Perfect Pan-Fried Broccoli ♥ Recipe

Perfect Pan-Fried Broccoli
This recipe for cooking broccoli in a skillet comes from Cook's Illustrated. And lest you think that "pan-fried" means frying the broccoli in lots of fat, think again. This recipe uses just a single tablespoon of fat for a whole pound of broccoli! If it were me, I would call the recipe "heat-fried" broccoli because the skillet is brought to a hot-hot-hot temperature.

~recipe & photo updated & republished 2013~
~more recently updated recipes~

ORIGINAL POST Bye bye 2006. Hello 2007. Bye bye Christmas cookies. Hello ... broccoli. But if you too are coming off a sugary, buttery holiday high, this delicious pan-fried broccoli will make the trip back to real-life food really easy. I'm willing to bet it's one we'll all make again and again. I know I will.

I call the recipe "perfect" pan-fried broccoli because it is slightly adapted from the "test til it's perfect" folks at Cook's Illustrated. I keep old issues nearby because they're packed with recipes and tips that build technique and confidence. I really do recommend a subscription, for both new and experienced cooks.

It's best eaten hot-hot straight out of the pan – and the heat doesn't hold, at least under foil as I tried.
It takes 20 minutes from start to finish and there's only a few minutes hands-free. After you've made it once though, it'll go much more quickly and you'll never need to refer to the "recipe" again.
The browned caramelized parts are delicious. This means that a non-stick skillet isn't desirable since it can't get hot enough. I used a well-seasoned cast iron skillet but even then, next time I'll notch up the heat a bit to create more brown parts.
The cutting technique is important – not hard but a little different so allow time to figure it out.

2013 UPDATE Turns out, this is about the only way I cook broccoli! I do use a cast iron skillet so that it can get really-really hot and often let the stems, especially, darken even more than pictured. Once the broccoli is prepped, it takes just minutes to make.

"I made this recipe for dinner guests this past weekend. It was a hit!" ~Anonymous
"This broccoli is amazing, thanks for the recipe!" ~ Joanna
”Yummy!" ~ Anonymous
”… most delicious way I have ever prepared broccoli!" ~ Marie


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound broccoli, florets and stems, trimmed (see instructions)
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Sprinkle of ground black pepper

Pan: Heat oil over medium high in a large skillet (it will need a cover later) until thinking about beginning to smoke. It's hot enough when a few sprinkles of water flicked from your fingers sizzle.

Meanwhile, trim & start the stalks: Slice off the rough end of the stalk. Cut the 'trees' off the 'trunk' but put aside for a moment. Peel the stalk with a carrot peeler, then slice cross-wise 1/4 inch thick, on the diagonal to create more surface area. Add stalks to the hot skillet, flat sides down in a single layer and let cook, without stirring for 2 minutes. While the stalks cook, trim the florets into pieces 1-1/2 inches long (usually you can just cut a floret into quarters, cutting through its branch). Add florets to skillet, toss well to combine, cook without stirring for 1 - 2 minutes until bottoms just begin to brown.

Stir together water, salt and pepper in a small bowl til salt dissolves. Add to skillet, cover and cook until broccoli is bright green but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Uncover and let continue to cook until liquid evaporates, stems are tender and florets are tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Happy new year, Alanna! Love the new look of your blog, and looking forward to a month of recipes to help get that holiday indulgence out of my system!

  2. I am so ready for some "real" food, and this sounds perfect!

  3. The blog looks just fantastic. I am so jealous of the tabs, and I'm going to try them all to see how they work. This recipe sounds just perfect to get started in the new year.

  4. I don't know...never been a fan of the green flowery stuff...but fried...I'd totally try :D

  5. This looks fantastic, Alanna! And a very happy new year to you, too. The blog looks great, btw.

  6. This looks tasty...though I am not saying goodbye to my holiday treats :)

  7. I love this. There is nothing like the sweetness of caramelized vegetables. Happy New Year, Alana!

  8. I've really overindulged this time as well, so your kind-to-my-waistline veggie recipes are much appreciated now..
    Happy New Year, Alanna!!

  9. Happy New Year! Will try this tonight. We love the little green "trees".

  10. That's a wonderful way to cook broccoli! You can always count on Cook's. Happy New Year!

  11. Lydia ~ Think slim!

    Sally ~ Think real!

    Kalyn ~ Think low carb!

    Jeff ~ Think open mind! ;-)

    Lady A ~ Think 'thanks'!

    Peabody ~ Think tasty!

    Christine ~ Think caramelization!

    Pille ~ Think 'hello' waistline (though you have to visit Kalyn who gets credit for THAT line)

    Fran ~ Think felled 'trees'!

    Sher ~ Think 'absolutely'!

    Me ~ Be quiet now.

  12. Just back to let you know I'm featuring this recipe for South Beach Recipes of the Week where I spotlight SB Diet friendly recipes from other blogs. This week I'm doing phase one recipes, and this is perfect!

  13. I made this recipe for dinner guests this past weekend. It was a hit!

  14. Ah, just lovely Sarabeth, so glad it works for you!

  15. We make this alot, ironically we are having in tonight. I also fry up pieces of onion, and mushrooms, and my secret is to dip it in A1 sauce..It is SOOO delish!

  16. Juliane ~ Great additions. And I'm intrigued by the A-1, I just happen to have a bottle in the frig! Thanks for your note.

  17. This broccoli is amazing, thanks for the recipe! I added garlic to the pan when I made it and it was very good.

  18. One of the worst recipes for cooking Broccoli I have ever come across!
    The cooking times are all out of wack.

    Firstly though it is nice to see a recipe that uses the stalks, but one must cook them for far less time than recommended and MOST DEFINITELY give them a periodic toss otherwise they will burn.

    The other thins is to include more water than required...if you put the amount in mentioned is evaporates pretty much the end I more than doubled it.

    The end result..well a pretty bland tasting dish, albeit nice and crisp .
    Try adding a little bit of lemon juice and substituing salt for just a tad of sugar, and the water with white, that makes a HUGE difference.

  19. Alexis ~ It's too bad the recipe didn't work for you, as you can see from the comments, it is working for others. The 'burn' that you try to avoid is actually one of this recipe's objectives -- the sweetness in the stalks caramelizes, adding flavor -- so isn't bland in the least. Now maybe this style/flavor profile isn't to your taste - but it sure works for me!

  20. This is the most delicious way I have ever prepared broccoli! It is absolutely perfect as is. Sometimes I like to drizzle a little Worcestershire sauce for a kick. Thank you so much for posting!!

  21. All I can say is OMG!! I have hated broccoli all my life (and I'm no spring chicken) until I made your pan-fried broccoli…absolutely delicious. I was wondering if you have a recipe for a flash fried spinach. I ate this at a restaurant and it was not soggy but crispy.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna