How to Cook Broccoli (5 Easy Methods)

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Learn how to cook broccoli 5 different ways by microwaving, steaming, sauteing, roasting, and boiling! This cruciferous vegetable cooks up in minutes. Give each method a try so you can see how the taste transforms!

how to cook broccoli

Fresh broccoli florets are either adored, or despised, depending on who you ask. But really, it comes down to how it’s prepared. The goal is to lock in the health benefits while making it still taste good. Mushy, overcooked, and drab green color can be easily avoided for a more delicious experience.

The microwave and stovetop are simple ways to prepare broccoli. Each method cooks the fibrous and tough florets, but have you tried roasting with high heat? It adds a delicious brown and crispy texture.

How to cook broccoli

Make sure to select broccoli that is deep green in color, with firm florets and stem. The large crown can be swiftly broken down into smaller, more palatable sized pieces that resemble tiny trees.

All of these methods I’ve standardized for 1 large head cut into about 2-inch size florets, yielding 6 cups of broccoli. If you want the stem extra tender, peel the stalks with a paring knife or peeler for each floret.

Microwaved broccoli

Microwaved broccoli

Microwave technology utilizes electromagnetic waves to cook the broccoli from the inside very efficiently. The heat gets directed to molecules within the plant, so it heats up fast. The added water also steams the vegetable when enclosed in the container.

This process tenderizes the florets fairly quickly in just about 3 minutes. I use a 1-quart glass pyrex measuring cup, but a bowl works too. Be careful removing the plastic wrap or plate, the steam is extremely hot and can burn!

Steamed broccoli

Steamed broccoli

Using superheated steam quickly cooks and changes the color to bright green. I find that it keeps the structure of the vegetable intact. The steamer basket keeps the broccoli elevated so the nutrients don’t leach into the water. This also helps with even cooking.

Make sure to keep an eye on the cooking time, as each minute in the heat environment can rapidly change the texture from crisp-tender to mushy. Three to five minutes is perfect.

Boiled broccoli (blanching)

Boiled broccoli

Adding the florets to rapidly boiling salted water for just a few minutes instantly changes the color and texture. The blanch and shock method works wonders when you need to take out that raw chew. It also makes the color a vibrant green and ensures that the cooking process halts. This works great for broccoli salad, meal planning, or prepping a side dish in advance.

Sauteed broccoli

Sauteed broccoli

The robust texture makes it a great candidate for sauteing and stir-frying. This is where I like to break out my cast iron pan, stainless steel saute pan, or wok. The challenge is that dry-heat cooking in oil tends to cook the outsides, but sometimes the interior remains tough.

The trick is to saute for the first few minutes to encourage browning, and then just add a few tablespoons of water, cover, and steam the veggies until fork tender. You could also add a stir-fry sauce instead of the water to help tenderize and enhance the flavor.

Roasted broccoli

Roasted broccoli

Roasting this cruciferous vegetable completely changes the taste. The sulfurous notes are removed and a slight sweetness emerges. By preheating the baking pan and then adding the broccoli encourages Maillard browning to occur much quicker. Tossing the broccoli in olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper get those crispy crowns and stalks. They taste amazing with a squeeze of lemon juice!

The stalks are edible!

After you cut the broccoli, don’t throw away the large woody stalks. They are packed with fiber and nutrients. Beneath the thick skin is a tender flesh. Simply use a paring knife or peeler to remove the tough outer portions.

The trimmed stalked can then be shredded and eaten raw for broccoli slaw, cut into large batons for roasting, sliced for sauteing, or cut into ribbons for a fancy salad. If you are feeling adventurous, give broccoli rice a try for a low carb side dish.

cutting the stalk off a broccoli

Recipes with broccoli

What’s the healthiest way to cook broccoli?

Steaming, sauteing, stir-frying, microwaving, and roasting retains the most nutrients because the cooking time is brief and exposure to water is at a minimum. Boiling tends to reduce 5 to 10% of minerals like calcium and iron, and 5 to 25% of the vitamins like C and B’s because they are water-soluble.

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How to Cook Broccoli (5 ways!)

