Chinese takeout-style Broccoli with garlic sauce is one of the most highly requested recipes by our readers! Asian broccoli in garlic sauce is a quick and easy side dish with simple ingredients. The dish tastes garlicky, light, and flavorful with a wonderfully crisp texture.

Learn to make perfectly crisp stir fry broccoli without steaming or blanching, so it’s ready in minutes with minimal prep. This affordable everyday side goes well with everything, just like my garlic butter broccoli!

Feature image shows garlic broccoli that is tender and coated with garlic sauce and served in a blue white color plate.
Tender broccoli coated in extra garlicky sauce…so simple and delicious!


I make this garlic broccoli recipe all the time because it’s so simple and delicious. Like my other broccoli stir fry recipes, this dish requires few ingredients that I usually have on hand, yet the flavor and texture are to die for. This is all you need to make broccoli in Chinese garlic sauce.

Photo shows ingredients needed to make broccoli in garlic sauce.
  • Broccoli: I use whole heads or crowns of broccoli that I cut into pieces. I like the texture of fresh-cut broccoli in a stir fry. You can also use pre-cut broccoli for easier prep.
  • Garlic cloves: Using fresh garlic, grated or crushed, yields the best sauce for broccoli!
  • Chicken broth: You can also use vegetable broth to keep this dish vegetarian or vegan.
  • Starch: I use tapioca starch to thicken the garlic sauce for broccoli. You can also make an arrowroot starch, potato starch, or cornstarch slurry (if you tolerate it).
  • Avocado oil: Or substitute with olive oil or another neutral-flavored oil, such as peanut.
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Taki shitake mushroom seasoning: Optional ingredient used as a substitute for MSG to give the sauce mixture an instant umami flavor boost.
  • Toasted sesame oil: A drizzle before serving to give an authentic Chinese takeout flavor.

Tips for selecting fresh broccoli

When choosing fresh broccoli for your garlic broccoli stir fry, here are a few easy tips to remember:

  1. Stem: Look for stems that are firm and have a light pale green or whitish color. Avoid any that have brown, yellow, or mushy spots, as these indicate the broccoli is not fresh.
  2. Crown: The florets should be firm, tight, and vibrant. Soft, limp florets suggest they’ve been soaked and not properly dried, affecting their crispness.
  3. Flowering Buds: Fresh broccoli should not have flowering buds. Similar to selecting Chinese broccoli and Yu choy, buds mean the broccoli was harvested late, leading to a more bitter or fibrous taste.
  4. Pre-Cut Florets: If buying pre-cut, ensure they don’t have brown or brittle stems. Since they’re smaller and softer, they’ll cook quicker, so adjust your cooking time accordingly.

Ingredient substitutions:

Flavor variations

  • Broccoli with brown sauce: Add a dash of soy sauce, tamari, coconut aminos, or vegetarian oyster sauce, like in my Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. Balance with a touch of sugar.
  • Different sauce flavors: Add chili garlic sauce to the stir fry sauce or serve as a dipping sauce on the side. Or mix this aromatic Taiwanese Shacha sauce into the sauce for extra flavor.
  • Spices: Add ground black pepper or white pepper to the sauce or as a garnish for added depth of flavor. Use chili oil or red pepper flakes for spicy Asian broccoli.
  • Chinese cooking wine: Add a splash of Shaoxing wine, mirin, or Taiwanese Michu before thickening the sauce with the slurry for added brightness and authentic Chinese flavor.

How to make broccoli with garlic sauce

This Asian-style broccoli and garlic sauce recipe couldn’t be easier—prep is so minimal, and it’s ready in minutes! Sauteeing the broccoli in broth and crushed garlic yields a simple sauce for broccoli with a huge flavor. No need to blanch, boil, or steam anything in advance!

Person demos slicing and dicing broccoli florets and stems before cooking.
  1. Trim the broccoli. Trim the stems and cut broccoli florets into similar bite-sized pieces so they cook evenly. Rinse, drain, and set aside.
Person demos how to prepare garlic sauce and sauteing the garlic for the broccoli.
  1. Prepare the garlic sauce. Grate or crush the garlic and divide it into two. The first half cup will be used to steam the broccoli and the second will be added to the slurry for the sauce.
  2. Saute aromatics: Saute half the garlic with a pinch of salt and oil in a large saute pan or wok over medium heat for about 10 seconds or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Person demos how to cook garlic broccoli that tastes like Chinese restaurants.
  1. Cook the broccoli: Add the broccoli and saute over medium-high for 1 minute. Pour in ½ cup of the stock, cover the pot with a lid, and lower heat to medium and steam for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the slurry: Stir the slurry mixture in a small bowl and pour it into the pan. Toss until the sauce is slightly thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  3. Transfer and serve: Turn off the heat. Transfer to a large serving plate and drizzle with toasted sesame oil, if using. Serve hot or warm.

Chinese restaurant takeout method

Chinese takeout restaurants have a clever trick to serve up dishes quickly: they blanch the broccoli. This step ensures the Asian stir fry broccoli cooks fast without becoming mushy or staying raw in the middle.

Here’s how they do it:

  • Blanching: Quick-cooking the broccoli so it’s ready in a flash. It prevents overcooking (no mushiness) and undercooking (no raw centers).
  • Saucing: After blanching, the broccoli is tossed in sauce, making the dish ready to serve. The most popular sauces for broccoli are a savory brown sauce or a light white sauce.

In our kitchen twist, we skip blanching for a truly simple broccoli stir fry. Instead, we:

  • Steam with Stock: Cover the broccoli with a bit of chicken stock. This steams the florets gently, keeping them crisp yet cooked, and makes a flavorful yet healthy sauce for broccoli.
  • Thicken the Sauce: After steaming, we thicken the sauce right in the pan, adding flavor and saving time.

