Quick Sauteed Broccolini with Lemon

The side dish that goes with every protein, carb and cuisine. Make this Quick Sauteed Broccolini when you want a restaurant-quality side dish that is fast and flavorful. Here’s everything you need to know for learning how to make broccolini.

Two stacked plates with cooked broccolini and a lemon wedge and bowl of salt.

Truth time—vegetables were an acquired taste for me. I’ve grown to love them and sauteing and roasting them are my top two favorite techniques to prepare vegetables. After spending a lot of time in Italy and devouring sauteed spinach with lemon wherever I could, I was inspired to quick saute vegetables in a hot skillet like this easy and quick sauteed broccolini.

p.s. there are some veggies to this day that I just can’t with (I’m speaking to you, beets).

p.p.s. Please don’t close this tab.

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  1. Easy.
  2. Quick.
  3. Flavor.
  4. And will make you feel and look like a skilled cook.
Close up of cooked broccolini in a stainless steel skillet.

What is broccolini?

Before we get into why you’ll love this easy sauteed broccolini, we probably should have the discussion of what is the difference between broccolini and broccoli. Many think that broccolini is baby broccoli. And that just isn’t the case.


DEFINITION

Broccolini is actually a hybrid or cross-breed of Chinese broccoli (a leafy green vegetable) and traditional broccoli.

-Josie + Nina

Broccolini used to be and is sometimes called aspiration. Crazy, right?

I’m not sure why except after reading this, you’ll aspire to make it.

Here’s why broccolini is better than broccoli:

  • Cooks faster. Because broccolini has a thinner stem, it takes less time to cook.
  • Better flavor. Broccolini is sweeter and not as “gassy” or strong flavored as regular broccoli making it have better flavor in my book.
  • Delicate texture. First, unlike broccoli you can eat the entire stem from top to bottom. And florets are smaller but flatter giving more surface area to brown in the pan all which helps create better texture (and again…flavor!)

What broccolini isn’t

Contrary to what you might hear on the streets, broccolini isn’t broccoli rabe (which is actually rapini and is a green) nor is it baby broccoli. If you want the whole scoop, this Eater article about the difference between broccolini, broccoli rabe and more.

Just an FYI.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Three ingredients. Just three. I love recipes with short ingredient lists (hint, hint…like these awesomely sweet oven roasted tomatoes).

Hand holding stainless skillet of raw brocolini with bowl and spoon of salt and white bottle of olive oil.
  • broccolini (as thin of stalks in a bunch as you can find, if possible)
  • olive oil
  • kosher or sea salt
  • lemon (optional)
  • crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

See recipe card for quantities.

Where to buy

You might be saying to yourself, “I have absolutely no idea where to buy broccolini.” And that’s ok! Because in addition to your local farmer’s market (which is a great source), it is pretty likely that your local grocer carries it. In the Chicago area, I can find broccolini at all our major chains like Meijer, Fresh Thyme, Jewel-Osco and The Fresh Market.

How to Cut Broccolini (or trim)

Hand holding a knife trimming stalk of broccolini.

Broccolini is really easy to trim. Here’s how you’ll do it:

  • Using a sharp paring knife, cut off the bottom by about 1/4″ or so.
  • Remove any leaves.
  • Cut the small stalks from the thicker stalks.
  • Thin any thick stalks (larger than 1/2″ or so) by cutting down the length of the stalk floret to stem.

How to Cook Broccolini in a Pan

Grab your favorite skillet that heats evenly like a stainless steel or cast iron skillet. My favorite is this All Clad 10″ Skillet.

Hand with tongs laying broccolini in a stainless skillet with oil.

Heat some olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Add the trimmed and cleaned broccolini with tongs to the pan in one layer, gently toss and allow to brown for about 2 minutes on one side. Flip to the other side for another two minutes until you see char developing. Cover with a lid and allow the broccolini to steam for a bit before serving.

Hint: Run your exhaust fan to absorb any smoke, if applicable.

Helpful Tips & Serving/Storage

All the insider tips and tricks to make this recipe perfect!

Hand squeezing lemon over a stainless skillet of broccolini with a bowl of salt.

Serving Ideas

  • Squeeze fresh lemon over the broccolini and a healthy sprinkling of sea salt.
  • Sprinkle over some crushed red pepper or some fresh parmesan cheese for a big boost of flavor.

Make ahead

Because broccolini cooks so fast and you want to eat it when it’s crispy, it really isn’t the best make ahead side dish.

Reheating

Save leftovers in a plastic bag or sealed container and toss with some pasta the next day for an easy lunch.

Freezing

The best way to freeze broccolini is raw. Place in a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Saute from frozen.

Italian Broccolini Variations

  • Add broccolini to a salad recipe like my Chicken Nugget Salad.
  • Sauteed broccolini and roasted garlic
  • Sauteed broccolini and roasted carrots
  • Broccolini with a splash of balsamic vinegar

Before you go….

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Skillet of cooked broccolini with lemons and salt.
5 from 2 votes

Quick Sauteed Broccolini

The side dish that goes with every protein, carb and cuisine. Make this Quick Sauteed Broccolini when you want a restaurant-quality side dish that is fast and flavorful. Here's everything you need to know for learning how to make broccolini.
Prep Time:2 minutes
Cook Time:8 minutes
Total Time:10 minutes
Servings 2

Equipment

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Using a sharp paring knife, cut the bottom ¼" of each stalk. Trim broccolini by removing any leaves and separating smaller stalks from the larger ones. Thin any stalks thicker than ½" but cutting from floret (top) to stem (bottom.
  • Heat a 10" skillet over medium-high heat and add olive. Heat oil until it shimmer in the pan.
  • Add broccolini in a single layer in the pan, season with salt and cook for 2 minutes. The broccolini will start to char (that's a good thing!). Flip and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes or so. Cover and allow the broccolini to finish cooking to a beautiful bright green.. Soften to your desired texture but keep things crisp. We don't want soft broccolini but up to you!
  • Remove the lid and give the broccolini a big squeeze of lemon, sprinkling of crushed red pepper (both optional) and additional salt, if neeeded.

Notes

Serving and Storage. Save leftovers in a plastic bag or sealed container and toss with some pasta the next day for an easy lunch.
To freeze broccolini. I wouldn’t freeze this after cooking (unless you leave it super crisp) but you can freeze broccolini raw in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months. Cook from frozen.
Course: Side Dish, vegetable
Cuisine: American, Italian, Mediterranean
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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