Tips for getting the perfect caramelization every time.
Anyone with a bunch of broccoli, a knife, and an oven can make amazing roasted broccoli. With a few ingredients and three key principles to keep in mind, you will amaze your family and friends by turning broccoli into a binge-worthy side dish.
Before going any farther, I want to set the mood and mindset for optimal broccoli chopping … If you’re of a certain age, or if your family is really into Saturday Night Live, then every time you think of, ahem, “choppin’ broccoli”, this comes to mind:
As you can see, broccoli preparation can be both delicious and hilariously musical. Now, with a smile on our faces, let’s talk (or sing) about choppin’ -and roastin’ – broccoli.
I’m going to use some broccoli terms that may be unfamiliar to you, so let’s identify the parts:
The four ingredients for Rockin’ Roasted Broccoli:
- Broccoli. Fresh is best, like in the picture above. Frozen can work if you have intact florets (not “chopped broccoli” – the pieces are too small, there’s a lot of “broccoli dust” in the bag) – just thaw it in the microwave first and know that it will cook much more quickly.
- Fat. Olive oil, butter, bacon grease, whatever you have and like.
- Salt and pepper. Ok, that’s two ingredients, but pepper is optional.
- Garlic powder. While not essential, garlic powder will take your broccoli from good to great.
Three key factors in getting Rockin’ Roasted Broccoli:
- Get the chop right. Specifically, the size of the chop. You want florets that are small enough that the trunks gets cooked through and tender. However, if florets are too large with that are too thick, your gorgeous florets will get burned before the trunks are cooked through. That would be “Burned Broccoli” with undercooked stems … and sad.
- These florets are what we are looking for:
- The collage below is how I like to chop my broccoli. Counterclockwise from top left: cut the stalk from the crown, trim the stalk of its woody outside, slice the tender inner stalk into rounds, and trim the florets into uniform pieces.
- Season adequately. Don’t be shy with the salt and garlic powder. I will not tell you how much to use – that’s up to you. My general rules of thumb for seasoning are: 1) taste test often, and 2) if you think the broccoli “needs something” – it needs more salt, garlic powder, or both.
- Caramelization, especially and mostly on the florets. OK, this is the coup d’etat. As the sugar (yes, there is a wee bit o’ sugar in broccoli) oxidizes, it creates a sweet, nutty flavor and satisfying brown color. For broccoli, this occurs at ~320’F, so roast at >=350’F, or no caramelization (again, sad).
Perfectly roasted and caramelized broccoli is a popular side dish for any weeknight or even a dinner party.
- 1 lb Broccoli crowns or florets, fresh or frozen
- 1 – 2 tsp olive oil or other fat
- Salt and Pepper
- Garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 350 – 425’F, depending on how much time you have and if you’re baking anything else in the oven. At 350’F, baking time will be 45 or so minutes; at 425’F, approximately 20 minutes.
- If desired, line a baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil or unfoiled pan with nonstick spray.
- Chop your broccoli into uniform, smallish florets and sing “Choppin’ Broccoli” throughout.
- Put the chopped broccoli on the prepared pan and toss with desired amount of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Bake for 20 – 45 minutes, depending on oven temp, tossing and tasting every 10 – 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed. The broccoli is done when the floret buds and pan-side trunks are starting to brown.
Pro Tip #1: Toss/stir more often when baking at higher temps (400’F and above) to avoid pan-side scorching.
Pro Tip #2: Cut roasting time in half by microwaving the broccoli (or any vegetable) for approximately 3 minutes before roasting in the oven.
Pro Tip #3: Skip the chopping and buy frozen broccoli florets (not chopped broccoli, or, as I like to call it, “broccoli dust”. Again, microwave the frozen broccoli for about 3 minutes and then toss with seasonings and roast until it begins to brown (10 – 20 minutes).
Pro Tip #4: Almost any vegetable will work. We used broccoli here, but you can do the same thing for cauliflower, brussels sprouts, carrots, eggplant, bell peppers, sweet potatoes … this list goes on. Experiment and see what you like!
On the Grill:
Microwave the broccoli (or any vegetable) until it is just done (or if frozen, until there’s no more frost – about 3 minutes). Follow steps 2 – 4 above, using a baking sheet that you don’t care about – it will get dirty on the grill. Put the veggies and baking sheet on the grill top, and cook it alongside whatever else you’re grilling, tossing every time you flip your meat.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 – 45 minutes
- Category: Recipes
- Method: Roast
- Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
- Calories: 58
- Sugar: 2 g
- Sodium: 200 mg
- Fat: 3 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 8 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: gluten-free, low carb
Happy chopping! If you tried and liked (or didn’t like) this roasted broccoli, please leave a comment or suggestion.