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How to Harvest & Eat Your Broccoli Leaves Recipe

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Looking for broccoli leaves recipes?

We’ve listed a couple of tasty, printable broccoli leaves recipes later in this post.

Plus, we’ve also included tips on how to harvest broccoli leaves if you’re growing your own vegetables. That’s because so many gardeners are growing your own food.

Too, we’ve added a number of links to help you grow abundant foods no matter how big or small your garden. Moreover, if you’d like to learn more in online lesson programs with us, sign up to be the first notified when we open enrollment next.

Now, let’s get back to those broccoli leaves!

Yep, the leaves are as edible as the leaves of their nutrient-packed cousin kale!

When the central head of a broccoli crown is still tightly in bud and tucked several inches below the tops of the highest leaves, it’s time to take your first harvest. If you wait longer and the crown flowers begin to open, your harvest may be tougher and less flavorful.

So don’t keep waiting to see what else might happen.

Young broccoli crown

Young Broccoli crown forming on a plant. It’ll be ready to cut out soon!

How to harvest young broccoli crowns:

Using a sharp knife, slice out that central flower head (or crown), and leave the rest of the plant in place. Smaller broccoli florets will likely form along the intact stalk. That means, they’ll sprout from buds at the base of the remaining leaves.

In fact, you may see some of them already starting to form when you cut out the big, central crown.

How to Harvest axillary (side) florets from broccoli:

The side florets on broccoli can form rapidly. So check your plants frequently. And trim out the side florets when they are no more than about 4-5″ long.

These aren’t likely to get big like the central broccoli crown. So the idea is to harvest many of them while they are small.

In fact, tiny florets are great to toss into our broccoli leaf recipes too.

Broccoli axillary florets

After the top crown has been removed, side florets like these will form quickly.

Like the central crown, the axillary florets will get tough and unpalatable if you let them grow long and open their flowers. But, the pollinators will love them.

How to Harvest broccoli leaves:

When you harvest your big, central broccoli crown, you’ll probably end up cutting out a few leaves as well. Wait a sec –  Don’t toss them into the compost pile! Instead, remove the mid-rib and add these to your broccoli leaf recipes!

Once the central crown is removed from the plant, you can begin trimming out a few leaves from the plant on a regular basis. As you would with Kale, remove the lower leaves on the plant first.

And only take a few leaves from each plant at a time — especially if you are encouraging the plant to grow more axillary florets. They’ll need those leaves to photosynthesize, which is how they feed themselves.

How to cut out a broccoli leaf with a paring knife.

Clip lower leaves on your broccoli plant first, removing them where they meet the stem by cutting or snapping. Don’t tear the main stalk!

Once you have harvested all the side florets from your broccoli plant (at a certain point the plant will either run out of side buds for production or just wear out from having everything taken from it), go ahead and trim out the rest of the leaves as well as the central stalk, much of which is truly delicious as well — just chop off the toughest portions and peel off the exterior layer to reveal the crunchy sweetness of the central stem.

The roots, leaf midribs, and the toughest portions of the stalk are food for your compost heap or your chickens.

Want more info on growing broccoli? Read on!

Small Space Broccoli Growing Tips & Tricks
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How to Use broccoli leaves in the kitchen

**Now with two recipes**

There are so many ways you can eat your broccoli leaves for our recipes.

Remove the mid-rib, tear or chop the supple leaves, and mix them into a saute. Toss them in hearty salads where you might otherwise rely on kale. Or, blend them into a smoothie for a nutrient-rich, not-t00-sweet smoothie.

Sweet broccoli leaf recipe with fruit, fat & protein smoothie

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You’ll need a high powered blender to fully macerate all the whole food ingredients in this tasty smoothie. Depending on how much you thin the final blend, this should make a one-pint-glass serving. Check out how many servings of fruits and vegetables you get!


3 Large broccoli leaves, mid-rib removed

1 Peach, pitted

4-6 Strawberries, hulled

1/2 banana

3-4 ice cubes

1/2 cup water (or more ice cubes if you like a really frosty smoothie)

1 T. hemp seeds

1 T. coconut butter or whole fat coconut milk

1/4 lime, peeled

1″ chunk peeled, fresh ginger

Add ingredients to high powered blender. Start on low speed and work up to high speed, mashing things down as needed. Let run about 1-2 minutes to fully liquify everything. (If your mixture is thicker than you prefer, add a bit more water or coconut milk to thin.)

This year we had several crops of broccoli, with loads of delicious stems & heads. But, we also had loads of leaves. Some went to the chickens; they love broccoli. Much went to making tasty broccoli leaf chips. Much like ever-popular kale chips, these are super easy to make from the gleanings of your broccoli crop!

Broccoli leaf recipe: dried chips

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Large broccoli leaves, mid-rib removed

granulated or powdered garlic

sea salt

olive oil

Tear broccoli leaves into chip sized pieces. Toss with a splash of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt & a generous sprinkling of granulated or powdered garlic.

