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Food & Recipes

Frozen Broccoli Recipes for Fast + Healthy Meals — Plus the Thawing Trick That Makes All the Difference

You'll want to stock your freezer with this veggie for shortcut meals that are good for you too!

While frozen broccoli may seem like just a simple side, it’s actually the secret weapon to preparing a winning weeknight dinner! This veggie’s earthy flavor and tender texture makes it a filling addition to sauces, casseroles or stews (to name a few). You can even skip thawing the broccoli, for some recipes, and get straight into preparing the dish. Using this frozen veg over its fresh counterpart saves you time cleaning it and shortens the cooking time — all without skimping on nutrients. Keep reading for tips and recipes that showcase frozen broccoli as a convenient shortcut that upgrades your favorite dishes!

The process of freezing broccoli 

Freezing broccoli involves blanching the florets in boiling water or steam for a few minutes. The vegetable is then promptly cooled, drained and placed in a sealed package before it’s frozen. This process stops enzymes within the broccoli from causing spoilage, allowing the veggie to last about 1 year while maintaining its color, flavor and texture.

Is frozen broccoli good for you?

Even though frozen broccoli is blanched beforehand, it still retains many key nutrients. In fact, 1 cup of cooked frozen broccoli contains nearly 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. Protein contains amino acids that help grow and repair muscle tissue, while fiber, particularly the soluble kind in broccoli, slows down digestion to aid blood sugar control. This serving of broccoli also has 52 calories and no fat. With frozen broccoli being a nutrient powerhouse, it’s an easy way to sneak more veggies into your everyday diet.

Does frozen broccoli need to be thawed before cooking?

Whether or not you thaw the broccoli depends on how you’re cooking the dish. If you’re using a quick-cooking method like roasting, satueéing, simmering or air frying, the veg can be prepared frozen. “Don’t try to thaw the broccoli first. When the ice melts, it can make the broccoli mushy,” Rebecca Abbott, co-owner of and co-author of Air Fryer All Day, says. She notes that the high heat from these methods defrosts the broccoli fast and cooks it to tender perfection.

But for dishes with a longer cook time such as casseroles or stews, thawing broccoli florets ensures the florets heat evenly. “If you need to thaw frozen broccoli for a recipe — particularly the steam in the bag type — rather than microwaving the broccoli in the bag, which can result in a rubbery texture, thaw the frozen broccoli by adding it to a large bowl, covering with hot water and letting it sit for a few minutes,” Kat Marris, senior recipe developer at Green Chef, explains. Once thawed, drain the broccoli and pat it dry to remove excess moisture. Now, the broccoli is ready to add a hearty touch to your weeknight meals!

3 delicious recipes that use frozen broccoli

Turning your bag of frozen broccoli into a must-have ingredient for chili, pasta bakes or appetizers couldn’t be simpler! Try these three recipes from our test kitchen to liven up this hearty veg.

Cheesy Broccoli Puff Pastry Cups

Cheesy broccoli puff pastry cups as part of a guide on using frozen broccoli in recipes

Pastry shells make a crispy base for our veggie and cheddar combo.


  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen puff pastry shells such as Pepperidge Farm
  • 4 cups frozen broccoli florets
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • 1½ Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder 
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1⅔ cups shredded sharp cheddar 
  • Fresh parsley and lemon zest


  • Active: 30 mins
  • Total time: 1½ hrs
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Bake puff pastry shells according to package directions. Let cool. Remove centers. Bring large pot salted water to a boil; add broccoli. Cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well; roughly chop.
  2. In pot, whisk milk, flour, mustard powder, cayenne and ¼ tsp. salt; over medium heat, bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thick, 2 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in broccoli. Divide among pastry shells. Add parsley and zest.

Pork ‘n’ Pasta Alfredo

Pork and pasta Alfredo as part of a guide on using frozen broccoli in recipes

Rigatoni pasta has the perfect shape for holding our creamy sauce — feel free to use any tube-style shape you have on hand.

  • 12 oz. rigatoni pasta 
  • 8 (1-inch) thick boneless pork chops
  • 1 (15 oz.) jar light roasted garlic Alfredo sauce
  • 1 (12 oz.) package frozen broccoli florets, thawed, drained
  • 1½ cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1½ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella


  • Active: 25 mins
  • Total time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Coat 4-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Drain pasta.
  2. Coat nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over high heat. Add pork; cook, flipping once, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Toss pasta with sauce, broccoli, tomatoes and reserved pasta liquid. Transfer to baking dish. Top with cheese and pork. Bake until pork is cooked through, 20 minutes. If desired, top with basil.

Turkey ’n’ Veggie Chili

Turkey and veggie chili as part of a guide on using frozen broccoli in recipes

Convenient frozen mixed vegetables cut prep time in half for this satisfying comfort-food favorite.


  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots and corn, thawed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked rice


  • Active: 20 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr.
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. In large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add turkey and onion; cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up meat with wooden spoon until turkey is no longer pink, 6 to 7 minutes. Add chili powder, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomato sauce; cover. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors blend, about 30 minutes. Stir in mixed vegetables and tomatoes. Cover; cook until tender and heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with rice.
  3. Easy variation: Make it 3 Bean Veggie Chili: Sub in 1 cup each cannellini, kidney and black beans for the meat. Cook onion in oil until tender; add beans and remaining ingredients. Cook 20 minutes.

For more vegetables recipes, check out the recipes below!

Rachael Ray’s Secrets to the Best-Ever Smashed Potatoes — Crispy, Lemony + So Easy

Genius Trick Reheats Roasted Veggies So They’re as Crispy as When You Made Them

Air-Fryer Carrots: How to Cook a Deliciously Caramelized Batch in Just 12 Minutes

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