It is no secret that broccoli can be a bit of an acquired taste – some people love it while others can’t even bear the thought of eating it in any form. If you are part of the group that enjoys broccoli, then finding new ways to make it and incorporate it into your meals can be a fun and delicious experience. If it isn’t your favorite, maybe you’re looking for an easy and tasty way to make it that might change your mind. One of the easiest and fastest ways to prepare it is by cooking in air fryer. The popularity of this kitchen appliance has risen in the past three years with many people saying how easy to use and convenient it is. While most people use it to bake pastries or chicken and sometimes fish, it can be used to quickly roast some vegetables for a salad or side dish during dinner. Keep reading to find out how to make broccoli in an air fryer.
What Is The Best Cooking Technique For Broccoli?
There are at least six different ways of making this vegetable. They include:
- Boiling – Put your broccoli florets in a pot of already boiling water on medium-high heat, cover and let cook for about five minutes. After 5 minutes, pick a floret and taste to see if it’s cooked to your desired softness. If it hasn’t cover and continue boiling for a bit longer. If it is ready, remove the pot from the fire, drain, and serve immediately
- Blanching – This is probably one of the most common ways that many people cook this vegetable. It is much like boiling, only it’s done in a much shorter time. Instead of boiling them for five minutes or more like above, you will only boil the florets for 30 seconds then immediately scoop them out and dip them into ice cold water. With this method, the broccoli retains its crunch, and develops a much deeper and more vibrant shade of green that stands out in salads.
- Steaming – After blanching, steaming is the second most popular way to cook broccoli. Like the blanched version, the steamed vegetables retain a vibrant green color and have a crunch – albeit softer – when eaten. Steaming takes anywhere from three to five minutes – any longer and the broccoli will soften too much and turn mushy. Steaming is a great option for anyone who wants nicely cooked vegetables without oil.
- Saute – This is the best way to infuse a lot of flavor into this bland and sometimes bitter vegetable. You can impart flavor into your broccoli using anything from butter, infused cooking oils, to an array of herbs and spices. To make proper sauteed broccoli, be sure to blanch them first – this cuts back on cooking time and helps you avoid having a vegetable that is cooked on the outside but still raw on the inside.
- Roasting – Don’t want to spend your evening standing over a stove? Roasting is the most hands-off way to go. Simply cut up your florets, flavor them with some oil and spices, throw them in an oven or air fryer, set your timer and forget about them for a while as you relax. According to the Food Network, roasting is the best way to bring out the natural flavor of broccoli.
- Microwaving – An even easier hands off way of steaming broccoli. Simply place your chopped broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl and pour 3 tablespoons of water over the top, cover with a plate and microwave on high for 2 1/2 to 4 minutes, until broccoli is tender.
So which of these techniques is the best? They are all great. Roasting, microwaving and steaming are the best ways to cook this vegetable for nutrient retention. Boiling and blanching involve adding water to this vegetable which may leech out some of the important nutrients, but the less contact time they have with the water the less this is an issue. You can also save the water to use in soups and still get those nutrients. Sauteing and roasting involve adding some oil which adds calories, but much less than other methods like deep frying.
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Is Air Fried Broccoli Still Healthy?
Yes, it is. As stated above, roasting (including in an air fryer) is one of the best ways to cook this vegetable. Not only does the vegetable retain its nutrients when cooked like this, but also roasting in an air fryer uses less oil than doing the same in an oven, which reduces how many calories are added to the broccoli.
Simple Air Fryer Broccoli Recipe
Here’s how to make some crispy and delicious broccoli in air fryer
- 340 g fresh broccoli florets
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Optional – red pepper flakes, toasted sesame seeds, parmesan cheese
- Make sure that your florets are cut in the same size. This ensures that they cook evenly and at the same time.
- Wash the florets and dry them. You can use paper towels or a salad spinner – take out as much water as possible.
- In a large enough bowl, toss all the above mentioned ingredients and toss ensuring that all the florets are evenly coated
- Place the florets in an air fryer, set temperature to 400 degrees fahrenheit, for 8 to 10 minutes
- Toss the mixture halfway through.
- Once the timer goes off, remove from the air fryer and serve immediately.
- Sprinkle with optional ingredients if desired
This recipe makes 4 servings.
Calories for 1 serving: 74. Fats: 7.1 g. Protein: 1.1 g. Carbs: 2.9 g.
Serve this a protein and complex carb of your choice.
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Is It Better To Air Fry Or Steam Vegetables?
Steamed and roasted vegetables are quite popular in many households and are a great way to make and enjoy vegetables. But which method is healthier – should you permanently switch to air fry broccoli instead of steamed?
According to one study published in 2009, steaming is the best way to cook broccoli for nutrient retention. In the study, the researchers compared steaming to other cooking methods i.e. microwaving, boiling, stir-frying, and stir-frying followed by boiling (stir-frying/boiling), and they realized that when steamed, the broccoli was able to retain the highest amount of its nutrients especially the water soluble ones like vitamin C (1).
What about roasting? Will cooking broccoli in the air fryer make them lose all their nutrients? No it will not. The first thing to remember is that all kinds of cooking methods -even steaming – leads to some level of nutrient loss in food. Even the act of heating foods can destroy some nutrients, but that’s okay – there will still be plenty left to nourish you. Air frying vegetables is simply a faster way of roasting vegetables which is considered as one of the healthiest ways of cooking veggies.
So which method is better? Steaming is certainly better for nutrient retention, while air frying makes the vegetables taste better. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference because as long as you aren’t overboiling or deep frying your vegetables, they will not be stripped of all their nutrients and will not be high in extra calories, especially from unhealthy fats.
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Can An Air Fryer Steam Vegetables?
Technically, no. You cannot steam vegetables in an air fryer. This kitchen appliance, like the traditional oven, is best for roasting vegetables. The best way to steam vegetables is simply the traditional way of putting your vegetables in a steamer basket and placing them over a pot of simmering water, or using an electric steamer.
However, if you want to try using your air fryer to steam vegetables, here is a trick you could use for your air fryer broccoli.
- Add some water inside the basket between the first and second basket of your appliance
- Place your vegetables in the basket and set them to cook
The steam coming from the water during the cooking process, helps keep the vegetables from drying out and will give the broccoli that steamed effect. A point to note is that because the air fryer really isn’t meant to steam, the final product might not taste the same as normal air-fried broccoli. Also, your air fryer doesn’t come with a steam setting thus you have to keep a close eye on your vegetables to ensure that you do not overcook them.
Can You Cook Frozen Broccoli In an Air Fryer?
Yes, you can. For the best taste and texture, do not allow the frozen florets to thaw first before air frying. Letting them thaw leads to sogginess which utterly ruins the taste and texture of your final result.
The Bottom Line
Broccoli in an air fryer is a simple, healthy and delicious snack or side dish that you can have on the dinner table in less than ten minutes. Be sure to experiment with different flavorings and spices to elevate this humble dish.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Effects of different cooking methods on health-promoting compounds of broccoli (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)