I Tried More than a Dozen Bags of Frozen Broccoli — These Are the 2 I’ll Buy Again

updated Jul 21, 2022
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frozen broccoli close in
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Greg Lofts

Frozen vegetables are the coolest shortcut for home-cooked meals, and the star among them all is broccoli. Frozen broccoli is just as good as its fresh counterpart, and I’d even argue that the frozen florets are better than what’s found in the produce department. They save you prep time, reduce food waste (thanks to the extended lifespan in the freezer), and are more affordable.

The only issue? Frozen broccoli is hidden inside opaque bags and boxes so there’s no way to see the size or quality of the veggies until you get home. This made me wonder if all brands of frozen broccoli are the same or if there’s enough of a difference to warrant seeking out a specific brand. So I set out to determine once and for all: Which brand of frozen broccoli is superior?

Credit: Patty Catalano

How I Tested the Frozen Broccoli

I cleared space in my freezer and bought every brand of plain, frozen broccoli I could find. I ended up with 13 packages of frozen broccoli in bags and boxes from six different grocery stores in my area. I planned to prepare each package of broccoli according to the microwave instructions listed on the package.

I ate the broccoli as is with no butter, salt, pepper, or sauces. I evaluated each brand based on the florets’ shape, size, color, and texture. And after spending an entire afternoon microwaving bag upon bag of frozen broccoli, I have determined that there is a difference among brands. The winning brand was abundantly clear, plus I was able to also pick a worthy runner-up from one of our favorite grocers. Here are my top two picks.

Credit: Patty Catalano

Best Frozen Broccoli: Publix Steam-in-Bag Frozen Broccoli Florets

Publix carries four varieties of frozen broccoli under its store brand label: boxed finely chopped florets and three steam-in-bag options (broccoli florets, broccoli cuts, and Greenwise organic broccoli florets). The steam-in-bag broccoli florets were the undisputed winner of this taste test, delivering exactly what I’m looking for in frozen broccoli. The bag is filled with generous, bite-sized pieces (similar to the cut broccoli version, but without an excess of stem).

Find it in stores: Publix Steam-in-Bag Frozen Broccoli Florets, $2.19 for 14 ounces

I microwaved the bag for five minutes (the instructions gave a range of five to six minutes), then let it cool for one to two minutes before tasting. The broccoli was bright green and the texture was firm and crisp. This brand of frozen broccoli would be perfect for roasting straight from the freezer or as a stand-in for fresh in practically any recipe.

Credit: Patty Catalano

Runner up: Trader Joe’s Broccoli Florets

If you don’t have a Publix nearby, I have a back-up plan for you. My number-two pick is from Trader Joe’s. TJ’s frozen broccoli takes a little more work, as you have to transfer the frozen broccoli to a microwave-safe vessel before cooking. This extra prep work is what knocked these florets down to the second-place spot. The results and extra prep were well worth it, though: The broccoli florets were evenly-sized, crisp-tender, and bright green.

Find it in stores: Trader Joe’s Broccoli Florets, $1.69 for 16 ounces

If You’re Buying Frozen Broccoli, a Few Tips

  • Seek out the store brand. One thing that store brands do well are basic frozen vegetables, including frozen broccoli. Store-brand broccoli beat out the name-brand bags at every level of this taste test, including the top spot.
  • Feel for freezer burn. When you handle the bags in the store, you should feel clumps of florets. If the florets are in a solid block of ice or you can feel excess ice crackling, that’s a sign that the vegetables have been thawed and refrozen.
  • Break apart any large chunks. Solid blocks of ice suggest damaging freezing and thawing, but clumps that are easy to break apart are normal and expected. Gently break apart any of these clusters before heating to ensure even cooking.
  • Err on the lower end of the cook time. Instructions for microwaving frozen broccoli usually include a range because microwaves vary widely. Err on the lower end of the cook time to avoid serving green mush.

Do you have a favorite brand of frozen broccoli? Share your pick in the comments below!