broccoli stems, as healthy as florets?

Broccoli stalk nutrition

I admit, I’ve never thought much about broccoli stems before. For years I’ve whacked the florets off with a large kitchen knife and tossed the seemingly inedible scraps into the compost.

Last night though, a remnant pineapple crown and broken egg shells from Sunday morning brunch left me with an overflowing compost bucket. Something about this predicament got me wondering what, if any, nutritional value broccoli stems might have. Based on color alone, I guessed similar to iceberg lettuce -essentially crunchy water, perhaps with a bit more fiber.

Boy was I wrong!

Broccoli stems, though not as colorful nor flavorful as their more desired florets, are just as nutritious. Actually, gram for gram, the stems contain slightly more calcium, iron and Vitamin C. No seriously. The dark green florets only provide more Vitamin A.

How did I get through life never knowing this before? I’m still shaking my head thinking of all of those nutrients I’ve tossed away over the years, and obviously dreaming of recipes to use up my future stems.

Broccoli stems: Do you eat, compost or trash them? Got any yummy recipes to share? I’m loving some of these ideas!

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  • I always eat the stems. If they’re less than 1/2″ generally no need to peel. Above that, peeling is a good idea – otherwise too tough.

  • Just cut off the outer tough part and cut into strips like carrots. Pretty tasty raw veggie snacks. Or, cook them with the florets

  • I made a 3 egg fritatta with 3/4 cup of steamed cut up broccoli stems. 3/4 CUP OF Shredded medium cheddar cheese, a dash of salt ,blk pepper, onion powder, garlic powder. Scramble the eggs add the cheese broccoli spices. To the bowl . On medium heat Fry in small pan 7 min flip on to a plate slide back in pan cook 2 mins more and back on a plate. Enjoy. Note spray the pan w pam and a pat of butter beforehand.

  • For the first 35 years of my life, throwing out the stems was unthinkable. The stems are the most important part of the plant, both in terms of flavor, of nutrition, and of texture. If anything, we threw out the florets.

    But, prior to the 80’s the stems were dark green and the florets were purple. Today’s underripe broccoli plants are a sickly spring green, and the stems are so tough they are inedible. The florets are dry and grainy and have absolutely no flavor. Apparently, growers cannot make enough money allowing the plants to remain in the field until ripe.

    If you are ever lucky enough to find a truly ripe broccoli plant, one whose flavor can stand up to blue cheese, here’s a recipe for baked broccoli casserole: Cut up stems and steam them. Very lightly steam the florets. Place in a baking pan. Starting with a white sauce (flour and butter and milk), melt in blue cheese and cream cheese until it saucy. Pour over broccoli, add croutons, and bake until hot and melted. Note: Throw half the florets away. They take away from the texture.

    • I grow my own broccoli, from organic seeds, and the color is not different than the color in the store. Although I have looked enviously upon my neighbor, who bought some of the purple kind!

  • I prefer the stems for their juicy crunch. I use the florets for dishes shared with others, or a veg salad, because they are prettier & more tender if unpeeled.
    Stems are sweeter, so where they’re the star [???? ???? or stir fry], they are much better than florets [which also cook unevenly]. Just be sure to remove the tough skin.

  • Broccoli stems are so good just eaten raw. For some reason, they are not included in the vegetable trays that I’ve seen, but there is no reason why they shouldn’t be.
    I like to make the following:
    Add the following items from the garden to cooked rice:
    Chopped broccoli…stems and leaves
    Chopped radish leaves (Any kind of root leaves can be used; I use whatever is in the garden.)
    Chopped peppers
    Chopped tomatoes
    Bake in a 250 degree oven for 1 hour.
    Sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese.
    It’s so easy to make. I use a large casserole dish and have this as my main course for a few days.

    • Maybe it requires too much focus to remove the tough skin? It is unpleasant to be enjoying your crudite, only to end up with a stringy mass of fiber in your mouth.
      But, I agree whole-heartedly, & do not find pulling off the skin to be too much effort for that crisp, sweet juiciness.

