Can you do anything with broccoli leaves?

Broccoli is one of the most popular and nutritious vegetables, but often the leaves are discarded or unused. However, broccoli leaves are edible and nutrient-dense, and there are many creative ways to use them. This article will explore different options for using broccoli leaves so none of this superfood goes to waste.

Eat Broccoli Leaves Raw

One simple way to use broccoli leaves is to eat them raw in salads or as a snack. The leaves have a mild, pleasant flavor that pairs well with dressings and dips. Broccoli leaves contain fiber, vitamins K and C, iron, and antioxidants. Eating them raw helps preserve these nutrients. Wash the leaves well and chop into bite-sized pieces to add to green salads, slaws, or munch on their own.

Sauté or Stir-Fry Broccoli Leaves

Cooking broccoli leaves quickly over high heat is a tasty way to enjoy their flavor and nutrition. Sauté broccoli leaves with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper for a simple side dish. Or add leaves into any stir-fry combo with sliced protein, veggies, and sauce. Broccoli leaves cook faster than stems, so add them toward the end to prevent overcooking.

Steam Broccoli Leaves

Steaming is a healthy, low-fat cooking method that highlights broccoli leaves’ bright color and fresh taste. Chop or tear leaves into bite-sized pieces and steam for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Season with lemon juice, herbs, or spices. Steamed leaves make an easy side to serve alongside fish, chicken, or other proteins.

Add to Soups or Stews

Sturdy broccoli leaves work nicely in soups and stews. Thinly slice or chop the leaves and add them near the end of cooking so they retain texture. They’ll boost nutrition and texture in minestrone soup, vegetable chili, or any broth-based dish. For a new twist, use broccoli leaves instead of kale or collards in recipes for stewed greens.

Make Broccoli Leaf Pesto

Broccoli leaves’ soft texture and mild flavor allow them to be blended into pesto. Swap broccoli leaves for basil leaves in traditional pesto recipes. Simply pulse broccoli leaves with garlic, olive oil, nuts, cheese, and seasonings until smooth. Toss with hot pasta or spread over chicken, fish, or toasted bread.

Pickle Broccoli Leaves

Pickling broccoli leaves adds tangy flavor and crunch. Use pickled leaves as a sandwich topping, salad garnish, or snack. To quickly pickle leaves, pour boiling water over chopped leaves to blanch them. Drain and pack into jars with a pickling solution of vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and spices. Refrigerate to chill before serving.

Wrap Food in Broccoli Leaves

Large broccoli leaves make an intriguing and tasty holder for wraps. Blanch the leaves briefly to soften. Then wrap cooked meat, rice, veggies, hummus, or other fillings. Fold or roll the leaf around the filling and secure with a toothpick if needed. Steamed broccoli leaf wraps make an low-carb, gluten free meal or appetizer.

Bake with Broccoli Leaves

Chopped or torn broccoli leaves can be mixed into baked goods for extra nutrition and color. Fold raw leaves into quick breads, muffins, scones, or biscuits before baking. Try substituting up to 1 cup leaves for an equal amount of flour. Broccoli leaves also add moisture and texture to bars, breads, and baked oatmeal.

Juice Broccoli Leaves

Use a juicer to extract the bright green juice from broccoli leaves and stems. This fresh juice provides a concentrated dose of nutrients like vitamins A and K. Combine broccoli leaf juice with citrus fruits, greens, or vegetables like cucumber and celery for a healthy, tangy drink.

Blend into Smoothies

Raw broccoli leaves can be blended into smoothies for extra nutrition. Their mild flavor won’t overwhelm other ingredients. Add a handful of leaves along with fruits, veggies, yogurt, milk, or juice. Stems can also be blended into creamy smoothies for fiber. Nutrient-packed broccoli leaf smoothies make a great breakfast or snack.

Dehydrate Broccoli Leaves

Using a dehydrator or low oven, broccoli leaves can be dried into crispy chips. Arrange washed leaves in a single layer on trays and dehydrate at 125°F for 1-3 hours until fully dried. Sprinkle leaves with spices before dehydrating for extra flavor. Crunchy broccoli leaf chips are tasty on their own or served with dips.

Use as Garnish

Pretty, frilly broccoli leaves make beautiful edible garnishes. Place small whole leaves or chopped pieces on soups, grains, oatmeal, tacos, flatbreads, charcuterie boards, and more. The green leaves add freshness and color as well as extra nutrition. Kids may be more tempted to eat their dinner when it’s cleverly garnished with broccoli leaves.

Feed to Pets

Dogs, cats, and pet rodents can benefit from eating broccoli leaves too. The leaves provide pets with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. Chop leaves into bite-sized pieces to mix into your pet’s regular food. Or see if they’ll nibble plain leaves as a treat. Always start by offering a small amount to ensure they can tolerate it.

Add to Homemade Dog Treats

For a nutritious homemade treat for your dog, add finely chopped broccoli leaves to standard dog treat recipes. Try baking peanut butter and banana oat treats with shredded leaves mixed in. Or add pureed leaves to pumpkin dog treats. Veggie-packed treats make a nice change of pace from meat-based ones.

Compost the Leaves

Like all vegetable scraps, broccoli leaves can be added to a compost pile or bin. Chop or tear the leaves to help them break down faster. The leaves add valuable nitrogen and moisture to compost. Finished compost enriched with broccoli leaves can be used to fertilize houseplants or enrich garden soil.

Mulch Garden Beds

In lieu of composting, broccoli leaves make excellent mulch for garden beds. Simply lay whole or shredded leaves on the soil around plants. As they decompose, the leaves return nutrients to the earth and suppress weeds. A broccoli leaf mulch looks attractive and helps soil retain moisture.

Nutrition Facts of Broccoli Leaves

To understand the health benefits of broccoli leaves, here is a nutritional comparison of broccoli leaves and stems vs. broccoli florets (per 100 grams):

Nutrient Broccoli Leaves and Stems Broccoli Florets
Calories 50 34
Protein 4.8g 2.82g
Fiber 3.6g 2.6g
Vitamin K 287% DV 102% DV
Vitamin C 213% DV 149% DV
Calcium 14% DV 5% DV
Iron 12% DV 5% DV

As shown, broccoli leaves provide even more dense nutrition than the florets, notably higher levels of protein, fiber, vitamin K, and calcium. The entire broccoli plant is edible and nutritious.


Broccoli leaves deserve a place at the table rather than in the trash. Their mild flavor allows them to be enjoyed both raw and cooked in many dishes. Leaves can also be blended, juiced, pickled, baked, or dried into chips. They make great edible garnishes and natural pet treats too. Don’t throw out the nutritious leaves – find creative ways to use this free superfood.

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