HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Sauce for Steamed Vegetables?

I've recently gotten a little metal steamer and I'm running out of ideas for sauces for various veggies. I've made a nice sauce out of peanut butter, oil, and red pepper flakes for green beans. For cauliflower I've added some parmesan cheese and olive oil. But other then a squeeze of lemon....do you have any other great combinations I could try? Thank you!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. This isn't the MOST exciting, but lime butter (melted butter mixed with lime juice and salt) is good on broccoli. Or lemon butter!

    There's always a tasty vinaigrette as well - your favorite combo of garlic/shallots/lemon/vinegar/olive oil/you get the picture. Or green goddess dressing.

    You can also think asian, with some sesame oil/soy sauce based dressing.

    1. I recall not too long ago, there was a strong contingent praising the wonderful taste of soy sauce and butter mixed together on Asian Vegetables and rice. I also find Oyster Flavored sauce works well on Green vegetables like Chinese Broccoli/Gai Lan and Mustard Greens..

      When I sautee zucchini or green beans, I like to use garlic and burst either cherry or grape tomatoes for a mix and finish with a drizzle of Olive oil .....or simply roast them all together in the oven.

      1 Reply
      1. re: fourunder

        fourunder, try some chopped fresh thyme and a splash of sherry vinegar with the tomatoes & zucchini - it's one of my favorites.

      2. My husband does a dish where he steams brussel sprouts and then makes a tasty vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, oregano, a touch of olive oil, and sea salt. I disliked brussel sprouts until I met this dish.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Cachetes

          This combo is good on broccoli too. You can switch the red wine vinegar for tarragon vinegar and black pepper.

          I also like lemon juice, cumin, salt, dried mint, and a bit of olive oil

          1. re: Cachetes

            I use just about any variety of salad dressing, bottled or homemade, on vegetables - half a tablespon stirred into a one-cup serving is enough.

            1. re: Cachetes

              I tried this with equal parts olive oil and and Spanish sherry vinegar, sea salt and Italian oregano. Delicious! Thank you!

            2. Have you tried compound butters? You can keep slices of butter in the freezer to toss in for instant flavor... one of my favorites is red wine - shallot butter.

              1. My parents always put the same thing on their steamed veggies every time and I still do it too, because that's just the way you eat them!
                Carrots - butter and brown sugar
                Broccoli - butter and parmesan cheese
                Cauliflower - butter and cheddar cheese
                Green beans - butter and pepper

                1 Reply
                1. re: mordacity

                  While it is true that veggies make a great delivery system for butter, the butter tastes better without the veggies.

                2. why not just throw them in HOT chicken broth -- or veggie broth? then you have soup! -- you can also make a gravy from the soup and add that -- Now, honest, I read it here -- how about some whiskey? During the summer soneone mentioned his kid wanted to put the alcohol back into the corn -- and brought out some brown 'licker -- so I got Laphroig Scotch, and wraped the corn in aluminum foil -- I don't think i've have better corn in my life! (the COOH evaporates leaving behind a dark, deep, smokey peat flavor -- OMG I want fresh sweet corn right NOW!

                  1. Try your lemon juice in the grated parm: whisk it up into a great sauce.

                    1. not the most healthy thing to add to steamed vegetables, but one of my favorites......... melted velveta mixed with salsa

                      1. This goes well with lightly steamed broccoli and roasted brussel sprouts, and would likely go well with quite a few other steamed veggies.

                        1 tablespoon soy sauce
                        1 tablespoon Korean rice vinegar
                        1 tablespoon pure roasted sesame oil
                        1 tablespoon honey
                        2 inch knob of fresh ginger
                        4 cloves fresh garlic
                        2 tablespoons sesame seeds


                        1 teaspoon coarse ground red chili pepper (chili flakes)

                        Heat a dry skillet/pan over medium high heat, add sesame seeds, and toast until golden browned, stirring often.
                        Remove from heat and let cool.
                        Thin slice the garlic, then sliver each slice.
                        Peel ginger and finely grate.
                        Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, oil and honey together in a large bowl until until well mixed.
                        Add ginger, garlic, and 1/2 the sesame seeds and mix well.

                        Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes to let the flavor develop.

                        Pour the sauce over your steamed vegetables, and sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: hannaone

                          i do something very similar to hannaone's sauce (with wheat-free tamari instead of soy). i also add a scant tsp of miso paste and 1/2 tsp. dry mustard, and instead of ground chili flakes, i use a generous squirt of sriracha...which is never optional ;)

                          it's one of my staples - i use it on steamed veggies or as a stir-fry sauce at least once a week.

