Steaming vegetables in the microwave is about as easy as cooking gets. If you haven’t done this before – or if you wish your kids would eat more veggies – then microwave-steamed vegetables is a technique worth trying.

What you need

All you need is a microwave-safe bowl, a tablespoon or two of water, and a cover. If your bowl doesn’t have a cover, you can use a plate or some microwave-safe wrap. My preferred cover is a silicone shield. It’s reusable, and it seals to the top of the bowl in the microwave – maximizing the steaming effect in minimal time.

Microwave-Steamed Vegetables: The Basic Technique

vegetables ready to steam

  • If you’ve never steamed fresh veggies in the microwave before, start by washing and cutting the vegetables into smaller pieces.
  • Next put the veggies in your microwave-safe bowl and add water. I add about a tablespoon of water for up to a cup of firmer veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.), and 2T if I’m cooking closer to 2 cups of vegetables.
  • silicone coverCover and microwave approximately 2 minutes per cup of vegetables.
  • Carefully remove the hot container, pour its contents into a strainer over the sink, and rinse the veggies with cold water.rinsing steamed veggies
  • If you’re cooking softer vegetables (e.g., summer squash or zucchini), use 1T water per two cups vegetables, and 1 min. cooking time per 2 c. to start. These vegetables tend to cook faster and release more liquid in the cooking process. Also, no need to rinse after.
  • If you like to make soups, save the cooking liquid in freezer-safe containers, and use it in place of water the next time you make homemade soup.

Family-favorite ideas to try:

  • Steamed baby carrots are great plain, but also good sprinkled with a little brown sugar or ginger. Or sprinkle 4 c. carrots with up to a tablespoon of brown sugar before cooking, and use 2-3 T. orange juice instead of water for cooking.cheesy broccoli & cauliflower
  • One of my girls’ lunchtime favorites is freshly-steamed broccoli and cauliflower, sprinkled with a little shredded cheese or grated Parmesan.
  • An easy supper side dish is slicing fresh zucchini and/or summer squash ¼ to ½ inch thick, steaming for a few minutes, and serving with lemon pepper. Lemon pepper is also yummy sprinkled over freshly-steamed green beans.
  • If you have an herb garden, try throwing in a few tablespoons of fresh herbs before steaming.fresh herbs
  • If you don’t have access to fresh local vegetables, frozen ones are a great alternative. Skip the ones that come already sauced. Steam-in-bag options are great for convenience, but pricier than basic 1- or 2-lb. bags, which come with microwave-steaming directions right on the package.

Super-easy mashed potatoes

  • Wash approximately 1½ lbs. of potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes (no need to peel!).
  • Put into a microwave-safe container and add the contents of one 14.5-oz. can of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Cover and microwave 10 min. or until potatoes are cooked.
  • Mash by hand with a potato masher, or use an immersion blender.

Are microwave-steamed vegetables a staple in your family meal prep? Let us know your tips in the comments!


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