Are you trying to figure out what to do with broccoli stems after trimming them off your bunches of broccoli? We have tons of ideas to help you make sure those stems don’t go to waste, while also making them enjoyable to eat.
We have instructions on how to trim broccoli stems, a video showing you how to do it, as well as a bunch of recipes you can make with them. Read on!
Waste Not, Want Not 
Broccoli is a nutritious, versatile vegetable that’s widely available in grocery stores, making it a weekly staple for many families. It’s available in several forms at the grocery store—bunches, crowns, pre-washed florets, or even broccoli “slaw” in the salad greens section. 
If you’re mostly cooking florets, you may be able to just buy the broccoli crowns, but what about those bunches with long stems? 
My sister and I (and by extension of course, my parents), grew up in households where wasting food was a big no-no.
To this day, I’m still squirreling away half-squeezed lemon halves and onion wedges in tiny bowls in my fridge and staging freezer interventions for unused bits of ginger, over-ripe bananas, chilies, and herbs. I also pride myself on taking leftovers and scraps and making them into something tasty! 

When it came to broccoli stems, I would usually trim and peel them, and then add them to whatever I was making, be it a stir-fry, pasta, or just a side of steamed/sauteéd broccoli. 
However, I have noticed over the years that the texture of the stems is different enough that some people just don’t enjoy eating them. Countless times, I’ve seen them get picked out and moved to the side of the plate, only to be thrown out after dinner. 
That said, some folks are just trimming them off and throwing them away! If that’s you, I’m not judging. But I do imagine it’s a bit guilt-inducing—if not because of the food waste factor, then simply because it’s also a waste of your hard-earned cash! The stems are a significant portion of what you’re paying for at the grocery store.
So let’s talk about how to use broccoli stems! 
Two Separate Vegetables
I would encourage you to think of broccoli florets and stems as two separate vegetables. If you buy two bunches of broccoli for the week, you can use the florets for dinner one night, and the stems for dinner on the other.
The florets are great on their own in a dish like garlicky broccoli or steamed broccoli, or cooked with proteins like in our chicken with broccoli or shrimp with broccoli. 
While the stems could be added to these dishes, it’s not ideal. If you think about the stems as a separate vegetable instead, you can treat them in a different way and make them much more enjoyable. 
I really like them julienned, which capitalizes on their firm, crunchy texture. Check out my recent Broccoli Stem Stir-fry recipe, which uses this technique.


Get all of Sarah’s tips and tricks, and subscribe to our videos over at our Youtube channel! (And if you’re wondering which asparagus video Sarah was referencing, check that out here.)
But there are so many ways you can use them, which I will list out in this post!
First Thing’s First: Trimming
Before slicing and cooking your broccoli stems, it’s important to know how to trim them, because they can be quite tough and fibrous. It’s easy:

Trim about quarter to half an inch (1cm) off the ends, which can be dry and extra tough. 
Using a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife, peel the tough outer layer off the stems. 

After that, you’re ready to slice them, dice them, julienne them, and cook! 
How to Use Broccoli Stems
When I think about what to do with broccoli stems, I think about the textures that broccoli stems are similar to and recipes in which I can use them as a substitute. Broccoli stems resemble bamboo shoots, celtuce, and carrots in texture. 
Then I think about how to cut them. Julienned broccoli stems can replace julienned versions of the aforementioned vegetables. Cutting them into flat rectangles is good for dishes that use larger pieces/slices, and dicing them is great for dishes with rice, ground meat, and other diced vegetables. 
Here are a bunch of recipe suggestions: 
1. Julienned Broccoli Stems

Broccoli stems are a great substitute for julienned bamboo shoots in dishes like Beef with Bamboo Shoots & Peppers, Hot and Sour Soup, and Thai Red Curry Chicken. While the flavor will be different, the textures will be very similar!

From left to right: Beef with Bamboo Shoots & Peppers, Hot and Sour Soup, and Thai Red Curry Chicken
Similarly, you can substitute julienned broccoli stems for celtuce (also known as stem lettuce or asparagus lettuce) in our Pork with Garlic Sauce.

