8 Easy Ways to Perfectly Cook Broccoli
4 Easy Ways to Perfectly Cook Broccoli
How to Cook Broccoli
From roasted broccoli to steamed broccoli to stir-fried broccoli, there are so many ways to enjoy broccoli. A side of broccoli pairs well with virtually any cut of chicken, pork beef, or fish, but it can also stand alone strong as a vegetarian main. Broccoli is versatile, it’s full of essential nutrients and antioxidants, and it's a vegetable that many kids like, because the florets look like little trees. And if they're reluctant, you can sweeten the deal by topping it with a creamy cheese sauce.
This helpful guide shows you 8 tasty ways to cook this cruciferous veggie. You’ll find easy broccoli recipes fit for any occasion—summer cookouts, spring parties, winter feasts, and more.
How to Prep Broccoli
Before you cook your broccoli, you’ll want to break it down into smaller pieces first. Think of broccoli in two separate parts—the head and the stalk. The head is the flowering, upper section of the broccoli plant, and it’s the most common part that we cook and eat. Cut the broccoli head into smaller pieces and you get broccoli florets—these are great for roasting, steaming, and sautéing.
Underneath the head is the broccoli stalk. While many cooks chuck the stalk into the trash, there are actually plenty of tasty uses for it. The stalks can be treated in the same way as the florets, but note that they will take a bit longer to become tender. Some broccoli stalks have their leaves still in tact—save them for pesto, puree them for soups, or chop them up for salads.
Watch culinary legend Jacques Pépin demo a smart way to cut broccoli by following the link below.
How to Roast Broccoli
Oven-roasted broccoli is the ultimate healthy side to mains like salmon, whole chicken, and meatloaf. It’s also a tasty addition to pasta dishes, grain salads, and more. The secret to crispy roasted broccoli is a super hot oven (between 425 and 450 degrees)—and pushing it just a bit further than you think it needs. Even if your broccoli is tender, it won’t unleash its full flavor until properly caramelized. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over roasted broccoli or drizzle it with a tangy sauce (such as the one in the recipe below).
How to Steam Broccoli
Steaming broccoli gives is one of the easiest ways to cook it. This cooking method also gives broccoli a vibrant, green color and crisp-tender texture. Steam broccoli in the microwave or on the stove top—either work perfectly well. Here's a breakdown of both methods:
- Microwave method: look for microwave-in-bag broccoli florets to save time, and simply follow the package instructions.
- Stovetop method: Fill a large pot with a few inches of water and bring to a boil. Place a steamer basket over top, then add the broccoli. Cover and steam for about 4 to 8 minutes (the cook time depends on the size of the florets), or until the stems are crisp-tender.
For both methods, here's an easy way check the doneness: use tongs to carefully place one of the hot florets onto a cutting board. Piece the stem with a paring knife—it should slide through easily, but the outside of the stem should still feel firm.
Top steamed broccoli with cheese sauce or chimichurri sauce, or sprinkle it with fresh herbs, or lemon zest. The steamed broccoli recipe below jazzes up the basic formula by incorporating the flavor of sweet tomatoes and salty Kalamata olives.
How to Stir Fry Broccoli
Stir-frying is a quick, high-heat cooking method that gives broccoli a crisp-tender texture and vibrant green color. The florets soak up any type of sauce you use in your stir fry, whether it’s a Chili-Lime Peanut Butter Sauce, homemade sweet and sour sauce, or umami-packed soy-garlic sauce. To learn a basic stir-frying technique, read this how to stir-fry guide, then practice by making the flavor-packed recipe below.
Watch how to make Beef-Broccoli Stir Fry here.
How to Sauté Broccoli
This speedy, high-heat cooking method makes broccoli blistered and smoky. Use a skillet that can be safely heated until just smoking, such as a cast-iron or stainless steel skillet. Once your florets turn golden brown, try deglazing the skillet with white wine, chicken stock, lemon juice, or a combination of all three—to add even more flavor.
How to Bake Broccoli
Unleash more flavor from broccoli by incorporating it into baked mains such as frittatas, quiches, stratas, casseroles, and pastas. You’ll want to cook the broccoli first before combining it with your other ingredients, otherwise it may not be tender enough. For a lighter version of a comfort classic, try the satisfying broccoli casserole recipe below.
Watch how to make Mom's Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole here.
How to Purée Broccoli for Soup
Craving broccoli and cheese soup? To make it from scratch, you’ll need to puree your broccoli in the blender first. Chop the broccoli into florets and peel the stems. Simmer everything until tender in chicken or vegetable stock. Give the mixture a quick blitz along with the other soup ingredients—and ladle yourself a bowl of this creamy, comfort favorite.
Watch how to make our Broccoli and Cheese Soup recipe here.
How to Make Broccoli Salad
Broccoli doesn’t have to be cooked to be delicious. Use chopped broccoli florets to make broccoli salad, a creamy-crunchy side that was practically made for summer cookouts. You hardly need a recipe to make a perfect broccoli salad—but we like a creamy dressing (slash the fat by combining canola mayo with Greek yogurt), toasted nuts for crunch, dried fruit for sweetness, and chopped bacon (because bacon!). Don’t chop your broccoli florets too large, otherwise they’ll be difficult to eat. Broccoli salad is a hit alongside anything grilled, from burgers to chicken to kabobs.
Watch how to make Cranberry-Almond Broccoli Salad here.
How to Use Broccoli Stalks
Don’t toss broccoli stems in the trash. Instead, shave them into ribbons to make a crisp, refreshing salad. To make even-sized broccoli ribbons, use a Y-shaped peeler. The horizontal blade makes it easier to apply even pressure against the stalks when making the ribbons. Toss the ribbons with your favorite citrusy vinaigrette, sprinkle over some cheese, and you have yourself a perfect summer salad.
Lastly, you've probably seen packaged broccoli slaw at the grocery store—but did you know that it's made by shredding broccoli stalks? Showcase the crunchy cole slaw cousin by making this Broccoli-Apple Slaw recipe.