  • thank you for posting this information – I was wondering this as I purchased some expensive organic broccoli and felt guilty about disposing of the stems. I cut my broccoli up and then chop it up small in a food processor. It seems easier to fold into dishes when chopped up like this.

  • I’ve been making a tasty soup from:
    2 broccoli stems/stalks, thin-sliced and steamed until fork-tender
    1 1/2 c green peas, tossed into the water below the steamer
    1 medium potato, peeled chopped and tossed in with the spuds
    1 tsp salt
    1/8 t each of marjoram and basil (or 1/4 t of one if you don’t have both)

    Once it’s no longer boiling hot, I toss it all into my hi-powered Blendtec. With extra water, if necessary, it should reach the 4 or 5 cup level. And hit the smoothie button. Crush 2 or 3 crackers into a bowl, followed by 1 1/2 cups of the soup–what a taste!
    Today I’m adding a stalk of celery to see what difference it makes in taste.

  • I just eat steamed broccoli stems, with salt, as part of my breakfast and looked up the nutritional value… that’s how I found your site. I don’t have great ideas for recipes just one, that I’m sure anyone would know, and it is add them to any dish you are making like soup, stews, pizza, smoothie, or like I did…eat them for breakfast! Oh, another thought ????, if you juice, you can juice the raw stems. Wala! There you go!

  • All the stores around here sell packaged broccoli slaw (which is just shredded broccoli, and sometimes shredded carrot). I use it in omelets and fry-ups, it has a great crunch that doesn’t change much during cooking. I’m glad I found this, and other online sources, that confirm it’s as healthy as the florets.

  • I would think the stems would have more nutrients from being the production center of the floretts. i for one boil my water for my instant coffee and place the stalk in the remaining water in the pot . with a lid turn my electric burner off and within 15 minutes , its ediable.

  • I prefer to chop off the florets, peel the stem and slice it into thin strips, like you’d slice a carrot. They are amazing in a curry or stir fry. They cook quickly and taste so good!

  • I absolutely love the stock.
    I love the texture and the taste.
    I slice it, steam it, a little salt and butter and there’s nothing better.
    YUM YUM????

  • Hi Ellie, I live in the North East, many days away from when California Broccoli is harvested and gets on to my weekly food order. So day one, I get the kale, broccoli, watercress, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and lots of fresh vegetable and fruit,. I can’t eat every thing the first day, so most everything I eat for 9 months out of the year, since summer brings farmers markets.

    Cynically sometimes it seems like most of my expensive food is practically gargage by the time I get to use it…

  • I love the broccoli stalks. I pull or peel off the tough outer layer. Then slice and eat raw or cooked. I also shred and make coleslaw.

  • When I make broccoli salad, I peel the tough outer layer of the stalk, slice them in rounds, and include them in the blanching/par-cooking of the florets prior to shocking and assembling the salad. They have a somewhat similar consistency to water chestnuts, but better flavor, in the finished salad!

  • “Actually, gram for gram, the stems contain slightly more calcium, iron and Vitamin C. No seriously.” – The link here is dead. Can you provide more info? I’d really like to know more.

  • I pickle them with apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, onion powder and garlic powder…. They’re delicious and have a great texture!!

  • Oh my goodness! I can’t believe people actually throw away broccoli stems. It’s the best bit! It usually needs to be peeled, but after all, if peeling broccoli stems is good enough for Julia Child, it’s good enough for me. I just slice it and saute it in fried rice or steam it with the rest of the broccoli or anything else you would use any vegetable for. Basically, it’s just broccoli. I find it slightly sweeter than the florets. The florets can be kind of strong sometimes but the stem rarely is. The only caution is that occasionally it has a hollow center, then I usually toss it as that generally means it’s old and not all that great. Not always of course, just my experience.

