How to Braise Vegetables

This is a great technique that works well with all sorts of vegetables, especially those that don’t have a lot of moisture content. The vegetables benefit both from the magic of browning and steaming.

This past week, I’ve tried this technique using broccoli, parsnips and celery. It all turned out great. You could also try it with carrots, whole endive, leeks, potatoes and/or turnips. To prepare the vegetables, cut them into bite-sized pieces, such as cubes. You don’t want them too small or too big. If you’re using broccoli, separate the stems from the florets.

Start off by heating a small amount of oil or butter over medium-high. You may, at the end of cooking, want to reduce the cooking liquid down to a glaze. In that case, use butter — it will work better.

Add your vegetables and let them brown without disturbing. The secret here is timing, especially if you are cooking many different kinds of vegetables. Firmer, thicker vegetables will take longer to brown than thinner, more delicate ones. Broccoli stems take longer than florets. So don’t add everything at once. Rather, add the ones that need the longest browning time first, let them sit there a couple of minutes without stirring, then add the rest. Once browned on the bottom, stir them around and let them brown some more.

Now, add your cooking liquid, just enough to halfway cover the food. Start with ¼ cup and build from there. For the liquid, chicken broth is going to be a safe and flavorful choice always, but here is another opportunity for experimentation. For example, you might try combining some stock with wine or sherry, or use apple cider for a nice seasonal flavor (toss in some apples, too — why not?). Water is also ok. Season with salt, pepper and whatever else you like. If you want to make a glaze at the end, sprinkle in some sugar at this point.

Now, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and let the vegetables finish cooking until tender. You’ll know they’re tender when you can easily pierce them with a fork. Some people like crunchier vegetables, some people like softer. Cook it until it’s how you like it.

Remove the lid and raise the heat to high. Let the remaining liquid boil away, tossing the vegetables frequently, until you have a thick sauce or a glaze. Got some fresh herbs all minced up? Garnish and serve.

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18 thoughts on “How to Braise Vegetables

  1. Ali 26 April 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Hey. My name is ali and stumbled across your website when looking for a way to braise vegetables. I love this place! I could read all day! The recipes are simple yet delicouse which is helpful for me because im only 13 but I love to make super yummy food. Can’t wait to read more and have a good day.-ali

  2. [...] blanch for salads or crudites; otherwise, braise; substitute broccoli rabe or [...]

  3. Monty 23 April 2011 at 8:16 am

    Ali, keep doing what you love. What you have with your love of cooking is the perfect ingredient to become a great chef! Or perhaps even a food researcher who discovers ways to render vegetation heretofore believed inedible into tasty, nutritious food that can feed the hungry of the world.

  4. Lelia 27 April 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I’ve always wondered what exactly braising was, and how to apply the technique to vegetables. Thanks for this great resource – I’m printing it out right now!

  5. Nick 9 October 2011 at 11:21 am

    Thank you for the tip. To answer your question, “I am most interested in what people are doing to change their world, challenge cultural norms and work toward a better future for everyone.,” what I have done is stop eating meat. This is better for the animals who suffer in factory farms and the ennvironment, and it does very much challenge cultural norms.

  6. Professor Vegetable 3 November 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Great recipe! I am adapting it. And it is working well for me. Thanks for posting!

  7. [...] mentioned above that a blog called Simply Cooking has an excellent post on How to Braise Vegetables. That is the only guide for braising vegetables that worked for me. I used it for this recipe and [...]

  8. Turn Leftovers Into Soup | Simply Cooking 6 November 2011 at 1:33 pm

    [...] did was simmer the cooked vegetables with some stock to cover for about 10-15 minutes. Roasted and braised vegetables seem to work best, but any veggies will do. If the vegetables get too soft and mushy, [...]

  9. Pam 8 July 2012 at 6:17 am

    thanks for your very clear instructions i shall definately be braising veggies today. outside it is cold and wet so great time to experiment, i thought i would try using some dry cider in the sauce, what do you think. reckon it’ll work? pam

  10. Shannon 8 July 2012 at 9:04 am

    Pam, cider should work very well. I have tried that before with good results, especially with root vegs like carrots.

  11. Karen 16 August 2012 at 6:57 pm

    I want to braise some purple cabbage. What other vegetable do you think would be good with it?

  12. Shannon 16 August 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Hmm, maybe red onions.

  13. Lelia 20 August 2012 at 10:24 am

    I’d try parsnips. Perhaps toss in some raisins or currants with the broth/cider, too; they should plump right about the time the veggies are tender!

  14. Ally 12 November 2012 at 4:23 pm

    i am gonna try braising for 1st time on guests! i plan on braising broccoli florets, parsnips, turnips and carrots. what order should i put them in pan with time frames for each? many thanks!

  15. Shannon 12 November 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Ally: The parsnips, turnips and carrots should all take the same time, 20-30 minutes. You’ll have to keep checking them for tenderness. The broccoli will take a lot less, no more than 8-10 minutes. Good luck!

  16. Ally 12 November 2012 at 4:33 pm

    thank you for quick reply. i really appreciate your feedback!

  17. meg 1 May 2013 at 4:52 am

    i love this braisng technique thank u

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