Tender Steamed Broccoli with Olive Oil, Lemon, and Salt

broccoli with lemon and olive oil

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been so busy roasting vegetables to a glorious crisp in recent years that I forgot how fabulous a simple plate of steamed beauties can be. Case in point is this Tender Steamed Broccoli. It brings me back to the way my mom cooked broccoli, in big batches, always served in the same blue ceramic bowl, with a generous nob butter that would melt into the grooves of each floret. Delish! So, I’m back on the steam train with broccoli, relishing every bite and noticing how it really does bring out the best in one of the planet’s healthiest foods.

Tender steamed broccoli

Nutritional Upsides to Steaming Broccoli

When people ask me the best way to cook vegetables, I typically say, “however you’re most likely to eat them!” And I stand by that. Do what is going to get you eating more vegetables: Raw, roasted, microwaved, grilled, blanched, or braised. That being said, steaming broccoli for just a few minutes is an excellent way to maximize its nutritional value. It helps to maintain the antioxidants in this cruciferous powerhouse, plus it means minimal losses of water soluble nutrients, since the broccoli isn’t immersed in water as it cooks. Win win.

Cooking Broccoli without a Steaming Basket

This steaming method is done with one piece of cooking equipment: a pot with a lid. A little bit of water in the bottom of the pot is all that’s need to get the steam going. If you happen to have a steaming basket, by all means to use it! It does elevate the bottom pieces of broccoli above the water. One tip: if you are cooking a lot of broccoli, say two bunches, use a bigger pot.

Tips for Cutting Broccoli

There isn’t much magic to cutting up a head of broccoli. I will make two key points:

  1. Use the stem! It’s tender and sweet. You just need to trim off the exterior, since it’s quite tough and fibrous. Some people use a vegetable peeler for this, but I find a knife to be quicker and more effective.
  2. Size matters. It doesn’t really matter how big or how small you cut the florets, just that they are all about the same size. That way you won’t end up with some over- and some under-cooked florets.
tender steamed broccoli

How to Dress up Steamed Broccoli

Since this recipe is all about simplicity, I kept with that theme, dressing it with just a few basic kitchen staples. It really is delicious this way, but If you want to take it to the next level, here are a few fun ideas:

  • Make this Lemon Tahini Dressing to drizzle over the steamed broccoli.
  • Shower the cooked broccoli with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Warm a small dish of teriyaki sauce to serve alongside (add tofu/chicken and rice and you’ve got dinner).
  • Spoon store-bought or homemade pesto over the broccoli (add hot pasta straight from the pot and you’ve got dinner).
  • Use a pat of good salty butter in place of the olive oil.
  • Dab the broccoli with something spicy, such as chili crisp or chopped Calabrian chiles.

If you like this Tender Steamed Broccoli, you might like:

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Parmesan

Roasted Broccoli with Tahini, Hazelnuts, and Raisins

Broccoli Quesadillas

Easy Sauteed Kale

Tender Steamed Broccoli with Lemon and Olive Oil

This simple method preserves both the nutritional value and the natural sweetness of broccoli. It needs little more than a squeeze of lemon and drizzle of olive oil to shine.

Course Vegetable Side
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 87 kcal
Author Katie Morford


  • 1 head broccoli (about 1 1/2 lbs)
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • A few pinches salt (flaky salt like Maldon if you have it)
  • A few grinds black pepper


  1. Cut the stem off the broccoli. Use a knife to trim away the fibrous exterior of the stem. Slice crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Cut the broccoli head(s) into florets that are all about the same size.

  2. Fill a medium pot (one with a lid) with about ⅓-inch water. Pile the broccoli into the pot and add the lid. Set over high heat.
  3. Cook the broccoli until it is vibrant green and just tender, 3 to 5 minutes depending on the size of the broccoli and the heat of your stove (it will continue to cook a bit after it’s off the heat). Immediately drain the broccoli in a colander.

  4. Pile the broccoli onto a plate or shallow bowl. Squeeze the lemon and drizzle the oil over the top. Add a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

  5. Makes 4 servings


Post Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating