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Sauteed Broccoli with Garlic and Parmesan

5 from 3 votes

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Master a simple technique and make this DELICIOUS sautéed broccoli with crisp-textured edges and a tender bite. It’s full of flavor, with olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Serve it as a side dish or toss with pasta — it’s an easy crowd-pleaser!

A white pan with cooked broccoli, with a spoon and lemon wedges along side.
Crisp-tender sauteed broccoli with lemon, garlic and Parmesan cheese.

This recipe will show you how to sauté broccoli perfectly. One you master this technique, try it with other sturdy vegetables like green beans, cauliflower or shaved Brussels sprouts.

The broccoli is quickly pan-seared and then briefly “steamed” so that it has a pleasantly crisp texture on the outside, but tender on the inside when you take a bite. And the broccoli keeps its beautiful vibrant green color because it cooks in minutes.

Broccoli is consistently a favorite veggie for kids and adults. Sauteed broccoli is one of the best healthful vegetable side dishes, hands down!

Is it better to saute or just boil broccoli? Honestly, both methods are great but yield different resuts.

Sautéed broccoli has a slight edge on taste, in my opinion. That’s because you kind of get the best of both worlds — crisp brown edges and tender broccoli when you take a bite.

My pan-sautè method offers an alternative to baking broccoli, or tossing it on a sheet pan and roasting it. Try this sauteed broccoli recipe and I promise you’ll be very happy with how delicious it is! It has tremendous flavor, like the best stir-fry from your favorite take-out place, with an appetizing aroma of garlic.

Bunches of fresh broccoli in a colander, with a bottle of olive oil, red chili flakes and garlic cloves to the side.
Minimal ingredients is all you need to cook sauteed broccoli.

Ingredients for the recipe

  • Broccoli: You’ll need 6 cups of florets, which is about 1 large head of broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds before trimming). Frozen broccoli won’t crisp as well, but will still taste good.
  • Garlic: Grated fresh garlic cloves are the best. Minced garlic from a jar will work, but I don’t recommend garlic powder for this recipe.
  • Olive oil: Use a good everyday extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Red pepper flakes: These add a layer of warm heat, but not too much.
  • Lemon wedges: For squeezing over the dish.
  • Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated is the best! You can substitute with nutritional yeast to make it dairy-free.

Prepping broccoli for sautéeing

During my restaurant chef training, I learned the best way to cut and trim broccoli for cooking. Once you master the steps, you’ll be slicing up bunches of broccoli like a pro.

  • The tender part of the broccoli stalk is completely edible. The trick is trim off the tough ends and slice the remaining tender stems thinly so they cook evenly along with the florets.
  • Slice the broccoli tops into florets that are about as wide as your index finger. This is the perfect size to ensure they’ll cook tender-crisp quickly and stay bright green.

How to sauté broccoli, step by step

  1. Start by choosing your largest skillet. A 12-inch pan is best because it has more surface area for searing the broccoli. I love this nonstick pan, which makes cleanup much easier.
  2. Heat the pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes, just until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Add the olive oil, broccoli and salt, arranging the broccoli in one layer. You don’t want to add the garlic at this point or it will burn.
  3. Let the broccoli cook undisturbed until it sears to a golden brown, which takes 5-8 minutes depending on your stove.
  4. Stir the broccoli around, then add the garlic, chili and 1/4 cup water. Lower the heat to medium and cover the pan. Cook 5 minutes, or just until you can easily pierce a broccoli stem with the tip of a sharp knife.

Seasoning sauteed broccoli

Sautéed broccoli tastes SO GOOD and really needs nothing else added to it, but you definitely have options when it comes to seasoning!

Broccoli tastes good with fat, such as olive oil, butter and cheese, as well as ingredients that have bright, acidic flavor, like citrus and vinegar. The naturally robust texture of broccoli is also good with crunchy things — think nuts, breadcrumbs or sesame seeds.

Try topping the broccoli with one or more of the following:

  • Sliced almonds (or chopped whole almonds)
  • Pine nuts
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • A big knob of butter (add it to the broccoli as soon as you take the pan off the heat)
  • Tangy tahini dressing

Serving ideas:

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A white pan full of sauteed broccoli, with grated cheese on top and a wooden spoon and lemon wedges on the side.

Sautéed Broccoli with Garlic and Parmesan

Karen Tedesco
Master a simple technique and make this DELICIOUS sautéed broccoli with crisp edges and a tender bite! The broccoli has a ton of flavor, with olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese.
Print Pin
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Vegetables
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings 4 servings

Equipment

12-inch nonstick skillet with a lid or cover

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups (450 g) broccoli florets and tender stems, from about 1 (1.5 pound) bunch
  • ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh garlic or minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red chili pepper, or to taste
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) water

To serve:

  • 1-2 fresh lemon wedges
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions 

  • Place a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the pan is hot.
  • Add the olive oil, broccoli and salt to the pan. Arrange the pieces in one layer on the bottom of the pan as much as possible — this will help them sear better.
  • Cook the broccoli without stirring 5-8 minutes, until the broccoli is nicely browned on one side. Shake or stir the broccoli around and lower the heat to medium.
  • Add the water, garlic and chili flakes. Cover the pan and cook 5 minutes, or just until the broccoli is bright green and the stalks can be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
  • Transfer the broccoli to a serving dish. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the broccoli and sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Notes

If you like, garnish your delicious sautéed broccoli with one or more:
  • Toasted sliced or chopped almonds
  • Pine nuts
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • A big knob of butter
  • Nutritional yeast (for a vegan option)
The cooked broccoli will keep refrigerated 3-5 days. You can also freeze it up to 1 month, but the texture will not be as crisp when reheated.

Nutrition

Calories: 45kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 296mg | Potassium: 8mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 74IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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