable peeler until you get to the lighter, tender parts of the stems. Cut the stems crosswise in half, then lengthwise into quarters. For broccoli crowns, just quarter the stems lengthwise.

Option 1: Steam with a steamer basket

  1. Prepare the pot for steaming. Fill a large saucepan with about 1-inch water and fit with a steamer basket. (The water level should be below the bottom of the steamer basket.) Cover and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.

  2. Steam the broccoli. Arrange the broccoli stems in an even layer in the steamer basket and top with the florets. Cover and steam until just tender and bright green, 3 to 4 minutes.

Option 2: Steam without a steamer basket

  1. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of a large skillet (about 3/4 cup for a 12-inch skillet). Add the broccoli in an even layer, cover, and steam over medium-high heat until just tender and bright green, 6 to 8 minutes total.

  2. Season the broccoli. Use tongs to transfer the broccoli to a serving dish. Season with kosher salt and black pepper if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: Fill a large bowl with ice water. Prepare the broccoli as directed. Once the broccoli is crisp-tender, transfer directly to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Once cooled, pat dry with paper towels. Refrigerate in a paper-towel lined airtight container.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.