A quick and easy air fryer tenderstem broccoli recipe for crispy, crunchy broccolini with caramelized edges and tender-crisp florets!
I eat broccoli almost every week; I love its flavor and how simple it is to prepare! When I saw broccoli tenderstem (or broccolini) in the store, I knew I had to try making it in the air fryer!
Broccoli can burn easily in the air fryer, so I tested the recipe quite a few times to get the temperature and cooking time just right for crisp-tender broccoli tenderstems with lightly browned florets.
This air fryer tenderstem broccoli recipe allows you to enjoy this vegetable in a whole new way, yielding crispy, crunchy broccoli with beautifully caramelized and slightly charred edges.
The air fryer gives great texture and intensifies the flavor without the need for loads of added fat or long cooking times.
Keep reading for everything you need to know to make this healthy side dish at home in your air fryer! I'll provide details on ingredients, step-by-step instructions, cooking tips, variations to try out, serving suggestions, and more so you can enjoy perfect broccoli florets and stems every time. A perfect, delicious side dish!
If you want to try making more broccoli recipes in the air fryer, check out my recipes for Air Fryer Broccoli and Cauliflower, Air Fryer Broccoli Parmesan, and How to Make Frozen Broccoli in the Air Fryer!
- 📋 Why You'll Love This Recipe!
- ❓ What is Tenderstem Broccoli?
- 🥦 Ingredients
- ✔️ Ingredient Substitutions
- 📖 How to Make Broccoli Tenderstem in Air Fryer
- 🥘 Variations
- 🧂What to serve with Air Fryer Tenderstem Broccoli
- ⏲ Equipment
- 🍶 Storage
- 🙋🏻♂️ FAQs
- 👨🏻🍳 Top tips
- 📒 Recipe Card
- Air Fryer Tenderstem Broccoli
- 🍳 More Air Fryer Vegetable Recipes
📋 Why You'll Love This Recipe!
- Fast Recipe: Ready in just 10 minutes max with only 6 minutes of cooking time!
- Caramelized and Crispy: Signature air fryer texture.
- Lightly Charred with Tender Stems: Never overcooked.
- Intensifies Broccoli Flavor: Delicious florets and stems.
- Healthy and Satisfying: All the nutritional benefits of broccoli!
- Easy One-Pan Meal: Minimal cleanup or hassle for this easy side dish .
- Kid-Friendly Dish: Even picky eaters love the satisfying crunch.
- Uses Less Oil: Light olive oil coating is all you need!
❓ What is Tenderstem Broccoli?
Tenderstem broccoli, also known as broccolini, is an amazing hybrid vegetable combining the best aspects of broccoli and Chinese broccoli (source).
It has tender florets and longer stems and packs all the same nutritional value as broccoli! (source)
With its thin, edible stalks and petite, delicate florets, tenderstem broccoli offers a sweeter, milder, and more nutty flavor than regular broccoli.
It is an easy, tasty, and highly nutritious vegetable side dish!
This easy air fryer broccoli recipe or air fryer broccolini recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients you likely already have on hand:
- Tenderstem Broccoli: Tenderstem broccoli is a variety of broccoli with thin, edible stalks and petite tender florets. It has a mild, sweet, almost nutty flavor. Look for it at well-stocked grocery stores and farmers' markets. Regular broccoli florets can also be substituted.
- Olive Oil: The oil lightly coats the broccoli to help it achieve a crispy, crunchy texture. Use an olive oil with a high smoke point for best results.
- Garlic Powder: Garlic powder adds a savory flavor without overpowering the broccoli. It pairs perfectly with the vegetable's flavors.
- Onion Powder: Much like garlic powder, onion powder provides an underlying note of flavor that complements the other seasonings.
- Salt: A pinch of salt enhances and balances the natural flavors of the broccoli. Kosher or sea salt are great options.
- Pepper: Freshly cracked black pepper gives a touch of heat. Omit for milder broccoli, or add more for extra heat.
See the recipe card for precise quantities and instructions.
✔️ Ingredient Substitutions
- Broccoli: Instead of tenderstem, regular broccoli crowns or broccolini can be used. Cut crowns into florets and halve any thick stems.
- Oil: If you don't have olive oil, avocado oil and vegetable oil also work well. Coconut oil can be used too, but may impart flavor.
- Seasonings: Replace garlic and onion powder with 2 cloves minced garlic, ¼ teaspoon onion powder, or ½ teaspoon of garlic salt.
- Salt: Instead of regular salt, try garlic salt, celery salt or lemon pepper seasoning. Or omit for unsalted broccoli.
- Pepper: Substitute red pepper flakes, cayenne, paprika or lemon pepper for the black pepper.
📖 How to Make Broccoli Tenderstem in Air Fryer
Cooking tenderstem broccoli in the air fryer is so easy. Just follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Prepare the Broccoli Tenderstems - To start, rinse and prep the broccoli:
- Rinse the broccoli under cold water to wash away any dirt or debris. Shake off excess water.
- Trim off any dried-out ends from the broccoli stems using a sharp knife.
Next, halve any large stems lengthwise for even cooking:
- Split any particularly wide or thick stems in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. This allows them to cook at the same rate as thinner stems.
Step 2: Season the Broccoli Tenderstem: Now, toss the broccoli with oil and seasonings:
- Place the trimmed broccoli into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the 2 tablespoon olive oil over the broccoli.
- Sprinkle the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper over the top.
- Use your hands or tongs to toss the broccoli until it's evenly coated in oil and seasonings.
Step 3: Add to Air Fryer - Arrange the broccoli in the air fryer basket:
- Transfer the coated broccoli to the air fryer basket, spreading in an even single layer without overcrowding.
- Work in batches if needed to give the broccoli room to crisp up.
