How to Cook Frozen Broccoli for Fast, Nutritious Dinners
With a few bags of vegetables in the freezer, you're already halfway to dinner.
No need to wait around for traditional thawing: Cooking broccoli from frozen is super simple. And there's no need to feel bad about cooking with frozen vegetables instead of fresh. Because they are usually frozen the same day they're picked, the vegetables in your supermarket's freezer case may well have as many—or more—nutrients than the ones in the produce aisle. The secret to turning them into a fast, delicious dinner? Knowing how to cook them.
Thaw Frozen Broccoli in Hot Water
If you're using frozen broccoli in a stir-fry, frittata, casserole, or quiche; as a filling for calzones; or a topping for pizza, it's a good idea to bring the broccoli to the same temperature as the rest of the ingredients for even cooking. Simply dump the broccoli in a bowl, cover with hot tap water, let sit for a few minutes, then drain off the water. To speed up the process even more, change the water a few times, draining it off as soon as it gets cold, then filling the bowl back up with hot water. Since manufacturers briefly blanch broccoli before freezing it, it's actually partially cooked already. You can use frozen broccoli brought to room temperature in our Baked Shells and Broccoli with Ham and Cheesy-Creamy Cauliflower Sauce, our Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche, and Deep-Dish Broccoli and Cheddar Pizza.
Blanch Frozen Broccoli in Boiling Water
Two to four minutes in salted boiling water is all frozen broccoli needs to become bright green and tender. In fact, a number of delicious recipes can use the balancing technique, including our delicious Broccoli and Pasta Casserole and our Whole-Wheat Orzo Salad with Broccoli-Pine Nut Pesto.
Roast Frozen Broccoli
You can roast frozen broccoli exactly the same way you would fresh broccoli: Toss it with olive oil and seasonings and roast it at a high temperature until it's browned in spots and tender all the way through.
Microwave Frozen Broccoli
Pour a bag of broccoli into a microwave-safe dish with a lid and add about 1/4 cup water. Microwave on high five minutes or until broccoli is as tender as you like it, then drain and season with lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and salt. Scatter with toasted nuts or drizzle with cheese sauce. Microwaving might be one of the simplest ways to prepare frozen broccoli, and recipes like Steamed Broccoli with Lighter Ranch Dip and Broccoli with Almonds and Olives, are just as easy to make as they are delicious.
Cook Frozen Broccoli with Pasta or in Soup
In the mood for a quick and easy bowl of pasta with broccoli? Add the frozen broccoli directly to the pot of boiling pasta about three minutes before the end of the cooking time. Drain the pasta and broccoli together in a colander then sprinkle with Parmesan and breadcrumbs. This is also a great way to add a boost of nutrition and color to packaged mac and cheese or instant ramen. Our Lighter Three-Cheese Mac with Broccoli recipe is a shining example of using the vegetable with pasta.
If soup is more your speed, there's no need for any thawing or cooking in advance when adding frozen broccoli to a soup recipe. Just stir the broccoli into the pot and let it simmer until tender, even for classics like Cream of Broccoli Soup, or new-to-you favorites like our Broccoli Chowder with Corn and Bacon.