How to cook Tenderstem broccoli

Follow our simple guide on how to cook Tenderstem broccoli. Tenderstem broccoli can be boiled, pan-fried and roasted...

How to cook tenderstem broccoli

Tenderstem broccoli is nutritious and quick to cook. Find out the best way to cook this dainty green vegetable including lots of recipe inspiration too.

Tenderstem broccoli is the delightful result of crossing classic broccoli with Chinese kale. It was first introduced in 1993 and has become a favourite veggie for many ever since.

The slim tender stems have a delicate flavour that is sometimes compared to asparagus. It’s a good substitute, especially in the summer months when the asparagus season ends and the British grown Tenderstem starts to thrive. Tenderstem is also sold in the frozen section of Asda, Iceland, and Ocado so you can buy it any time of year.

Just seven stems of Tenderstem count as one of your 5-a-day and it’s bursting with folates, fiber, and protein. This nutritious vegetable is the perfect way to balance any dinner and makes a great snack too.

In this article, we focus on how to prepare and cook Tenderstem broccoli, including how to BBQ and how to steam in the microwave too...

How to prepare Tenderstem broccoli

Before cooking your broccoli give it a good rinse in cold water and shake off any excess if you’re going to stir-fry or roast. For even cooking, if there are any large thick stems we like to cut them in half but you might not need this step.

Can you eat the whole Tenderstem broccoli?

You can eat the whole Tenderstem broccoli stem but you might want to cut the woody end off. This can be as little as 0.5cm. You can eat all of the classic broccoli too, the stem isn’t as tender but it’s great roasted.

If you have thick stems you may want to cut them widthways in half, or if they are particularly long, try cutting them in half lengthways too. This is a good choice if you’re stir-frying.

Can you eat Tenderstem broccoli raw?

Tenderstem broccoli is a lovely addition to a crudités platter and makes a delicious snack. We like to serve it with  hummus or homemade dips, but it’s also a great addition to salads.

Wash the broccoli thoroughly and then pat dry before tucking in.

How to cook Tenderstem broccoli

The quickest way to cook it is to steam or boil the stems. Prepare the portion of broccoli you’d like to cook then bring a pot of water to the boil. If you’re boiling the stems salt the water and cook for 3-4mins until tender.

To steam, once the water is boiling place the steamer over the water and cover. Cook for 3-4mins until tender.

How to cook Tenderstem broccoli: in the microwave

Cooking broccoli in the microwave is essentially a way of steaming the veg.

  1. Place the broccoli in a microwave-safe container with a couple of tablespoons of water.
  2. Cover with a lid and cook on high for around 4 mins.

Be careful when you remove it from the microwave as it will be very hot. Take caution when you remove the lid too as the steam escapes it’s incredibly hot.

how to cook tenderstem broccoli

(Image credit: Getty)

How to cook Tenderstem broccoli: stir-fry

Tenderstem broccoli is the perfect ingredient for a speedy stir-fry or veggie side dish. Food Director Elisa Roche says: ‘I love the combination of Tenderstem broccoli and soy sauce. I like to chop the stems into rounds for even quicker cooking.’

Deputy Food Editor Rose Fooks has a similar approach. She explains: ‘I love it as a side, stir-fried with a sploosh of soy sauce, and topped with sesame seeds if I'm feeling fancy.’ Why not try it alongside our crispy duck or sesame salmon.

  1. Wash the stems and shake off any excess water. If the stems are a little chunky, you might want to trim them down for even cooking.
  2. Heat a little oil in your frying pan or wok and cook the broccoli over medium to high heat for around 5 mins.

You can use readymade stir-fry sauces or make your own. A simple splash of dark soy when cooked will help give it a boost of flavour with minimal effort.

How to cook Tenderstem broccoli: in the oven

Cooking broccoli in the oven gives it a delicious flavour, especially when the fronds char a little.

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 4. Prepare the broccoli and shake off as much water as possible.
  2. Drizzle the broccoli with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You could also add some chopped garlic, chilli flakes or some other of your favourite spices.
  3. Cook for around 15-20 mins, turning once until the stalks are tender and the fronds crisp.

Food Editor Samuel Goldsmith recommends serving the roasted stems with a soft boiled egg for brunch. You could add some crispy bacon for added decadence.

How cook Tenderstem broccoli: BBQ or grill

When cooking Tenderstem on the barbecue, try and pick the thickest stems otherwise you risk them falling through the grill. Prepare the broccoli as you would for oven cooking, coating in olive oil, salt, and pepper or your marinade of choice.

Cook on the hot barbecue or under a grill for around 10mins.

Can you freeze Tenderstem broccoli?

Just like traditional broccoli, you can freeze Tenderstem broccoli and purple sprouting broccoli too. Trim the woody part of the stem and then wash the stems. Blanch in salted, boiling water for 3 mins then pat dry to remove as much moisture as possible.

Transfer to a freezer bag or container. We recommend using within three months but the sooner the better as Tenderstem florets are more fragile and can be easily damaged by freezer burn.

You can cook the broccoli straight from the freezer in boiling water. The broccoli might be too fragile for other cooking methods but it depends how thick the stems are.

Our best Tenderstem broccoli recipes:

Teriyaki chicken bowl

Full of flavour and easy to prepare, this is bowl food at its best. You can freeze individual portions for another day. This also makes a great dish if you’re trying to create your own Japanese takeaway at home. It’s cheaper and healthier than anything you can order.