Pork with Garlic Sauce
Bamboo shoots and celtuce are more difficult vegetables to find if you don’t have a Chinese grocery store near you. Broccoli stems are a great solution!
You could also use julienned broccoli stems in place of or in addition to other vegetables in dishes like Vegetable Moo Shu, Chinese Tofu Salad, Vegetable Five Spice Tofu Stir-fry, Singapore Mei Fun (or the vegetarian version), or our Easy Beef Bibimbap.

Clockwise from top left: Vegetable Moo Shu, Chinese Tofu Salad, Vegetable Five Spice Tofu Stir-fry, Vegetarian Singapore Mei Fun, Easy Beef Bibimbap, Classic Singapore Noodles
In raw applications, like the Chinese Tofu Salad, you can keep them raw, or blanch them quickly. (Cook in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then transfer to an ice bath, and drain. Do this if you like them a bit more tender!)
You can also use them as the main event, dressing the julienned broccoli stems using our Spicy Bamboo Shoot Salad recipe as a guide. For this particular recipe, I would blanch beforehand!

2. Flat Rectangles / slices

You can also slice the broccoli stems into rectangular shapes or thin slices. Use them in place of celtuce (AKA stem lettuce) in our Celtuce Stir-fry.

Or replace the bamboo shoots in our Spicy Chicken Stir-fry or Moo Goo Gai Pan.

Left to right: Spicy Chicken Stir-fry, Moo Goo Gai Pan
You can also use in place of or in addition to vegetables in dishes like our Roast Pork with Mixed Vegetables, Everyday Vegetable Stir-fry, Beef with Vegetables, and our Rice Cakes with Mixed Vegetables.

From Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Roast Pork with Mixed Vegetables, Everyday Vegetable Stir-fry, Beef with Vegetables, and Rice Cakes with Mixed Vegetables
3. Diced into Small Pieces
Dice your broccoli stems into small pieces to use in dishes that feature other small diced vegetables, like our Spicy Eight Treasures and Braised Ground Pork & Potatoes.

From left to right: Spicy Eight Treasures and Braised Ground Pork & Potatoes
You can also use small-diced broccoli stems in place of peas in our Easy Curry Beef Rice Bowls, Cantonese Beef Rice Bowls, or Chinese Spaghetti “Bolognese.”

From left to right: Easy Curry Beef Rice Bowls, Cantonese Beef Rice Bowls, Chinese Spaghetti Bolognese
Diced broccoli stems will also work in any fried rice recipe. We have over 30 fried rice recipes on the blog (just search “fried rice” in our search bar). Here are some ideas to get you started:

Row 1: Fujian Fried Rice, Chicken Fried Rice, Thai Fried Rice. Row 2: Vegetable Fried Rice, Pineapple Fried Rice, Fried Brown Rice. Row 3: Mushroom Fried Rice, Bacon & Egg Fried Rice, Hamburger Fried Rice. Row 4: Lap Cheong Fried Rice, Shrimp Fried Rice, Egg Fried Rice
Other Ways to Use Broccoli Stems

In soups: Try making cream of broccoli soup and adding extra stems in addition to florets. The stems will be cooked down and pureed, so the texture of the stem doesn’t really matter. Do trim them beforehand.
Broccoli Stem Slaw: Packaged broccoli slaw is becoming more popular these days. Make your own by julienning the stems and combining them with carrots, shredded red cabbage, and a tangy dressing to make a refreshing cole slaw alternative!
Broccoli Fritters: We’ve also seen this idea floating around the internet. The florets and stems can be shredded or roughly chopped and then made into crispy, cheesy fritters. No one will notice the stem!

In response to our recent broccoli stem stir-fry recipe post, many of you commented that you actually enjoy the stem more than the florets. We’ve also heard from many of you that you share them with your pups as treats.

Let’s embrace the whole broccoli, stem and all. Share your ideas for how you use them in the comments below!

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