                          1. re: hannaone

                            Also in a Korean vein, I love cho gochujang (vinegar pepper paste) on broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc. Put some gochujang in a small bowl, and mix in just enough rice vinegar to make it the texture of a thick salad dressing. Add sugar (or malt syrup or honey) to taste, sesame seeds, and possibly a drizzle of sesame oil (though I normally skip the oil)

                            1. re: another_adam

                              Gochujang as a dressing is so good. I use the juices from the shredded daikon in sugared vinegar dish to mix in. Gives it that little something extra.

                          2. Cheddar for broccoli and cauliflower is a classic.. can't go wrong.

                            When I steam green beans I dress them with a bit of olive oil, red onion, red pepper finely chopped and a squirt of lemon.
                            Or how about a mustardy vinaigrette ?
                            The peanut butter sauce sounds good, you could add soy sauce to that and some sesame oil, rice wine vinegar for some acidity.

                            I don't steam too much, but other veggies that I make like eggplant (I generally bake with some oil in the oven - better than frying I guess) and then I make a sandwhich with a tahini based sauce (thinned out tahini, salt, lemon juice) and it's yummy (going to make that tomorrow)

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: BamiaWruz

                              Someone already mentioned butter and brown sugar for carrots (excellent). An extra twist on that is to steam raisins and diced apricots along with the carrots...then toss with butter/brown sugar/cinnamon. Oh, and cut the carrots with a crinkle-cutter. It's a family joke of ours, but I really believe carrots taste better when crinkle-cut. ;) Happy steaming!

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                These are such great ideas. I'm planning to try all of them. Thank you!

                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                  Maple syrup, with or without apple cider, for carrots.

                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                    I love steamed carrots tossed with dill, a good bit of dill too, and no butter. YUM!

                                  1. i do a slightly spicy, sweet & tangy tomato sauce that's wonderful on broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and even zucchini. i don't have exact measurements because i just go by eye & taste, but i use tamarind paste, unseasoned tomato sauce/purée, cider vinegar, garam masala, chopped fresh ginger (or a splash of Ginger People ginger juice), chopped fresh garlic, a squirt of sriracha, a pinch of kosher salt, and a little agave or honey for sweetness.

                                    1. For greens (collard or kale): a mixture of peanut butter and salsa
                                      For various: balsamic vinegar or salsa or tamari or miso

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. It's really interesting to read all the different sauces being used to flavor steamed veggies. We steam or roast most of our vegetables and generally do not make a sauce for them. When I serve steamed broccoli, cauliflower or green beans, for instance, I let the vegetables soak up the pan juices from whatever meat or fish I serving When I steam potatoes they're finished with sea salt & FGBpepper. To me, adding a sauce defeats the health benefits gained from steaming the vegetables. The exception would be a squeeze of lemon.... JMO.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: Gio

                                          "To me, adding a sauce defeats the health benefits gained from steaming the vegetables. The exception would be a squeeze of lemon...."
                                          actually, Gio, sauce or seasoning that contains a little healthy fat can *increase* the health benefits you derive from certain vegetables. your body requires fat to break down fat-soluble vitamins, and while it's not essential that you consume fat at the exact same time as foods that contain these vitamins in order to [eventually] absorb the nutrients from them, eating fat along with them will enhance absorption.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            Thanks for that GHG... I guess I'm just fat phobic. Before and after the fact....

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              fat makes vegetables mo' betta! dang, you go girl! {;^D.

                                            2. re: Gio

                                              I'm with you - if I'm steaming veggies, it's to go with some assertively flavoured dishes, so I'd rather not have a competing sauce.

                                              That said, my boyfriend won't eat his greens without some sort of topping, so I've been making a variety. He's partial to the standard béchamel, though he'll also go for pesto (usually diluted with yogurt), soy/ginger dressing, and barbecue sauce.

                                              1. re: piccola

                                                piccola, i don't know how your boyfriend feels about anchovies, but for something with a ton of flavor, try the sauce i used on the brussels sprouts i made for Thanksgiving....

                                                6 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped, or 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
                                                1 tablespoon EACH butter and olive oil (or 2 tablespoons oil)
                                                ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
                                                1 large garlic clove, minced
                                                Juice of 1 lemon

                                                In a saute pan over medium heat, combine butter and/or olive oil. Add minced garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, just until fragrant, being careful not to brown it. Add anchovies or anchovy paste, and saute for 1-2 minutes, breaking them up with the back of a spoon. Add stock to pan, increase heat to medium-high, and simmer until anchovies have dissolved and liquid is reduced by about one-half. Remove from heat, squeeze lemon juice into sauce, season with pepper, and swirl to combine.

                                                you can either drizzle the sauce over your veggies, or toss them into a pan with a couple of tablespoons of it for a quick saute.

                                                i garnished them with toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, fried capers, and chopped fresh parsley. the dish was fantastic.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  I think he'll be fine if I don't tell him it's anchovies :)
                                                  The boy is rather picky, but he usually likes whatever he eats when not informed of the "weirder" ingredients.

                                                  1. re: piccola

                                                    I do the same thing! I assume he'll never know the difference and be healthier in the long run!

                                            3. Although I appear to be one of the only people on the planet who likes it, an interesting sauce in rotation in our house lately is the raisin vinaigrette from epicurious (It was part of a roasted broccoli + raisin vinaigrette recipe, I think). I think it goes great with carrots or members of the cabbage family.

                                              As mentioned above, butter and soy is also a fantastically great combination. It doesn't take much of either one to liven up the dish!

                                              Another recent decadent fave is browned butter, with chopped nuts added as the butter is just getting close to brown. I usually do this up ahead of time, then toss some steamed veggies (beans, broccoli, etc.) with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a bit of the butter + nuts. Deeply flavorful, I've had numerous people not believe it's just butter and nuts on the veggies.

                                              I have to admit, though, that most of the time I actually just eat my steamed veggies with pepper and salt, or togarashi. (Season salt is also an occasional guilty (??) pleasure around these parts...)

                                              1. I can't believe nobody mentioned Mornay sauce!!! Make a Bechamel and add grated cheese and melt further. Voila, Mornay.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: foodsmith

                                                  I never knew this had a name. I generally call it mac'n'cheese.

                                                  1. re: mordacity

                                                    Well technically Mornay is not designed for mac n cheese, although it's used to create fancy versions of this dish. Mornay is sauce that is over a hundred years old and probably pre-dates mac-n-cheese as we know it. Not to get pedantic about this :)

                                                2. For green beans or brussel sprouts: brown sugar, garlic, butter (optional: top sauced veggies with chopped cooked bacon)

                                                  For spaghetti squash: basil, pine nuts, chopped garlic, and olive oil run through food processor (simple pesto)

                                                  For cauliflower: curried spice honey mustard - mayo, mustard, honey, curry, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, sea salt or kosher salt (then top cauliflower and sauce with chopped cashews and fresh parsley; this is how Houston's used to serve their cauliflower, I ordered it every time)

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: starbucksbrew

                                                    i also love spaghetti squash with nothing more than fresh parm & cracked pepper...and occasionally tomato sauce.

                                                  2. Sometimes just a bit of salt and a squeeze of lemon.

                                                    1. dijon mustard vinnaigrete (sp?)
                                                      easy, delish.

                                                      1. I learnt this sauce / dressing from David Chang of Momofuku. They have a killer brussels sprouts dish and is actually quite easy to recreate at home. Although their brussels sprouts is fried, I think the dressing will work well with steamed bs or other vegetables. They top the vegetables with puff rice:

                                                        For dressing
                                                        1/4 cup Asian fish sauce (preferably Tiparos brand)
                                                        1/4 cup water
                                                        1/4 cup sugar
                                                        3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
                                                        2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems
                                                        1 garlic clove, minced
                                                        1 (1 1/2-inch) fresh red Thai chile, thinly sliced crosswise, including seeds

                                                        For puffed rice
                                                        1/2 cup crisp rice cereal such as Rice Krispies
                                                        1/4 teaspoon canola oil
                                                        1/4 teaspoon shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend)

                                                        Another recipe from Momofuku is the asparagus with miso butter and poached egg(published on Chow):

                                                        The Asparagus Mimosa's recipe from Gourmet is also very good.

                                                        Most of the time I will simply use miso sauce or sesame-peanut-butter sauce to top vegetables like eggplants, asparagus, spinach, and such.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: kobetobiko

                                                          kobetobiko, no lime or vinegar in the dressing?

                                                        2. I wouldn't know where to begin

                                                          I use all sorts of white or bechemel sauces with cheese, wines, sherry's red wine, various cheeses and herbs. Endless combinations

                                                          Butter, I flavor mine all the time. Cumin and lemon for asparagus, red pepper flakes, paprika and garlic for green beans, garlic and rosemary for mushrooms, You can make so many easy butters which are great.

                                                          Try roasting, tossing in olive oil and your favorite herbs and maybe some simple Italian bread crumbs and roast for a change.

                                                          Simmer in diced tomatoes for a ragu which is great

                                                          I make squash, thin sliced dipped in egg and then bread crumbs (lightly) and then oven baked. Served with some fresh diced tomato. Simple and easy

                                                          Lemon, butter and white wine is excellent.

                                                          Salsa is great too

                                                          Honey and butter with some spice is great on carrots

                                                          Soy and honey another great flavor

                                                          Balsamic reduction to a syrup make a great drizzle for grilled veggies

                                                          1. I like mixing Braggs aminos, nutritional yeast and olive oil into a slurry and tossing with steamed (or roasted) veggies. Super yummers!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: jbyoga

                                                              Just discovered Braggs -- love 'em.

                                                            2. This is going to sound so simple but Ponzu. Easy to make or can buy it, but homemade tastes better.

                                                              I also do balsamic mixed with bragg amino acids. Sometimes throw in a little mustard, lemon juice, and roasted garlic, but sometimes the simplicity of balsamic, bragg's and freshly ground black pepper is satisfying enough.

                                                              1. This looks like a thread I've responded to before but I'm too exhausted to search for it.

                                                                for greens and others that sound good:
                                                                mixture of peanut butter and salsa
                                                                mixture of tomatoes and tahini
                                                                balsamic vinegarette
                                                                tamari/sweet potato/oj or pineapple mixture
                                                                tamari/dijon mustard/lemon juice/maple syrup mixture

                                                                1. I make a homemade carrot ginger dressing from epicurious that is really delicious over steamed veggies and rice. I frequently bring it to work for lunches.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: newfoodie

                                                                    Is this the one? I've often thought about making my own ginger dressing, but haven't tried yet. Nicer to do so with a tried and true recipe.

                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                      You can't go wrong with a carrot/ginger recipe. It's a marriage made in heaven. A little apple in the mix works too.

                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                        That's it. Good luck, I've really enjoyed it.

                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                          I make a ginger sesame dressing with fresh ginger, butter, sesame oil and some herbs and it is great over beans, carrots, cabbage, just about anything.

                                                                      2. - Hollandaise (can't believe it hasn't been mentioned!)
                                                                        - Ponzu (1 cup shoyu, juice and minced zest of ½ orange, ½ lemon, ¼ lime, 1 pommello, 1t sugar, and 2 cups water)
                                                                        - Extra virgin olive oil, lemon, and hot pepper flakes
                                                                        - Homemade mayo (plain, curry, paprika, or garlic)
                                                                        - Romesco (2 roasted red bell peppers chopped, 1 ancho pepper soaked and scraped, 2 cloves garlic minced, 1/4c almonds toasted, 2T hazelnuts toasted, 1/4c pine nuts toasted, 1/4c flat parsley, 2T red wine vinegar, 2T chopped mint, 1/2c olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes - pureed)
                                                                        - fage yogurt with garlic

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                          where did you get your recipe for Ponzu? i generally use:
                                                                          * 1/3 cup soy sauce
                                                                          * 1/4 cup lemon juice
                                                                          * 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
                                                                          * 1/3 cup dashi

                                                                          1. re: Emme

                                                                            I riffed from Ripert - some changes but really great. And most likely non-traditional since it comes via France and America.

                                                                          2. re: alwayscooking

                                                                            Red pepper cream sauce. I mince 1/2 small shallot, 1 cup cream. saute shallot in a pan with 1/2 teaspoon butter, add cream heavy cream and let reduce until it naturally thickens, then add roasted chopped red peppers and s/p and let reduce. It will naturally thicken. Great over any vegetables and so easy.

                                                                          3. A vinagrette, either with red wine vinegar, or apple cider. Or make a rice wine and sesame seed oil and mustard/soy toss with sesame seeds.
                                                                            And of course Hollandaise, or I prefer Bernaise with tarragon.
                                                                            And the one that surprised me the most was one I learned from a Portugese chef, she uses olive oil and oregano salt and red pepper flakes, and not a little of oregano, but A whole LOT. It's delicious.