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Get in the habit of freezing leftover broccoli and cauliflower for quick and easy weeknight meals. 

By Melanie Fincher
March 22, 2021
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Frozen broccoli is a freezer aisle staple, but if you find yourself with a little extra fresh broccoli on hand, it's easy enough to freeze it yourself for later use. Make midweek mealtime easier with this simple method for freezing fresh broccoli and/or cauliflower. 

Can You Freeze Broccoli? 

Based on the abundance of broccoli found in any freezer aisle, it should be no surprise that broccoli does remarkably well when frozen. It's a hearty cruciferous vegetable that stands up well to the frozen tundra that is your freezer. Plus, you can cook it straight from frozen in a jif.

How Long Does Broccoli Last in the Freezer?

The sooner you use frozen broccoli, the better the flavor will be. For best results, use frozen broccoli within one year of freezing. 

How to Freeze and Blanch Broccoli (and Cauliflower)

This method for freezing fresh broccoli can also be used to freeze its cruciferous counterpart, cauliflower. 

broccoli in glass bowl with boiling water being poured over it
Credit: Blaine Moats/Meredith

1. Prep Broccoli

For easy, ready-to-use frozen broccoli, you'll first need to trim your broccoli into uniformly sized florets. To do so, start by thoroughly rinsing your broccoli to rid it of any dirt and/or bugs. Then cut off the thick stem and use a paring knife to cut the head into individual florets, about 1 ½ -inches thick. You may choose to discard the stems, or better yet, freeze them too! 

To prep the stems, use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer skin and chop into ½-inch thick pieces. 

2. Blanch and Shock Broccoli 

Blanching is an essential step in freezing vegetables of all kinds, broccoli and cauliflower included. It prevents enzymes from damaging the vegetable's color, flavor, and nutrients. Plus, it can kill any microorganisms living on the surface. 

You can blanch broccoli one of two ways: boiling or steaming. 

  1. Boiling: Prepare an ice bath by adding ice to a bowl of cold water. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli and blanch for three minutes. Drain broccoli and immediately transfer it to the ice bath to cool. Once cool, drain well. 
  2. Steaming: Prepare an ice bath by adding ice to a bowl of cold water. Bring several inches of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add prepared broccoli to a steamer basket, place in the pot, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and allow the broccoli to steam for five minutes. Shock the broccoli by immediately transferring it to the ice bath to cool. Once cool, drain well. 

3. Flash Freeze Broccoli 

Once cool, pat the broccoli dry with a paper towel. Lay the broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a reusable baking mat. Freeze until completely solid, about two hours. This will prevent the broccoli from freezing in one giant clump. 

4. Transfer and Freeze Broccoli

Once frozen, transfer the broccoli to a freezer-safe bag or airtight container, label with the date, and freeze for up to one year. 

frozen broccoli on white background
Credit: Blaine Moats/Meredith

How to Use Frozen Broccoli 

Since blanched broccoli has already been cooked, using it couldn't be easier. You can either thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, boil the broccoli in an inch or two of salted water, or saute straight from frozen with a little oil or butter in a skillet. And of course, you can never go wrong with a classic broccoli and cheese casserole that uses broccoli straight from frozen. 

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