How To Select, Prep & Steam Brussels Sprouts

plate of steamed brussels sprouts

The key to tender, sweet, and healthy Brussels sprouts is to steam them because it’s a gentler cooking process, and you get to keep more nutrients compared to roasting or frying. Use our timing methods below to learn how to properly steam Brussels sprouts and prevent overcooked, mushy sprouts. 

How To Pick Brussels Sprouts At The Market

three sizes of brussels sprouts

The first step in getting plump and tender Brussels sprouts is picking ripe and sweeter-tasting veggies at the grocery store or farmers market. It’s better to steer away from super large (more than 1 ½ inches in length) Brussels sprouts because they will have a rubbery texture and bland flavor. Stick to smaller-sized sprouts that keep their shape when squeezed. Smaller Brussels sprouts are often sweeter in taste and firmer in touch. 

You can easily find bagged, whole Brussels Sprouts in the grocery store; however, we prefer picking them out of the fresh produce section one by one because you can pick similar-sized sprouts for even cooking. 

How To Prep And Wash Brussels Sprouts

slicing brussels sprouts in half

From our experience, we like to purchase whole Brussels sprouts removed from their stalks because they’re easier to transport than giant stalks. It’s also sometimes difficult to cut the Brussels sprouts from the stem. Unless you’re cutting them directly from the farm, they don’t have much difference in taste as long as you follow our size and texture requirements above. 

Tools To Steam Brussels Sprouts

steamed brussels sprouts

You only need a pot, steamer, lid, and tongs to steam Brussels sprouts. We used a metal steamer for this recipe, but you can also use a bamboo steamer–we’ve tried both, and there isn’t a difference in timing or the amount of water needed. 

How Much Water To Use To Steam Brussels Sprouts

We use a 2-quart pot and about two inches of water to steam Brussels sprouts. You want to ensure that the bottom of the steamer is not touching the water (otherwise, your Brussels sprouts will also touch the water and boil in the water). Two inches will be enough water to boil the water and create enough steam during the cooking process without needing to add more. 

How Long To Steam Brussels Sprouts

pouring raw brussels sprouts into steamer pot

Steaming Brussels sprouts can take 3-8 minutes, depending on how you prepare them and their size. Here is a quick guide on steaming times:

  • Whole (medium-sized): 6-8 minutes
  • Half (medium-sized): 6 minutes
  • Quartered (medium-sized): 3 minutes

Medium-sized Brussels sprouts are about 1-1 ½ inches. If your Brussels sprouts are smaller, check their texture and doneness one minute before the stated times. If your Brussels sprouts are larger, add one minute to the cooking time. 

To test for doneness, use a fork or knife to pierce the center of a Brussels sprout (about 2 minutes in for quartered and 5 minutes for halved or whole sprouts). It should feel tender but not mushy. 

Can Brussel Sprouts Be Overcooked?

piercing brussels sprouts with knife to test doneness

Brussels sprouts can be overcooked and will end up mushy and flavorless. Steaming Brussels sprouts may take slightly longer to cook sprouts, but it’s a gentler method of cooking them, and it’s harder to overcook vegetables. We also like how steaming Brussels sprouts keep their sweet and nutty flavor profile

How To Not Overcook Brussel Sprouts?

Test your sprouts by piercing them with a fork or knife to prevent overcooking. We like to test at 2 minutes steaming time for quartered Brussels sprouts and 5 minutes for halved or whole Brussels sprouts. They should have a firm but tender texture. We recommend steaming your Brussels sprouts to prevent them from overcooking. If your sprouts are still too hard, steam for another minute and check again. 

Does Steaming Brussel Sprouts Destroy Nutrients?

Steaming Brussels sprouts is the best way to keep many nutrients in vegetables because it’s a gentle way of cooking. It’s also harder to overcook your Brussels sprouts. Steaming Brussels sprouts (similar to other vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli) retain many nutrients like vitamin C that are water-soluble (aka they disintegrate when boiled in water). 

Are Sprouts Better Steamed Or Boiled?

small plate of steamed brussels sprouts

We prefer steamed Brussels sprouts because they make overcooking harder and retain more nutrients. Also, we prefer steaming because it keeps the flavor of the sprouts from getting watered down by boiled water.

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How Long To Steam Brussels Sprouts

Learn how to steam Brussels sprouts to retain all their nutrients and get sweet and tender veggies for your next meal.
Course Ingredient, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword easy side dishes, steaming vegetables
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 19kcal


  • small pot
  • strainer
  • lid
  • tongs


  • 1 c Brussels sprouts
  • water


  • Prep your Brussels sprouts by trimming the dried-out stem portion of the Brussels sprouts and peeling back the first layer of leaves that are torn or dirty. If you choose to cut the Brussels sprouts, cut them however you prefer, in half or quarters.
    peeling first later off brussels sprouts
  • Rinse under running water and submerge for a couple of minutes to remove the dirt in all the nooks and crannies.
  • Add two inches of water to your pot and place the steamer and lid on top. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • When you start to see the steam through the lid, add the Brussels sprouts and add the lid back on.
  • Steam the Brussels sprouts based on the size:
    Whole (medium-sized): 6-8 minutes
    Half (medium-sized): 6 minutes
    Quartered (medium-sized): 3 minutes
  • Test the Brussels sprouts by piercing them with a knife or fork. If it pierces easily with some tension, it should be done.
    piercing brussels sprouts with knife
  • Transfer to a plate and season as you prefer. We like to use salt and pepper.
    plate of steamed brussels sprouts


Calories: 19kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 332IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg