Does Broccoli Go Bad? How Long Does Broccoli Last?

Broccoli is a nutritious vegetable that remains a common ingredient in several meals. It would be easy to buy too much or even forget about some in the fridge. When this occurs, you may wonder if the broccoli will rot?

Quick Answer

Broccoli will go bad. It is a cruciferous vegetable that will expire and no longer be safe for consumption. There are several easy ways to tell once the vegetable has reached this point. The approximate shelf life for broccoli relies on how fresh it was when purchased, and how it is prepared and stored. Broccoli can last anywhere from 2 days to 1 year depending on these factors.


There is no exact answer to how long broccoli will last. Like all vegetables, it will decay at varying rates depending on where and how it is kept.

Does Broccoli Go Bad? How Long Does Broccoli Last?

To best determine how long broccoli will last, the biggest factor to account for is where it is being stored.

How Long Does Broccoli Last Outside?

If kept at room temperature, broccoli will only last upwards to 2 days. Broccoli will rot at a faster rate if left in temperatures higher than 40 degrees. If kept outside in room temperature, bacteria will start to infect the broccoli within hours and grow mold. It is not recommended that anyone keep broccoli in this condition whether it is raw or cooked.

How Long Does Broccoli Last in the Fridge?

When stored in the fridge, broccoli will last approximately 5-7 days. The refrigerator is the best place to store extra broccoli. In this frigid environment, the broccoli will rot at a much slower rate. The fridge will also help the broccoli maintain its taste and nutritional value. Raw broccoli will last a little longer than broccoli that has already been cooked.

How Long Does Broccoli Last in the Freezer?

When stored in the freezer, broccoli can last upwards to a year. If you plan on keeping broccoli longer than a week, you can store it in the freezer. Cooked broccoli can go straight into the freezer and taken out when needed. Raw broccoli must get blanched before storing it in the freezer. To get the best quality out of frozen broccoli, it should be consumed within 5 months.

Where broccoli is stored is crucial in determining how long it will last. The colder the environment is, the longer it will remain edible.

How to Tell if Broccoli Has Gone Bad?

It is easy to tell when broccoli expires. The quality of the broccoli will suffer first. After a certain point, it will no longer be safe to consume.

Discoloration: Fresh broccoli will be a dark green color. As it begins to rot, the broccoli will start to turn yellow. In some cases, it will still be possible to eat broccoli as it turns yellow. When it turns brown, the broccoli is rotten completely and should be trashed.

Mold: Cooked broccoli may begin to grow white mold. White mold may also grow in the container the broccoli is being kept in. In both cases, once you see white mold it must be thrown out.  Brown or black mold may also form on the broccoli. If the mold is only in a couple of places, you can cut off the infected parts and ingest the rest. If the mold covers most of the broccoli, it should not be consumed.

Odor: Rotten broccoli will begin to smell rancid. It is easy to tell the difference between fresh and expired broccoli by sniffing it.

Texture: Fresh broccoli is firm and stiff. There is a crisp texture to the vegetable. Once it begins to rot, the broccoli will turn limp and mushy. The leaves will begin to wither. Once broccoli gets to this point, it is no longer safe to consume raw.

Once your broccoli exhibits one or more of these signs, it is usually best to throw out the head of broccoli altogether. There are several ways to store broccoli that will delay the rotting process.

How to Store Broccoli?

How you store your broccoli will impact how long it can last. There are several ways to maintain broccoli in the fridge to keep it safe to eat for as long as possible.

Store Broccoli Raw: The best way to keep broccoli fresh is to not cook it until you are ready to use it. Raw broccoli will rot at a slower rate than cooked broccoli.

Keep the Head of Broccoli Intact: Cut broccoli will rot faster than uncut broccoli. Storing the broccoli whole will help maintain its freshness longer.

Do Not Wash the Broccoli: The extra moisture will cause the broccoli to mold at a quicker rate.

Wrap the Broccoli in a Damp Paper Towel: A damp paper towel will keep the broccoli nice and fresh in the fridge. The broccoli will have enough air circulation to stay crisp. Make sure the paper towel is damp and not wet.

Stick Broccoli in a Water Cup: This is an alternative way to keep broccoli fresh. You cut an inch from the stem and place it in a water cup like a bouquet of flowers. Then you put a loose plastic bag over the head. This will help the broccoli maintain its crisp texture.

