Sauteed Broccoli

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Delicious sauteed broccoli with garlic and lemon that comes out perfectly tender-crisp every time. No more mushy broccoli, this side dish is easy and some of the best broccoli you'll ever eat.

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If I had to choose one vegetable to eat every day for the rest of my life, I'd have to say broccoli would rank right up there. Perhaps even as the number-one vegetable in my life. And, what's not to like? It's tasty, nutritious, and easy to cook in a variety of ways.

One of the best things about sauteing broccoli is that it takes less than 10 minutes! Grab a bag of broccoli florets, choose your favorite herbs or spices, and you have a perfect vegetable side dish. It can be eaten with almost anything. 

Serve it with some lemon pepper salmon, garlic shrimp, or slow cooker chicken for a meal everyone will love.

I also love pan frying broccoli or roasting broccoli to get all those delicious, browned edges. 

Ingredients for making sauteed broccoli including broccoli florets, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, and lemon.

How do you make Sauteed Broccoli?

Sauteeing broccoli is easy and takes less than ten minutes. Here's what to do to make delicious, tender-crisp sauteed broccoli every time. 

  1. Start by heating up your fat - olive oil, avocado oil, or butter -  in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Once it is hot, add some flavor to the oil. This will give the broccoli more flavor to make it a special dish. In this case, I like to add minced garlic and red pepper flakes for some heat. These are optional, but they add a lot.  Then just cook this until it is nice and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Other seasoning options include ginger, dried or fresh herbs, or shallots.
  2. Now it's time to add the broccoli. To start, cook the broccoli right in the oil until it is bright green and beginning to brown. The brown bits are the best part in my opinion. At this point, it may look like the broccoli is cooked, but the inside is likely still pretty raw and crunchy.
  3. To remedy that, add the water (or broth) and cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for an additional 2-4 minutes, or until the broccoli is bright green and tender-crisp. Do not let the broccoli overcook. It shouldn't be mushy at all. You are looking for tender crisp broccoli that still has some texture and crunch. 
  4. Now it's time for seasoning. Season with salt and pepper and then you can top with lemon juice, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese as well if you like. Serve and enjoy!

Broccoli Seasoning and Recipes Ideas 

  • Add finely diced onions to the garlic and red pepper flake mixture to the oil.
  • Finish broccoli with parmesan and capers.
  • Add a few drops of sesame oil at the end for a little bit of nutty flavor.
  • Or, add actual chopped almonds or pistachios to the broccoli when it's done cooking.
  • Or, finish the broccoli off by sprinkling some feta or goat cheese on it. Yum.
  • Want to make it a bit spicier? Add a teaspoon of chili powder with the garlic and then finish with red pepper flakes and/or hot sauce if you prefer.

What to serve with Sauteed Broccoli?

In my opinion, broccoli goes with pretty much anything. Whether it's your favorite chicken recipe, pasta, eggs, beans, or a salad - I would serve it all with a yummy side of garlicky broccoli. It's also delicious in a broccoli grain bowl.

With that said, here are some favorite main dish ideas:

More About Broccoli

By now you know broccoli is a vegetable, but did you know it's related to cabbage? That's right, broccoli and cabbage are in the same family, along with bok choy, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale.

Broccoli resembles little, bushy trees, and mostly what people like to eat are its flowering heads (though the stalks are yummy too, when cut and cooked correctly). It can be eaten cooked or raw.

Broccoli got its roots waaaay back in the 6th century BC, and was first cultivated in the Roman Empire. It's healthy, too, full of vitamins C, A, E, and K, folic acid, fiber, protein, iron, and calcium.

How do I buy Broccoli?

Broccoli is usually sold by the crown (just the tops) or in a cluster of crowns and stalks. Sometimes there are just a few heads rubber banded together, and sometimes the whole thing is shrink-wrapped (I hate that, why do they do that?)

Regardless of how it comes to your grocery store, there are a few things you should look for when selecting which broccoli to buy and bring home with you.

  • It should be bright green and firm to the touch.
  • It shouldn't have any florets or branches that are bendable or hanging down when you pick it up.
  • It also shouldn't be too woody or dried out at the stem, this broccoli will be hard and chewy. You'll know it's too woody if you try to bend it and it feels hard, like wood, and doesn't bend.
  • Skip broccoli with yellowing florets.
  • Broccoli should feel heavy for its size.

Garlic sauteed broccoli with Parmesan cheese and lemon in a bowl being held by two hands.

More Sauteed Vegetable Recipes

The Recipe
Sauteed broccoli with Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a ceramic bowl with a wooden spoon.

Sauteed Broccoli

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  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt and pepper

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Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes if using. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.


Add the broccoli florets and cook for 3-4 minutes until the broccoli is bright green and begins to brown a bit.


Add the water and cover the skillet. Cook for 2-4 minutes until broccoli is bright green and tender-crisp. It shouldn’t be mushy.


Season with salt and pepper. If desired, top with lemon juice, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 78
Calories from Fat 49
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 30mg
Total Carbohydrate 7g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 2g
Protein 3g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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