This charred broccoli is tossed with red pepper flakes, lemon, and garlic, roasted in the oven until tender and crisp, and then finished with buttery breadcrumbs and freshly-grated Pecorino. It’s so flavorful, simple, and one of my go-to side dishes for any occasion.
Charred broccoli is one of the best things on the planet. This is a hill I’m willing to die on. A lot of people aren’t into veggies, and I get that, but I’m also of the opinion that they probably haven’t had them made them correctly. Because when you roast broccoli until it’s super tender and crisp on the edges, it has the crunchiness and saltiness of a potato chip but the wholesomeness of…not a potato chip. It’s honestly life-changing.
I actually make this charred broccoli, no joke, at least three times a week. It’s simple, hands-off, and goes with just about every meal. It’s quick enough for a regular weeknight dinner but it’s also elegant enough to serve to guests. You can make it in bulk for a crowd or halve the recipe for two. It’s salty, spicy, citrusy, crunchy, and umami thanks to a sprinkle of Pecorino. I know this all sounds kind of desperate but I really do love this recipe that much. 🤷♀️
About this roasted, charred broccoli
To make this broccoli, we’re going to toss the florets with garlic, red pepper flakes, and plenty of lemon zest. The combo of garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon is essential, trust me! Honestly, you could put those three ingredients on anything and I would eat it up. SO GOOD.
When it comes to actually making the best roasted broccoli, there are a few simple tricks we’ll use to get that crisp edge and tender center. After the broccoli is nice and crisped, it’s tossed with freshly-grated Pecorino. Then, to finish it all off, the dish is sprinkled with buttery breadcrumbs for a little extra crunch. The recipe also happens to be uber simple, hands-off, and great for any occasion or holiday. Let’s make it!
The ingredient list
To make this recipe, you’ll want to pick up some fresh broccoli and a few pantry staples. Here’s everything you’ll need!
- Broccoli – fresh broccoli crowns or pre-cut florets if you’d like to save a little time.
- Seasonings – a few garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, and a lemon.
- Pecorino – freshly-grated for the best flavor. It makes a huge difference, trust me!
- Breadcrumbs – I personally like panko the best but any plain breadcrumbs will work.
- Pantry staples – unsalted butter, olive oil, Kosher salt, and freshly-grated black pepper.
How to make this recipe
This charred broccoli is roasted in the oven to keep everything nice and simple! Here’s how to make it:
- Place two sheet pans in the oven and heat it to 425°F.
- Meanwhile, melt some butter in a small saucepan. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Season with a pinch of salt.
- Next, cut the broccoli crowns into evenly-sized florets. Then, drizzle the florets with olive oil and season with garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, Kosher salt, and pepper.
- Spread the broccoli evenly over the two sheet pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the broccoli is tender and charred on the edges.
- Remove the broccoli from the oven. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the broccoli and bake for another minute or two until the Pecorino is melted.
- Lastly spoon the broccoli into a serving dish. Finish the dish off with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs. Enjoy!
The secret to the best roasted broccoli
Maybe I’m overthinking charred broccoli but there really is a secret to taking it from good to great. Here it is: a very hot pan. Yep, that’s all! I like to place my sheet pans in the oven as it’s heating. Then, when you spoon the broccoli onto the pans, it’ll quickly “sear” the edges of broccoli, giving us those crispy, browned edges and centers that are tender but not mushy. Trust me, this step is absolutely essential to making this broccoli absolutely incredible! Don’t skip out on it.
Storing & reheating leftovers
To store the leftover broccoli, let it cool to room temperature. Then, spoon the leftovers into an airtight container. Store the container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Note: if you expect to have leftovers, I recommend not sprinkling breadcrumbs over the whole dish. They will get a bit soggy in the fridge! If I know I’ll have leftovers, I just place a bowl of breadcrumbs on the table and allow everyone to sprinkle them over their individual servings.
To reheat the leftovers, I highly recommend using the oven! While you can always microwave the leftover charred broccoli, it oftentimes ends up being soggy. Instead, try reheating in the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spread the leftover broccoli evenly over a sheet pan.
- If the broccoli is dry, toss it with just a small drizzle of olive oil.
