How to Blanch Broccoli (And Freeze It)

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How to blanch and freeze broccoli to preserve its color, texture, and nutrients, as well as cook it from frozen or blanched – using simple methods and top tips!

Blanched broccoli in a bowl with water

Whether you simply have a large amount of broccoli you want to preserve for later or have a recipe that requires blanched broccoli, learning how to blanch broccoli is perfect for maintaining the very best color, flavor, and texture of this nutritional green veg, ready to add to salads and other dishes or to freeze for up to a year!

Why Blanch Vegetables?

First, what is blanching? It is the process of submerging foods into boiling water for a brief time, followed by immediately halting the cooking process with an ice bath. This brings out the vibrant color and best flavor/texture, then halts the natural enzymes that cause them to change color and lead to spoilage.

This also means if you plan to freeze the vegetables, upon thawing, they won’t deteriorate and will remain vibrant while also preserving flavor. Plus, since blanching broccoli only takes a few minutes, it’s a no-brainer!

Blanched broccoli in a colander

With broccoli, a quick blanch can also help to get rid of the slightly unpleasant (and sometimes even bitter) “raw” flavor before adding to recipes like salads or where it only requires very brief cooking, like stir-fries.

Within this post, I’ll take you through the best method for blanching and freezing broccoli, as well as how to cook it from frozen or use it from blanched!

What You’ll Need

  • Broccoli: make sure to choose a broccoli head that is bright green (not yellowing), with a firm stalk and no brown spots.

Yield: a medium-sized broccoli head (around 9oz/250g weight) will yield around 3 ½ cups of florets and an additional 1-2 cups of chopped stalk.

Few small heads of broccoli
  • Water: I just use tap water, but use filtered if necessary/preferred.
  • Ice bath: you’ll need an ice bath to quickly halt the cooking process once the blanched broccoli is ready. I use a large bowl filled with ice-cold water and a handful of ice cubes.
  • Slotted spoon: to remove the florets from the boiling water and transfer them to the ice bath.
  • Large saucepan: a thick-bottomed saucepan is best for more even heating throughout.

How to Blanch Broccoli?

First, separate the broccoli into even-sized florets, trimming any woody ends. I usually slice off an inch from the end of the broccoli trunk and then pull the florets apart by hand, using a knife when needed to separate them or chop them down to even-sized pieces.

Chopped broccoli on a try

At the same time, peel the stem and chop it into pieces that are a similar width to your floret stems (and ½-inch thick).

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water (lightly salted if preferred) to a boil.

Once boiling, carefully transfer the broccoli to the pan and allow it to cook for one minute for firmer results or 2-3 minutes (depending on the size of the florets) for slightly more tender results. They should be vibrant green and firm.

I usually blanch the broccoli for 1 minute when freezing it and between 2-3 if I plan to eat it from blanched (i.e., in a salad).

Then, use a slotted spoon to remove the broccoli from the pan and transfer it to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Allow it to cool for 3-4 minutes.

Steps for blanching broccoli

Once cooled, pat the broccoli florets with a clean kitchen towel and then either use immediately OR it’s now time to freeze the fresh broccoli!

Alternative Method: Steam Blanching

You can steam the broccoli using a steaming insert in a large pan, a multi-tiered steaming pan, or a steaming basket.

Bring a few inches of water to a boil in your pan of choice. Add the chopped broccoli florets/stems to the tool of choice, trying not to overlap/stack them too much. Then steam for 4-5 minutes.

Then continue with the ice bath steps.

How to Freeze Fresh Broccoli?

First, blanch, cool, and dry the broccoli following the steps above. Dry it well to avoid extra ice when freezing.

Then, spread the broccoli across a large tray, ensuring they aren’t touching, and flash freeze until solid.

What is Flash Freezing?

This basically means to quickly freeze small things individually before storing them “properly”. Making sure the ingredient is spread out on a baking tray means they’ll take less time to freeze solid and won’t stick together in the process (so you can just grab as much as needed, without having to thaw the entire amount).

Once solid (this will take 2-3 hours), transfer the broccoli to a freezer-safe bag. Squeeze out all excess air and label with the use-by date (see below for storage instructions).

A plate with blanched broccoli

Storing Instructions

You can store blanched fresh broccoli in the fridge for 3-4 days after blanching OR in the freezer for up to 12 months. However, I recommend using it within 6 months for the best quality (in terms of flavor and texture).

How to Cook From Frozen (or Blanched)?

I love cooking vegetables from frozen cause there’s rarely the need to thaw it first. This is also the case with this frozen broccoli.

You can either continue to cook it with your method of choice (boiling, roasting, air-frying, etc.). OR add it to dishes (like pasta, sauces, stir-fries, soups, and stews) within the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.

Likewise, blanched broccoli is a perfect fuss-free addition to salads, pasta salads, grain bowls, stir-fries, to top pizza, etc. I also love to serve lightly blanched broccoli as crudites with dips like creamy hummus, baba ganoush, herby labneh dip. It’s also delicious when topped with this Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce.

FAQs

How long does it take to blanch broccoli?

The entire process shouldn’t take any longer than 10-15 minutes, including preparing the broccoli, blanching it, and cooling it in the ice bath. It’ll then only take a couple of additional minutes if you plan to freeze it afterward. As for the actual blanching time, that is between 2-3 minutes.

Can I blanch broccoli stem/trunks?

Of course, just make sure to chop it in a similar width to the broccoli floret stems. The thicker skin on the trunk can also make them take longer to cook, so peel it first for the best results.

Can you freeze broccoli without blanching it?

