Sautéed Broccoli Rabe

This sautéed broccoli rabe recipe is a simple, elegant dinner side dish. Garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice brighten the tender bitter greens.

Sautéed broccoli rabe

Broccoli rabe has to be one of my favorite green vegetables. Despite its name, it’s actually more closely related to turnips than to broccoli, and it has a distinctive bitter, peppery flavor to show for it. I featured it in the Sides section of my latest cookbook, Love & Lemons Every Day, but I recently realized that there are no broccoli rabe recipes on the blog. How on earth did that happen?

This sautéed broccoli rabe recipe is here to set things right. It’s super simple – a vibrant, nutrient-packed side dish that you can toss together on any night of the week. If you’ve never cooked broccoli rabe before, I hope you try it! Red pepper flakes, garlic, and a big squeeze of lemon juice brighten the tender bitter greens. Easy and elegant, it’s a recipe you’ll make time and time again.

Broccoli rabe

How to Cook Broccoli Rabe

When I cook most vegetables, I want them to have a nice al dente bite. Sorry, no mushy green beans or roasted radishes for me! But broccoli rabe (also called rapini) is an exception. In this recipe, we’ll cook it well past al dente to soften its tough stems and mellow its bitter flavor. We don’t want it to be mush, but we do want it to be well-done. Raw rapini recipes are hard to come by for a reason.

As a result, there are two parts to my method for how to cook broccoli rabe: blanching and sautéing. Sure, blanching is an extra step, but it actually saves you time in the long run, as it quickly softens the thick stems.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, drop in the greens, and cook for about 2 minutes, until they’re bright green and starting to soften. Transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, drain, and pat them dry.

Finish cooking the rapini by sautéing it with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes until it’s completely tender. This step should be quick – after you blanch the greens, they just need 3-5 more minutes on the stove.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Broccoli Rabe Serving Suggestions

Most often, I enjoy sautéed broccoli rabe as a side dish, brightened up with a big squeeze of lemon. It pairs nicely with all sorts of Italian dishes. Serve it next to creamy polenta, a homemade pizza, or any of these pasta recipes:

Sautéed broccoli rabe is also a wonderful addition to pasta recipes! I love its slightly bitter flavor in this hearty winter pasta made with plant-based sausage, orecchiette, and Parmesan cheese.

Sautéed broccoli rabe recipe

More Favorite Vegetable Basics

If you love this recipe, try one of these veggie side dishes next:

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe

rate this recipe:
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 7 mins
Serves 4
This sautéed broccoli rabe recipe is a simple, elegant dinner side dish! I love to serve it with Italian fare, such as pasta or polenta.



  • Trim ½ inch off the ends of the broccoli rabe. Prepare a large pot of salted boiling water and a large bowl of ice water. Drop the broccoli rabe into the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove and immerse in the ice water long enough to cool, about 15 seconds. Drain and place on paper towels to dry. (If using in this pasta recipe, stop here and continue with that recipe’s instructions.)
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the red pepper flakes. Add the broccoli rabe and sauté, shaking the pan and gently tossing so that it cooks evenly, until tender, especially the stems, for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain off any excess liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve as a side dish with a squeeze of lemon.


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Mary

    I love broccoli rabe, but I used to sauté it in oil and add water to soften it up. Parboiling makes a lot more sense, and it is yummier than ever. Before cooking it, I sautéed some red bell pepper slices, shallot, and a bit of garlic until softened, and put aside, then added them and some lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar to the rabe once it was cooked. Delicious! Thanks!

  2. Diane

    5 stars
    My dandy boy broccoli rabe was very bitter even after blanching and sauté onions etc.
    The recipe was very easy. I’m not a fan of this type of broccoli but thank you for the easy to follow recipe

    • Meredith

      5 stars
      Actually, broccoli rabe is in the turnip family, not broccoli. I know, odd name. I guess it’s because the little bulbs resemble broccoli. If you don’t like turnip greens, that could explain why you don’t like thus.

  3. Jan

    I would like to prepare this for Christmas eve dinner. Can I blanche the broccoli rabe ahead of time and then saute before serving?

  4. Laura mcdermott

    Will try it. Sounds great. After it’s cooked or blanched, can u freeze it?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Laura, you can – I’d let the blanched broccoli rabe sit on paper towels or kitchen towels for a bit to get much of the water out before freezing.

  5. DebC

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! It’s so simple and really makes the broccoli rabe shine.

  6. Debra Rizzo

    5 stars
    Delicious!! Finally A Nice, Great Tasting & Simple Recipe!!

  7. Joanida

    5 stars
    Love this. Have made it twice and the last time I made it with spinach 😋 highly recommend.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed it!

  8. Martiey

    5 stars
    Fantastic as written!

  9. Donna

    5 stars
    Made it as written; delicious.

  10. Aleli C.

    Perfect! We have a bunch growing in our vegetable garden, thank you for your recipes! My family and I have been enjoying them.

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.