  • I have always eaten the stalks . If I’ve made a meal where I’ve cut off the florets….I’ll cut up and eat the stalks raw ..They’re crispy and tasty…Glad to know they are equally good for you healthwise!!!

  • Stems in a smoothie with other things you like you don’t even know their in there. Dandelions and three cloves work good too. The last two are super super healthy. Look it up you’ll see

  • I just eat it along with the rest.I actually prefer the stem sliced thin but not the woody part. What I actually wanted to comment on was your compost lol. You throw away the pineapple core? I believe it’s the best part for you. Throw it in a smoothie. Bromelain.

  • Ironic, for years I wondered about these stems as I cut them up to fit in my kitchen countertop compost bin. This time I made that extra effort after I did use some due to limited broccoli tips available for my meal preparation. I now know better…tnks

  • I eat prepackaged broccoli slaw which is shredded stems and a little shredded carrot
    It’s not a dressed salad – just the vegetables
    Very good rolled into center of a quick omelette
    I also throw it into my smoothies – does not change to a funny color like spinach does and it keeps better in fridge
    When I want faux coleslaw as a side for fish I do add some Mayo
    Also good as substitute for Asian vegetables in stir fry – the kind you make with leftovers an egg and whatever else

  • Thank you for all this information. I knew they were good for us, but I didn’t realize how good. I saved mine and made a soup. I chopped up an entire large stem, with some florets, half an onion, some white mushrooms, some small portobello mushrooms, small tomato, and cabbage to honour my St. Patty (and my Irish ancestry). Plus chicken broth, olive oil, salt, paprika, and turmeric. I also love the stems raw in salads or by themselves with a little pink salt and olive oil. Thanks again for all the info.

  • I dice brocolli stems and saute them in seasoned olive oil (heat garlic & onion in the oil). I may add other veggies like carrots, chopped kale, peppers — whatever is on hand. Sometimes bits of leftover chicken will get tossed in, or a mixture of dried fruits and nuts. The resulting dish can be eaten hot or cold, and the diced brocolli stems add a delightful crunch. They are really good at picking up the flavor of whatever you toss them in.
    Unless I’m making soup with them, I never boil the stems. I’ve learned to eat my florets first and toss the stems back into the fridge to be enjoyed some other day. They last much longer than the florets. I used to try eating the stems along with the florets, but I found that I couldn’t eat all my brocolli fast enough before the florets started losing color. Yuck. Florets first!

  • I slice them up into about a quarter inch cover the bottom of a pan with water, put a lid on then steam them for a couple of minutes. Take the lid off and keep the heat on till the water goes away add some olive oil and crushed garlic. Also do this with most greens, collards, kale etc and cauliflower.

  • why can’t i get a straight answer to my question. is there ANY vitamin K benefit in the broccoli stem

  • Boil broccoli stems sliced for 5 minutes in boiling salted water then add the florets for another 5 minutes. Perfectly cooked vegetable. Use with gruyere and blanched spring onions for a broccoli and spring onion quiche..Almond flour and butter base cream and egg. Keto-friendly and nutrient rich.

  • The stems are great with scrambled eggs! I sautee garlic and chopped broccoli stems, add plenty of salt, and then pour beaten eggs over them once cooked and scramble. Especially good with cheese added.

  • I chop them up very finely and sautee them with other vegetables to put in a stew. The broccoli stem bits always go in first then I add the other hard vegetables (carrots, celery, etc) about 3-5 minutes later. After another 2-3 minutes I add the softer vegetables (onions, mushrooms, etc). After another 5-10 minutes (depending on how much I’m cooking, more takes longer), I add the delicate things like green onions or garlic. Works pretty well, the broccoli bits add no real flavor, could easily be confused for celery bits, and they’re completely soft after stewing for awhile when added to the broth with some chicken or beef. Adding wine or beef to the stew can help even more in softening the broccoli stems, as does vinegar.

