Broccoli and Rice
Easy Eats

Stir-Fried Broccoli

I was kind of surprised that the stir-fried broccoli dish one last week’s poll. I guess people are still trying to stick to those new year’s resolutions so maybe chewy brownies are a no-no.

Anyway, I made a dish very simple to this a few months ago, but the technique that they recommend in Cook’s Illustrated for stir-frying broccoli is definitely different than the one I used. It produced great results though.

Warning: If you’re not a broc lover, maybe you should skip this post and just check out a random recipe or something.

But assuming you even somewhat like the green stuff, this is a great dish. It’s very healthy and just left me feeling energized. Betsy had the same review and even handled the leftovers before I could have any!

Serves 3-4.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...


Stir-Fried Broccoli

A simple and fail-proof way to stir-fry broccoli. The broccoli is coated in a nice light garlic sauce that doesn’t get too thick.


1.5 pounds broccoli, cut florets into 1/2 inch pieces. Peel stalk and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 Teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Garlic oil:

2 Teaspoon vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 Teaspoon red pepper flake
Main sauce:
1/3 Cup chicken broth (homemade is best)
1 Tablespoon dry sherry (I substituted rice vinegar)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
1 Teaspoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Thai chili sauce (or chili-garlic sauce)
1/2 Teaspoon Sriracha (optional)


Chopped peanuts
Sesame seeds
Broccoli sprouts
Print Recipe  


1) Cut broccoli into even-sized pieces. Peel the stalk and cut it into about 1/4 inch pieces. You can go as big as 1/2 inch pieces for the florets.

2) Prepare the rice according to package.

3) Combine garlic oil ingredients in a small bowl and let them marinate a bit.

4) Whisk together main sauce ingredients in a separate bowl as well.

5) Add broccoli to a large skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of oil. This will give the broccoli time to steam a bit as it cooks.

6) After about 6 minutes of cooking, add sugar to the broccoli and continue to cook. The sugar should caramelize the broccoli a bit.

7) Right before broccoli is cooked, make a small well in the pan and add in the garlic oil mixture. Let it cook for 15 seconds in the hot spot and then mix everything together.

8) Finally add the main sauce and stir. Cook for about a minute and the sauce should thicken immediately.

9) Serve the broccoli over rice with extra Sriracha and/or chopped peanuts and sesame seeds.

Adapted from a Cook's Illustrated.

Prepping the Broc

One of the most important things about this recipe is making sure you take your time prepping the broccoli.

Big Stalks.

You need to make sure that the stalks and florets are cut into evenly sized pieces or the dish won’t cook evenly. The stalk pieces are much harder to cook so cut them into smaller pieces. I did about 1/2 inch pieces for my florets and 1/4 inch pieces for my stalk.

The exact size isn’t as important as making sure that your pieces are uniform.

Also, before you cut up your stalk, remember to peel it! The outside skin of the stalk is really tough, but the inside is tender and tasty.

chopping broccoli

Peeling and Chopping…

The Sauces

Besides the broccoli, there are three things you need to do to get this meal ready. You want to make sure to do all of these or at least get them started before actually starting to cook your broccoli. The cooking will go fast once it’s started.

Rice – Gotta have rice with this meal in my opinion. I used some Basmati, but use whatever you have available.

Garlic Chili Oil – We’ll add this to our broc near the end, but basically just combine your oil, chopped garlic, and red pepper flakes in a bowl and let them chill for now.

Garlic oil

Spicy oil!

The main sauce – The main sauce for the broccoli has a chicken broth base. I beefed my version up a bit from the one they had in the magazine by adding some sriracha to it.

The chicken broth I used was some I had frozen from the stock I made after my five spice roasted chicken. See! Making stock does pay off later!

sauce ingredients

A bit spicier than the original

Basically, just whisk together all of your sauce ingredients so the cornstarch doesn’t clump and then you’re all set!

sauce for broccoli

Very good sauce.

Cooking the broccoli

I’ve had pretty good success stir-frying broccoli in the past by steaming it slightly first and then cooking in a blazing hot pan.

The method they recommend give you the best of both worlds but definitely contradicts what I think of when I think of stir-fry. For one, the recommend against using a wok. Instead, they recommend a heavy skillet.

Second, instead of high heat, they say to cook over a medium high heat which will give the broccoli time to steam a bit while cooking.

Third, and most strangely of all, the say to sprinkle a tiny pinch of sugar on it cooks. This will bring out the sweetness in the broccoli and also help to caramelize it a bit.

All of these things worked like a charm for me!

I added my broccoli to a hot pan with a Tablespoon or two of oil over medium high heat and let it cook for a few minutes, stirring every minute or two. Then I hit it with a pinch of sugar and stirred more. My broc was perfectly cooked and a bit brown after 10 minutes!

Adding the Sauces

CI recommends adding the garlic oil after your broccoli is mostly cooked so it doesn’t burn. Following their lead, I made a well in my pan and poured the oil garlic mixture right in the center!

broccoli cooking

Their method. Not mine.

Let that cook over the same heat for literally 15-20 seconds. Then mix it all together with your garlic.

Next, add your main sauce to the mix. It should start bubbling immediately. Stir continuously for the next minute or so and the sauce should cook down pretty substantially.

It should coat the broccoli but not be really thick like some sauces that you get with take-out dishes.

This was how my finished version looked:

broccoli stir fry

Not goopey at all!

I plated my stir-fry over rice and drizzled it with a little extra Sriracha for more heat and topped it with chopped peanuts and sesame seeds for some texture.

with rice

Gotta serve on rice.

I think my previous method of quickly steaming the broc and then stir-frying it over high heat works equally well, but this is a bit easier and only requires one pot.

It’s a great way to guarantee good results with stir-fried broccoli and the sauce is really awesome.

18 comments on “Stir-Fried Broccoli

    1. Sure thing! I’m trying to eat less meat these days so trying a lot of veggie dishes…

      Just made a fantastic roasted cauliflower dish with balsamic and parm. I’ll post it next week sometime ;)

  1. You can’t beat well-seasoned broccoli for a healthy stir-fry. The sugar is a nice trick… and, as far as I’m concerned, Siracha makes just about everything better. So, you totally get my vote there!

  2. Thanks for this! With it being Lent, I’m constantly on the hunt for satisfying veggie dishes that appeal to the entire family. Of course, I’ll need to use a veggie stock for now. Do you think that will work out okay?

  3. My family always serves broccoli steamed. I enjoyed this tasty recipe for a change of pace for broccoli. Will make this recipe to impress my friends and family and tickle their taste buds.

  4. I just want to chime in that I completely disagree with the disclaimers at the beginning of this post. This is a fantastic recipe and is perfect for those who don't love broccoli to convert them! People often don't care for broccoli because they've never had it when it tastes good. This recipe is a way to make it delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Another winning recipe!! Made this tonight for dinner and the whole head of broccoli vanished. This recipe is going into the rotation. Thanks for posting!

  6. I made this for dinner tonight and it was so delicious! I made this with chopped up chicken breast though and I gave my 3 year old some cooked chicken and broccoli before putting the sauce on it (thought it’d be too spicy for her.) Hubby and I loved it! I did serve it with white rice. Thank you for the yummy recipe!!! :)

  7. I am writing to rave about this recipe! I wrote on 10/17/13 & wanted to say I’ve made this a million times since. My kids & hubby love it and I find it so weight watchers friendly. I usually double the ingredients for the main sauce just because I love the flavor & I mix it with white rice. I have told so many people about this recipe. Yum yum yum!

Leave a Comment