5 of the best ways to cook broccoli

Knowing how to cook broccoli well could mean the difference between loving and loathing this nutrient filled, versatile vegetable. Here are our top tips for getting it right every time

raw broccoli in a bowl
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Think you know how to cook broccoli? Sure. But do you know all of the best methods, so that it tastes really really good? As with most vegetables, how it's cooked makes all the difference between loving or loathing it.

The basic way is to boil the florets in salted water for about three to five minutes, or until al dente. This is perfect for a quick accompaniment to your roast dinner (or any dinner), but many of us are prone to overcooking it, making it mushy and unappealing in both taste and texture.

However, we are big broccoli fans here and know that when it's treated right, it can be delicious and, of course, extremely healthy. See our best ways to cook it below, then head to our food hub for more recipe ideas.

1. Steamed broccoli

Steaming broccoli is one of the best ways to enjoy it as it is, without losing that lovely texture, or its many nutrients. If you don't have a steamer, place a metal colander over a large pan of boiling water instead. Add the broccoli florets to the colander, making sure it doesn't touch the water, cover it with a lid and steam.

Small florets will only need three minutes, while large florets can take anything up to eight minutes, depending on your preference.

Season to taste and serve with a small knob of melted butter for extra deliciousness.

2. Roasted broccoli

oven roasted broccoli

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This is one of the tastiest ways to enjoy any vegetable. Trust us – if you think you don't like a vegetable, try it roasted and it may change your mind. To roast broccoli, start by preheating your oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7.

Prepare the broccoli by cutting it into florets. Go for smaller florets where possible so that they cook faster and more evenly. Don't chuck the stalks and leaves as these can be cut to size and cooked too. Spread them over a large baking tray, making sure not to overcrowd. Spray with cooking oil, or drizzle with rapeseed/olive oil (not too much!), then sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you like, you can add crushed garlic or chilli flakes for extra flavour.

Roast for 15–20 minutes, (this could be less depending on your oven) until the florets are al dente and have a bit of colour.

3. Broccoli stir fry

Broccoli and beef stir fry

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Stir frying is a quick way to cook anything, and a process that locks in lots of flavour. You can enjoy broccoli stir fried by itself – seasoned with soy, garlic, ginger and a sprinkle of sesame seeds – but it's great paired with meat, tofu or another protein for a quick and healthy dinner.

Achieve this by bringing a wok to a medium high heat on the hob and add a splash of sesame oil or vegetable oil. Don't use olive oil as it can't handle the high heats of stir frying and will burn quickly. Not what you want. 

If you're cooking the broccoli with meat, put this in the pan first and cook for two to three minutes until seared and partly cooked. If you're serving with tofu, make sure you pat your tofu until dry and fry it in oil until it has a little colour, then add the broccoli. If you are are serving with prawns, these will take about the same time as the broccoli to cook, so you can add them to the pan together.

The broccoli needs to stir fry for three to five minutes. Add any seasoning as it cooks. Finish with a splash of soy sauce – maybe some lime if you're feeling fancy – and a drizzle of honey/maple syrup for sweetness or sweet chilli sauce are also nice additions.

4. Broccoli cheese

Broccoli cheese

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You can make anything taste better by covering it in cheese and surely one of the most indulgent broccoli dishes is broccoli cheese. Like its cauliflower cousin, broccoli cheese is made by covering parboiled broccoli in cheese sauce and a scattering of grated cheese. Bake in a preheated oven (190ºC/gas mark 5) for 25–30 minutes, until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbling. Add a sprinkle of breadcrumbs for a crispy top.

Don't know how to make cheese sauce? For half a litre, melt 25g of butter in a pan. Stir in 25g of plain flour and cook for two minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually add 500ml of milk until there are no lumps and you have a thin sauce. Put back on a medium heat and bring to the boil. It should be thick and creamy. Add 50–100g of grated cheddar (or other hard cheese) and stir until it melts. Season with salt and pepper. You can add a teaspoon of your favourite mustard for added flavour.

5. Broccoli and Stilton soup

Broccoli and stilton soup

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Broccoli and blue cheese is a classic soup pairing. It is something we make a lot when we have leftover blue cheese from a cheeseboard or another recipe. To make it, you can either roast the broccoli first, or boil it in stock. Use just enough stock to cover the broccoli (reserving some to top up if needed) then blend with a stick blender (shop some of the best below) to your desired consistency of soup. Add a crumble of Stilton to taste (we use bout 75g but you may want slightly less) and season with salt and pepper.

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