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Italian Broccoli is garlicky with a touch of spicy heat and toasted flavor that comes from browning the broccoli in extra-virgin olive oil. It might become your favorite new way to make broccoli!

Italian Broccol in Silver Bowl with Vintage Spoon

Looking at my photos (especially the older one; scroll down to the bottom of this post to see it), you might think I overcooked the broccoli, lol! But hear me out, there’s a method to my madness, I promise.

During undergrad school, I lived in dorms where the food was less than stellar. And further, the only available kitchen was a kitchenette (read: mini stove and sink) that was always dirty (layers of grease on the stove, a sink full of someone’s dirty dishes; you know how it goes in college dorms). And worse yet, the entire floor shared it! 

So when Carrot Couture, one of my genetics class study buddies, invited me to eat dinner at her house with her family on Sundays, it was a deliciously welcome change. Her family was Italian and had a built-in personal chef – her grandmother!

Italian Broccoli with Description

Italian Broccoli – The Back Story

Carrot Couture’s grandmother (who spoke only Italian but understood a little English) would make all kinds of Italian feasts. A few favorites were Osso Buco and Spaghetti with Homemade Gravy and Meatballs. 

My absolute favorite side dish that she made was Italian Broccoli (really, it’s incredible…the pictures obviously don’t do it a shred of justice, lol!). The first time I tasted it, I was giddy with glee and told my friend that I’d never had broccoli that tasted so good. 

I asked what kind of broccoli it was and her grandmother laughed and said “Italian!”, as if naturally, that was the only explanation I needed. I tried to get her Italian broccoli recipe, but it was really more of a method than anything else.

Grandmothers are notorious for cooking by feel and not writing down their recipes. (Perhaps this is why they are usually better cooks than their successors? So I had to use trial and error to determine the amounts. Years later, I still make my version of this dish in honor of her. Of course hers was better, but mine still isn’t too shabby.

Close Up Overhead View of Italian Broccoli

Pro Tip: This is great as a side dish with just about anything, but it can also be turned into a fantastic appetizer very easily. To do so, thinly slice a baguette, drizzle with olive oil, and toast in the broiler, then top the toasted bread with this broccoli and some freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Seriously amazing!

How to Cook Broccoli Without a Steamer

Broccoli is very easy to steam right on the stovetop without a steamer. To do so:

  1. Add the broccoli to a large, deep nonstick skillet.
  2. Add 1 inch of water, and then add a generous pinch of salt.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then cover the skillet and cook for 90 seconds.
  4. Drain the broccoli immediately.

Top View of Spicy Italian Broccoli in Silver Dish on Dark Wooden Table

More Broccoli Recipes to Try:

Front View of Spicy Italian Broccoli in Bowl with Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Did you make this recipe? Please rate it and leave a comment below because I love hearing from you! You can also tag @anediblemosaic on social media. To stay up-to-date FOLLOW ME on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Xoxo, Faith

Italian Broccoli (Spicy Garlic Broccoli)

Prep Time8 minutes
Cook Time8 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Italian Broccoli is garlicky with a touch of spicy heat and toasted flavor that comes from browning the broccoli in extra-virgin olive oil. It might become your favorite new way to make broccoli!

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  • Add the broccoli to a large, deep nonstick skillet. Add 1 inch of water, and then add the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then cover the skillet and cook for 90 seconds. Drain the broccoli immediately.
  • Wipe the skillet try. Add 4 tablespoons oil and heat it over high heat. Once hot, add the broccoli and spread it out in an even layer. Let it cook (do not stir) until it’s golden on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Turn the heat down to low, and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the garlic, and the crushed red pepper flakes. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve.


  • Net Carbs: 4g per serving
  • Italian Broccoli is delicious with a squeeze of fresh lemon on top right before serving!
  • This is great as a side dish for just about anything, but it can also be turned into a fantastic appetizer very easily. To do so, thinly slice a baguette, drizzle with olive oil, and toast in the broiler, then top the toasted bread with this broccoli and some freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Seriously amazing!
  • Another serving suggestion is to toss this broccoli with a pound of pasta that’s cooked to al dente. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve.


Calories: 157kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 227mg | Potassium: 299mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 613IU | Vitamin C: 84mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Broccoli Recipe, Italian Broccoli, Spicy Garlic Broccoli

Share it with me on Instagram and leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!

Easy Italian Broccoli Recipe Pin

This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on January 6, 2011. I updated it with new photos and more information on January 10, 2020. As a point of comparison to show how much my photography has evolved, I kept one of my original photos (below).

