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Does broccoli go bad?

Of course, since broccoli is a vegetable, we all know that it spoils. But there are many questions about broccoli. People are unsure if it needs to be refrigerated, how to store it after cooking, or if limp or yellow broccoli is safe to eat.

How do you store broccoli?

You can find broccoli in the ambient section of the grocery store. This is why many people believe that you can store broccoli in the pantry.

While that’s technically true, broccoli stored in the pantry often turns yellow within 1 to 2 days (just like cauliflower). In other words, it degrades in quality quite quickly when stored at room temperature. So if you were wondering if you can leave broccoli out of the fridge, the answer is yes, but it’s not recommended.


Do not wash the broccoli before storing. The extra moisture encourages mold growth, and you don’t want that. Do not wash it until you are ready to use it.

(Credit: CJ Dayrit)

Now let’s talk about cooked broccoli. Cooked broccoli also belongs in the refrigerator. After cooking, let it cool for at least 15-20 minutes so it’s no longer hot. When this time has passed, you can transfer the veggies to an airtight container and then to the fridge.


Don’t leave the cooked broccoli at room temperature for more than about 2 hours, as bacterial growth is fastest at room temperature.

If you want to store the broccoli long-term, freeze it!

(Source: Hessam Hojati)

Can You Freeze Broccoli?

You can freeze both cooked and raw broccoli depending on your needs. If you want some broccoli for a soup or other cooked dish, freezing raw broccoli is the way to go. If you’d rather reheat the broccoli to eat as a side dish, cook it before freezing.

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You can freeze raw broccoli by following these steps:

  1. Wash the head of broccoli and cut into florets. If you freeze the stems, cut them into small pieces as well.
  2. Blanch the vegetables. Bring a pot of water to a boil and toss the chopped broccoli into the water. Leave it there for 2-3 minutes depending on the size of the pieces you cut. Then drain the water and place the vegetables in an ice bath for at least 5 minutes to stop the cooking process. Remove the broccoli from the cold water and let it dry. Use paper towels to wipe away moisture.
  3. Freeze the vegetables. Take a cookie sheet and place the pieces on it so they are not touching. Place the leaf in the freezer and leave it there until the vegetable freezes.
  4. Transfer the frozen pieces into freezer bags. Label each bag if necessary.
  5. Throw the prepared freezer bags into the freezer.

As you can see, freezing raw broccoli could be quite a hassle. Freezing cooked broccoli takes less time and requires no extra steps. You can do it this way:

  1. Cook broccoli your favorite way. You can also steam or roast it, whatever works best for you.
  2. Divide the prepared broccoli into flour-sized portions and let it cool down to about room temperature (maximum 30-40 minutes).
  3. Once cool, the veg is placed in freezer bags or meal storage container decanted. Add labels if necessary.
  4. Place the bags or containers in the freezer.

That’s it. As you can see, the process is straightforward and doesn’t take much time.

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(Credit: Andrei)

Now that you know how to freeze broccoli, let’s discuss the options for thawing:

  • Overnight in the fridge. The best choice if you want to cook it the next day.
  • Microwave. Place the broccoli in a glass container or plate. Start on low to defrost it, then increase power to warm it up.
  • In cold water. If you don’t have a microwave and need to quickly thaw the broccoli without cooking it, toss it in a bowl of cold water. Of course, this is much quicker if the veggies are in a freezer bag rather than a container.
  • Using a non-stick pan. Start on low heat to thaw, then increase the heat to warm it up. If there isn’t much water left but the broccoli is still not warm enough, add some water.
  • Throw it in frozen. If you’re using the broccoli in a soup, you don’t need to thaw it. Add a few minutes of cooking time to allow for thawing of the vegetables.

How long does broccoli last?

For broccoli to last the longest, start by choosing the best broccoli in the grocery store. Opt for broccoli with firm, fresh-looking stems and a deep green head.

It’s quite difficult to say how long raw broccoli will last. There are many factors such as how and how long it was stored prior to purchase.

In other words, if you’re storing raw broccoli in the fridge, you probably need to discard it for quality reasons, not because it’s gone bad. If you plan on storing fresh broccoli for more than a week, consider freezing it.

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When it comes to the shelf life of frozen broccoli, it’s pretty indefinite. The quality of the broccoli will degrade very slowly while it is in the freezer. So the sooner you use it, the better the quality will be. Use frozen broccoli within three months for best results.


Raw broccoli

4 — 7 days

3 months +

Boiled broccoli

3 — 5 days

3 months +

Please note that the above dates are approximate.

(Credit: Reinaldo Kevin)

How to Tell if Broccoli is Bad?

Let’s start with uncooked broccoli. As I mentioned earlier, if you store raw broccoli in the fridge, its quality will deteriorate before it goes bad (or rotten). And you’re more likely to throw it away because of the loss of quality, not because it’s getting technically bad.

If you’ve kept the cooked broccoli in the fridge for over a week, better throw it out, even though it seems perfectly fine. Better safe than sorry.

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