Learn how to cook mixed buttered vegetables, one of the easiest possible side dish recipes. They’re delicious, fully customizable, and ready in a flash! Grab a bag of frozen veggies, or sub fresh ones you have on hand, and get inspired by the seasoning combinations listed in the post.
Buttered vegetables may just be the most basic recipe out there, but they’re definitely worthy of a post! While steamed vegetables are wildly easy to make, I included some tips that will hopefully help you perfect this dish and avoid mushy, bland vegetables. Plus, there are options if you don’t have a steamer basket.
Be sure to check out the Variations section for seasoning ideas, too! There are so many ways to transform a bag of frozen veggies into a yummy side for a healthy meal. I used mixed vegetables (carrot, peas, green beans, and corn), broccoli, and cauliflower, but you can use whatever you prefer. Serve this dish with just about any weeknight dinner or even for a holiday like Christmas or Easter.
If you’re in the mood for more SUPER easy but delicious vegetable recipes, check out the Steamed Frozen Vegetables, Boiled Broccoli, Microwave Carrots, and Steamed Brussels Sprouts. Cooking veggies doesn’t have to be complicated! PS – if you’re wondering whether frozen vegetables are as nutritious as fresh, I break it down for you in my post Are Frozen Vegetables Healthy?
- Frozen mixed vegetables: I used a 10-ounce bag of organic frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, and green beans). This is equal to about 2 cups of these vegetables. Most brands of frozen mixed veggies come in 10-ounce or 12-ounce bags, and either size is fine to use. You can even use the big 28-ounce bags that are available and skip adding the frozen broccoli and cauliflower if you want. If you want to sub fresh mixed vegetables, feel free!
- Frozen broccoli and cauliflower: Some stores sell a broccoli and cauliflower blend that’s in 12-ounce bags. I could only find them sold separately in the freezer section so I used half of each bag, or about 2 cups each (4 cups total, plus the 2 cups of mixed veg for 6 cups or 6 1-cup servings). Again, you can sub fresh vegetables here if you want.
- Butter: I used unsalted butter because I wanted to add garlic salt, but salted works very well of course. If you need this recipe to be vegan, use vegan butter or extra virgin olive oil.
- Seasonings: I chose garlic salt and dried thyme for my buttered vegetables, but you can use just about anything! I included lots of ideas in the following section.
Buttered vegetables typically consist of mixed vegetables, broccoli, and/or cauliflower, but you can substitute pretty much any kind of vegetable. However, keep in mind that steaming times vary based on the type of vegetable. Bite-sized frozen mixed vegetables don’t take as long to cook as firmer root vegetables, so if you want to steam potatoes or beets for example, you may need to cook them for longer.
In terms of seasonings, you can get as adventurous as you want! Both fresh and dried seasonings work well. Here are some of my favorite combinations to mix with the melted butter:
- Parsley, oregano, and basil (great on mixed vegetables or steamed zucchini and eggplant)
- Fresh or dried garlic and shredded parmesan cheese
- Cumin and lime juice (add a pinch of cayenne for a kick)
- Fresh or dried ginger and soy sauce (great if you include snap peas in your veggie mix)
- Red pepper flakes and orange juice (I love this on broccoli or broccolini, the butter is a great base for these seasonings)
- Dill, garlic, and lemon juice
- For more ideas, see my Vegetable Seasoning Guide
The full recipe card with ingredient quantities for my buttered vegetables is at the bottom of the post.
Fill a pot with enough water to come up about 1 to 1 and ½ inches. Bring to a boil. Place the steamer basket in the pot and fill with the broccoli and cauliflower. Cover and steam for 2 minutes alone.
Uncover and add the bag of frozen mixed vegetables. Use a spoon to gently stir to promote even cooking. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 more minutes. Check to ensure they are fork-tender, then carefully remove the steamer basket from the pot and transfer the veggies to a mixing bowl.
In a butter warmer or saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and stir in the seasonings.
Pour the melted butter over the cooked vegetables. Toss to coat.
My favorite tool for making buttered vegetables is a steamer basket. I like steaming because I think it yields less mushy vegetables than boiling does and since it preserves more nutrients. I also love using a butter warmer for melting butter, since you can easily pour the butter from it onto the vegetables. However, these tools are entirely optional. See the next section for ways to make steamed vegetables without a steamer.
Other Cooking Methods
If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can use a mesh strainer in the same way you would a steamer. Just place it in a pot filled with 1 to 1 and ½ inches of water. If you don’t have a strainer, roll up 3 sheets of aluminum foil into balls and put them at the bottom of the pot. Add the water and place a (heat-safe) plate on top to hold the vegetables.
You can also boil frozen vegetables to make buttered vegetables. Boil a cup or two of water, add the vegetables, cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Follow the instructions on the back of the package for more specific tips. Finally, you can prepare frozen vegetables by microwaving them with about 1 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl covered with a plate for 4 to 5 minutes.
Storage and Reheating
Buttered vegetables are best served right away, but you can keep them in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. The butter will solidify once refrigerated. Reheat in the microwave or even in a skillet until warmed through.
This simple side can really be paired with any kind of main dish. Try these easy veggies with my Spinach Feta Salmon Burgers, Crispy Panko Tofu, or Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers. You can also have them on the side of pasta or ravioli, fish, or sandwiches.
More Easy Sides
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- Steamer basket (optional)
- Fill a large pot with 1 to 1 and ½ inches water. Bring to a boil.
- Place your steamer basket in the pot. Add the broccoli and cauliflower. If you don't have a basket, use a mesh strainer. If you don't have a mesh strainer, roll up 3 balls of aluminum foil and put them in the pot. Then place a heat-safe plate on top of them. Alternatively, see notes for microwave or boiling directions.
- Cover and cook the broccoli and cauliflower alone for 2 minutes.
- Add the frozen mixed veggies to the steamer basket. Gently stir to promote even cooking. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 more minutes.
- Turn off the heat and carefully remove the steamer basket from the pot. Transfer the veggies to a mixing bowl.
- Warm the butter in a butter warmer or saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. You can also melt it in the microwave. Stir in the garlic salt, thyme, and pepper.
- Pour the butter and seasonings over the cooked vegetables in the mixing bowl. Stir until coated. Serve immediately.
- Leave a rating or review by tapping the stars on this recipe card (above) or in the comments section (at the end of the post).
- If you don’t have a steamer, bring a couple cups of water to a boil. Add the veggies, cover, and reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. You can also microwave them with 1 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl covered with a plate for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Feel free to substitute fresh or other frozen vegetables, but keep in mind that cooking time may vary depending on the type and size of vegetable.
- Other seasoning ideas to mix with melted butter include fresh garlic and parmesan cheese; lemon juice, garlic, and dill; Italian seasonings like parsley, oregano, and basil; cumin and lime juice
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet until warmed through.
Enjoy your veggies! – Lizzie