Raw broccoli is fine and all, but a quick cooking method called blanching takes broccoli from boring to darn right tasty. Here’s How to Blanch Broccoli for adding to salads, veggie bowls, and the prettiest vegetable platter ever.

Blanched broccoli is fabulous served with Homemade Ranch Dressing for dipping, or added to Piggly Wiggly Salad (Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Cheese). Toss it up the Seafood Salad, or dress a big bowl of bright green broccoli in Asian Salad Dressing for a fun, healthy side dish.

Broccoli in a bowl with water and ice.

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What is blanching?

It’s a cooking method often used with asparagus, green beens, cauliflower, broccoli, and broccolini, to name a few. Food is plunged in to boiling water to briefly cook, then plunged into an ice bath to quickly stop the process. It leaves the vegetable, in this case broccoli, perfectly tender-crisp and gorgeously green.

What you do with blanched vegetables is up to you. Throw a handful of blanched broccoli into salads, onto pizza, into a quick stir-fry, or eat it as-is with your favorite salad dressing. You could even sneak it into cheesy pasta or macaroni and cheese.

How to cut broccoli:

To keep things as mess-free as possible, cutting broccoli is easy when you start from the bottom.

First, trim about an inch of the dried end off of the stem or “trunk.”

If the trunk is woody, hollow and dry in the center, or appears tough, keep trimming until you get to the tender green flesh. The entire main stem of the broccoli as well as the florets are edible, but the stem takes longer to cook. Save the stem for a good stir fry.

To break the broccoli into smaller pieces for roasting, steaming, or throwing on the grill, find a sharp knife. Then slice into the stem at the point where the “branches” of the vegetable form the crown.

To make broccoli florets, slice straight through the trunk much higher, close to the crown of the vegetable. Then cut off florets into bite-sized pieces. Rinse under cold water if needed.

How to blanch broccoli:

  1. If you can boil water, you can absolutely blanch broccoli. Once you have your florets cut, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  2. While you wait for the water to boil, make another bowl filled with ice and cold water. Keep this nearby!
  3. Carefully lower the broccoli florets into the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the size of your floret. The broccoli should be bright green and just barely tender.

    Raw broccoli is fine and all, but a quick cooking method called blanching takes broccoli from boring to darn right tasty. Here’s How to Blanch Broccoli for adding to salads, veggie bowls, and the prettiest vegetable platter ever.

  4. With a slotted spoon, remove the broccoli and immediately plunge into the ice water. Called “shocking”, this will halt the cooking process and keep the broccoli super bright green and still crunchy.
  5. When the broccoli is completely cool, drain it from the ice water and pat dry with a paper towel.

How long to blanch broccoli:

Blanched broccoli florets are ready after 2 to 3 minutes of boiling, depending on how crisp you like your veg. But hurry up and get them in ice water to stop the cooking! Letting them cool down naturally will continue to cook the broccoli, making it overdone.

Broccoli in a pot with water and ice.

Blanching broccolini:

Because broccolini is smaller than broccoli, with finer stems, blanching broccolini doesn’t take a lot of time. Aim for a 1-minute cooking time, at most.

Blanching cauliflower:

By the way, this technique works for cauliflower, too! Blanching cauliflower is super easy. Hint: add a pinch or two of powdered turmeric to the water to make the tender cauliflower a pretty golden yellow.

How long to blanch cauliflower? 2 to 3 minutes, if the cauliflower is cut into bite-sized pieces.

Broccoli blanching in a saucepan.

How to Blanch Broccoli

Learn how to blanch broccoli to tame its raw, bitter taste. Then you can sauté it for stir-fries, add it to pasta salads, or pile it on your next vegetable platter.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Cooling Time 5 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 6 servings (½ cup each)
Course Pantry, Salad
Cuisine American
Calories 51

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds broccoli florets
  • 2 teaspoons Salt (optional)

Instructions 

  • Bring 4 quarts water and 2 teaspoons salt to a rapid boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice.
  • Carefully lower the broccoli florets into the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green and just barely tender.
  • With a slotted spoon, remove the broccoli and immediately plunge into the ice water.
  • When the broccoli is completely cool, drain it from the ice water and pat dry with a paper towel.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Uniform size: Cut the broccoli florets into pieces that are all about the same size so they cook evenly.
  2. Buying: Choose bright green broccoli that has a firm stalk without yellowing florets or brown spots. Broccoli should feel heavy for its size.
  3. Storing: Whole broccoli should be stored in an open bag in the refrigerator. Use broccoli within 3-4 days.
  4. Yield: This recipe makes 6 servings (½ cup blanched broccoli each). 1 pound broccoli yields about 6 cups raw florets or 3 cups blanched florets.
  5. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  6. Freezer: Arrange drained broccoli in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment or waxed paper and put it in the freezer. Once the broccoli is frozen, transfer it to a zipper-top bag and freeze up to 9 months. Remove and reheat any portion size, or thaw the whole bag overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  7. Sauce it up: Blanched broccoli is delicious with a drizzle of hollandaise or teriyaki sauce.
  8. Leftovers: Use leftover blanched broccoli in an omelet or scrambled eggs, pasta salad, or green salad.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 51kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 825mgPotassium: 478mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 942IUVitamin C: 135mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill

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Comments

  1. Once the broccoli has drained, put it in one layer on a sheet pan lined with a piece of waxed paper and put it in the freezer. Once the florets are frozen, put them in a ziploc bag and only take out as much as you need at the time. Works great for me because I am the only one in my house who eats broccoli.5 stars

  2. When you place the food in the boiling water, the water cools. Are you saying that the water MUST return to a boil, then count the cooking time, or is it just total time in the water?

    1. Hi Bob, it will be for 2 to 3 minutes of time boiling in the water, so once the water’s heat recovers. It may vary in time depending on the size of the florets, so you will want to look for the broccoli to turn bright green and start to become tender. Thank you! – meggan

    1. Hey there, sorry about that! It’s just a mistake with the nutrition label. We accidentally included the salt for the water as an ingredient. Salting the water is OPTIONAL and if you leave it out, the sodium is negligible. I do personally still salt the water for blanching but that’s just my preference, and its not the same as just eating a tablespoon of salt. -Meggan