The Scoop
The Scoop

The Ultimate Guide to Steaming Veg

Steaming is one of the easiest, healthiest ways to cook vegetables. Whether you use a steamer basket or the microwave method, this method of cooking is a quick and easy way to get delicious, vibrant veggies, jam packed with nutrients otherwise lost in other cooking methods.

Unlike boiling, which destroys up to 50% of vegetables’ nutrients, steaming doesn’t involve any water loss. For most vegetables you steam, approx half a cup worth contains roughly 25 calories and a multitude of vitamins and minerals. To help you get started on a path to healthier veg, we’ve put together this guide to steaming with tips, tricks and cooking times.

How to Use a Steamer Basket

A steamer basket is the ultimate way to steam vegetables. It’s not only heat-resistant, but easy to use and has the ability to fit inside almost any size pot.

If you’re not sure how to use a steamer basket, we’ve got some steps to help.

1.Rinse vegetables in cold water to assure all bacteria and pesticides are removed. Never soak them though because it removes essential nutrients from the vegetables.

Carrot graphic
Boiling water in pan graphic

2.Fill a pot with water and put it on the hob. Put about an inch of the pot for smaller batches or firmer veggies, and about half of the pot for larger batches or extra soft veggies. Let it come to a boil.

3.Evenly slice vegetables for a uniform cook. You can leave them whole, especially for broccoli or cauliflower, but this tends to take longer to steam.

Chopped carrot graphic
Carrot being steamed graphic

4. Once the water boils, place the steamer basket on the pot, and evenly scatter vegetables inside the basket. You can certainly do this sooner if you’d prefer; it won’t negatively affect the steaming process. Don’t let the steamer touch the water otherwise you’ll end up boiling your veg.

5. Next, immediately lower the heat to bring the water to a light simmer and cover with a loose-fitting lid.  If you leave the water at a full boil, you may end up steaming off most of the water before your veggies have had time to finish cooking.

Pan with lid on graphic
Top tip star

If you’re steaming multiple veg at the same time, use individual steaming pods like Nest Steam.

Steaming Times

Between keeping vegetables as nutrient rich as possible and cooking multiple veg at a time, it’s important to know how long certain vegetables take to steam. Generally speaking, most veggies can be steamed in 10 minutes or less using a steamer basket, depending on size, but times can vary considerably (see below.)

Steaming guide times

Overall, our golden rule for streaming is: the more water in the veg, the quicker it will steam. Hard root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots take longer to steam as opposed to softer vegetables like courgette and peppers, which contain a lot of water. Leafy greens in particular steam quicker than root vegetables, but vary as well.