Get the recipe: Teriyaki chicken bowl

Walnut broccoli and gruyere tarts

Walnut broccoli and gruyere tarts

Ideal for lunch or a light dinner, these little tarts are also perfect for picnics and buffets. Delicious hot or cold, once you’ve made them once they are sure to become a favourite.

Get the recipe: Walnut broccoli and gruyere tarts

Ramen soup

33 healthy homemade soups

Wholesome, comforting, and low cal, this soup is ready in just 30mins and perfect for those cold winter evenings when you need something nutritious and easy to cook.

Get the recipe: Ramen soup

Sweet chilli swordfish with Tenderstem broccoli

Sweet chilli swordfish with tenderstem broccoli

A healthy family dinner that’s ideal in the warmer months. You could serve the broccoli with whatever fish you like or even a grilled chicken breast.

Get the recipe: Sweet chilli swordfish with Tenderstem broccoli

Roasted broccoli with parmesan and pistachios

This roasted broccoli is the perfect accompaniment to your Easter lamb or classic roast chicken. It’s a delicious addition to a buffet spread and is tasty hot or cold.

Get the recipe: Roasted broccoli with parmesan and pistachios

Fish and broccoli traybake

Low carb recipes

This all-in-one traybake is the perfect mid-week dinner as it’s so easy to cook. Serve with some potatoes if you want to make it more substantial or as it is if you’re looking for something light.

Get the recipe: Fish and broccoli traybake

Slimming World’s Fettucine with Tenderstem broccoli

This Slimming World recipe transforms some staple store cupboard ingredients into a delicious veggie feast thanks to the addition of a few simple fresh ingredients. You could add in some grilled chicken but it’s equally delicious as it is.

Get the recipe: Slimming World’s Fettucine with Tenderstem broccoli

Tenderstem stir fry recipes

Tom Kerridge’s miso stir-fried greens with a fried egg

Chef Tom Kerridge knows a thing or two about great flavours and this recipe demonstrates just that. It is perfect for lunch or dinner and you can eat it as a main but it also makes a fantastic side.

Get the recipe: Tom Kerridge’s miso stir-fried greens with a fried egg

Slimming World’s lamb, ginger, and broccoli stir-fry

leftover lamb recipes

This quick Slimming World recipe is sure to become a new favourite once you’ve tried the combination of flavors. You might not think to stir fry lamb but it’s absolutely delicious and makes a great alternative to beef.

Get the recipe: Slimming World’s lamb, ginger, and broccoli stir-fry

BOSH! Rainbow stir-fry

A healthy vegan recipe that will surely bring a smile to your face thanks to all the vibrant colours. This recipe includes edamame beans, noodles, and cashew nuts for a hit of protein but you could use tofu if you prefer.

Get the recipe: BOSH! Rainbow stir-fry

Chinese vegetable chow mein

Chinese vegetable chow mein

This recipe will satisfy your takeaway cravings without adding too many calories to your daily count. It’s ready in around 20mins so it’s much quicker than ordering from your local takeaway too.

Get the recipe: Chinese vegetable chow mein

Sesame salmon fillets and stir-fry vegetables

Our sesame salmon is oh-so-moreish and will soon become a weekly staple. The recipe serves four but it’s ever so easy to scale up and down. If you were entertaining you could try cooking a whole side of salmon and serve with the stir-fry veggies.

Get the recipe: Sesame salmon fillets and stir-fry vegetables

Tenderstem salad recipes:

Runner bean and Tenderstem broccoli salad

Blue plate with Runner beans really lend themselves to being in salads. They have a lovely crunch and brilliant vibrant colour. Get the recipe: Runner bean and tenderstem broccoli salad

Low-fat and ready in just 30mins, it's easy to make your salad taste like a decadent dinner. If you'd like a veggie twist, swap the prosciutto for some crumbled feta. It will provide the same salty kick and will melt a little into the vegetables if served warm.

Get the recipe: Runner bean and Tenderstem broccoli salad

Broccoli with crispy bacon, mozzarella and basil dressing

If you're looking for an easy, sophisticated starter recipe that's simple to assemble and tastes amazing - this is the recipe for you! To take it another level up, try using burrata instead of mozzarella. It's even creamier and more indulgent.

Get the recipe: Broccoli with crispy bacon, mozzarella and basil dressing

Warm broccoli and chicken salad

warm Broccoli and chicken salad

This comforting salad is low in cals but packed with goodness. It makes a delicious lunch or light dinner and leftovers can be eaten cold.

Get the recipe: Warm broccoli and chicken salad

Superfood salmon salad

Have yourself a super supper with this delicious, nutritious salad. Packed full of several superfoods, this salad will leave you feeling great inside and out. If you want to bulk it out, trying serving with your choice of grain or something like quinoa to keep the calories low.

Get the recipe: Superfood salmon salad

Jessica Ransom
Senior Food Writer

Jessica is a freelance food writer, stylist and recipe tester. She previously worked as Senior Food Writer at Future. While at Future Jessica wrote food and drink-related news stories and features, curated product pages, reviewed equipment, and developed recipes that she then styled on food shoots. She is an enthusiastic, self-taught cook who adores eating out and sharing great food and drink with friends and family. She has completed the Level 1 Associate course at the Academy of Cheese and is continually building on her knowledge of beers, wines, and spirits.