How To Steam Vegetables

Question:

What’s the healthiest way to cook vegetables? How do you steam vegetables? How long to steam vegetables?

Answer:

Steamed vegetables – the healthiest way to cook vegetables is to steam them.

Steaming means cooking them with the hot steam which rises from water being boiled.

Also see the table below for help with proper vegetable steaming times.

Background Info

Steamed Vegetables

The Benefits of Steaming Vegetables

Steaming vegetables is the best way to maintain the nutrient and vitamin levels while enjoying them hot and soft. Although eating vegetables raw with their skins on is the optimal way to eat them to get all they have to offer, steaming vegetables is the best form of cooking to preserve their nutrients.

There are several advantages to steaming vegetables. An average of 20% more vitamins are maintained when vegetables are steamed. Steamed vegetables are also easier for the body to digest. Another added benefit of steamed vegetables is that they are fat free since you don’t need any butter or oil in the preparation.

How to Steam Vegetables

Steaming vegetables is actually quite easy:

  • 1) Rinse your fresh vegetables with water.
  • 2) Put 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of a pan.
  • 3) Place your vegetables into a steamer. Stainless steel, like this Amco Collapsible Steamer or bamboo like this Concord 3 Piece 8 Inch Bamboo Steamer both work great.
  • 4) Place the steamer filled with vegetables into or (or on top of) the pan of water.
  • 5) Cover the pot and cook over medium to high heat for 3-5 minutes depending on your vegetable choice with the hardest vegetables getting the most time. Make sure to cover the pot to trap the steam.
  • Warning: Be careful not to boil your water dry or you will burn your pan and ruin your vegetables.


  • Cooking Times to Steam Vegetables

    Vegetable Type Vegetable Examples Optimal Steaming Time
    Soft Cut or Small Vegetables Eggplant, Kale, Mushrooms, Peas, Peppers, Spinach 2-5 Minutes
    Medium Firmness Cut Vegetables Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Carrots, Green Beans, Parsnips, Potatoes, Zucchini 6-10 Minutes
    Harder Large Vegetables Artichokes, Turnips, Beets or an entire heads of broccoli and cauliflower 11-15 Minutes


    Notes about Steamed Vegetables

    Do not overcook vegetables, they will be bland, mushy and void of most all their vitamins.

    Vegetables can also be steamed in the microwave, but since they take about the same amount of time as on the stove, there really is no advantage.

    People in China have been steaming vegetables for at least 3,000 years. They steam many different kinds of foods, like fish and dim sum dishes. A bamboo steamer is most often used. The great thing about a bamboo steamer is that you can stack them up and make several different dishes at once. If you steam different vegetables, place your hardest veggies in the bottom basket and cover them while you work your way up to the softer veggies.

    To find out how long to boil corn on the cob see our corn blog post.

    To find out how long fresh vegetables last see our how long do fresh vegetables last menu.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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