I wouldn’t recommend it! The color is less than impressive upon thawing, the flavor may be bitter, and the stems may even shrivel up. Even worse, the nutrients are negatively impacted, and you may even find it disintegrates upon cooking and becomes a mushy mess!

How to thaw the frozen broccoli?

If you want to thaw the broccoli, you can either leave it in the refrigerator overnight, on a kitchen counter for several hours, or even place a bag of frozen broccoli in a bowl of tepid (not warm) water until defrosted.

Does blanching broccoli remove nutrients?

If anything, research shows us that blanching broccoli helps preserve nutrients like vitamin C.

Blanched broccoli with lemon butter sauce

Top Tips and Tricks

  • Save any scraps: they can be added to a separate freezer bag of veggie scraps and turned into vegetable stock!
  • Use enough water: ensure that the florets are entirely covered with water while blanching. Otherwise, the cooking will be uneven.
  • Whether to add salt: salting the boiling water will ever so slightly season the broccoli. It also helps the florets to preserve their flavor and texture. However, feel free to omit it if preferred.
  • Have everything ready before starting: this entire process is very quick, so it’s best to have your chopping, blanching, and ice bath stations ready to go. Prepare the ice bath in advance and bring the pan of water to a boil while chopping the broccoli.
  • Blanch in batches is necessary: if you plan to blanch a large amount, do so in batches. The more broccoli you add to the saucepan, the more the temperature will drop and affect the cooking time. For the best results, add just enough for just over a single layer of broccoli in your pan. Then, as that batch rests in the ice bath, blanch the next batch (only taking 2-3 minutes each time!).

More Ways To Use Broccoli

If you try this method for how to blanch and freeze broccoli, I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

How to Blanch Broccoli (And Freeze It)

5 from 6 votes
By: Samira
How to blanch and freeze broccoli to preserve its color, texture, and nutrients, as well as cook it from frozen or blanched – using simple methods and top tips.
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Ice bath I use a large bowl filled with ice water and a handful of ice cubes
  • Slotted spoon to transfer the florets to the ice bath
  • Large Saucepan heavy-bottomed is best

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 head broccoli or as many as wanted
  • water to fill the saucepan
  • 1-2 tsp salt optional

Instructions 

How to Blanch Broccoli?

  • Separate the broccoli into even-sized florets, trimming any woody ends. I usually slice off an inch from the end of the broccoli trunk and then pull the florets apart by hand, using a knife when needed to separate them or chop them down to even-sized pieces.
    At the same time, peel the stem and chop it into pieces that are a similar width to your floret stems (and ½-inch thick).
  • Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water (lightly salted if preferred) to a boil.
  • Once boiling, carefully transfer the broccoli to the pan and allow it to cook for one minute for firmer results or between 2-3 minutes (depending on the size of the florets) for slightly more tender results. They should be vibrant green and firm.
    I usually blanch the broccoli for one minute when freezing it and between 2-3 if I plan to eat it from blanched (i.e., in a salad).
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the broccoli from the pan and transfer it to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Allow it to cool for 3-4 minutes.
  • Once cooled, pat the broccoli florets with a clean kitchen towel and then either use immediately OR freeze for later.

Alternative Method: Steam Blanching

  • You can steam the broccoli using a steaming insert in a large pan, a multi-tiered steaming pan, or a steaming basket.
    Bring a few inches of water to a boil in your pan of choice. Add the chopped broccoli florets/stems to the tool of choice, trying not to overlap/stack them too much. Then steam for 4-5 minutes.
    Then continue with the ice bath steps.

How to Freeze Fresh Broccoli?

  • Blanch, cool, and dry the broccoli following the steps above. Dry it well to avoid extra ice when freezing.
    Then, spread the broccoli across a large tray, ensuring they aren't touching, and flash freeze until solid.
    Finally, transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag, squeezing out all the excess air.

Storing Instructions

  • You can store blanched fresh broccoli in the fridge for 3-4 days after blanching OR in the freezer for up to 12 months. However, I recommend using it within 6 months for the best quality (in terms of flavor and texture).
    Refer to the blog post for how to cook broccoli from frozen and for more information!

Notes

  • Save any scraps: they can be added to a separate freezer bag of veggie scraps and eventually turned into vegetable stock!
  • Use enough water: ensure that the florets are entirely covered with water while blanching, or else the cooking will be uneven.
  • Whether to add salt: salting the boiling water will not only ever so slightly season the broccoli, but it actually helps the florets to preserve their flavor and texture further. However, feel free to omit it if preferred.
  • Have everything ready before starting: this entire process is very quick, so it’s best to have your chopping, blanching, and ice bath stations ready to go. Prepare the ice bath in advance and bring the pan of water to a boil while chopping the broccoli.
  • Blanch in batches is necessary: if you plan to blanch a large amount of broccoli, it’s best to do so in smaller batches. The more broccoli you add to the saucepan, the more the temperature will drop and affect the cooking time. For the best results, add just enough for just over a single layer of broccoli in your pan. Then, as that batch rests in the ice bath, blanch the next batch (only taking 2-3 minutes each time!).
 
Check the blog post for more tips, how to cook from frozen, and answers to top FAQs!
Course: Appetizer, Side
Cuisine: American, Global
Freezer friendly: 1 Year
Shelf life: 3-4 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 52kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 50mg, Potassium: 480mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 947IU, Vitamin C: 136mg, Calcium: 71mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’m glad you made the distinction between and showed blanching times for using in a salad versus freezing. I was going to blanch fresh broccoli anyway for my salad. Now, I plan to use the Costco frozen broccoli in steam bags, steam them 1 to 2 minutes, then ice, then salad. The frozen broccoli will last me longer and hopefully work fine in the salad once well drained. thanks.