Broccoli pasta is a creamy and delicious pasta dish you can make with 6 simple ingredients and in about 20 minutes for weeknight dinners.
We'll teach you how to make the creamiest broccoli sauce with minimal effort and turn it into a beautiful dish of pasta with broccoli.
Check out our best pasta recipe collection!
Pasta with broccoli is one of the tastiest, easiest, and creamiest pasta dishes you can make in under 20 minutes with six simple ingredients.
It's almost like broccoli was made for this dish, and its flavor and texture couple perfectly with pasta cooked al dente.
For this broccoli pasta recipe, we take inspiration from Italian cuisine. This dish is a staple in Italy, especially in the south, and you'll soon understand why!
To make it, we boil the broccoli for just 5 minutes, drain them, and add them to a pan with extra virgin olive oil, grated garlic, and red pepper flakes. Then, we cook them in the skillet until they become soft and creamy, almost like pesto.
In the meantime, we cook the pasta in broccoli water to infuse it with flavor. Then, finally, we toss it in the broccoli pasta sauce, and that's it!
Optionally you can add parmesan cheese or not. The recipe will be delicious either way.
A few dishes are as simple, tasty, quick, and healthy as this broccoli pasta. Let us know what you think!
Use fresh broccoli for best results, although you can also use frozen ones if you have those in your freezer.
We use the broccoli florets and the leaves, too, if some are attached to the broccoli head. We save the larger stems for our broccoli soup.
Use extra virgin olive oil for the best taste. Compared to regular olive oil, extra virgin is fruitier, nuttier, and more flavorful in general. It also contains a greater amount of antioxidants that make it that much healthier than most other oils.
Fresh garlic is your only option here. Its sharp flavor is a perfect match with mellow creamy broccoli. Our tip is to grate it with a zester or small holes of a box grater so that it dissolves in the sauce.
Red pepper flakes
Pasta with broccoli shouldn't be very spicy, but a pinch or two of red pepper flakes help make this dish even tastier.
Salt and pepper
We use coarse sea salt to season the pasta water, fine sea salt or kosher salt for the broccoli sauce, and a generous grind of black pepper.
We recommend a short pasta type here, such as orecchiette, farfalle, fusilli, conchiglie, penne, rotini, rigatoni, penner, etc.
Whatever pasta you use, what's important is to cook it al dente, with a slight bite to it.
Grated parmesan cheese or a dairy-free alternative is optional. With the cheese, the pasta will be a little tastier; however, without the cheese, this broccoli pasta is still absolutely delicious.
The original Italian recipe is without parmesan cheese.
Step 1: Make the broccoli sauce
Cut the broccoli into small florets and boil them in a large pot of salted water for 5 minutes, until fork tender but not fully cooked.
Tip: we recommend cooking the broccoli (and the pasta) in 1 gallon (4 liters) of water seasoned with 1 ½ ( 30 grams) tablespoons of coarse sea salt or 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of fine sea salt.
Take them out of the water with a slotted spoon (do not discard the water) and add them into a large skillet or dutch oven with extra virgin olive oil, grated garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.
Add a ladleful of the reserved cooking water, then simmer the broccoli on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until soft. Now, mash them with a fork to make a broccoli sauce.
Tip: you can reserve a few florets for garnishing the pasta.
Step 2: Cook and toss the pasta
While the broccoli sauce simmers, cook the pasta in the same large pot of water where you cooked the broccoli; it will infuse the pasta with extra flavor.
Cook as per package instructions minus 1.5 minutes to keep the pasta very al dente.
Reserve one cup of pasta water before draining the pasta. Add the pasta to the broccoli sauce. Then, add one ladleful of reserved pasta water and the black pepper.
Finish cooking the pasta on medium heat for less than a minute while stirring and mixing it with the sauce. Add more reserved pasta water if necessary.
You can add grated parmesan cheese or its dairy-free alternative if you like.
Broccoli pasta is ready when the sauce is creamy and perfectly coats every pasta piece.
Serve on a plate or in a pasta bowl and garnish with the reserved broccoli florets, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and, optionally, a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese (or dairy-free alternative).
