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Steamed Vegetables

Get tender, crispy steamed vegetables on your plate quickly and easily with one of these 3 foolproof methods. Toss with a little butter, garlic, and lemon pepper for a flavorful side dish in minutes!

Vegetables on cutting board.
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Veggies in the Steamer

On days when you just don’t have the time to make oven roasted vegetables, you now have this simple steamed version to fall back on! Ready in just 15 minutes, these steamed veggies are perfect to add to a baked teriyaki chicken bowl or serve with steak and potatoes.

Gone are the days of steamed veggies being flavorless soggy afterthoughts. There are so many ways to steam vegetables that bring out the natural juices and sugars of the veggies while maintaining a perfectly crunchy, tender bite.

There are no rules as to what veggies to steam, so gather the ones your family loves, and choose either the stovetop, the steam basket, or the microwave method. All of these take the guesswork out of how to get your kids to eat veggies. They’ll love the seasoning and I don’t know any kid that doesn’t love a tender vegetable covered in butter or a sprinkling of parmesan!

Steamed vegetables cooking in skillet.

How to Steam Vegetables

  • Without a steamer: Place vegetables in a large skillet and cover with water. Place lid on the skillet and cook for up to 5 minutes. Remove the lid and let the water evaporate. Toss in the butter (or olive oil), minced garlic, and lemon pepper. Continue cooking until veggies are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a steam basket: To your pan, add 1 inch of water and place the steamer basket inside. Then, add more water and bring to a boil. Toss the veggies into the basket and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook until tender.
  • In the microwave: To a microwave-safe bowl, add vegetables and water. Place in the microwave until fork tender. About 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with butter, salt, and pepper.

Tip: To add an extra special flavor to any of the above methods, squeeze a drizzle of fresh lemon juice and a bit of parmesan cheese on top!

How Long to Steam Vegetables

Depending on the type of vegetable you are steaming, the times may vary. Generally speaking, root veggies take longer. Small veggies will of course cook quicker, as will vegetables containing more water (ie zucchini). Below is a guide to help you determine how long to cook your vegetables.

  • Tough dark leafy greens such as beet greens, kale, and collard greens: 3 minutes
  • Delicate leafy greens like spinach: 3 minutes
  • Green peas: 3 minutes
  • Broccoli & cauliflower florets, green beans: 5 to 7 minutes
  • Broccoli stem, sweet potatoes, turnips, potatoes, carrots, all types of squash: 8 to 20 minutes
Steamed vegetables cooked in pan.

Steaming Tips

  • Size of vegetables. Most people cut their veggies to the size they’re going to eat them. But if not, and you’re just tossing them in all willy nilly, just remember that bigger veggies take longer to cook.
  • Uniform sizes. With the above being said, whether you cut them big or small, just make sure to keep them all the same size. That way they will cook evenly.
  • Root veggies cook longer. Cook your root veggies together at the same time.
  • Mixed veggies. If you are planning on mixing veggies, add the ones that take longer first. Then add the other ones in later.
  • Avoid over steaming. Until you get used to steaming veggies like a pro, a good rule of thumb is to use a timer. Soggy veggies are not on the menu!
  • Fresh or frozen. You can use either. Frozen will have more water that needs evaporating, which means they may get soggy quicker. Just keep an eye out for that and not leave them covered for longer than necessary.
  • Instant Pot steamed vegetables. The magic of the Instant Pot strikes again! You can use the IP just as you would a steamer basket on the stove. Set the valve to sealing, pressure cook on high/manual, and set it for 0 minutes. Yes, you heard that right! By the time it comes to pressure, it would have already had a chance to steam up nicely. Do a quick release and season as desired.
Steamed vegetables with meal on plate.

More Easy Veggie Recipes

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steamed vegetables cooked in pan

Steamed Vegetables

5 from 5 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Get tender, crispy steamed vegetables on your plate quickly and easily with one of these 3 foolproof methods. Toss with a little butter, garlic, and lemon pepper for a flavorful side dish in minutes!
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 6


  • 3-4 cups fresh vegetables , trimmed and cut into uniform pieces
  • 1-2 Tablespoons butter , or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic , optional
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon pepper

S&P, to taste


    Stove top

    • Place vegetables in a large skillet and cover with 1/3 cup water. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes. Root vegetables will take double the time. Remove lid and let water evaporate. 
    • Add the butter or olive oil, minced garlic and lemon pepper. Cook an additional 2-5 minutes, or until tender. Salt and pepper, to taste.

    In a steam basket

    • Add 1-inch of water to your pan and then place the steamer basket inside. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Add vegetables to a basket and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook 4-5 minutes, or until tender.


    • Place vegetables and water in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender. Season with butter, salt and pepper.


    Tip: Add a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan cheese on top to add a special twist!


    Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 76kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 60mg | Potassium: 193mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 4679IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: American

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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