What is Broccolini?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Broccolini®, known in Europe as asparation and in the United States as baby broccoli, is a trademark of the Mann Produce Company, which developed the hybrid between broccoli and gai lan, also known as Chinese kale. The unique vegetable resembles broccoli or asparagus in physical appearance, with long stalks topped by delicate buds. It took off in gourmet cuisine in the 1990s and became widespread in supermarkets shortly thereafter.

Single stalk of broccolini.
Single stalk of broccolini.

In flavor, Broccolini® reminds many consumers of asparagus, being sweet and tender with a hint of broccoli-like bite. In fact, the plant is so delicate that it can be eaten raw or cooked very briefly. Many commercial broccoli cultivars are woody and lacking in flavor, because they have been developed for rapid growth and easy shipping. This, more delicate vegetable has a much more robust flavor, and it is a welcome addition to the ever growing options in the produce aisle.

Olive oil can be used to cook broccolini.
Olive oil can be used to cook broccolini.

In addition to a taste that many people enjoy, Broccolini® is rich in many vitamins and minerals. It carries high amounts of vitamin C, potassium, iron, fiber, and vitamin A. For parents trying to convince children to eat their vegetables, this and other “baby” vegetables can be a fun alternative that sometimes intrigues children enough to coax them into eating some. Vegans and vegetarians should eat green vegetables frequently.

Broccolini® is a very versatile produce item and can be used in any situation in which cooks might use conventional broccoli. In addition, it can be grilled with olive oil and salt and sprinkled in lemon, and it can be served whole on the plate as an interesting visual accompaniment to a meal. The whole plant is edible, and the stems are so tender that they do not require peeling.

When cooking this vegetable, less is more. The plant is perfectly edible raw, and needs a very minimal cooking time, with just enough heat to blanch it. When steaming it, cooks should make sure to rinse it in cold water afterwards to prevent it from cooking any further. When adding to sautees and roasted vegetable dishes, it should be tossed in at the very end to prevent loss of flavor, texture, and nutrients.

Broccolini® grows in cool coastal climates and takes 60 to 90 days to harvest depending on the season. It can be grown year round in areas with mild temperatures, just like broccoli, although it requires more personalized attention to encourage additional tender, sweet shoots to grow. It can be stored in the refrigerator for approximately one week.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I got hives from eating broccolini. I am also allergic to asparagus.


@turkay1-- I agree with you about the price. I love broccolini as much as your guinea pig but I don't have the budget to replace broccoli with it just yet.

I've actually been wanting to get a hold of broccolini seeds and try to grow it in my garden if I can. But I haven't had any luck finding them. Should I be looking at online stores or something?

Has anyone here been growing broccolini?


My guinea pig loves this. She can eat fresh broccolini all day. But she only gets it as a treat once in a while because it's expensive!


@anon4897-- I'm sure it is because cauliflower and broccoli is known to be good for urinary tract infections and even prostatitis.

I believe my dad drank a lot of broccoli broth when he had a urinary tract infection and he said it helped. Broccolini is just as beneficial as broccoli so you can try it.


I love using broccolini in salads. I start with a bed of spinach and add some sliced cherry tomatoes and broccolini. I finish this off with garlic butter croutons and Italian dressing for a flavor-packed salad.


@JackWhack – I think that with broccoli rabe, the leaves are used more often than the florets. The florets resemble broccoli, but the leaves look more like kale.

Personally, I've never used broccoli rabe. I debate with my friend on the flavor of broccolini vs. broccoli rabe, but we have come to a deadlock. I just am not crazy about it, and to me, broccolini is way more flavorful.


I've been hearing a lot about something called broccoli rabe lately. Famous chefs are using it often, but I'm not sure what it is. Is it related to broccolini, or is it something entirely different?


I like adding broccolini to stir fry dishes. It adds some crunch and plenty of nutrition.

I only toss the broccolini into the skillet long enough for it to take on some of the flavors. I flip it around with the other ingredients so that it can soak up some of the soy sauce and ginger.


The first time I heard of broccolini, I thought it was just another word for baby broccoli. It even looks a little like baby broccoli. The stems are a little sweeter than regular broccoli and seem to have more moisture.

Whenever broccolini is available, I try to stock up on it. I make a broccolini casserole with chicken and it is fabulous. You can use it in any way that you would use regular broccoli. It’s also very good steamed with garlic.


Is it good for your urinary tract?

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