Some recipes suggest adding a squeeze of lemon juice and grated lemon zest on top. Feel free to do so if you like to add a fresh, zesty, and citrusy flavor.
If you serve this dish as a main meal, like we usually do, then we recommend pairing it with something with protein. We have some plant-based, protein-rich meals for you:
- Easy chickpea salad
- Delicious tofu with mushroom recipe
- Tofu with pizzaiola sauce
- Lemon tofu (Italian-inspired)
- Mediterranean-inspired cauliflower and lentil salad
- Easy fried tofu cubes (you can toss them in with the pasta)
- Quick air-fryer tofu cubes (you can toss them in with the pasta)
- Marinated tofu
As with most pasta recipes, this broccoli pasta is at its best if you eat it right off the skillet soon after making it.
To store the leftovers, let the pasta cool down completely first, then transfer it into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reheat in the microwave adding two tablespoons of water (the pasta with dry up in the fridge), or on a pan with a drizzle of olive oil.
We don't recommend freezing this recipe.
More pasta recipes
Are you looking for more ideas for delicious pasta recipes? Check out our:
- Incredible lentil bolognese
- Our best vegan mushroom pasta
- Creamy butternut squash pasta
- Roasted red pepper pasta
- Garlic and oil cauliflower pasta
- Simple spaghetti pomodoro with fresh basil
- Eggplant pasta (Italian pasta alla Norma)
- Pasta with marinara sauce
For many more pasta ideas, check out our pasta category page.
- 1 pound broccoli (about 1 large head or 2 small ones)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 12 ounces pasta orecchiette, rigatoni, fusilli, or other short pasta
- 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated, or dairy-free alternative (optional)
- Cut broccoli into small florets and boil them in a large pot of salted water for 5 minutes.
- Take them out of the water with a slotted spoon (do not discard the water) and add them into a large skillet with extra virgin olive oil, grated garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.
- Add a ladleful of the reserved cooking water and simmer the broccoli on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until soft. Mash them with a fork to make a broccoli sauce.Tip: you can reserve a few florets for garnishing the pasta.
- While the broccoli sauce simmers, cook the pasta in the same water where you cooked the broccoli.Cook as per package instructions minus 1½ minutes.
- Reserve one cup of pasta water, drain the pasta, and add it to the broccoli sauce. Add one ladleful of reserved pasta water and the black pepper.
- Finish cooking the pasta on medium heat for less than a minute while stirring and mixing it with the sauce. Add more reserved pasta water if necessary. You can add grated parmesan cheese or its dairy-free alternative if you like.
- Garnish with the reserved broccoli florets, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and, optionally, a sprinkle of cheese.
My dear Mother made this on Friday nights during lent (we couldn’t eat meat then). She was from Sicily & a fantastic cook (mostly vegetarian). Her Papa was a vegetable farmer. This dish is hearty, warming, filling, & DELICIOUS. Now 4 out of 6 of us are vegetarian or vegan. Italian girls learn young how to make good & healthy food. It can also be served room temperature. I used bow ties. Enjoy
I'm so delighted you were able to enjoy this pasta as a family!
Thank you so much for the serving tips and for taking the time to leave a comment.
Amazing dish and so easy to make, I decided to lighten up the dish and not add the cheese, honestly I felt it was perfect without but I can imagine amazing with the cheese. I will be trying another recipe from this site soon!
Délicieux, facile à faire et économique !
Salut Arthémisia, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment, I'm delighted you found the pasta tasty and easy to make! Merci beaucoup, Nico
OMG - this was absolutely delicious! I loved that it was minimum ingredients- I unfortunately didn’t have any cheese so I used nutritional yeast and it was still really good!! Thanks so much for this easy recipe- so happy to have found you on Pinterest!! Keep it up!
Hi Milizza, thank you for your kind comment, I'm really happy you like the pasta, good idea to add nutritional yeast. You're very welcome, it's our pleasure - enjoy your weekend! Kindest, Louise
Absolutely delicious. Loved this recipe. Will be making it often. Wonderful flavors that blend so well. Thank you. Also fun to make.
I'm so happy you liked it, Louis!! Thanks for leaving a comment, and have a great day! Cheers, Nico