Broccoli might not get the best rap as far as vegetables go. Raw, it can be rubbery, fibrous, and altogether impossible to chew. And too often, cooked broccoli falls flat because it’s mushy, limp, or bland.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case! There are dozens of delicious methods to cooking broccoli that might just have you changing your tune when it comes to this long-overlooked, highly nutritious green veggie.
This article covers the best ways to cook broccoli for maximum flavor, texture, and nutritional value. Each cooking method (steaming, stir-frying, and roasting) takes a different amount of time, equipment, and culinary technique. But they’re all easy enough for beginner cooks to master in no time. Try each method and see which one you love the most. Before you know it, you might be looking forward to your next broccoli-studded meal.
Preparing Broccoli for Cooking
All of the cooking methods detailed below are for broccoli florets. If you purchase a whole head or crown of broccoli, it’s easy to break it down into small bite-sized pieces. Start by trimming the bottom inch or so off the stem. This part is usually a bit dried out and woody, which makes it less tasty. You can eat the rest of the stem and cook it alongside the florets.
Then slice the crown in half and use the broccoli stalks as a guide to break the vegetable up into bite-sized florets. You want them to be as evenly sized as possible to ensure they cook at the same time.
For high-heat cooking, like stir-frying, it’s best to cut broccoli into smaller florets. For steaming and roasting, however, they can be larger, as long as they’re all roughly the same size.
How to Stir-Fry Broccoli
Step 1 Heat the oil
When stir-frying broccoli, you want to make sure not to use too much oil. A thin coating in your skillet should do the trick. Secondly, don’t go any hotter than medium heat. If your oil is too hot, your broccoli will singe on the outside before it cooks all the way through.
And finally, don’t overcrowd the pan. If your skillet is too small to comfortably fit all of your broccoli florets in a single layer, cook in batches. Simply remove cooked broccoli to a covered dish to stay warm while you cook the remaining vegetables.
Step 2 Add the Broccoli to the pan
When the oil in your skillet is warm, add the broccoli and cook, stirring constantly. Pay close attention to the color of your broccoli. It should be vibrant green and the texture should still be crisp. Watch the veggies carefully, as they can go from perfectly cooked to limp in no time.
Step 3 Season
Lastly, season your stir-fried broccoli before it’s done cooking. Add your favorite stir-fry sauce, dried spices, or just a simple sprinkle of salt and pepper to bring the dish to life. Then immediately remove the broccoli from the pan and dig in. Stir-fried broccoli is excellent over steamed rice or noodles.
How to Steam Broccoli
Steaming is a great way to cook broccoli quickly and without any added oils. It’s a healthy hands-off cooking method that results in bright green, crisp-tender florets every time. To get started, set a steaming basket inside a pot with a lid. Add about 1 to 2 inches of water and bring it to a bare simmer.
When the water comes to a simmer, carefully add your broccoli florets to the steaming basket. Note that there might be a lot of steam inside the pot, so be careful. Put the lid back on and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of your broccoli pieces. Check the florets regularly by inserting a sharp knife into a thick stem. As soon as the stem is easy to pierce, your broccoli is done steaming.
Be careful not to over-steam broccoli, as it can start to fall apart and turn to mush quickly. Keep your water at a bare simmer, not a rolling boil, to maintain some control over the cooking process.
How to Roast Broccoli
Roasting, or baking, broccoli is a great, hands-off way to cook broccoli that’s crisp and flavorful. You’ll need a baking sheet. Line it with parchment paper for easiest cleaning. And a hot oven, about 400°F, will give you crisp-tender broccoli in just a few minutes.
Another great thing about roasting broccoli is that you can share the baking sheet and the oven with other vegetables, meats, or fish. In fact, you can make an entire dinner on one sheet pan.
When the oven is preheated, arrange the broccoli in a single layer on your baking sheet. If you can’t get it all in a single layer, use multiple baking sheets. It’s important to spread the vegetables out well with a few inches of space between each floret. Otherwise, they’ll end up steamed and overcooked rather than crisp.
Toss the broccoli in enough olive oil to just coat them and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. You can also add any other flavorings you’d like at this stage before roasting.
Place the broccoli in the center of the oven to roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until fork-tender and the edges are starting to brown.
Flavor Pairings for Cooked Broccoli
Broccoli is a great vegetable for pairing with flavors from around the world. Whether you stir-fry it, steam it or roast it, any of these delicious flavor boosts will complement your healthy vegetable:
- Soy sauce, ginger and garlic
- Red curry paste and coconut milk
- Tahini and lemon juice
- Basil pesto
- Hot sauce
From quickly stir-frying to gently steaming to roasting in a hot oven, there are plenty of easy ways to cook broccoli that transform this polarizing vegetable into a delicious, healthy and flavorful meal. With these helpful step-by-step instructions and cooking tips, you’ll never have a bad broccoli experience again.