  • as for broccoli stalks, I scrape off the rough stuff and put them through my salad shooter and make rounds that I steam with carrots, zucchini, and a bit of red pepper – top with some grated cheese and serve as a side.

  • I love them with Chia, Hemp, Flax seeds and salt. The healthy seeds bring a nutty flavor. Due to being disabled, I purchase the mixture of stems & florets frozen at Walmart. I remove them from the bag every night before bed, and it’s the only way I can have a bowel movement due to constipation from medications. They’re absolutely yummy with the seeds that bring so much flavor. I also mix them with corn.

  • One night while cooking with my ex, we were making stuffed mushrooms. Seeing as how only the caps were necessary for the recipe, she threw away all the stems. The stems which could have been included in the gravy that was also being made for the Turkey we were making at the same time. This started me to thinking…what else do we routinely throw in the bin which is actually delicious and nutritional? Given the time and seasoned correctly, the stalks of broccoli are as delicious as the flourettes.

  • I used to get frustrated that if I cooked both together, the flower/crowns would be already way too mushy when the stem parts were barely past a “chewy wood” stage. So now I cook separately. I’ll do the tops alone and enjoy their wonderful taste and looks. Then I chop the stems into small bits and stir-fry until they are the softness I like. Store them in fridge already cooked. This is an easy fast addition to scrambled eggs, an omelette, or a frittata. I also add onions and mushrooms to my egg dishes with the broccoli stems, it’s fantastic!

    • Thanks for the tip on cooking the stems separately. Do you just stove-top cook them or use a vegetable steamer/cooker?

  • Alot of times when I buy frozen organic broccoli, most of what I get is pieces and stems and hardly any tasty florrets, so I sorta started liking the stems and forced myself yo eat all of the plant…. Now I know they’re just as amazing health wise so I eat the stems just as much as the florrets. Broccoli is one of the veggies I get organic!

  • I cut them in to circles and add a 2 or 3 pieces to my smoothies. Add some spinach, a banana, and strawberries with almond milk or Greek yogurt.. your have a yummy breakfast or snack!

  • Many years ago, I used to throw away the stalks. After all, that’s what my mother and her mother before her used to do. Now, besides from seeing it as a waste of money, I think the stalks almost taste just as good as the florets. Admittedly, the stalks do not look as pretty on a dinner plate or serving dish, but to throw away a third of the veg is sad and wasteful. If you can’t stand seeing the stalks on your plate, they can be used, hidden in mixed vegetable dishes (stir fry) or even boiled, cut and blended to make soup. Delicious.

  • I have always just tossed them. Today I decided to try to use them. I sliced them up thin with my mandoline, skin and all, and totally steamed them into submission, lol. I ate some plain(they were tasty enough) and the rest I marinated in Italian dressing, yum! Worth the extra processing. Makes a healthy and comparatively low calorie snack! I stopped here after the fact to check about nutritional value.

  • I usually use homemade bone broth to slow cook vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli stems, onion and the like for a creamy soup. I follow a ketogenic diet, so I add coconut milk, grass fed butter, and yummy herbs and spices. This is a daily staple for me.

  • I’ve been growing broccoli but with organic gardening and no sprays, the florets are full of bugs and caterpillars – so now I cut off the buggy florets for the compost and use the stalks for soups, salads, stirfry. You can buy them clean but who knows what’s sprayed on them. Perfect solution.

  • Peel the broccoli stems with a knife to remove the fiberous skin, cut peeled stems into 1/4″ sections, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Enjoy! Taste is close to a radish. Favorite of my family from oldest to youngest!

  • Whenever I make a broccoli salad, I cut of the stems and toss them. Are the stems good for you? I also cook them whenever I boil greens, along with Kale and collard or turnips?

  • What’s wrong with just powering through and eating them? That’s what I do. No need for all this chicanery. Put those jaw muscles to work.

