Even as vegetables go, broccoli is a nutrient-dense and delicious food that's packed with vitamins C and K, folate, potassium, and a healthy dose of fiber. It can be boiled, steamed, stir-fried, or even just baked to create a healthy and flavorful dish. Just be sure to bake it for the appropriate amount of time to avoid drying out or even burning the florets.
Bake broccoli at 400° Fahrenheit for 18 to 20 minutes to achieve perfectly cooked florets that are tender but not mushy. For extra crispy edges, bake for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively, you can bake a whole head of broccoli for 25 to 30 minutes.
Whether you're planning a major holiday event or simply preparing a weeknight meal, baked broccoli makes for a wonderful addition to any plate. Today's guide will help you make perfectly baked broccoli, guide you through some must-know information, and then provide a few top tips to improve the overall quality of your broccoli. So, let's get cooking!
Bake at 400° Fahrenheit if You Want Perfectly Roasted Broccoli Florets
Like many vegetables, when you boil or steam broccoli, it tends to become mushy and can lose some of its deep green color. Likewise, although stir-frying broccoli is another popular alternative, this method can also cause the florets to become tough and chewy, and it's not the healthiest of choices. So, what's the best way to cook broccoli?
Baking broccoli is an excellent way to achieve perfectly cooked florets that are tender but not mushy. Thanks to the internally dry nature of a hot oven, the water inside the broccoli florets evaporates, which prevents them from becoming overcooked. The high heat also helps to caramelize the natural sugars in the broccoli, creating a delicious flavor that's simply not possible with other cooking methods.
Just remember that the key to perfectly roasted broccoli is to not overcook it. Overbaked broccoli will not only start to burn, but it will also lose much of its nutritional value. So, be sure to bake broccoli at 400° Fahrenheit for 18 to 20 minutes to achieve perfectly cooked florets that are tender but not mushy. For extra crispy edges, bake for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
Cover with Aluminum Foil to Avoid Browning
Depending on your personal preference, you may not like the crispy browning that happens when you roast broccoli. In this case, you can help to retain some of the broccoli's moisture by covering the baking dish with aluminum foil. This will help to trap a small pocket of air against the veggies and, as it heats up, the air will turn to steam.
Just be sure to remove the aluminum foil after 15 minutes to avoid completely steaming your broccoli. If it seems too wet, let it bake for an added 5 minutes, or consider turning the broiler on the quickly zap away any excess moisture. If you choose to use the broiler, watch the broccoli closely, as it can quickly go from perfect to burnt in a matter of minutes.
Baking Individual Florets vs. Baking a Whole Head of Broccoli
If you're feeding a large crowd or simply want leftovers, baking a whole head of broccoli is a great option. Not only will it save you time during the prep stage but it's also a great way to ensure that everyone gets a good portion of this nutrient-rich vegetable.
Baking a whole head of broccoli is as easy as chopping off the bottom of the stalk (about 1-inch from the base), rinsing the head under cool water, and then patting it dry. Next, place the head of broccoli on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and any other desired spices.
Bake the broccoli at 400° Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the florets are fork-tender. Once it's done, you can either serve the broccoli whole or chop it into smaller pieces.
The Benefits of Salt-Roasting Broccoli
For a truly unique experience, you can also try salt-roasting your broccoli. This technique has you completely cover the baking sheet with a layer of salt before adding the broccoli. The salt creates a crust that helps to lock in the broccoli's natural moisture, resulting in tender and flavorful florets.
To salt-roast broccoli, simply preheat your oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Next, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then cover the parchment paper with a layer of salt (about ½-inch thick). Rinse the broccoli and pat it dry before placing it on top of the salt. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and any other desired spices.
Bake the broccoli for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the florets are fork-tender. Once it's done, use a spoon to carefully remove the broccoli from the salt and transfer it to a serving dish. You should find that the underside has a nice, crispy crust while the top has softened and browned slightly.
Use a Salad Spinner to Dry Broccoli Before Baking
If you want to avoid using too much oil, you can also dry the broccoli using a salad spinner. This tool helps to remove any excess moisture from the florets, which will prevent them from steaming while they bake. Simply rinse the broccoli and then place it in the salad spinner.
