How to Cook Frozen Broccoli (3 Ways)

Frozen broccoli is the ultimate convenience for quick and healthy side dishes. This post has instructions to sauté, steam or oven-roast your frozen broccoli. And with the seasoning tips, you will never run out of new broccoli side dish ideas.

Having frozen broccoli florets on standby is a great way to ensure that a healthy dinner or simple vegetable side dish is only a quick cook away.

Through lots of frozen broccoli taste tests, I found three different methods that work exceptionally well to prepare delicious broccoli side dishes.

You can sauté, oven-roast or steam frozen broccoli. For sautéing, it is best to defrost frozen broccoli. But oven-roasting or steaming works straight from frozen.

Portrait top down view of a ceramic bowl with steamed frozen broccoli with sesame seeds, as well as a bowl with sautéed broccoli.

My favourite way to cook frozen broccoli for a light and healthy broccoli side dish is to steam it. I found that the texture is closest to fresh broccoli and, as a bonus, it has the fastest cook time.

But I also love my broccoli with charred crunchy bits, so oven-roasted frozen broccoli is probably the way I make it most often – with LOTS of olive oil, of course.

Buy the best frozen broccoli florets

You want small, individually frozen broccoli florets for the best, roasted frozen broccoli.

Steaming is more forgiving of uneven-sized florets. And, with sautéing, you defrost the florets first, so you still have the opportunity to cut large florets in half.

Feel the florets inside the bag.

  • Look for individually frozen florets. If they clump together, they were either frozen wrong or defrosted at some point during transportation.
  • Try to distinguish the size of the florets. You want evenly-sized, small broccoli florets for oven-roasting.

Or you can freeze fresh broccoli at home to ensure frozen broccoli perfection.

Frozen broccoli florets in a freezer bag.

How to roast frozen broccoli florets

Roasting frozen broccoli florets is such a convenience. And the charred crispy bits add bucket loads of flavour.

The Kitchn has an article on the best way to roast frozen vegetables where they highlight the three most important steps. Taking their tips to heart, I managed to create this tasty roasted frozen broccoli recipe after many failed attempts. (We ate A LOT of broccoli this month.)

This roasted frozen broccoli side dish is super yummy. My husband says it’s up there with the best broccoli ever. I’ll take that, thank you.

Frozen broccoli on a preheated baking tray with olive oil.

Frozen broccoli roasting tips for the best results:

  • Preheat your pan with fat. It allows the broccoli to start cooking as soon as it hits the pan. And it means you don’t need any parchment paper. Add enough olive oil to coat your baking sheet and preheat it in the oven.
  • Use a large baking sheet. You need ample space between the frozen florets to allow them to roast instead of steam.
  • Roast in a hot oven. Like, really hot. Don’t be afraid to crank your oven up to 480 °F (250 °C). The high heat evaporates condensation that causes the broccoli to steam instead of roast.
  • Use plenty of fat. Toss the frozen broccoli with a tablespoon or two of olive oil before spreading it onto the oiled baking sheet. Everything should be coated with a thin layer of oil to crisp up and infuse flavour.
  • Don’t defrost the broccoli florets. Add the frozen florets directly to the oiled and preheated pan. And get it into the hot oven as soon as possible to avoid a soggy mess.
  • Season the broccoli while warm. Remove the broccoli from the oven once roasted to your liking. And, season generously with garlic salt and a squeeze of lemon while hot.

See the recipe card for the full oven-roasted frozen broccoli recipe. This recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free. And you can use the same technique to roast other frozen vegetables, like Brussels sprouts.

You can also use an air fryer to cook your broccoli straight from frozen. See this air fryer frozen broccoli recipe (by Build Your Bite).

Oven-roasted frozen broccoli sprinkled with garlic salt on a baking sheet viewed from above.

How to sauté frozen broccoli

You can get a beautiful colour on the broccoli by sautéing it in a little olive oil. And as far as taste goes, this easy method makes a delicious broccoli side.

But if you don’t defrost the broccoli first, it will sputter like crazy as the broccoli releases liquid into the hot oil. The other methods both work perfectly straight from frozen. But for sautéing, I recommend you thaw frozen broccoli first.

1. Defrost the florets thoroughly

Arrange the florets in a single layer on a flat surface to defrost evenly. Don’t be tempted to defrost it in the microwave unless you want very mushy broccoli.

Use kitchen paper and gently dry the defrosted broccoli florets. Cut any large pieces in half since smaller florets will have more surface contact and develop more flavour.

Frozen broccoli florets defrosted on a bamboo chopping board viewed from above.

2. Cook in a hot skillet with oil

Heat a skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil. Once hot, add the dried broccoli florets. Don’t add too much broccoli in one go. They should fit in a single layer with space in between.

Leave the broccoli undisturbed for a few minutes. Then move them around to allow even browning. It takes about ten minutes in total.

Sautéing frozen broccoli in a carbon steel frying pan.

3. Season while warm

Add the warm, cooked broccoli to a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with seasoning and mix with your chosen dressing.

Transfer to your serving plate and sprinkle with your topping.

Sautéed frozen broccoli with harissa in a ceramic bowl with a gold serving spoon.

How to steam frozen broccoli

I found that lightly steaming the broccoli best preserves its naturally crunchy texture. It is also the simplest of the different methods. And, therefore, the one I use most often.

This method also works for other frozen veggies like green beans.

1. Use a steamer and a saucepan with water

Add an inch (2.5 cm) of water to a saucepan with a steamer basket and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.

If you don’t have a steamer basket, use a colander or a sieve on top of a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid to keep the steam contained. I have a stainless steel colander that fits one of my pots perfectly.

Play around with different pots and lids until you find a combo that works for you.

Frozen broccoli florets in a colander set over a stainless steel pot ready for steaming.

2. Add the frozen broccoli

Once the water reaches a rolling boil, add your frozen florets to the steamer or colander. If your broccoli florets are uneven sizes add the largest ones first.

Cover with a lid to steam.

3. Steam the florets

Leave the broccoli covered to steam. And check in after three minutes.

It is best to test the tenderness by piercing a floret with a fork. The broccoli should be tender and warm but still vibrantly green. Three minutes is perfect if you want to retain some crunch as I do.

You can cook it for longer if you prefer it softer. But don’t overcook the broccoli, or it will have a dull unappealing colour and mushy texture.

Steamed frozen broccoli with a small bowl with sweet Asian dressing on the side.

4. Season the steamed broccoli

Place the just-cooked broccoli in a mixing bowl, sprinkle with seasoning salt, gently toss it with your dressing, and serve warm.

Or, to make a cold broccoli salad plunge the steamed broccoli into an ice bath before seasoning it to stop the cooking process.

Steamed frozen broccoli with a sweet Asian dressing sprinkled with sesame seeds, served on a ceramic plate with a gold spoon.

How to season frozen broccoli

All vegetables benefit from seasoning while warm. I use a two-stage seasoning process to bring frozen broccoli to its delicious best.

Step 1: Season with salt while hot

Add seasoning immediately after cooking. I add about half a teaspoon of salt per pound (450 grams) of frozen broccoli florets. You can add more to taste.

Seasoning blend options:

  • Mix ½ teaspoon garlic powder with ½ teaspoon salt (or use shop-bought garlic salt).
  • Mix ½ teaspoon onion powder with ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Mix ½ teaspoon of dried Italian herbs with ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Mix ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or paprika or a pinch of cayenne pepper) with ½ teaspoon salt.

Or use your favourite seasoning, like lemon pepper seasoning, Italian seasoning, celery salt, Old Bay seasoning or even steak seasoning.

Celery salt substitute made from ground celery seeds and salt in a glass bowl with a golden spoon.

Step 2: Add a flavour-boosting dressing

After seasoning the cooked florets, I always add a second flavour booster in the form of a dressing. It can be as simple as a squeeze of lemon juice or a drizzle of harissa oil.

Dressing options:

  • Sweet Asian dressing: Mix a teaspoon of soy sauce with a teaspoon of maple syrup and a tablespoon of sesame oil.
  • Classic Italian: Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Mediterranean favourite: Add a squeeze of lemon juice and some olive oil. Or replace the lemon juice with preserved lemon puree.
  • Fragrant Moroccan: Mix a tablespoon of olive oil with a teaspoon of rose harissa paste. See how to make rose harissa paste at home.
Sesame broccoli salad in a mixing bowl viewed from above.

