Broccoli isn’t just nutritious (it’s a great source of vitamin C), but it’s also delicious when cooked well and seasoned to perfection. I want to share with you my favorite methods to use when I cook fresh broccoli.
That’s right- I don’t just have one favorite, and I’ll show you how to cook fresh broccoli on the stove, in the microwave, and even the air fryer (that most versatile of cooking appliances).
How to Cook Fresh Broccoli on Stove Top
When you’re cooking broccoli on the stove, it’s very important that you don’t overcook it. Don’t cook them for more than seven minutes, because at that point, the broccoli will turn an olive shade of green and lose some of its luster. You will be steaming the broccoli, and this will make the veggies very tender and succulent.
Start by cutting the crowns off the stems and then cut the crowns down into bite-size pieces. Rinse your broccoli and then peel off the outer layer of stem skin, discarding it. The stems can then be cut into quarters or sliced horizontally.
So, to make sure the broccoli is perfectly cooked, here are a couple tips:
Warm about an inch of water in a saucepan with a steamer basket attached. Bring that water to a boil and get it nice and steamy before adding the broccoli. This will ensure that the broccoli doesn’t cook too long in there. You can speed up the process by using a tea kettle to warm the water, if you like.
Add in the broccoli and then steam for only 5-6 minutes. Any longer than that can be bad for the broccoli. Small pieces should cook in about five minutes, whereas larger pieces may need to cook for six minutes. At five minutes, you can poke the broccoli with a fork to see if it is done cooking.
Take it off the heat as soon as it is done cooking. This method for how to cook fresh broccoli will only work if you pay close attention to the time. It’s a good idea to set a timer so you don’t overcook it.
How to Cook Fresh Broccoli in Air Fryer
You may not have known that the air fryer can be used to cook veggies, but it actually makes cooking them a breeze, so I like to use it to save some time and effort. I’m all for taking some of the hard work out of cooking when it won’t negatively affect the end results.
Your broccoli will cook best in the air fryer if it is in small, floret pieces. These should be about bite size, and you want to try to keep them all about the same size when you chop them up. Use the cutting method I gave you earlier.
You can toss your broccoli florets with seasonings like salt, black pepper, olive oil, and onion powder before putting them into the air fryer. Use powdered seasonings rather than fresh dried garlic or onion in your broccoli. That way, your seasonings won’t burn.
- Heat up the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the air fryer heats all the way before adding the broccoli. That should take about 5 minutes.
- Toss your broccoli with the seasonings and be sure to coat them well. Add a little water to the bottom of the air fryer (about a tablespoon) to prevent the broccoli from getting burnt as it cooks.
- Cook for six minutes and then remove the basket from the fryer. Serve your broccoli with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for a real treat.
You might think that cooking in the air fryer requires oil, but it’s not necessary at all. This oil-free method gives you really healthy, nutritious broccoli and doesn’t add a bunch of cholesterol like typical frying methods would.
How to Cook Fresh Broccoli in the Microwave
A lot of vegetables cook perfectly well in the microwave, coming out steamed, tender, and succulent, as long as you know what you’re doing.
You want to use a microwave-safe bowl that’s large enough to accommodate your broccoli florets (once again chopping them how I showed you above) and enough water to cover them.
Then, cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate (rather than plastic wrap like you might think) and cook on the high setting for 2 ½- 4 minutes. The broccoli will need to cook until it is tender.
How long to cook fresh broccoli in the microwave for? That depends on how much broccoli you are cooking at once. Larger pieces may take as long as four minutes, and you can check them once the timer is up. If they are tender and a fork will pierce them without a lot of resistance, then they are done cooking.
If not, put them back in for another 30 seconds at a time. Keep doing that until they are tender enough. If the water has evaporated and the broccoli is no longer covered, you can add some more water as needed until the broccoli finishes cooking.
Drain out the water and season the veggies as you like once the broccoli is done cooking.
How to Cook Fresh Broccoli for Alfredo
One of my favorite ways to use fresh broccoli is in Alfredo pasta, covered with Alfredo sauce and a healthy garnish of grated parmesan cheese. What’s the best way to prepare broccoli for use in Alfredo pasta?
I always prefer it steamed for this purpose, and you can follow the method I gave you above for cooking Alfredo on the stovetop using a steamer basket. If a steamer basket is not available, you could warm it in the microwave or cook it in a covered saucepan on the stove in water.
A steamer basket isn’t absolutely necessary. You’ll still get a similar steaming effect just by covering your broccoli in boiling water on the stove top and cooking for a few minutes. That will soften and tenderize the broccoli enough to make it perfectly edible for the pasta. Make sure your pieces are small- bite-size so they work well with the pasta.