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I believe in, which means that even though it doesn’t cost you anything extra, I will receive a small amount of money from the sale of these items, which helps me keep this site alive – thank you for helping to support An Edible Mosaic!

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating


  1. When I first saw the picture I thought “yum”, which is not a word that usually rushes to mind with broccoli. I’m sure we’d love this :)

  2. I love broccoli cooked in this fashion and your picture does it justice! And, like Magic of Spice, if I have some fresh lemon to squeeze over it, I do. But if not, it’s still delicious..

  3. So funny! I have several close friends that are Italian so I have had broccoli this way on several occasions…usually with a bit of lemon added. Looks delicious :)
    P.S. Happy Sunday

  4. So funny! I have several close friends that are Italian so I have had broccoli this way on several occasions…usually with a bit of lemon added. Looks delicious :)

  5. These simple recipes are the best, Faith. Olive oil and garlic added to any vegetable is fabulous!

  6. HA! Looked perfect to me though that’s how I make my broccoli.

  7. I loved the appetizer option. We are big artichoke dip fans and i think this dip with cheese on toasted bread would be delicious.

  8. I can do you one more better. Cava”deals” as it is known in Italian-American homes across the US, is that broccoli with fresh cavatelli, lots of parmesan cheese and garlic. Maybe a little chicken stock but most assurably pasta water. One of the best pasta dishes you will ever eat.

  9. Great, the right recipe for me :-) and the picture is good!!! Broccoli always appeal to me (I am Italian after all!).


  10. I love love love broccoli! I’m liking the addition of the pepper flakes, a little kick probably does it good. Aren’t grandma’s amazing like that?! For some reason everything they cook always tastes a bit better than anyone else could make it. Another fabulous recipe Faith!

  11. This is so much like how we eat brocoli. We boil it just like you and then toss it with lemon-garlic-olive oil- salt mixture.Yours can be a good change for us. Thanks!

  12. as far as i’m concerned, broccoli can never be overcooked. the mushier and more indistinguishable it is, the better. :)

  13. Broccoli is one of the few things I am picky about. For some reason, I am not a big fan of cooked broccoli. But I love it raw. Is that weird? I realize I should probably get over some of my personal food hangups to give my future kids a healthy and balanced diet. And let them decide for themselves what they’re going to be picky about! ;)

  14. It is tough to break the barely cooked vegetable mentality… but this looks like a reason to go wild and do it…. all that good oily garlic goodness would fill the broccoli with so much flavor… I see why you remember it so vividly!

  15. I love sprinkling red pepper flakes on my broccoli. It makes such a difference. I enjoyed hearing how you found this recipe…and the work you had to do in order to nail the recipe. Thank you for sharing this with me. I hope your weekend bursts forth in hope and joy!

  16. Yep, I seriously believe the Italians could turn even the most average of foods into a feast, so I’m right with you on this Broccoli dish, I can imagine it an awesome side dish to a lovely rich Italian meal :)

  17. Oh yum, I really want to try this. My husband tried planting broccoli for me this year (our first attempt at a “winter garden”) but I don’t think it’s doing too well. I’m printing out this recipe, though. It sounds delicious. Love those Italian grandmas :)

  18. I think your broccoli looks perfect. My grandmother prepares her broccoli very similar to this,and it is the only way I like. It is so flavorful. Yours sounds delicious:)

  19. Love the story that goes along with the broccoli. Stories always make food better, don’t you think? I’ll have to give this a try. I need to eat more broccoli and for some reason, I seem to forget about it when I’m planning meals.

  20. What a wonderful way to cook broccoli! It is one of our favorite vegetables!!!

  21. My Mom makes this all the time Faith! Sometimes she tosses it with pasta and extra olive oil, a little Parmesan and serves it hot or cold in the summer. It is only one of the few ways I will eat broccoli!

  22. You’re my hero and have come to my rescue, Faith! I planted way too much broccoli in my very productive garden, and I’ve been looking for new ways to cook it. I bet this is wonderful, and who cares how it looks anyway?

  23. i know most people turn their noses away from brocollis, but oddly enough, it is one of my fave vegetables around and i guess u just introduced me to a new way of serving them!

  24. If this is Italian grandmother-approved then I know I’ll love it! And now I’m seriously craving broccoli. At 8 in the morning. Sigh. It’s going to be an interesting day.

  25. I love broccoli and garlic and lovely pics too
    thanks for sharing
    have a nice day
    bises from France

  26. Interesting dish. Certainly worth trying after your comments that it is your favourite side dish. I also love broccoli. Diane

  27. I’ll have to bookmark this as I’m often looking for new ways to cook broccoli!
    Unfortunately broccoli doesn’t agree with my tummy, but bf likes it so I cook
    it every so often!