Step 3: Optional toppings to serve

A sprinkling of fresh herbs, seeds or cheese goes a long way to elevate a simple broccoli side.

Final topping ideas:

  • Grated parmesan cheese (or pecorino) works great with the classic Italian flavours. Or use nutritional yeast flakes if you want to keep it vegan.
  • Try toasted sesame seeds with the sweet Asian dressing.
  • Toasted sunflower seeds (or toasted almonds) pair perfectly with a squeeze of lemon. Why not grate over some lemon zest while you’re at it?
  • Za’atar or chopped fresh parsley is fantastic with the spicy Moroccan harissa dressing.
  • And, of course, flaked sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper work with it all.

For a quick and easy, healthy side dish of steamed, sautéed or oven-roasted frozen broccoli, pick and mix your seasoning salt, dressing and final topping.

Oven-roasted frozen broccoli with harissa oil and sunflower seeds in a brown ceramic bowl.

Frequently asked questions

Is roasted frozen broccoli crispy?

Roasted frozen broccoli will never crisp up the same way that fresh broccoli does. But the florets develop these crispy broccoli bits that are crunchy and packed with flavour.

How long to steam frozen broccoli until tender?

Steam frozen broccoli for about 3 minutes until it’s tender but still bright green. Then test the tenderness by piercing a floret with a fork. The broccoli should be tender and warm but still vibrantly green. Adjust the time slightly depending on the size of the florets.

Should I thaw frozen broccoli before stir-frying

I prefer to thaw frozen broccoli before stir-frying to avoid the hot oil sputtering when the frozen florets release moisture as it cooks.

Do I need to defrost broccoli before baking?

There’s no need to defrost broccoli before baking or roasting. You can bake it directly from frozen. A very hot oven works best.

What is the best way to cook frozen vegetables?

The best way to cook frozen vegetables without defrosting is either by steaming or roasting in high heat. These methods help maintain flavour and texture without making the broccoli soggy.

A sheet pan with broccoli roasted in a hot oven from frozen.

Oven-Roasted Frozen Broccoli

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin
These oven-roasted frozen broccoli florets have the most delicious crispy bits. But more than that, it's the ultimate weeknight convenience food. It's an easy side dish with minimal prep and a quick cook in the oven.
Recipe byAdri
Servings2 people
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound frozen broccoli florets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt, or ½ teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon salt
  • a squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat a conventional oven to 480 °F.
  • Rub a sheet pan with one tablespoon of olive oil and place it in the preheating oven for the final 10 minutes.
  • Only remove the broccoli florets from the freezer once the oven is ready. Place the florets in a large bowl and drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil. Gently mix to coat the florets evenly.
  • Moving quickly, arrange the broccoli pieces in a single layer on the preheated sheet pan. And return it to the oven.
  • After 10 minutes, gently stir and toss the broccoli in the oil. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes until the florets are charred and crispy.
  • Sprinkle the roasted broccoli with seasoning while hot, toss and serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Notes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 263 kcal Carbohydrates: 15 g Protein: 6 g Fat: 22 g Saturated Fat: 3 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g Monounsaturated Fat: 15 g Sodium: 1238 mg Potassium: 717 mg Fiber: 6 g Sugar: 4 g Vitamin A: 1413 IU Vitamin C: 202 mg Calcium: 108 mg Iron: 2 mg

More about frozen broccoli

Learn how to freeze broccoli the right way.

Save a bag of frozen broccoli to make this vibrant broccoli soup with peas and basil. Use them straight from frozen for an easy weeknight meal.

More broccoli recipes:

2 Comments

  1. Thank you! This is great. I really appreciate all the work you spent figuring out each method. I tend to wing it with broccoli, which means sometimes it’s great, but sometimes overcooked. My son loves broccoli, and while he’s always polite about it he will provide feedback when it is overcooked. :-)

    1. Your comment made my day, Jim! Thank you so much for leaving such kind words. I’m super happy that you found this post helpful.

      We ate A LOT of broccoli while I was working on this post. But at least, Like your son, I also really love broccoli (that isn’t overcooked :-D).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add a recipe rating: