7 Ways To Cook Broccoli: Rated Best To Worst

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How to Cook Broccoli Ingredients

Learn everything you need to know about how to cook broccoli in this simple guide.

How to Cook Broccoli: 7 Ways

Broccoli is one of my all-time favorite side dishes! And I bet it’s one of yours too. It’s super tasty, easy to prepare, and it pairs well with almost everything.

And of course, it’s also a nutritional powerhouse. Broccoli is jam-packed with good-for-you vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting compounds. And it’s also full of fiber and is excellent for your digestive system. But what’s the most delicious (and nutritious) way to prepare it? Here’s my guide on how to buy it, prep it, and cook it seven ways.

How to Cook Broccoli 7 Ways

You can eat all varieties of broccoli raw or cooked. And you can also eat the leaves (they are delicious when prepared like kale or Swiss chard).

How to Choose and Buy Broccoli:

Pick Your Favorite Variety: There are several types of broccoli. But the most common one in the United States is the green calabrese broccoli, which is known for its large green florets and thick stalks. But you can often find other varieties, including sprouting broccoli (white and purple), at farmer’s markets and vegetable stands. This type has multiple heads and skinnier stalks (see the top photo). But it cooks up, and tastes, just like the traditional kind.

Buy Fresh: Broccoli is widely available year-round, but it’s best when it’s in season from October through April. When buying, choose one with bright, tight heads and firm stalks. Avoid broccoli with yellowing florets and dry or browning stem ends.

Choose Organic When Possible, But Conventional Is Good, Too: Whenever possible, I recommend choosing locally-grown produce that uses organic farming methods (but might not be certified organic). If you can’t find local or organic broccoli, you can use conventionally grown. It’s on the list of vegetables grown with the fewest pesticides, called the Clean 15. Make sure to give it a good wash before using it.

How to Cook Broccoli Prep

Quickly Prep Before You Cook Broccoli:

No matter which cooking method you go with, prepping your it only takes a few minutes. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Clean: Rinse the broccoli well under cold running water. Shake it dry.
  • Trim: Cut the heads into individual florets. You can also cut the stems into pieces roughly the same size as the florets. If they have tough skin, peel their outer layer using a vegetable peeler. You can also take some help from the store and buy a bag of fresh broccoli florets if your store carries them. Read the package to see if it needs to be washed or not, though, I usually give it a rinse regardless of what the package says.
  • Store: You can store uncooked fresh broccoli for up to one week in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Cooked broccoli will also last a day or two if stored covered in the refrigerator, although it might lose its crispness. But it will still be great to throw in casseroles or frittatas.

7 Ways to Cook Broccoli: Rated Best to Worst

Method 1: Roasting Brocolli

Flavor Rating ★★★★★
Nutrition Rating ★★★★★

How to Cook Broccoli Pan of Roasted Broccoli

Roasting broccoli is one of my favorite ways to prepare it! It always has so much flavor. And it makes a great side dish and can also be used warm or cold in salads. Tip: Jazz up your roasted broccoli with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash, dry, and trim the broccoli. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil and add the broccoli. Toss the broccoli with a tablespoon of extra virgin oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper, to taste. (Optional: add some fresh chopped garlic). Spread the pieces out in a single layer. Roast until you can start to see the caramelized edges, but it’s still slightly crunchy, about 20-25 minutes.

Method 2: Air-Fryer Broccoli

Flavor Rating ★★★★★
Nutrition Rating ★★★★★

Plate of broccoli made in an Air Fryer

Cooking broccoli in an air fryer produces a similar result to roasting it. But it comes out a bit crispier. And it also takes less time! Which I love. Also, if you’re looking for an air fryer, I’ve use this one.

Wash, dry, and trim your broccoli. In a bowl, toss the pieces with a tablespoon of extra virgin oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, to taste. You can also add some garlic powder if desired. Add to your air fryer’s basket and cook at 375 degrees until the broccoli edges start to caramelize, about 10-12 minutes. Shake the basket after about 5 minutes to ensure even cooking.

3. Blanching Brocolli

Flavor Rating ★★★
Nutrition Rating ★★★★★

How to Cook Broccoli Blanched in Water Bath

If you’re making a vegetable platter, a cold broccoli salad, or frittatas (or egg muffins), blanching your broccoli is the way to go. The process of quickly submerging it into boiling water and then putting it into an ice bath to stop the cooking brightens the broccoli, seals in its nutrients, and removes any bitter taste. That’s why blanched broccoli is so much tastier than the raw version!

Wash, dry, and trim your broccoli. Prepare a bowl of ice water and have it next to the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and then add the broccoli and cook until crisp-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Be careful not to overcook it. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately add to the ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove from the water and dry before serving.

4. Sautéeing Brocolli

Flavor Rating ★★★★★
Nutrition Rating ★★★★★

Sauteé Pan with Broccoli

This is another one of my favorite methods for cooking broccoli! Quickly sautéeing broccoli with a small amount of oil produces bright and crisp broccoli every time. Up the flavor by adding some fresh minced garlic.

Wash, dry, and trim as usual. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over high to medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat with oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes.

5. Steaming Brocolli

Flavor Rating ★★★
Nutrition Rating ★★★★★

Steamed Broccoli

This tried-and-true method of cooking broccoli is one of the most popular. Steaming gives you bright, crisp-tender broccoli that you can eat as a side dish or use in pasta, salads, and casseroles. Just be careful not to overcook it. No one likes soggy veggies! Tip: Toss it with a little olive oil (or ghee) and salt and pepper. And add a squeeze of lemon (optional).

Wash, dry, and trim your broccoli. Fill a pot with a few inches of water and insert a steamer basket. The water should not be high enough to reach the bottom of the steamer basket. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli, cover, and steam until tender, about 4-5 minutes.

6. Microwaving Broccoli

Flavor Rating ★★★
Nutrition Rating ★★★★★ (Still debate over this!)

Bowl of broccoli cooked in microwave

Ok, I have to admit that the health-nut in my avoids microwaves. However, there is compelling evidence that microwaving broccoli isn’t as bad as once thought. Harvard Health even recently said microwaving veggies doesn’t kill nutrients and isn’t bad (1). Still, broccoli loses a lot of flavor in the microwave so I don’t use this method. But, if you do, the key is to add very little water to the bowl (you want to steam, not boil the broccoli). 

Wash, dry, and trim per usual. Place the broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl and pour 1/4 cup of water over the top. Cover with a dinner plate (use as a top) and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. If necessary, microwave an additional minute or two. Toss the cooked broccoli with a little olive oil (or ghee), salt, and pepper. And add a squeeze of lemon.

7. Boiling Broccoli

Flavor Rating ★★
Nutrition Rating ★★

Plate of broccoli boiled

Boiling broccoli is my least favorite way to cook it. Sure, it’s super easy. But it often produces soggy, limp florets. And the longer it is cooked submerged in boiling water, the more nutrients it will lose. If you’re going to cook broccoli in hot water, I suggest blanching it as described above.

Wash, dry, and trim as usual. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and then add the broccoli and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the it. Drain immediately.

There you have it. Seven ways to cook broccoli.

So, What’s the Best Way to Cook Broccoli?

I still prefer roasting, steaming, or sauteeing, and the air-fryer method is quickly gaining steam for me. Which is your favorite way? Share with us in the comments below!

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Broccoli Stems Cooked Different Ways

How to Cook Broccoli, 7 Ways

  • Author: Elizabeth Rider
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5-25 minutes
  • Total Time: 10-30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Various
  • Cuisine: Vegetable
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here are the 7 ways to cook broccoli! I still prefer roasting or steaming, but all 7 ways work. If you experiment, come back to the comments and let us know which way you prefer—and leave a 5-star rating for this post in the comments section to help other readers in our community. Thanks for being here!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 large head of broccoli (makes about 4 cups florets), or, 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh florets
  • extra virgin olive oil or ghee
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional: minced garlic, fresh lemons

Instructions

Roasting Broccoli

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash, dry, and trim the broccoli.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil and add the broccoli. Toss the broccoli with a tablespoon of extra virgin oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper, to taste. Optional: add some fresh chopped garlic.
  4. Spread the pieces out in a single layer. Roast until you can start to see the caramelized edges, but the broccoli is still slightly crunchy, about 20-25 minutes. You can add a squeeze of lemon juice to your roasted broccoli, if desired.