Learn how to cook broccoli 5 different ways by microwaving, steaming, sauteing, roasting, and boiling! This cruciferous vegetable cooks up in minutes.
Pin Print Review
3.57 from 71 votes
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients

Microwaved Broccoli

  • 6 cups broccoli florets 12 ounces, trimmed to about 2-inch long and wide pieces
  • ¼ cup water

Steamed Broccoli

  • 6 cups broccoli florets 12 ounces, trimmed to about 2-inch long and wide pieces

Boiled/Blanched Broccoli

  • 6 cups broccoli florets , trimmed to about 2-inch long and wide pieces
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups ice
  • 4 cups water

Sauteed/ Stir-fried Broccoli

  • 6 cups broccoli florets , trimmed to about 2-inch long and wide pieces
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , divided
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons water

Roasted Broccoli

  • 6 cups broccoli florets , trimmed to about 2-inch long and wide pieces
  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sugar, optional
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

Microwaved Broccoli

  • Place broccoli florets in a microwave safe bowl or container.
  • Add water and tightly cover with plastic wrap or a plate that covers the top of the dish.
  • Microwave for 3 minutes. Very carefully lift the lid to check if the broccoli is bright green and crisp tender.
  • Microwave an additional 1 to 2 minutes if needed.

Steamed Broccoli

  • Fill a medium pot with enough water on the bottom to not touch the steamer basket.
  • Add the steamer insert and then the broccoli on top.
  • Cover and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Once the steam builds in the pot (this will take a few minutes), cook the broccoli until bright green and crisp tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Boiled/Blanched Broccoli

  • In a large pot add water and salt, and then bring water to a boil over high heat.
  • Add the broccoli florets and cook until bright green in color and crisp tender, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Transfer broccoli to a bowl filled with 4 cups water and 4 cups ice to stop the cooking process, about 5 minutes. If eating right away this step can be skipped.

Sauteed/Stir-fried Broccoli

  • In a medium bowl combine broccoli florets with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Heat a large 12-inch saute pan or wok over medium-high heat, then add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Carefully add the broccoli to the pan in a single layer. Allow to cook for 2 minutes without stirring. The broccoli should begin to brown.
  • Add the water and cover, cook until broccoli turn bright green and crisp, 2 minutes.
  • Carefully take of the cover and saute until water has evaporated and broccoli has a crisp-tender texture, about 2 minutes.
  • Taste broccoli and season as desired. Serve warm.

Roasted Broccoli

  • Set the oven rack to the center position. Preheat to 500ºF (260ºC).
  • Place a sheet pan in the oven to preheat before adding the broccoli.
  • Cut the florets into about 2-inch wide and long florets. Remove some of the tough outer peel from the stalks.
  • In a medium bowl toss broccoli with olive oil, sugar (if using), salt, and pepper.
  • Remove the hot pan from the oven. Carefully and quickly transfer the florets to the sheet pan.
  • Roast until the stalks and crowns are tender and browned, 9 to 11 minutes.

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Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Broccoli (5 ways!)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 47 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 190mg8%
Potassium 431mg12%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 850IU17%
Vitamin C 121.8mg148%
Calcium 64mg6%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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5 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy says

    Hi Jessica. Broccoli is so beautiful. I have never tried it blanched so I’m going to do that. I love roasted broccoli. I actually ruined two steamer basket making broccoli because they went dry. That’s on me. They were kind of bulky baskets and I couldn’t see beneath and I thought they had enough water. So I need to look at your timing on that closely and give it another shot. Thank you again and again for all the wonderful recipes and the love and care you put into everything you do.

  2. Sunny McCleave says

    Hello Jessica, I would like to try roasted broccoli but reading your instruction it seems to my thinking you want me to get the sheet pan super hot, 500 degrees take outof oven place broccoli on pan and cook it out of oven??? Really? that works over 11 minutes? or am I just stupid. I am just learning new good ways to cook. Shouldn’t I put sheet pan and broccoli back in oven?? Tonight I will microwave, done that-can do with shredded cheese it is great.
    thank you, Sunny

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