Charred Skillet Broccoli

Family-FriendlySide DishSkillet RecipeHealthyBroccoliVegetables

Got broccoli? This is the perfect veggie side dish for every occasion! Use it as a layer in veggie bowls or serve it with nearly any meat or seafood main.

Photography Credit: Alison Bickel

At any given point, I probably have a head of broccoli in my fridge. You, too? If that’s the case, you can bust out this versatile veggie side dish with minimal work. I get it going as I prep other parts of my dinner.

Want a gold star in thrift and food waste prevention? Even (or especially if) your broccoli is looking tired and floppy, it shines in this preparation, and you use the whole head—stem and all.

The secret is chopping it into little pieces so it cooks quickly and becomes tender.

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How to Prep the Broccoli 

Is knife prep something you loathe? You’re off the hook: Accuracy does not count here! While you’re chopping the broccoli into small bits, it’s totally fine—and even preferable—that some are larger than others. That way, some get nice and soft in the skillet, while others still maintain a slight toothiness.

Here’s how to prep the broccoli:

  1. Start by rinsing the broccoli.
  2. Then lop off the thick part of the stem from the flowering top. Trim off the woody bottom of the stem (half an inch to an inch) and discard it. Then use a vegetable peeler to peel the fibrous outside from the stem. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect.
  3. Then, dice the trimmed stem into bits about the size of peas.
  4. Push the stem pieces aside and then tackle the florets. This part is somewhat like making cauliflower rice; just cut off the florets and they’ll fall apart on their own. Slice any remaining smaller stems crosswise.

Now you’re ready to cook!

Easy broccoli side dish on a white plate. The broccoli has crispy browned edges. Salmon and cabbage are on the plate as well.

USE FRESH BROCCOLI

“Oh, I can skip all that work by using packaged frozen chopped broccoli,” you may be thinking. Sorry, but with this recipe, you can’t. It won’t get the nice hint of char that makes it special.

MIX IT UP WITH OTHER VEGGIES

Any member of the cabbage family (cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale) is awesome in this. I’ll use whatever I have around, usually two or three of the aforementioned brassicas. Just try to have them chopped up in about the same size.

I save cauliflower cores and put them to use here, as well as the stems of kale and collard greens. Sometimes I use the leafy greens in other recipes, but I’ll save the stems for this, as they keep for about a week in the fridge. Unlike the broccoli stems, you don’t need to peel them. Just slice them thinly across the grain. They’re packed with nutrition and fiber and cook up sweet, not bitter.

DOUBLING THE RECIPE

Yes, you can double this. But count on it taking longer to cook, as there will be more volume in the pan. I like to make a large batch and eat leftovers all week.

Easy broccoli side dish with browned efges on the side of a plate with sauteed cabbage to the left.

FREEZING SKILLET BROCCOLI

You can freeze this! I like to pack it into quart-size freezer bags, press out the air, seal them, and freeze them flat for easy storage.

HOW TO SEASON SKILLET BROCCOLI

Since I usually serve this with other highly flavored things, I don’t usually season this with much else other than salt or pepper. Mild chili flakes are nice, though. If you like, you can sauté a little minced onion or garlic before adding the broccoli.

Overhead view of skillet broccoli with charred edges on the plate along with protein and vegetables. A cream linen with a black fork and knife to the right.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH SAUTÉED BROCCOLI

I make this (or variations of it) probably once a week. It’s a great side to things like jerk salmon, but grilled flank steak, pork, or chicken is good, too.

Most often I use this as a component of a bowl. I pile it over brown rice or quinoa, and top that with romesco sauce, then the broccoli, then crumbled feta cheese.

MORE GREAT SKILLET VEGGIES

Charred Skillet Broccoli Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 as a side dish

If you’re comfortable prepping as you work, you can start cooking the first half of your chopped-up broccoli as you continue chopping the rest of it, adding it to the hot skillet as you go.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head broccoli (about 1 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1 Prep the broccoli: Rinse the broccoli. Trim off and discard the woody lower part of the stem (likely an inch or half an inch). Cut the remaining stem off from the head.

With a vegetable peeler, peel the outer layers of the stem off and discard them. Cut the tender centers into coins across the grain, then chop those up into little bits. Shred up the blossom ends of the broccoli. You’re aiming for pieces between the size of a pea and an almond.

A chef's knife is chopping off the end of a stem of broccoli. A vegetable peeler is peeling the outer part of the stem of a broccoli. A cutting board with broccoli florets and stems each in a pile. Broccoli florets and stems chopped on a cutting board with a chef's knife to the left. Another head of broccoli is to the left of the knife.

2 Cook the broccoli: Set a large skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or less. Add the olive oil; when it shimmers, add the broccoli. Stir it around every minute or so. Season generously with salt.

After 5 minutes of cooking, reduce the heat incrementally so the broccoli does not burn. You’ll end at medium heat. Some bits will get charred and brown, while others steam and become soft and sweet. This is exactly what you want.

After about 10 total minutes of cooking, your broccoli will be ready. The volume will have reduced by about half, and there will not be any raw pieces of broccoli left.

Skillet broccoli in a skillet on the stove. The broccoli is bright green with some browned edges.

3 Season and serve: Taste the broccoli, and, if needed, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve hot. Leftovers will keep about 5 days in the refrigerator, or 6 months in the freezer.

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Sara Bir

Sara Bir a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and the author of two cookbooks: The Fruit Forager’s Companion and Tasting Ohio. Past gigs include leading chocolate factory tours, slinging street cart sausages, and writing pop music criticism. Sara skates with her local roller derby team as Carrion the Librarian.

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3 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Pratfall

    For seasoning, we love adding a hearty squeeze of lemon. The kids call it Lemony Snicket broccoli and eat it up.

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Edie

    yummy crisp an delicious to the taste buds an just perfect with the shank ham bone in an Honey honey glaze! thank you

    xxxxxyyyyy

Skillet broccoli with crispy and browned edges on a plate for a side dish.Charred Skillet Broccoli