The Best Way to Cook Broccoli Casserole With Fresh Broccoli

Blanch your broccoli before using it in a casserole recipe for the best results.
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Casseroles are easy to make ahead of time and give you a hot meal on busy weeknights when you don't have time to cook. Both cooking and not cooking broccoli — a classic casserole ingredient — can ruin the final dish. Your best bet when making a casserole is to blanch broccoli before adding it in.



Cooking broccoli before adding it to a casserole can cause it to become mushy and brown. And if you don't cook fresh broccoli for your casserole, it can come out undercooked in the final product.

For best results, blanch fresh broccoli before adding it to casserole recipes.

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How to Cook Broccoli Casserole With Fresh Broccoli

While there's no rule against using raw, fresh broccoli in casseroles, if you don't time it right, the broccoli may end up undercooked. If you're using raw broccoli in your casserole recipe, you'll likely need to cook the casserole for longer to ensure the broccoli is fully cooked.

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Using raw broccoli in casseroles may also lead to an unattractive result. As broccoli slowly cooks in the oven, the cell walls break down, allowing chlorophyll — the naturally-occurring pigment responsible for broccoli's green color — to escape. This process makes the broccoli come out dingy and brown.

That said, overzealous precooking can also affect the final result. If you precook broccoli by roasting or sauteing, it will turn brown even faster during baking than raw broccoli. Because broccoli contains sulfuric compounds, overcooking can let those compounds out and make your kitchen smell like rotten eggs.

Blanching Broccoli for Casserole Recipes

Blanching, which is the culinary term for immersing veggies in boiling water for a few seconds and then quickly submerging them in ice water — is the perfect balance between raw and cooked broccoli.


Blanching brings the broccoli's chlorophyll to the surface of the vegetable, while the ice water sets the color, preventing the chlorophyll from escaping.

Blanching also partially cooks the broccoli, and it will finish cooking while the casserole bakes, yielding the perfect, tender result.

Other Tips

Though blanching broccoli is highly effective for recipes like casseroles, the process can be a bit more tedious if you're boiling a pot of water on the stove.


Luckily, there's a simpler way to do it: Heat a full tea kettle until it whistles, place the chopped broccoli in a colander and then pour the boiling water over it. Then, run some cold water over it or submerge the broccoli in ice water to complete the process. This will have the same effect and you'll use fewer dishes!



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