Eat Empowered, Healthy Eating Tips

Broccoli Basics: Do You Know the Difference Between These Nutritious Veggies?


Sometimes, you just gotta review your broccoli basics.

Broccoli, Broccoli Rabe, Broccolini: They’ve all got nearly the same name and yet are totally different plants. (Can we file a complaint with whoever is in charge of naming vegetables?)

And while all of them are stellar additions to a healthy diet, there are differences you should know about—especially in terms of the best ways to use each of them in the kitchen.

Brush up on your broccoli-world facts, below, and find out which of the group is our fave.

Broccoli Basics: Broccoli vs. Broccoli Rabe vs. Broccolini


The most familiar of the group, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that’s closely related to cabbage and kale. Technically the stalks are edible, but most people only eat the florets (i.e. the tops that look like trees). While we love it in stir-frys or simply sauteed with olive oil and garlic, broccoli’s got a very distinct flavor and intense, crunchy texture that makes it slightly less versatile than other veggies. (Hence its reputation among children everywhere as the example of vegetable yuck-factor.)

In the nutrition department, broccoli shines. It’s high in fiber and a long list of vitamins and minerals, and also contains more protein than most other vegetables.


Broccoli Rabe

Also known as rapini (you might see it called that on the menu at an Italian restaurant) and sometimes spelled “raab,” broccoli rabe is from a different family altogether. It’s most closely related to the turnip, and in cooking, it helps to think of it the way you’d think of turnip or mustard greens. Its leafy greens have an earthy, nutty flavor, and you can eat nearly the whole plant, so there’s less food waste.

The best part: broccoli rabe is incredibly versatile in the kitchen. You can use it in hummus or soup, put it in a quesadilla, or even blend it into an energy-boosting smoothie.

It’s also a nutrition superstar. Eating broccoli rabe will satisfy over 50 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C and vitamin A. It also delivers iron (and vitamin C helps with absorption), plus vitamin K, which is important for bone strength.

Can you tell we’re fans?


Broccolini kind of looks like baby broccoli, but it’s actually a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli (another broccoli-esque veg we’re not even going to get into!). It has a more mild, sweeter flavor than both broccoli and broccoli rabe. Compared to broccoli, it’s smaller and softer, so kids might notice less if you throw it into a dish.

Broccolini provides vitamin A and C (although not as much as broccoli or broccoli rabe) and iron and calcium.

Congrats! You’re now an expert in broccoli terminology, and grabbing the veggies you want at the supermarket just got a tiny bit easier.

This blog was created in partnership with Andy Boy.

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