What is Broccolini?

There's more to it than what you see; Broccolini is not just baby broccoli. This lanky vegetable is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli. Broccolini has small florets, long stalks and a few small leaves, and every part is edible.


A Japanese firm called the Sakata Seed Company developed Broccolini in the 90's and initially called it “Aspabroc."

According to this Washington Post article, a team made up of plant breeders and experts in seed production, product development and marketing were brainstorming how the company, one of the world's leading suppliers of broccoli seed, could expand that market even further.

Since broccoli grows best in cool environments, the team wanted a way to extend its season. The answer? create a new vegetable

So at the company's research facilities in Japan, the plant breeders set the plan to motion. They use hand pollination, which took them about seven years to "get a decent hybrid."

Hand pollination is different than genetic engineering: while genetic engineering enables scientists to pick the traits they want right away, with hand pollination, they must recross plants over and over again until they get the desired result.

Then, seeds were sent to California for more research, until in 1996 when samples began to be offered at supermarkets. And after some more years of trial and error, this new vegetable became broccolini. Voilà.


Compared to the somewhat bitter flavor of regular broccoli, the taste of broccolini is more mild, with a sweet, earthy taste. While it can be eaten raw (if you insist), broccolini tastes best when cooked - sautéed, steamed, roasted or grilled.

Health Benefits

Broccolini is not only generally agreed to be sweeter in taste than your regular broccoli, it's also a healthy option for your body. It's a good source of vitamin A, folate, iron and potassium. It's an excellent source of vitamin C (over 100 percent per serving!) and provides 35 calories per 3 oz. serving, which is around 5 to 6 stalks.


Try this sautéed broccolini recipe or this one for roasted broccolini with lemon and garlic. Explore different dishes!

Go try some!

The next time someone asks, "what is broccolini?", you'll know what to say. Now that you know what broccolini is, you have to try some if you haven't already.