Simple Roasted Broccoli with Garlic

The much-used technique of steaming broccoli can be good, but doesn’t always bring the kind of flavor I look for in a vegetable. What’s worse, more food establishments than I can count go a step further and over-steam it, serving floppy broccoli that has lost its color, texture, and flavor in the process. I’m here to tell you: it doesn’t have to be that way! I discovered this technique for caramelizing broccoli in the oven via America’s Test Kitchen which will revolutionize your views on this humble vegetable. Since broccoli doesn’t have enough natural sugar in it to caramelize naturally like many other vegetables such as carrots or onions, this technique involves . . . helping the green stuff along its way. With a little sugar love. This is one of the best ways I’ve ever eaten broccoli. Make it! It’s easy, and with a 10 minute cook time it’s also super fast.


(Serves 4)

2 large broccoli crowns

4 TBS olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp black pepper

4 cloves garlic (optional)

Let’s get started–this really couldn’t be easier–but there are a few things that are absolutely necessary to make sure the caramelization process happens to its fullest potential. I’ll walk you through it.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, with the baking sheet inside. Prepare the rack so that the sheet is closer to the element than not. Heating the baking sheet fully is 100% essential in getting the best flavor out of the broccoli.

Now let’s give that broccoli at good washin’.

Why oh why didn’t I focus the above picture properly?? *bashing head against computer* In the little “About” page I wrote when I started this here blog, I explained my terror of one day posting a blurry, non-sharp picture. I imagined hordes of professional photographers descending on me with sticks and stones to punish my incompetence. And now, that day has come. So far, no sticks, no stones, but I’ll keep you posted.

Cut the broccoli into segments. You want them to be on the large side, about the length of the palm of your hand.

Don’t be tempted to cut them into cute, small pieces, because then they won’t roast properly–instead, they’ll just kind of steam away, bringing back the “floppy broccoli” problem we’re trying to avoid. Also, cut them so that there is a flat side on most pieces–just slice right through that broccoli crown (instead of separating off individual florets). You want flat sides for the caramelization to happen.

Mince the garlic . . .

. . . and mix the broccoli, garlic, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper together in a bowl with your hands.

Make sure all the broccoli pieces are coated as evenly as possible.

When the oven is fully preheated (make sure it is! Mine wasn’t, and the roasting didn’t go as well as it normally does), take out the hot sheet pan.

Working quickly, arrange the broccoli on the pan. You’ll hear a delightful sizzle as the broccoli hits the metal surface. Make sure there is some space between the pieces, and always lay each piece with its flat side down.

I have inserted a black arrow in the above picture to show you what NOT to do. That flat side is not down! Turn it over Jenna! C’mon, get with the program!

Zer ve go. Zat is better, ja.

Roast for 10-12 minutes.

I lifted up a piece to examine the underside: not brown enough yet, so I put them back in for 2-3 minutes longer.

Once they are nice and brown, remove and serve!

I dished it up with some parmesan chicken . . . recipe coming at some point.

You could easily sprinkle some lemon juice over it, or some parmesan–but it’s wonderful just as it is.

*Note: a number of people who have made this recipe tell me it’s very kid-friendly. Thanks for the tip, ladies!

Click here for printer-friendly version: Simple Roasted Broccoli with Garlic

30 thoughts on “Simple Roasted Broccoli with Garlic

  1. foongfest

    Roasted broccoli is definitely most awesome. I made some last night. (drizzled with gramolata bread crumbs instead of seasoning before cooking)

    Heck, I cooked broccoli 3 different ways last night – roasted, quick pickled and boiled with wasabe soy sauce. That’s right, I’m 2-upping you. 🙂

    Anyway, great pictures. You made me hungry for broccoli again.

    ~ Dave

      1. foongfest

        I didn’t explain it too clearly. It’s more like boiled and drizzled with wasabe sauce, although a poaching in the diluted sauce might be just as good. Here’s where I got inspiration for that:

        Also, these are the two other methods substituting broccoli for the cauliflower:

        Marinated (quick pickled) cauliflower

        Gremolata Breadcrumbs

  2. Sarah

    i make roasted broccoli this way too! i just don’t heat my oven up that hot- only to about 450. but i’ll admit, i do like steamed broccoli, i just don’t steam it to the point of limpness- it still has some crispness to it. my husband prefers it that way, topped with teriyaki sauce!

    1. Jenna

      I totally agree–I loved steamed broccoli if it’s not over-steamed. Unfortunately, a lot of restaurants seem to over-steam. Teriyaki sauce with broccoli sounds great!

  3. claire

    yum! i saw a recipe similar to this one earlier this week. It looks delicious! such simple ingredients- can you taste any sweetness from the sugar?

    1. Jenna

      I wouldn’t say you taste ‘sugar’ per se, but the sugar adds a flavor of caramelized deliciousness that tastes natural and makes the broccoli flavor jump out.

  4. Chiara

    This will sound crazy… I’ve never roasted broccoli before! Since I loathe floppy broccoli as much as you do, I usually cook them with garlic and olive oil in a saute pan… but next time I’ll try roasting for sure!

  5. giselle

    I keep looking at this recipe b/c it just looks so yummy! I signed up with a local co-op this week and the veggie bag that I pick up tomorrow has broccoli in it! Yay!

    I hope I’m not expecting too much from a little green veggie!

    1. giselle

      I can’t tell you how much I love this recipe. I’ve made it several times and it’s always amazing. Thanks for another wonderful recipe, Jenna. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Another Awesome Side Dish-Roasted Broccoli « Meeshiesmom's Blog

  7. Sarah

    I’m making this tonight for my parents along with Ree’s beef+snowpeas and some crab ragoons. Hopefully it turns out well. Your recipe is simple and easy to understand and your pictures are so helpful, so I shouldn’t be able to mess this up! Thank you! Wish me luck!

    1. Jenna

      Good luck, Sarah! Ree’s beef + snowpeas sounds delicious (that woman is a recipe producing machine–and they all turn out so well). I hope you have great luck with the broccoli–stop back and let me know how it turns out!

  8. Layla

    In reference to what you said above: “I’ll walk you through it.” …… yes you do! And, that is the KEY in why your blog has got me “braving” things in kitchen!
    Just today I used your instructions to make the ham and egg on English muffins that you blogged about in the past, and we also made again the Little rollies, and have been snacking on them since the other night too!
    I think the combo of instructions broken down, with pictures of the steps (vs. just the final product) is the key for my learning (and not dreading the attempts)!

    1. Jenna Post author

      Yay! I’m so glad some of these recipes are working for you Layla! It warms my heart to think of you eating the same things I’ve made here in my lil’ Chicago kitchen!

  9. Pingback: Meal plan 10.26.12 | Julie's Doodle Blog

  10. jackie harris

    I heard about this on Fresh Air with Terri Gross and the America’s Test Kitchen folks over the weekend. I found your piece and it gives a very good preparation.
    I’ll do it tonight.


Leave a Reply

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