  28. What a perfect and versatile dish. I bet it’s good hot or cold or room temperature, too. You could even stir it up with some ziti for a great pasta dish.

  29. I can’t wait to try some of your recipes after I come back from India! This one is so simple yet sounds so fantastic!

  30. Aw, I love the story! So cool that the sort-of-recipe was passed onto you by an Italian grandmother. You will keep history alive with it!

  31. Sounds like a perfect dish, loaded with bold flavor!

  32. My husband’s best friend is Italian and he grew up eating so many meals with him and his family. He raves about their meals to this day! This broccoli sounds like no exception! Finding different ways to cook a vegetable that can so easily become boring to eat everyday just boiling and serving with salt, is seriously crucial!

  33. It’s a fantastic dish, my neighbor taught me similar. My kids called it “burnt broccoli” and they loved, still do! Looks great!

  34. I actually overcook everything and my family has come to love it! LOL. I really do love broccoli and will definitely try this – love the spicy factor.

  35. Oooh – I love broccoli and garlic, and soft-cooked broccoli is still delicious! Love the baguette idea too!!

  36. I didn’t think the photo was bad! That was nice of your friend to take you to her home of Sundays for a real Italian meal! The broccoli looks really good and that appetizer version sounds great too!

  37. I love broccoli in all shapes and forms and I actually do like it cooked well too so I didn’t think anything like it looked mushy at all! :D

  38. Thank you for visiting my blog, and oh my!!! Your blog is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. I look forward to visiting often. I have a feeling I’ll learn some very useful information.

  39. Lucky you to have an authentic Italian food from your friend’s grandma! I know your camera isn’t broken haha. This is a great side dish and love the kick of spiciness!

  40. This looks great! Though I have to say I don’t like mushy broccoli lol. But the flavours sound delicious! I normally boil my broccoli, drain it and add salt. Then I fry some garlic and pour it over the top. I’d love to try it this way sometime…spicy garlic sounds tempting :)

  41. I like my broccoli cooked really well. No hard parts. In fact all my veggies I like them cooked really well. So this broccoli looks just fine to me. In fact I would love to have a bite.

  42. I’m all over the broccoli! Sometimes I just eat a huge bowl of it for dinner :)

    So I can definitely use a knew twist on preparing it!


  43. Thanks for the sweet comment on my site!

    I’m loving your site!

    I love putting spicy broccoli on baguette slices with a glug of good olive oil. It’s one of my favorite snacks!

  44. I remember the feeling of wanting to escape dorm food OH so bad! Eating on school breaks was amazing. The broccoli sounds yummy to me. Italians do food right!

  45. I remember my eating habits when I was in school, and anything this good would have been eaten immediately! Grandmothers’ recipes are the best.

  46. I love broccoli, sure this dish is going to be in my makelist.

  47. Karyn Bernard (French Charming) says:

    Oh my goodness…this sounds delicious! I’ve been on a broccoli kick and that combined with my love for garlic is making my mouth water! I wish my camera would break like yours…your photos look great! Hope you are having a fabulous week my friend…you are always in my thoughts!

  48. Great story about your study days and say as long as broccoli remains bright green it is not overcooked…..dark forest green not good.

  49. I didn’t think your camera was broken ;-) Some foods are just more difficult to photograph and make them look as appetizing as others, but honestly I think this looks really great! No complaints! As a child who never ate her vegetables, later in life I’ve learned to LOVE veggies, and broccoli is definitely one I appreciate :)

  50. What a generous gesture for your friend to invite you over for dinner on Sundays. You sure hit the jackpot to be able to dine on Grandma’s cooking. I totally know what you mean about grandmas and their no recipe cooking. They’re like cooking ninjas those grandmas. Lol. Your adaptation of her recipe sounds delicious and easy. I’m a big garlic fan so I know I’d love this. I do something like this when im short on time and need a quick veggie for dinner. Also love your appetizer suggestion, must try some time.

  51. I would love this! I like really well-cooked broccoli…way past al dente for me, please! :)

  52. What your dish lacks in eye appeal it makes up for in flavor. Actually. that green is so vivid I think the dish is kind of pretty. I’m tempted to give this a try. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  53. Delicious! I love to sautée my veggies too.



  54. Ha – there was a method to the overcooking madness! Brilliant! This sounds great, Faith, and I think the photo is fantastic …

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