Do you typically make a mess when cutting broccoli or end up throwing half the vegetable out? Learn how to cut broccoli the right way with this easy guide and step by step tutorial.

A large head of broccoli on a white surface.
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I’ve never quite understood why broccoli gets such a bad reputation. I absolutely adore the vegetable.

Seldom does a week go by where I’m not buying a fresh head from the grocery store or farmer’s market whether it’s traditional broccoli or my husband’s favorite, broccoli rabe.

And for the rare weeks it doesn’t make it into my cart, I always have a huge BJ’s sized bag of frozen broccoli florets on hand.

While not as messy as cauliflower, broccoli can still be a pain to cut if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s also easy to waste a good part of the vegetable thinking the stem isn’t edible.

This guide will walk you through how to cut broccoli properly and waste as little as possible so you get your money’s worth with this delicious crucifer.

The easiest way to cut broccoli

While everyone loves florets for cooking easy meals like this shaved beef stir fry, the broccoli stalk is also edible and worth saving. We’ll cover how to cut both in the easiest way possible.

A head of broccoli with large florets broken off.

Step 1 — Cut off the stalk

Using a sharp knife, cut off the stalk from the bottom of the florets about 1 inch below the base of the florets. Leaving that inch or so of space allows for longer floret stems if desired. If you prefer just the tops of the broccoli florets, cut the stalk up a little higher.

Trim the stalk to cut off a bit at the end that will likely be browned or old and use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to trim the outside edges.

Set aside for later use.

Cutting broccoli stems from the florets.

Step 2 — Cut the head into florets

Slice through the larger stems of the head of broccoli to create smaller florets.

You can leave the florets larger or continue slicing the stems off to create smaller pieces of broccoli depending on your desired use.

Bigger florets are better for roasting or making air fried broccoli whereas smaller florets will cook faster in quick skillet meals like parmesan lemon chicken and broccoli.

If making broccoli soup, bigger florets will take longer to soften for pureeing whereas using smaller florets will speed up the recipe.

Broccoli florets on marble.

Step 3 — Chop the stalk

Once the broccoli stalk has been trimmed, you can now cut it into pieces for use in any recipe just as you would the florets. The stalk can be sliced lengthwise into strips, chopped or diced.

Broccoli stalks have tons of uses:

My Pro Tip

Recipe Tip

One thing to avoid doing with broccoli stalks is simmering for long periods of time in soups, stews or stocks as they can turn bitter.

Broccoli stems and florets chopped into different size pieces on a wooden board.

How to buy fresh broccoli

Look for a bright green head that’s tightly packed when buying broccoli at the store. The broccoli should feel heavy for its size and not have any yellowing or brown spots on the stalk or head.

Prepping broccoli

Because broccoli can mold easily, it’s best to wash right before using instead of prepping ahead of time like you might do with peppers.

How to store broccoli

Store the entire head of broccoli in the refrigerator in an open paper or plastic bag. Once broccoli has been cut, it’s best to store in an air-tight container or sealable bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To freeze broccoli, much like freezing corn on the cob, it’s best to blanch the broccoli first. Store blanched broccoli in an air-tight container or freezer bag for up to 9 months.


A large head of broccoli will break down into about 12 cups of chopped florets and stalks which will approximately feed a family of four.

Chopped broccoli stems and florets on a wooden surface.

Learn more with these other cutting tutorials:

Learning how to cut dragonfruit is a great skillet for garnishing smoothie bowls.

Cutting potatoes into wedges is an easy way to enjoy steak fries with any meal.

How to cut an onion is a skill every home cook should master since it’s such a common starter ingredients for so many recipes. And while you’re at it, check out how to cut leeks, another allium with a similar taste but tricky shape!

5 from 2 votes

How to Cut Broccoli

Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
A head of broccoli with large florets broken off.
Learn how to easily cut broccoli the right way and make use of the entire vegetable with this comprehensive guide.


  • 1 large head of fresh broccoli
  • sharp chef’s knife


  • Place the head of broccoli on a cutting board. Using a sharp chef's knife, slice through the stalk to separate it from the head about 1 inch below the base of the head.
  • Trim the stalk to cut off the brown/old end and use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to peel the outer layer of the stalk all the way around. Set aside.
  • Cut the head of broccoli into florets by slicing through where the stems meet. Continue cutting into smaller pieces as desired for the specific recipe you have in mind.
  • Florets can be chopped further for chopped salads or broccoli "rice".
  • The stalk can now be cut into long strips for eating raw or chopped or minced for use in recipes.


Serving: 1gCalories: 25kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 2gSodium: 29mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Guides
Cuisine: American
Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    You’re right, broccoli can be messy to cut if you don’t know how! I tried these steps yesterday and it made such a difference. Plus, learning that the stalks are edible is a bonus. I’ll definitely be using this method from now on. Thank you. 🙂

  2. You never really know how something that seems so simple can leave you dumbfounded until you find yourself staring at some broccoli and not knowing what to do with it. This was super helpful. Thank you!

  3. I never knew you could cut up the long bit of the stalk and eat it! My mum always just just threw it in her compost bin.

    I tried adding it thinly sliced to my slaw (I used a Kitchn recipe) and it was such a nice crunch. I’ll definitely be doing that again.

    I have pinned this guide as I loved all the photos, so helpful for a new cook straight out of home.