  • Just been eating lunch while searching the stem ?. Glad for answer as was munching up salad from the light part of stem, grated. I had added chopped hard boiled eggs. The viniagrette I had made with finely ground lemon verbena leaves was the lead attraction in flavor & stems for crunch.

  • Well, it was my mother who taught me to never throw out the broccoli stem. She once told me there is a hidden treasure of tenderness and great flavor inside the stem. When I steam them, I cut the outer tough portion off and my family fights over who gets the inner delights of the broccoli stems. We drizzle a little Ghee butter and sea salt on them. Sometimes my kids grab them and eat them before I can put anything on them. When it comes to the the whole stem, my mom always cut them up into small bites and included them in our salad.

  • I often use the stems in soup, outer layer and all. A good rule of thumb is that the greener a part is, the more vitamin A it contains, so you don’t want to throw out the second greenest part of the whole plant! Not to mention the fiber.

    • They are wonderful in soup with other veggies. Today I used turkey broth(Homemade), carrots, celery.onions, green bans, cabbage, garbonzos, diced tomatoes, and a lot of sliced and chopped stalks. No need to peel them. Delicious lunch for a cold winter day. I make a vegetable soup each week for my winter lunches using whatever is available. No recipe needed.

  • I just have to let you know…every time now I’m about to toss the stem I always end up eating it or putting it in a recipe thanks to this post!

    • I can’t bring myself to toss them away either anymore. I even froze them once… which reminds me I should probably put them to use soon!

    • Same as Heather Darnell. trim off the tougher parts and in it goes in the stirfry or steamed with the florets.
      Like corn starch item you posted. someone once said that because it separates from water it may likewise sink at the bottom of the small stomach. no proof of that though.
      Thanks for you great posts ELLE

    • I totally agree! I actually prefer the stems. I find them more flavourful, and tender, when steamed.Plus, they are great in soup.

  • I add them to one of my favorite green smoothies (along with banana, nutmeg, cinnamon, spinach, mango and almond milk!)! A testament to my Vitamix that it can even handle broccoli stems!

  • I love broccoli stems shredded and put on sandwiches or salads – they add some nice crunch and nutrients without changing the flavor! Try it :)

  • Sometimes I chop the stems up to add to veggie soup (or even freeze if I won’t be making soup for a while). I’ve tried throwing them into other veggie recipes but haven’t yet found an inclusion that I like.

  • Stems were always my favorite part. It’s only been the past 5 years or so that I like eating the florets too :D

  • This reminds me a lot of how my mom steam beet leaves! One person’s trash is another person’s…lunch?

  • I sometimes used them but sometimes didn’t. Recently I wondered the very question you answered because I know my mom used them growing up but it’s extra work to use them. Now that I know that they’re just as nutritious though, I will definitely put the work in. Thanks for letting us know!

  • My mother used them all the timer as I did after I started cooking as an adult. They are very good. I suspect they would be a great addition to an energy drink in a Vitamix or other drink maker.

  • I have always eaten them! I like them better than the florets. I take a veggie peeler and get off the tough fibrous outside layer, slice them and put a tiny bit of seasoning salt. They are better than jicama for dips on veggie trays. I have also used them in stir fry. I think the most important thing is to get rid of that outside layer, which is very tough and difficult to eat.

  • Love them! Although they can be harsh on the digestive system at times – ha! .. Since I moved home after school, I’ve been trying to get my parent to eat them – once in a while they will, but most of the time they trash them .. believe it or not, but they still don’t believe they’re “that nutritious” .. little do they know I sneak them into omelets/frittatas, curries, stir-frys, etc. – just cut them tinier ;)

  • I have never thought much of them either until my grandmother informed me of all the great benefits and from then on I have always tried to find ways to use them! Grandma knows best :)

  • When I was at college I got a part-time job working in a supermarket and every Sunday there used to be a guy go through the checkouts who had chopped off the stems of his broccoli on his way to pay as vegeatbles were paid for by weight and he declared the stems ‘a useless waste of money’. Used to always make me smile!