- Next, bake the broccoli for 5-6 minutes, until warmed through. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
- Finish with a sprinkle of extra breadcrumbs over the top. Enjoy!
How to properly cut broccoli
One of the tricks to this recipe is making sure that your florets are roughly the same size. We want everything to cook evenly so we don’t end up with a mix of burnt broccoli and undercooked florets! To cut the broccoli:
- Start by washing the broccoli crowns and drying them with a clean towel. Make sure to dry in all the nooks and crannies.
- Next, cut the main stem close to the crown. The broccoli florets should break off into many larger florets.
- Then, cut each floret into halves or quarters, depending on how big they are. You want even bite-sized pieces. A few smaller pieces are ok here and there! They make for the best crunchies.
- Chop the stem into bite-sized pieces. Roast them along with the florets or freeze them in an airtight container for later.
Can I use frozen broccoli?
So, yes and no. Have I roasted frozen broccoli with success? Yes, absolutely! Did it come out charred, browned, and crispy? Not necessarily. Frozen broccoli has a bit too much moisture in it which causes the broccoli to steam rather than crisp. It still tastes pretty good, it just doesn’t get very crisp.
However, if you’re in a pinch, frozen broccoli will work, it just won’t always get that “char” you’re looking for. Back when groceries were harder to come by, frozen broccoli definitely got me through my cravings! But, to help crisp it up a bit, you can always thaw the frozen broccoli, drain out the water, and pat the florets dry with a clean towel. It’s not my first choice but it’ll do.
Tips & tricks
- Wash & dry the veggies well. A little moisture is ok but too much will cause the broccoli to steam rather than crisp in the oven.
- Cut the florets to a similar size to make sure that everything cooks evenly. I like bite-sized pieces (about 1-inch).
- Use a seasoned pan if you have one. It adds so much extra flavor!
- Roast the stalk! It’s edible and chars well in the oven just like the florets. If you want to tenderize the stalk, you can use a vegetable peeler to peel off some of the tougher outer skin. (Or, try one of these ideas).
- Bake the veggies at a high temp. Roasting at 400-450°F will “caramelize” the edges and give us that char. Baking veggies too low leads to soggy, bummer side dishes.
- Don’t crowd the pan. Otherwise the veggies will steam rather than crisp! Make sure that broccoli has room to breathe in the oven.
- Cook the broccoli cut side down to get the most amount of char and caramelization.
- If you like less char, bake the broccoli for closer to 20 minutes, or cut your florets larger. If you like more crispiness like me, bake for a few extra minutes. Just keep a close eye so it doesn’t burn!
More veggie side dishes to try
Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Fried Shallots, Bacon, & Dijon Vinaigrette
Spring Panzanella Salad
Turmeric & Za’atar Roasted Carrots
Kale Salad with Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing
Carrot Salad with Pistachios + Queso Fresco + Shallot Dressing
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Charred Broccoli with Breadcrumbs & Pecorino
- 2 sheet pans (preferably seasoned)
- 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter
- 2 Tbs plain breadcrumbs (preferably Panko)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 1/2 lbs broccoli crowns, chopped into bite-sized florets
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes + more to taste*
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest (about 1 small lemon)
- 1/4 c Pecorino, freshly-grated**
- Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
- Season the breadcrumbs with a pinch of salt. Spoon the breadcrumbs into a small bowl to stop the cooking. Set aside.
- Place two sheet pans in the oven, and set the oven to 425°F.***
- Place the broccoli in a large bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil followed by the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.
- Next, carefully grease the hot sheet pans. Then, spoon the broccoli florets evenly between the pans and spread the florets out so they are not overcrowded. Do your best to place the broccoli florets cut-side down onto the pan to get the most amount of char and caramelization! Bake for 15 minutes.
- Stir the broccoli and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the florets are tender, browned, and charred on the edges.**** Sprinkle the Pecorino over the broccoli and bake another 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Remove the broccoli from the oven. Stir well to distribute the cheese and then spoon the broccoli into a serving dish. Finish by sprinkling the breadcrumbs over the broccoli. Enjoy!
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: You’re Not Good Enough by Blood Orange