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!
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.
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!
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)
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.
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.
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.
Recipes with broccoli
- Broccoli Rice
- Broccoli Salad
- Broccoli Slaw