Steaming Vs Boiling Vegetables

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Steaming Vs Boiling Vegetables – Which Is Better?

steaming vs boiling

When it comes to cooking vegetables, what do you prefer? Steaming or boiling? Regardless of your preference, these are two acceptable and popular methods of preparing vegetables.

If you are inclined to preserve the colour, flavour, and nutrients, you must stop and consider both methods. This steaming vs. boiling guide spills all the details!

Boiling Vegetables

boiling peas

Boiling is the process of tossing the veggies in a pan full of water and let them cook until they have reached the tenderness you prefer.

During the process, the nutrients of the vegetables reach the cooking water as well. Therefore, the longer you leave the veggies to boil, the more the nutrition loss.

If you are making soup, this may not be an issue. On the other hand, if you are using the boiled vegetables to make a meal, all the nutrients will be lost from the final product. The flavour and colour may also be affected.

Benefits of Boiling

Boiling your veggies isn’t all bad. Read these benefits:

  • No added fats (such as oil) are required for cooking
  • It’s an easy cooking method that doesn’t require much supervision 
  • It makes the food tender and easy to eat
  • Works wonders for large scale cooking

What food can you boil?

Boiling is perfect for hard food like potatoes, beets, cob, rice, pasta, eggs, and meat joints. There is a trick to retain the nutrients when boiling food. Simply reduce the amount of water. 

Most vegetables don’t require much liquid to cook. Being aware of the quantity of water and the amount of time required for the food to cook, you can preserve the nutrients of the food.

boiling vegetables

Steaming Vegetables

Steaming is the process of cooking the vegetables in a vented container or basket. The food sits above a pan of boiling water and is cooked by the steam.

This method is rather quick, and it’s highly recommended by health experts since there is no nutrition loss. 

The goal is to cook the veggies until they are no longer raw. The crisp, bright colour and flavour are maintained. 

Benefits of Steaming

Let’s review some benefits of steaming food:

    • Eliminates the chances of overcooking food
    • No extra fats are required to cook food
    • Perfect for calorie conscious people 
    • Preserves the nutrients of the food

What food can you steam?

You can steam a variety of food such as shellfish, chicken, and vegetables. Steaming is a delicate process. It’s perfect for boiling green beans, zucchini, carrots, and any other delicate green leaves. 

Broccoli is another perfect vegetable to steam. It prevents Vitamin C and glucosinolates from breaking down and lost during cooking.

steaming spinach

Loss of Nutrients

Boiling the veggies causes water-soluble contents such as vitamins and folate leach into the water. Unless you will drink the broth along with the veggies, it’s not a healthy option to cook food.

Experts say that the cooking time, amount of liquid, and temperature to a minimum as a rule of thumb. That is why steaming is the best way of preserving nutrients.

Cooking the veggies can actually increase the antioxidants. For example, when foods like carrots and tomatoes are cooked, the beta carotene and lycopene are enhanced. Their quantity increases four times when cooked.

Heating releases the antioxidants trapped in the fibres of the vegetables. This happens when the right amount of heat is exposed to the vegetables via a cooking method like steaming.

Texture and Taste

When preserving the texture and taste of the vegetables is important, it’s recommended to go for steaming from steaming vs boiling. Although boiling the veggies doesn’t make the food full, but their original texture is soft. They become softer.

It is only through steaming that the original taste and texture of the vegetables remain intact. The food is cooked, but the original crisp and crunch are retained. Plus, it’s a lot more enjoyable than having soggy food.

steaming vs boiling broccoli

Is Steaming Better Than Boiling?

From steaming vs boiling vegetables, it’s evident that steaming is a much healthier option. It is a gentle way of cooking since the food doesn’t come in contact with boiling water. Researchers say that water is not a healthy option when preparing vegetables.

Not all vegetables experience leaching. The ones with better cell structure are less susceptible to nutrition loss.

When steamed, the food is exposed to heat briefly. Hence the brightness, flavour, and crunch remain intact. Does that mean you should stop boiling your veggies? Not necessarily.

The primary reason we boil food is that it kills 99.99% of bacteria. Also, some foods are best cooked through boiling. By reducing the heat and quantity of water, you may still boil your vegetables and preserve the nutrients successfully.

Does Boiling Take Longer Than Steaming?

Boiling takes longer than steaming. Steaming is used when you intend to cook the vegetables until they are slightly cooked and have a crisp texture and bright colour intact.

When boiling food, the goal is to cook it entirely. Therefore, it takes longer to boil food than steam it.

boiling pot

What’s the Best Cooking Method?

Between steaming vs boiling, the best cooking method depends on the vegetable. Regardless of the method you choose, it is clear that overcooked food loses it’s nutrition, flavour, colour, and taste. 

Finding the sweet spot to make your green vegetables edible and enjoyable is not easy. To create perfectly cooked veggies, follow these tips:

  • Always use fresh vegetables. No cooking method can turn stale food into something delicious 
  • Leafy veggies like spinach hardy need cooking 
  • Cut your vegetables into small pieces
  • Never cook too many veggies at once
  • Salt the water 
  • Use less amount of liquid
  • Keep on checking the vegetables as they cook
  • As soon as the vegetables reach the texture you require (perfect blend of softness and crispiness), take it off the heat

In cooking, every step matters. If you always preferred boiling your vegetables, now that you are aware of the truth, switch to steaming. You will get to enjoy the taste and texture of the food better than before.

Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!