Technique: Perfectly Steamed Broccoli

I was granted a large sum of absolutely beautiful, locally grown broccoli in my latest CSA allotment, and I have been really enjoying this delightfully hearty cruciferous vegetable in multiple meals this week.  The most basic (and honestly, the most perfect) version involves simply steamed broccoli topped with salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  This meal is super clean and low calorie, yet surprisingly filling and satisfying.  I wanted to write up and share my method for perfectly steamed broccoli so you can make it as well!

Steaming is a method that involves quick cooking in a little boiling water, meaning there is far less oil than would usually be used in a sauté or a roasting application.  This keeps the calories down, and results in beautifully cooked, bright green, and perfectly tender broccoli in a fraction of the time of roasting.  I steam mine using a small saucepan on the stovetop, so this method does not require any special equipment for steaming – all you need is a pot with a lid! 

The resulting cooked broccoli can be dressed in a variety of ways based on items you have on hand and flavor adventures that you would like to take.  The recipe down below includes my favorite and go-to dressing with balsamic vinegar and good extra virgin olive oil, but the world is your oyster!  I’ve added nutritional yeast to mine one day, and today I switched it up entirely and used small dashes of fish sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil.  Other condiments that would be great here include chili crisp, miso dressings, or even pesto would be fun.  You could also dip the steamed broccoli into your favorite creamy salad dressings (hello, ranch!) for a fun afternoon snack, or use some extra aioli as a dipper if you have that on hand.  Steamed broccoli is the perfect canvass for a variety of flavors, and it will all be good!

I hope this inspires you to load up on some broccoli this week and enjoy it!  Broccoli is loaded with fiber, vitamins (especially Vitamin C – did you know that 1 cup of broccoli has the same amount of Vitamin C as an orange?), and is very low carb – so it’s a perfect food to keep in your rotation!

Recipe down below, photo up top!  This recipe makes enough for 1 medium-sized head of broccoli.  If scaling up, be sure to add a little more water to the steaming process to prevent the pan from drying out and the broccoli from burning.  Make a big batch for meal-prep for the week – steamed broccoli will keep in the fridge fine for a few days!

Perfectly Steamed Broccoli


  • 1 head of broccoli (medium – large)
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt


  1. Use a paring knife to section the broccoli into individual florets (depending on the broccoli, you can sometimes just use your hands to break up the florets, no knife required).  If there is a long stem remaining, cut the stem into 1-inch (bite sized) pieces.  Discard the very bottom of the broccoli stem.
  2. Add the broccoli into a sauce pan big enough to hold all of the broccoli.  Add the water and place the lid on the pot.
  3. Place the covered pot on the stove and cook for 7-8 minutes over medium-high heat.  The water should come to a full boil and steam should fill the entire pot, which will cook the broccoli.  Do not remove the lid at any point.
  4. After 7 minutes, the broccoli should appear to be bright green and should be tender when poked with a fork.  If so, remove the broccoli from the pan by draining into a colander in the sink.
    1. If the broccoli is still too firm, replace the lid and keep cooking, checking for tenderness with the fork every minute or so.
  5. Run some cold water over the broccoli in the colander to stop the cooking process, then shake the colander thoroughly to remove as much excess water from the broccoli as possible.  Transfer broccoli to a serving plate or bowl, or a storage container for later use.
  6. Top broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt. 
    1. If saving for later or meal-prepping, add dressing when ready to serve (not in the container, otherwise the broccoli will turn brown and taste off).
  7. Grab a fork and enjoy!

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