How To Steam In Microwave

How To Steam In Microwave

We’ve all been there. It’s a big dinner event. There are plenty of people sitting around your table, ready to get stuck into a delicious dinner.

There’s only one problem. Maybe you’ve been so focused on trying to cook your beef, pork, or poultry just right.

Perhaps you’ve been stuck trying to get the right sauce ready.

For whatever reason, some or all of your vegetables, your carrots, your broccoli, your asparagus, possibly even your mashed potatoes are cold, or not even cooked yet!

Despite what people, and kids especially, say, vegetables are a crucial part of a perfect roast dinner. It’s just not complete without them.

Steaming them normally will take too long, it’s practically minutes until dinner is supposed to start, and you’d rather avoid postponing it any further.

Nobody wants to deal with a room full of hangry people.

Fortunately, there is one kitchen implement that might just be your saving grace: The microwave!

Here is our guide on how to steam at least some of your foods in this underutilized part of our kitchens, as well as some pros of steaming your food, especially veggies, in this way.

How To Steam Your Vegetables In The Microwave

Before we discuss anything else, let’s cover what you’re probably here for, how exactly to steam your food in a microwave.

Firstly, you should make sure your vegetables are clean before you start steaming them. You should also make sure that the vegetables that you want to steam are a reasonable size that can fit in a large bowl (one that can fit in your microwave).

If you have to chop some of your vegetables up, so be it.

Next on the agenda is to place all your vegetables in your bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of water (more if you’re steaming multiple portions), then cover it (not with tinfoil!).

The cover needs to be airtight, so don’t hesitate to really wrap your bowl well.

A better option would be to simply invest in an airtight, microwavable container, as then you can just pop the lid on rather than having to find things to seal your bowl shut.

We recommend something like this specialist microwave steamer bowl from EcoKit, but any microwave-safe container with an airtight lid should work just fine.

Remember to take into account your microwave’s dimensions when shopping around for a container, as the last thing you want is to buy one that’s too large.

Now that you’ve got everything prepared, it’s time to turn the power up to the max. Remember, you only require about two to three minutes per serving of vegetables; if your servings are bigger than that, then split them between batches.

Some vegetables, things like turnips, potatoes, or even parsnips, may take a little longer to steam properly, around 6 to 8 minutes.

Once your vegetables start boiling, you’ll hear the crackling, which means that they’re steaming and cooking. Keep an eye on your veg.

They should still be a little crisp when you take them out, as generally speaking, most people prefer a bit of bite to their veg rather than sogginess.

Once you’ve seasoned them however you want, that’s it! Enjoy your steamed vegetables!

Why Should I Steam My Vegetables In The Microwave?

The best thing about microwave steaming is that it gives you fast results.

Steaming generally doesn’t take long, whatever means of steaming you are using. But it is usually especially short if you are doing it in a microwave.

As we already mentioned, depending on the vegetable you are steaming, it can take as little as 2 minutes to prepare your food using this method!

Not only that, but this means that leaving steaming to the last minute is not a death sentence for your meal. You could finish prepping your meal while steaming your veg in the microwave as the very last item, and you’ll still have great veg to serve everyone.

It also makes steaming easier, since you don’t need to constantly monitor whether your food needs more or less time.

If you have a few people over and want everyone to eat at once, microwave steaming will allow you to cook multiple dishes at the same time, without having to wait until each one is finished. 

Microwave Steaming Vs Traditional Steaming

It’s worth discussing if there are pros and cons to steaming your vegetables in the microwave or doing the same on your stovetop.

We could mention the steamer as the most appropriate piece of kitchenware to use in this scenario. But considering that people are probably far less likely to have a steamer than they are some of the alternatives we’re about to discuss, we’re giving steamers a miss here. 

Don’t get us wrong. If you have a steamer, by all means, use it, but, in the absence of one, you can use the following technique.

On a stovetop, you need a pot, a lid, and a colander. Steaming on a stovetop takes less time but requires more water.

In a microwave, you will need a microwavable tub with an airtight lid, or a microwavable bowl and some plastic wrap to keep the moisture within the bowl. But outside those few pieces of equipment, that’s all you’ll need to steam vegetables in a microwave.

What Other Foods Can Be Steamed In The Microwave?

With all this talk of how great it is to steam vegetables in your microwave, especially with the right preparation, it may start to beckon questions about what other foods can be steamed in your microwave. Can you do the same with chicken? With pork? What are the limits to your microwave’s potential?

Well, in theory at least, any food that can be steamed under normal circumstances can also be steamed in a microwave.

Of course, microwaves vary wildly in power, and therefore cooking times will differ by different brands/models/etc… As such, it isn’t always an easy task to tell which foods work well in a microwave.

However, leaving meat, such as chicken, to steam in the microwave tends to take longer than it otherwise might, and may leave it a lot tougher than most people will enjoy.

You are welcome to experiment with foods to see what might work with this wonder appliance. Just keep metal foil outside a microwave whilst it’s steaming!


So, that’s it! It’s as simple as that to steam food in the microwave. Or, at least, steaming vegetables in there.

The best thing about microwave steaming is that it doesn’t require much effort from you to prepare it; simply put your ingredients into a bowl, pop it in the microwave (probably with a plate underneath to catch drips), and then sit back while it does its thing!

We hope you’ve found this guide useful!

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