Step 4: Air Fry - Finally, air fry the broccoli:
- Air fry at 356°F (180°C) for 6-10 minutes, gently shaking halfway through cooking.
- Cook until the stems become fork-tender and the florets develop caramelized crispy edges and crunchy stems.
- For extra crunch, cook 1-2 minutes longer. The broccoli is done when lightly charred in spots.
Step 5: Cool and Serve - Allow to cool slightly before serving the crunchy broccoli. Enjoy on its own or as a side.
The basic air fryer tenderstem broccoli recipe is delicious, but you can customize it to your taste with different flavors:
- Toss broccoli with minced fresh garlic, lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes, or chili flakes before air frying.
- Top with grated Parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs, or sesame seeds before cooking.
- Whisk up a tangy balsamic dressing with balsamic vinegar, mustard, and oil to drizzle over.
- Toss cooked broccoli with soy sauce, teriyaki, or rice vinegar for Asian flair.
- Serve as a healthy, crunchy snack with hummus, salsa, ranch, or other dips.
- Add air-fried broccoli to pasta, pizza, salads, rice bowls, and more.
- Coat in buffalo wing sauce post-cooking and serve as a tasty appetizer!
The possibilities are endless with this versatile vegetable!
🧂What to serve with Air Fryer Tenderstem Broccoli
This versatile vegetable pairs well with all types of meals and dishes:
- Pasta: Broccoli is amazing in pasta primavera, Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, spaghetti, pesto noodles, and more.
- Grains: Serve as a side to some Instant Pot Basmati Rice, quinoa, farro, barley, etc.
- Protein: Complements chicken, beef, fish, tofu and more. It is the perfect easy side dish for Air Fryer Cube Steak and Air Fryer Boneless Chicken Thighs.
- Pizza: Makes a healthy and tasty veggie pizza topping. Try adding it to my easy Air Fryer Tortilla Pizza!
- Sandwiches: Gives great crunch to paninis, burgers, subs and more!
- Salads: Add some broccoli for a nutritious crunch. Chop into smaller pieces for easier mixing of the salad.
- Snacking: Enjoy on its own or with dips like hummus, salsa, or ranch.
- Roasts and Bakes: A perfect pairing with red meat, poultry, and fish.
However you choose to serve it, air fryer tenderstem broccoli makes for an easy, quick, healthy, and delicious side or snack option. Its versatility and flavor make it welcome at any meal.
This air fryer tenderstem broccoli is so simple to make, yet tastes just delicious. The best thing is that they cook entirely in the air fryer, so you don't have to use your oven or any other appliances.
I used two popular air fryers to test this recipe:
- Instant Vortex Plus 6-Quart Air Fryer Oven. This air fryer has a useful viewing window that allows you to monitor the food as it cooks. This model always cooks food a bit quicker than my Cosori model, so adjust the cooking time as needed. This model is also great as it does the preheating for you and tells you when to turn over the food.
- Cosori Max XL Large Cooker. It has a capacity of 5.8 quarts, which is quite large, so you can make large batches of broccoli tenderstem in the air fryer! The basket is slightly smaller than my Instant Pot model but has very good hot air circulation.
Large Mixing Bowl: You will also need a large mixing bowl to make mixing the broccoli tenderstems with the oil and seasonings easy.
Leftover air-fried broccoli tenderstems will keep well for 3-4 days when stored properly in the refrigerator. Here are some tips for storing it to maintain freshness and texture:
- Let the cooked tenderstem broccoli cool completely before storing it. Transfer it to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.
- Press out any excess air before sealing the container. This prevents moisture loss.
- Store the broccoli in the coldest part of the fridge, usually the bottom shelf or crisper drawer. The cold environment keeps it fresher longer.
- If storing for more than 2-3 days, consider placing a dry paper towel in with the broccoli to soak up condensation.
- Avoid overcrowding the container, as this speeds up deterioration. Give the broccoli room.
- When reheating leftover broccoli, use the microwave or conventional oven. Air frying again can dry it out.
Proper storage techniques allow you to enjoy crisp, delicious air-fried broccoli for several days after cooking. The tenderstem broccoli holds up well compared to broccoli florets!
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about this air fryer broccoli recipe:
Splitting thicker stems in half lengthwise helps them cook evenly with thinner stems and florets.
It's ready when stems are fork-tender but still have a bit of crunch, and florets are crispy.
Yes, regular broccoli florets will work well. They may cook slightly faster, so monitor them to avoid burning.
Tossing ensures even coating, but spraying with 1-2 tablespoon oil works too.
Absolutely! Get creative with herbs, spices, lemon, Parmesan, chili flakes, etc.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Gently reheat before serving again.
👨🏻🍳 Top tips
- Check and shake the air fryer basket halfway during the cooking time for even browning.
- Lightly coat the basket with olive oil spray prior for added crispiness if desired.
- Adjust cook times based on the thickness of the tenderstem broccoli stems. Thicker stems take longer.
- Halve thick stems lengthwise before cooking for even cooking with thinner stems.
- Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten up the flavors.
- Toss in minced garlic, chili flakes, lemon zest, or other ingredients for extra flavor.
- Cooking times may vary slightly based on the make and model of air fryer used.
📒 Recipe Card
Air Fryer Tenderstem Broccoli
- 1 pound tenderstem broccoli or broccolini
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- Wash and trim the ends off the broccoli if needed. Cut any large stems in half lengthwise.1 pound tenderstem broccoli or broccolini
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the broccoli with the olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper until evenly coated.2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper
- Arrange the broccoli in a single layer in the air fryer basket.
- Air fry at 356°F (180°C) for 6-10 minutes, shaking halfway through, until the broccoli is tender but still crisp.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
This recipe was tested with these air fryers: