How To Steam Broccoli [With Or Without A Colander]

There are many different ways to cook broccoli. One of the easiest and healthiest ways is to steam it. But if you're wondering how to steam broccoli, you aren't alone. Depending on your kitchen's cookware and your preferred methods, we've researched various options for you to steam broccoli easily for a delicious, healthy result.

You can steam broccoli with or without a colander basket. Both ways are simple and yield delicious broccoli. Both of these methods are very similar. The only difference is that the colander basket used inside the pot strains water from the broccoli as you lift it out, whereas the method without the colander has you pour the pot of broccoli into a strainer over the sink. Both techniques are simple, quick, and provide you with perfectly cooked broccoli.

Check out this beginner's guide to cooking steamed broccoli. We'll discuss broccoli's nutritional benefits and provide all the preparation and steaming instructions for each method.

A broccoli florets being cooked in a steamer, How To Steam Broccoli [With Or Without A Colander]

What is the Healthiest Way to Cook Broccoli?

Cooking broccoli vegetable in a steamer

Broccoli boasts an impressive number of nutrients that provide a plethora of health benefits, which is why it is considered to be a superfood. It has one of the highest protein contents of all vegetables, is a good source of fiber, and contains many vitamins, including B, C, and K. When choosing a method to prepare broccoli, it’s important to pick one that does not deplete the broccoli of its nutritional properties.

Not only is broccoli healthy and delicious it’s also a fairly low-calorie food. Steaming is one of the healthiest ways to cook broccoli because it preserves the nutritional benefits. When the steam cooks the vegetable, the nutrients are not getting lost in water, like if you were to boil it. When broccoli is boiled, it can lose up to half of its vitamin B and C content.

Does Broccoli Need to be Steamed?

Along with being extremely healthy, broccoli is also extremely versatile. It can be cooked in a variety of ways, and of course, it can also be eaten raw. While steaming broccoli is not the only way to cook it, it is one of the easiest. As mentioned above, it’s also perhaps the healthiest. Once you’ve chosen to steam as your cooking method, you can then decide if you want to steam it with or without a colander basket.

Want to get creative in your kitchen? Check out "16 Types Of Cooking Methods."

Do You Need to Prep Broccoli Before Steaming?

Fresh broccoli spears being stir fried in a heavy iron pan on a gas stove

No matter which method you choose to steam your broccoli, it needs to be prepped beforehand. With just two steps, broccoli prep is extremely easy -just clean and cut. Simply rinse the broccoli with water and pat dry. Once your broccoli is cleaned, cut it into florets. Be sure to keep all the pieces around the same size to ensure even cooking.

How to Steam Broccoli with a Colander/Steamer Basket:

  1. Place the cleaned and cut broccoli into your colander basket.
  2. Fill a pot with about 1” water and bring it to a boil.
  3. Carefully place your colander basket inside the pot.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-high.
  5. Cook until the desired doneness is achieved.

NOTE: If you like your vegetables cooked al-dente, steam for 3 to 5 minutes. If you prefer your broccoli on the softer side, cook for 5 to 7 minutes, checking periodically so as not to overcook.

When done, remove the steamer basket or colander from the pot and discard the water into the sink. Be mindful of where you place the steamer basket as it will be very hot. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

This method works best with a colander basket with feet, like this option; click here to see it on Amazon. The feet allow the basket to sit just above or right on top of the water.

Another great option is an expandable colander basket; click here to see it on Amazon. An expandable colander is helpful because it can be resized as needed to fit a variety of pot sizes.

How to Steam Broccoli without a Colander:

  1. Rinse your broccoli and cut it into florets.
  2. Fill a pot with about 1/2” of water.
  3. Bring the pot of water to a rolling boil.
  4. Carefully place your cleaned and cut broccoli inside the pot and cover with a lid.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Once done, pour the pot over a strainer in the sink to sift out the water.
  7. Optional Step: Run cool water over the strained cooked broccoli to stop the cooking process. If your broccoli is already on the softer side, you may want to take this step to prevent overcooking.
  8. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

For an easier transition while steaming broccoli without a colander, opt for a strainer that clips directly onto your pot. Use this silicone clip-on strainer for vegetables, pasta, or ground meat; click here to see it on Amazon. When using a clip-on strainer for broccoli, just attach it to your pot, and once the broccoli is done cooking, simply remove your pot from the heat and pour through the strainer into a sink.

Looking for more stovetop tips? Check out "Cooking: Covered Vs Uncovered (When Should You Cover A Cooking Pot?)."

What Should You Put on Steamed Broccoli?

Broccoli salad on a plate on wooden table

When your broccoli is finished cooking, you can season and serve as desired. Broccoli is a versatile vegetable you can season in a multitude of ways. Of course, you can also eat it plain. Seasoning choices for cooked broccoli include (but are not limited to):

  • salt and pepper,
  • seasoning salt,
  • butter,
  •  and lemon juice.

To avoid over-seasoning your broccoli, start small and taste it as you go. Then you can always add more as needed. Due to its high nutritional value, steamed broccoli is a great option to give to kids. To make steamed broccoli more kid-friendly, add a little bit of seasoning salt and then top it with shredded cheddar cheese. If you are looking for other creative ways to improve your steamed broccoli, check out Emily Chan's cookbook with over 300 broccoli recipes; click here to see it on Amazon.

Are Microwaved Vegetables Still Healthy?

What if time and accessibility are a factor in your cooking and eating habits? Maybe you want steamed broccoli but you don’t have access to a stove or cooktop. Vegetables steamed in the microwave are still very healthy and preserve most of the nutrients.

To steam broccoli in the microwave, add about 2-tbsp of water to a microwave-safe bowl and add cleaned and cut florets. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid or plate and microwave for about two minutes.  If you’re on the go or at the office and still want a healthy side, consider purchasing a microwavable steamer; click here to see it on Amazon.

How Long Can You Keep Steamed Broccoli in the Fridge?

If you find yourself with leftover broccoli, make sure you are storing it correctly. While leftover steamed broccoli will keep fine in the refrigerator, it will not hold up in the freezer. To store your broccoli, put  it in a glass or plastic container with a lid and store in the refrigerator for no more than five days.

To reheat, remove the lid off the container and microwave in 30-second intervals until the desired temperature is reached. Steamed broccoli can also be reheated in the oven. Simply wrap your broccoli in foil and place in a 200- to 250-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Summing Up This Superfood

Overall, it’s tough to beat the ease of steamed broccoli. It’s easy, quick, and delicious. Plus, the options with seasonings and potential recipes also give broccoli endless options, and when you take into account the health benefits? It’s a no-brainer.

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