Wrap the Broccoli in a Plastic Bag: The last method of storing raw broccoli is to wrap it in a plastic bag. Do not wrap it too tight. The broccoli needs air circulation to keep it fresh.

If the Broccoli is Cooked, Put it in a Sealed Container: If broccoli has already been cooked, it does not need air circulation to stay fresh. A sealed container is the best way to delay the rotting process.

These methods of storing broccoli in the fridge will help the vegetable stay fresh. If you want to keep broccoli for longer than a week, you may want to consider freezing it.

Can You Freeze Broccoli? How?

You can freeze broccoli for up to a year. To maintain a good quality for as long as possible, there are proper ways to store it in the freezer.

It is easy to freeze cooked broccoli. All you need to do is keep it in an airtight container.

For raw broccoli, you must follow a series of steps before putting it in the freezer.

Step 1: Cut the Stem & the Florets – The stem is the large, thick section that connects the broccoli. The florets are the separate sections that grow from the stem. Both parts are edible.

Step 2: Blanch the Broccoli – To branch veggies, you need to boil the bits of broccoli for 3-5 minutes in water.

Step 3: Put Broccoli in Ice for 5 Minutes – This will cool down the broccoli so it does not cook.

Step 4: Drain the Water & Remove Excess Moisture – Dry off the broccoli as best as you can. You do not want the broccoli to be wet before putting it in the freezer.

Step 5: Put Veggies in Freezer-Safe Bag/Container – This will help prevent freezer burn. If you have a vacuum sealer, this is the best way to keep broccoli in the freezer to prevent unwanted freezer burn.

Frozen broccoli is best consumed before 5 months but can remain edible for about a year. Once you are ready to finally use the frozen broccoli, it is easy to thaw the vegetables.

How to Thaw Broccoli?

There are several methods for defrosting frozen broccoli. The method that is best for you can be determined by when and how you plan on using it.

Put it In the Fridge: Frozen broccoli can thaw in the refrigerator. The vegetables will be ready to consume after 10-12 hours. This option is best if you plan on using the broccoli the next day.

Put it In the Microwave: On a microwave-safe dish, broccoli can defrost in the microwave. This is the best option if you need the broccoli thawed right away.

Steam It On A Pan: Broccoli can defrost on a stove. Once put on a pan (Non-Stick Pan is ideal) the heat will defrost the broccoli. Water can be added to avoid burning the broccoli if needed.

Just Cook It: If the broccoli is being used in a meal that still needs to cook, like a soup or a stir-fry, you can mix the frozen broccoli into the dish as-is. The broccoli will thaw on its own without needing to defrost it beforehand.

Frequently Asked Questions About Broccoli’s Shelf Life

Broccoli does not have an ‘expiration’ or ‘best-buy’ date when you buy it from the grocery store or pick it out of a garden. As a result, there are a lot of questions that come up regarding how long it will last and how to best store the vegetable so you get the most use out of it. Some of the most common questions are answered below.

Does Broccoli Have to Be Refrigerated? Broccoli does not need to be kept in the refrigerator, but it is the most ideal way to keep broccoli fresh and crispy. Broccoli can also be kept in the freezer if someone needs to store it for longer than a week. It is not recommended that broccoli be kept at room temperature or in a pantry because humidity will make it rot at a fast rate.

Can You Eat Yellow Broccoli? You can eat yellow broccoli, but yellow does indicate

that the broccoli has begun to rot. Yellow broccoli may taste more sour than fresh, green broccoli would. If there are other issues with the yellowed broccoli such as a bad odor, mold, or a soggy, limp texture, the broccoli should be thrown out and not consumed.

Is it Safe to Eat Broccoli Left Out Overnight? You can eat broccoli that was left out overnight without any negative consequences. About two days after broccoli is left out, it will begin to expire at a fast rate. To take out the guesswork, it is best to store broccoli in the fridge and consume it as fast as possible to ensure good quality and taste.

Wrap Up

Broccoli is a beneficial and frequently used vegetable that is best consumed within 5-7 days after purchasing it. Storing the broccoli in the refrigerator is the best way to maintain its quality, but it can be kept longer in the freezer if necessary. Proper storage and care for your broccoli will help keep the vegetable healthy and safe to eat.

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