Air-Fryer Broccoli

  1. Wash, dry, and trim your broccoli.
  2. In a bowl, toss the pieces with a tablespoon of extra virgin oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper, to taste. You can also add some garlic powder, if desired.
  3. Add to your air fryer’s basket and cook at 375 degrees until the broccoli edges start to caramelize, about 10-12 minutes. Shake the basket after 5 minutes to ensure even cooking.

Blanching Broccoli

  1. Wash, dry, and trim your broccoli. Prepare a bowl of ice water and have it next to the stove.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and then add the broccoli and cook until just crisp-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the broccoli.
  3. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately add to the ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove from the water and dry before serving.

Sautéeing Broccoli

  1. Wash, dry, and trim your broccoli.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over high to medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat with oil.
  3. Cook, stirring frequently until the broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes.

Steaming Broccoli

  1. Wash, dry, and trim your broccoli. Fill a pot with a few inches of water and insert a steamer basket. The water should not be high enough to reach the bottom of the steamer basket.
  2. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli, cover, and steam until tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Toss your cooked broccoli with a little olive oil (or ghee), salt, and pepper. And add a squeeze of lemon (optional).

Microwaving Broccoli

  1. Wash, dry, and trim your broccoli.
  2. Place the broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl and pour 1/4 cup of water over the top. Don’t add more — you want to steam not boil the broccoli.
  3. Cover with a dinner plate (use as a top) and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. Remove the plate carefully and check to ensure the broccoli is tender. If necessary, microwave in additional minutes or two.
  4. Toss your cooked broccoli with a little olive oil (or ghee), salt, and pepper. And add a squeeze of lemon (optional).

Boiling Broccoli

  1. Wash, dry, and trim your broccoli.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and then add the broccoli and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the broccoli. Drain immediately.
  3. Season as desired.

 


Notes

  • Storing: You can store uncooked fresh broccoli for up to one week in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Cooked broccoli will also last a day or two if stored covered in the refrigerator, although it might lose its crispness. But it will still be great in casseroles or frittatas.

Keywords: broccoli, how to cook broccoli, best way to cook broccoli

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  1. Ellen Jones says:

    Sautee is my favorite method. Roasting – 425 degrees for 20 minutes – is too slow. It takes me 15 minutes to warm up my oven to 425 degrees. I have not tried an air-fryer. It seems too good to be true. I suspect air-frying can be somewhat – if not as – carcinogenic as oil fry. Steaming sounds good. But its not as tasty as sauteeing – and your flavor rating (3 stars vs 5 stars) agrees with me. When I sautee (i.e., stir-fry), I add a tablespoon of water now and then to create some steam which can speed up the cooking. Broccoli is very ‘thirsty’. It absorbs oil. Without water, I’d have to use two or three tablespoon of oil for a pound of broccoli. Sorry to say this. But 1/2 teaspoon is a enough salt to raise one’s blood pressure by 20 points.

  2. Sisi says:

    I was really really confused about the ways to cook broccoli until I read your recipe. I did roast broccoli a few times before but I was uncertain about its nutrient content. Thank you for this useful post 🙂

  3. Question what’s the reasoning behind putting a tablespoon of milk in the water if you’re going to boil broccoli?

  4. Penny says:

    Yes, what Joseph Ciolino says, is also my question? But, I also think that boiling it is the least flavorful.

  5. Joseph Ciolino says:

    Question: If boiling broccoli causes it to lose its nutrients, where, exactly, do they go.

    If I make broccoli soup, and drink the soup, won’t that contain at least some of these mysterious nutrients?

    Thank you.

    • kas says:

      The nutrients leach out of the veg and are destroyed by the boiling heat of the water if it’s at full boil, as boiled water is used to disinfect things due to the high temp ( same used used to disinfect baby bottles etc).

Hi, I'm Elizabeth

I'm a strong believer that life is too short to settle for anything less than living your best life. 

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