How To Steam Vegetables

Here's how to steam vegetables, the easiest and fastest way to cook vegetables.

Steaming is a light cooking that helps veggies retain nutrients, enzymes, and taste. Many vegetables are more palatable and some nutrients are enhanced when cooked.

Steaming is ideal for:

  • Many cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts
  • Many root vegetables, such as parsnips
  • Greens that would be bitter when raw

Vegetable Steamers

A vegetable steamer is a metal basket with slots that allow steam from boiling water to rise to cook the vegetables. It is also possible to steam without a steamer (see below).

Collapsible Steamer

The simplest steamer is a folding, slotted stainless steel basket. When opened, it self-adjusts to fit into several sizes of saucepans. Small, inexpensive folding steamers are available in the housewares section of most supermarkets. Larger steamers for larger saucepans are available in specialty cookware stores.

Steamer Pot

Another type of vegetable steamer is a rigid basket supplied with its own saucepan. The basket fits into the saucepan, similar to a double boiler. Some steamer saucepans have a glass lid so you can watch the progress of the steaming.

How To Steam Vegetables Using A Steamer

  • Cut the vegetables into chunks that will fit into the steamer.
  • Arrange the vegetables into the basket.

  • Fill the saucepan with water to a level below the bottom of the steamer. No water should rise through the slots into the basket.
  • Put the basket into the saucepan.
  • Bring the water to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
  • Cover the saucepan to keep the steam inside.

The vegetables are cooked when they:

  • Turn a bright color, such as bright green or bright orange
  • Are soft to a fork
  • Are at your desired consistency

Steaming Without A Steamer

It is possible to steam vegetables without a steamer, although I haven't tried this myself.

  • Put about an inch of water into a saucepan.

  • Add the vegetables.

Bring to a boil, turn to a simmer, and cover.

Vegetable Ideas

Broccoli florets
Brussels sprouts
Cauliflower florets
Daikon radish (peeled)
Parsnips (peeled)


Many vegetables steam very quickly.

Different vegetables steam at different rates. Add heavier, thicker vegetables first; thinner, lighter vegetables later.

Serve with butter, flax oil, or coconut oil. Healthy fats help the body utilize vegetable nutrients.