Give it a few good spins until the florets are mostly dry. If you don't have a salad spinner, you can also place the rinsed broccoli on a clean dish towel and then pat it dry. Just be sure to remove as much moisture as possible to prevent the broccoli from steaming while it bakes.
Cooking Broccoli in an Air Fryer
If you're looking for an alternative to baking, you can also cook broccoli in an air fryer. This appliance uses hot air to cook food, which results in perfectly cooked broccoli that's crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
To cook broccoli in an air fryer, start by preheating the appliance to 400° Fahrenheit. Next, rinse the broccoli and pat it dry before cutting it into small florets. Place the florets in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and any other desired spices. Toss the florets to evenly coat them in the oil and spices.
Next, place the florets in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is crispy and tender. Once it's done, remove the basket from the air fryer and transfer the broccoli to a serving dish.
My Top Tips to Achieve Perfectly Baked Broccoli
Before we share our go-to recipe for perfectly baked broccoli, we wanted to go through a handful of tips and tricks that we use to get the best results. Use them as you see fit and don't be afraid to experiment with different techniques.
1. Always use fresh, vibrantly green broccoli: A dish is only as good as the ingredients that go into it. As you're shopping for veggies, look for broccoli that's vibrantly green with tight florets. Avoid any broccoli that's starting to yellow or has wilted leaves. This broccoli will taste bitter and have a rubbery texture.
2. Go easy on the oil: Although you do need some oil, avoid completely drenching the broccoli. A few tablespoons will do the trick. If you use too much, you'll essentially pan-fry the broccoli rather than roast it. And, for the best results, use high-quality olive oil that has a mild flavor. This will ensure that the oil doesn't overpower the flavor of the broccoli.
3. Get creative with your seasonings: Don't feel restricted to just using salt. You can also experiment with different herbs and spices. Just be sure to not go overboard as you don't want to mask the flavor of the broccoli. We recommend garlic, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, or even a mild red pepper flake.
4. Consider using a preheated baking sheet: If you want to get a head start on the cooking process, you can place the baking sheet in the oven as it preheats. This will help to cook the broccoli more evenly since it will already be hot when you add the florets. Just be sure to use caution as the baking sheet will be very hot.
5. Don't forget about the stem: The stem is just as edible as the florets and, when cooked properly, can be just as tender. Just be sure to slice it thinly so that it cooks evenly and arrange the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet. If the florets and steams are touching, they won't cook evenly.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any leftover baked broccoli, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last for 3 to 4 days. Or you can freeze the broccoli by placing it in a freezer-safe bag or container. Frozen broccoli will last for up to 6 months.
Yes, you can reheat baked broccoli. Just be sure to reheat it slowly to prevent the florets from drying out. We recommend reheating in the oven at a low temperature (250° Fahrenheit) for 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through. You can also reheat broccoli in the microwave, but this method is more likely to cause the florets to become mushy.
Baked broccoli goes well with just about anything. We recommend serving it as a side dish with roasted chicken, baked fish, or grilled steak. You can also top it with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, or a dollop of your favorite sauce.
Yes, you can bake frozen broccoli florets straight from the freezer but understand that the final result might not be as good as if you had used fresh broccoli. Frozen broccoli has a higher water content, which can cause it to steam rather than roast. For the best results, we recommend thawing the broccoli in the refrigerator overnight before baking or using a fresh head of broccoli.
If you plan to use cheese, you will need to adjust the baking time. Cheese needs to melt and brown slightly, which won't happen if the broccoli is cooked all the way through. Remove the broccoli from the oven early (after 15 minutes) and then top it with cheese. Return it to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is bubbly.
A Simple Yet Unforgettable Recipe for Baked Broccoli
- 1 head of broccoli
- 3 tablespoons of high-quality olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
- Using a chef's knife, trim off the bottom of the broccoli stalk (about 1-inch from the base). Next, rinse the head of broccoli under cool water and then pat it dry with a clean dish towel.
- Preheat your oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
- Flip the broccoli upside down against a cutting board and, starting from the base of the crown, slice the florets where they meet the stem. Continue cutting until you've removed all of the florets.
- Place the broccoli florets on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Toss the florets to evenly coat them in the oil and spices.
- Once your oven has reached 400° Fahrenheit, bake the broccoli for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the florets are fork-tender. If you prefer crispy and browned edges, bake the florets for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the broccoli florets to a serving dish. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 130Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 606mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 6gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g