From roasting to grilling, learn how to cook broccoli for use in salads, side dishes and more.
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Crispy Smashed Broccoli with Za'atar
Credit: Jason Donnelly

Crunchy, colorful and packed with health benefits, broccoli is a go-to vegetable for many. The tasty cruciferous vegetable can be used in a wide range of dishes, from Loaded Broccoli Casserole to Broccoli & Grape Salad. Read on to learn how to cook broccoli. Plus, learn about the different types of broccoli and get delicious recipes that make the most of this popular vegetable.

Types of Broccoli

Before you get cooking, it's helpful to know a little about different types of broccoli you'll come across. Three common varieties are Chinese broccoli, broccolini and Calabrese broccoli, which is often just called "broccoli" at the grocery store. (FYI—even though it sounds similar, broccoli rabe is not a type of broccoli and is actually closely related to a turnip.)

3 different types of broccoli on a wood surface
From left to right: Chinese broccoli, broccolini and broccoli.
| Credit: Helen Norman

Broccoli: Also known as the Calabrese variety, this is the most common type of broccoli found in supermarkets. Made of clusters of tightly formed green buds on top of thick, meaty stalks, this broccoli variety is versatile and flavorful. When shopping, look for brightly colored heads, without yellow or brown spots, and tightly closed flower buds. Also, make sure that the stalk looks fresh. If it's cracked or dried out, it could be close to spoiling.

Chinese broccoli: Also known as gai lan, Chinese broccoli has a slender stalk and small florets. Chinese broccoli has large, dark green leaves that can be cooked along with the flower and stems. Chinese broccoli has a mild and slightly bitter flavor. When shopping, avoid choosing broccoli where the stalks look limp, the flowers have yellow or brown spots, or the leaves look wilted or discolored. 

Broccolini: Broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli featuring slim stalks and loose bouquets of buds. This variety has a crisp, smooth texture and is more delicate in flavor than broccoli. When shopping, look for stalks that appear fresh and crisp with buds of a rich green color.

There are plenty of ways to cook broccoli. Here's a simple guide for cooking the most common variety.

How to Sauté Broccoli

Cheesy Portobello Chicken Cutlets with Broccoli
Credit: Jacob Fox

Once you know how to cook broccoli on the stove, you have a solid foundation for a wide variety of recipes, from Use-All-the-Broccoli Stir-Fry to Sautéed Broccoli & Kale with Toasted Garlic Butter. Sautéing broccoli is quick and easy, making it the perfect choice on busy weeknights.

Here's how to sauté broccoli:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 6 cups broccoli florets and cook, stirring, until the broccoli is bright green, about 2 minutes. Drizzle 3 tablespoons water over the broccoli. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. 

How to Steam Broccoli

Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole
Credit: Photography / Antonis Achilleos, Styling / Christine Keely, Ali Ramee

Another easy way to cook broccoli on the stove is to steam it. Steaming results in broccoli that is brighter in color and softer in texture than other cooking methods like roasting. There are two ways to steam broccoli: on the stove or in the microwave. Learn how to steam broccoli here for recipes like Cheesy Broccoli and Crispy Smashed Broccoli with Za'atar.

How to Roast Broccoli

Honey-Chipotle Roasted Broccoli

Want a cooking method that will have everyone eating more veggies? Learn how to cook broccoli in the oven! Broccoli that's roasted takes on a deliciously crisp, yet tender, texture that is instantly crave-worthy. 

Here's how to roast broccoli:

  1. Preheat oven to 425℉. 
  2. In a large bowl, toss 8 cups broccoli florets with 3 tablespoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once, until the broccoli is crisp-tender and browned in spots, about 15 minutes.

Once you master this basic recipe for roasted broccoli, the possibilities are endless. Try recipes like Balsamic & Parmesan Roasted Broccoli for other fun, full-flavored combinations. 

How to Grill Broccoli

Once you learn how to cook broccoli on the grill, it'll quickly become a new favorite way to enjoy broccoli. To grill broccoli, you can cook it on a grill outside or use a grill pan. Either method will result in delicious charred broccoli.

Grilled Broccoli Wedges with Herb Vinaigrette

If you're opting to grill outside, here's what you'll need to do:

  1. Preheat one side of the grill to medium-high; leave the other half unheated.
  2. Trim and quarter 2 broccoli stalks; toss with 2 tablespoons oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Grill the broccoli, cut-side down, over the heat, turning once halfway through, until lightly charred, 10 to 15 minutes total. Move it to the unheated side, close the lid and cook until the stalks are tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Alternatively, if you want to grill broccoli florets instead of a whole stalk, we recommend using a grill basket over medium-high heat. Using a grill basket, like this stainless-steel one from Sur La Table (buy it: Sur La Table, $25), prevents the florets from falling through the grates.

Grilled Broccoli with Smoky Yogurt Sauce

If you're looking for an alternative, using a grill pan is a great option as you'll still get the distinctive charred look and flavor that you would on an outdoor grill. Plus, a grill pan is easier to clean and doesn't require any outdoor space (check out the best grill pans, according to our Test Kitchen). 

Here's how to cook broccoli using a grill pan:

  1. Set a bowl of ice water by the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add broccoli florets and cook until bright green and almost tender, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the ice water. Drain and pat dry.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli to the pan and cook, stirring once, until lightly charred, about 5 minutes.

Blanching the broccoli first ensures that the broccoli is tender all the way through after grilling. (It also helps speed up the cooking time.) You can choose to skip blanching, but you'll need to increase the cooking time to ensure the broccoli is tender.

How to Boil Broccoli

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Pictured recipe: Cream of Broccoli Soup

Boiling is an easy, quick method for cooking broccoli. Since the process is so fast, be sure to stay at the stove or else your broccoli can quickly go from crisp-tender to mushy. We use water in the method below, but if you're planning to puree the broccoli to make soup, you can swap out the water for broth for more flavor.

Here's how to boil broccoli:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli florets and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.