Spread seasoned leaves in single layers on dehydrator trays.

Place into a dehydrator (on lowest setting if that’s an option) for about an hour. Check. Extend time as needed until chips are fully dried and crispy.

Serve immediately or place into a vacuum seal canister where they can be stored for later.

60 comments on “How to Harvest & Eat Your Broccoli Leaves Recipe

  1. Randi on

    I didn’t get hardly any brocolli but got big leaves, most are too strong a flavor, even stirfried or put in soups. Any suggestions for next year – how to get more brocolli heads and ideas of what to do with the huge unpopular leaves LOL

  2. Garden Mentors on

    Randi, Site unseen it’s tough to know why you didn’t get the broccoli crowns you’d hoped for. It could be the soil, the weather, the variety, the timing. Many things can impact plant growth. Best bet: bring in a consultant in your area for assistance. As for the leaves you don’t care to eat, feed them to your (or your neighbor’s) chickens. They love’m. Or add them to your compost heap to feed your future garden soil. Good luck!

  3. Britney Ward on

    This is my first year growing broccoli, its been so fun! To keep the moths away, I put moth balls in a wonens nylon stocking, tied it to the top of a wood stake, and covered with a red solo cup so the rain/sprinklers didn’t get to it. I’ve been getting so many broccoli heads! I just picked a head last week that was a foot in diameter, I wish I could share the pic! Haven’t tried the leaves yet, but will do this year. The heads grow fast, I’m harvesting a few every couple days. I planted six plants, but two died at the beginning of the season. Its funny how the florets turn themselves upside down sometimes. I wonder why.

  4. Dawn Mitchell on

    I love trying out interesting ways to use up more of a fruit or vegetable. Ever since I bought some carrots that had loads of leaves on, I thought I’d find out which leaves are edible. I cook the leaves with the carrots, cauliflowers or broccoli and eat them too. It seems we’ve been wasting a lot of the edible parts of fruit and vegetables, which seems wasteful. I always check to make sure the leaves and stalks are safe to eat.

  5. Birungi Joviah on

    wow!! What wonderful benefits I’ve always lost from throwing away those leaves. Thanks for the information. Looking forward for more healthy & educative articles. Thanks

  6. Birungi Joviah on

    So in love with this site. Looking forward for more healthy & educational information. Thanks

  7. Marla on

    Our first time at gardening.Our broccoli stocks aren’t very thick as the pictures I see.What should we have done and didn’t in the beginning?We are having so much fun learning and trying new things.

  8. Marla on

    Hi it’s me again.We built a green house and have a lot of different veggies planted and growing.We get so excited to see all the growth.So much fun.We are learning though threw sights like yours.Love this sight.Would love any tips from all of you.Thank you so much.

  9. Garden Mentors on

    Marla, without knowing the history of what you did do and what your garden environment and practices are, it’s difficult to make specific “shoulda done this suggestions”. There are many factors that could have gone into this issues. You might try hiring a local professional to evaluate your program. Good luck!

  10. Mary on

    Please don’t laugh. I am a Minnesota vegetable growing newbie. Have planted my first square foot garden. All is going well but my broccoli is out of control. The leaves are huge! They are overly shading my carrots and other vegetables. Could I trim the leaves so that I am an equal opportunity sunlight provider for the other vegetables? Sorry to be so dumb.

  11. Garden Mentors on

    Mary, Don’t beat yourself up. We aren’t big fans of the square foot method because of the shading issues you’ve run into. You *might* be able to remove some lower leaves on your broccoli, but that may also end up stressing the plants. Really, it’s likely you need to give all of your plants more space. Good luck!

  12. Karen F Daniels on

    I enjoyed eating my broccoli leaves last crop which I grew over the winter and harvested just before spring. They tasted just like chard and were tender when sauteed. But this year it being summer in AZ the leaves are a lot tougher. So I harvested them all yesterday, discarding any that look too old or showing any yellow and am going to experiment with them. I am thinking about blanching them with the stems and central vein removed and put them in my food processor to grind them into smaller chunks and adding some to some vegan (seitan – vital wheat)’meatballs’. I figure they will add texture and additional nutrients to the ‘meatballs’ and just look like parsley! The remainder I will freeze in small batches for future use. I feel they are still nutritious even though tough and hate to just throw them into my compost. I will report back how it turned out.

  13. Becky on

    Another bonus I’ve recently come across is that I’ve read that the leaves (and anything else that is green in your garden) can be dehydrated then ground into a “green powder” to add to smoothies, muffins, all sorts of foods for an extra boost of nutrients…especially great for those non-veg kids 🙂

  14. Garden Mentors on

    Stan, stuffed broccoli leaves sound delicious. Broccoli leaves can get quite big, but ours never get as large as those big cabbage leaves! Let us know how yours turn out.

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