For an extra flavor boost, similar to some restaurants:

  • Seasoning: Instead of MSG, try chicken bouillon or Asian-style mushroom seasonings made with shiitake, for that umami kick. You can also try sauteed broccoli with garlic and soy sauce.

How to make ahead, store, and reheat

This broccoli in garlic sauce recipe is so fast, it’s easy to make it as you need it. If you’re meal prepping, you could prep the broccoli crowns ahead of time and cook them when you’re ready. Here’s how to store and reheat leftovers of this stir-fried broccoli Chinese veg side dish.

  • Make-ahead: If using a whole crown of broccoli, you can trim them first to save time.
    • How to trim a whole crown of broccoli: Start by cutting off the florets from the main stem, leaving a little stem attached to each floret for texture.
    • For larger florets, slice them into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Remove the tough outer layer of the main stem and chop the tender inner part to similar sizes for even cooking.
  • Storage: Once cooked, store leftovers of this Asian inspired broccoli in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Reheat: It tastes great cold! Or microwave on medium for 1 minute.

What to serve with Asian garlic broccoli

This Asian broccoli stir fry is a perfect side dish for any meal! Serve this Chinese takeout dish with rice, noodles, and any of your favorite meat and veggie dishes. Here are some of my favorite pairings for this broccoli in garlic sauce:

Tips for success

  • Select Fresh Broccoli: Always start with fresh broccoli. Firm stems and tight, vibrant florets are key indicators of freshness.
  • Use Fresh Garlic: The aroma and flavor of fresh garlic cannot be matched by the pre-minced kind. Crush or grate it yourself for the best taste.
  • Evenly-Sized Pieces: Cut the broccoli into similar sizes for even cooking. This ensures each piece is perfectly tender.
  • Avoid Overcooking: Broccoli should retain a bit of bite. It should be tender yet crisp, not mushy.
  • Sauce Consistency: Don’t let the Chinese garlic sauce reduce too much. Aim for just enough sauce to generously coat each floret, keeping the dish moist and flavorful.
  • Adjust Sauce Thickness: If you prefer a thicker sauce, adding an extra teaspoon of starch will do the trick. Remember to mix it with a little water first to avoid clumps.


How do restaurants make broccoli so good?

Restaurants often blanch broccoli first to ensure it’s cooked quickly and evenly, maintaining a vibrant color and crisp texture. They might also enhance flavor with MSG or special seasonings.

What makes broccoli taste better?

Broccoli tastes better when fresh and properly seasoned. A quick blanching can reduce bitterness, while garlic, salt, umami-rich seasonings, and sauces for broccoli enhance its natural flavors without overcooking.

What is the difference between Chinese broccoli and American broccoli?

Chinese broccoli, or gai lan, has leafy greens and thick stems, with a slightly bitter flavor. American broccoli features tight florets and is milder, focusing more on the flowery head.

What spices can you use with broccoli?

For broccoli, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and black pepper are excellent choices. They add depth, heat, and a burst of flavor to the dish.

More Asian broccoli recipes you might like

If you enjoyed this recipe for stir fried broccoli, you’ll love making these Chinese takeout-inspired dishes with broccoli at home, too!

A side close shot shows perfectly cooked broccoli in garlic sauce takeout style.
Recipe image shows broccoli with garlic sauce Chinese takeout style served in a blue white color plate.
5 from 3 votes

Broccoli with garlic sauce recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: ChihYu Smith
This Broccoli with garlic sauce is a Chinese takeout favorite! Tender broccoli tossed in garlic sauce. Simple ingredients, healthy, and fast!
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  • Trim the broccoli to bite sizes. For larger florets, halve or quarter them. For stems, remove the outer tough part and dice to bite sizes. Keep them in similar size so they cook evenly. Rinse and set aside to drain well.
  • Prepare the garlic. Set aside 2 bowls or measuring cups. Measure out 1 bowl with ½ cup stock for steaming and the other bowl with the remaining ½ cup stock mixed with starch to make a slurry to thicken the sauce.
  • In a large saute pan, preheat it over medium heat until it feels warm. Add the oil, garlic, and a small pinch of salt. Quickly stir and statue until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Take care not to burn the garlic.
  • Add the broccoli and turn heat up to medium-high. Keep tossing and stir frying for 1 minute, then pour in ½ cup of the stock. Immediately cover the pot with a lid and lower heat to medium to steam for 2 minutes.
  • After steaming, the broccoli should be tender but still crisp and with some crunch. The color should be bright green. Stir the slurry mixture again before pouring it into the pan. Keep stirring and tossing until the sauce is slightly thickened but still quite moist and not overly reduced, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Taste and adjust. Season with more salt and mushroom seasoning, if using.
  • Turn off the heat. Transfer to a large serving plate and drizzle with toasted sesame oil, if using. Serve hot or warm.


  • Cut the florets and the stems to similar sizes so they cook evenly. For larger florets, halve or quarter them.
  • Chicken stock has different salty levels. You can always season with more salt to taste after the dish is done.
  • You can also use chicken bouillon or mushroom seasoning to replace salt. It’ll add more umami flavor and tastes more similar to takeout restaurants.
  • Garlic is an important part of this dish. Use fresh garlic cloves and grate them yourself.
  • Flavor – this dish tastes garlicky, light, crisp, flavorful. A great side dish that will go well with many things and is suitable all year round.
  • To reheat – it tastes great cold. Or microwave on medium for 1 minute.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 96kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 432mg, Potassium: 376mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 664IU, Vitamin C: 97mg, Calcium: 65mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American Chinese
Keyword: Broccoli with garlic sauce, Garlic broccoli
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