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Sauteed broccolini with citrus vinaigrette

Sauteed broccolini is one of my favorite vegetables. This version, tossed in a warm citrus vinaigrette and dusted with red pepper flakes is my vegetable side of choice these days. It has a mild, sweet taste, and takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish. This sautéed broccolini is perfect for mid-week dinners when you are searching the fridge for a side dish.

I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.

You may also be interested in my white beans and arugula and my sautéed Bok choy with gochujang recipes. For ease of browsing, you can find all of my side dish recipes in one place.

Broccolini with citrus in white bowl with citrus in the background.

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Why you should make this recipe

We are all trying to get more green vegetables into our diet and this is a really tasty way to do it.

  • Quick and easy – Ready in under 15 minutes, this sauteed broccolini is blanched, then tossed in a warm citrus vinaigrette.
  • Short ingredient list – Broccolini, citrus, olive oil, mustard, salt & red pepper flakes. That’s all you’ll need to make this easy side.
  • Versatile – Try this with different vegetables, fish or chicken! The vinaigrette is also delicious on green salads and grain salads.

Sauteed Broccolini with Citrus Vinaigrette

Sometimes, sides seem to be a bigger challenge than the entree. That’s why I end up doing a stir fry at least once a month.

Recently, I’ve gotten requests from readers for more sides. So, I set out to come up with a few. I think this one is absolutely delicious.

Broccolini with slices of orange in a white bowl with vinaigrette in the background.

Because I like a little spice, I sprinkled a pinch of crushed red pepper on the sautéed broccolini. If you don’t, leave it off. I think it works really well with the bright citrusy vinaigrette. It isn’t super spicy, it’s more of a tingle.

It gives the veggies a bit of pizzazz. If you can’t find broccolini in your market, you can substitute baby broccoli, regular broccoli, or broccoli rabe and it will be divine. If you don’t see it, ask the produce manager, because it isn’t always out.


The ingredient list for this sautéed broccolini dish is short, and that is part of what makes this perfect for busier nights.

Ingredients for vegetables with citrus vinaigrette on white background.
  • Broccolini – Small florets atop a thin stalk. Broccolini has a slightly sweet and mild taste.
    • Substitutions: If you can’t find broccolini, baby broccoli or regular broccoli are great swaps.
  • Citrus – I used a combination of orange, blood orange and lemon. You can use whatever you have on hand, or whatever you prefer.
  • Olive oil – I like a buttery olive oil here, but use what you have in the pantry.
  • Mustard – Whole grain mustard is what we’re using in the citrus vinaigrette.
  • Salt and red pepper flakes – We’re keeping the spices simple here, just a pinch of salt and a little heat.

How to make

Here’s a quick summary of how to make sauteed broccolini. Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe. 

Juicing a blood orange into a clear glass bowl.
  1. Prep – Set a large pot of water to boil on the stove. While it’s coming up to a boil, trim the ends from the broccolini, then set aside.
  2. Zest and juice – Zest and juice your citrus fruits, then set aside.
  3. Blanch – Toss the broccolini into the boiling water for 2 minutes, then remove.
  4. Sauté – Make the vinaigrette in a sauté pan, then add the warm broccolini and toss to combine.
Citrus juice in glass jar for vinaigrette against white background.

Sauteed broccolini FAQ’s

What’s the difference between broccoli, broccolini and broccoli rabe?

While they are similar, and are all cruciferous vegetables, they all taste different. Broccoli is neither sweet, nor bitter. Broccolini is sweeter and milder than broccoli, and broccoli rabe is bitter.

Is broccolini the same as baby broccoli?

No, it isn’t, but it’s close. Some people refer to broccolini as “baby broccoli”. Broccolini is actually a hybrid vegetable; it’s a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli (gai lan). 

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes! To make it ahead of time: blanch the broccolini, then chill in an ice bath and drain. Make the vinaigrette and store separately. Warm in a sauté pan and toss with citrus vinaigrette to reheat before serving.

Broccolini on rack set inside sheet pan.

Variations and substitutions

Whatever you can get your hands on, it’s worth making. Whether it is broccolini, broccoli, broccoli rabe or Chinese broccoli. It’s a fast, easy and delicious way to eat your greens.

  • Spicy – Add extra crushed red pepper to kick up the heat.
  • Citrus – Try this vinaigrette with other citrus fruits like limes, grapefruit or pomelo.
Overhead photo on broccolini with citrus vinaigrette in white bowl with citrus fruits in the background.

Serving suggestions

I love this sautéed broccolini as a side to almost anything. I most often serve it with chicken or fish, but you could serve it with any protein.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Citrus zest on sautéed broccolini on a white bowl.

Helpful tools and equipment

  • A microplane zester is the perfect tool for getting the zest from your citrus fruits.
  • My favorite sheet pans that hold a rack inside perfectly.
  • Citrus juicer – If your hands get sore, or you have arthritis, this electric juicer is a must.

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Broccolini with citrus vinaigrette.

Spicy Sauteed Broccolini with Citrus Vinaigrette

Cheryl Bennett
Sauteed broccolini with citrus vinaigrette is a tasty way to eat your greens. Ready in under 15 minutes, it makes a perfect weeknight side dish.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Course Side Dishes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 181 kcal


  • 1 pound broccolini / baby broccoli / broccoli / broccoli rabe
  • Zest and juice of each: 1 orange 1 blood orange and 1 lemon (or a combination of any citrus that you love)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper / red pepper flakes


  • Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Trim the bottoms from the broccolini (an inch or so).
  • When the water is at a full boil, drop broccolini in and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large sauté pan, over medium heat – whisk together the citrus juices, olive oil, crushed red pepper, whole grain mustard, salt, and half of the zest.
  • Toss warm broccolini in the vinaigrette. Transfer to platter or bowl and sprinkle the remaining zest on top. Serve warm.


  • Broccolini can be blanched (cooked in water for 2 minutes) a day ahead if needed. To cook ahead, blanch the broccolini, then plunge into an ice bath. (To make an ice bath – fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.) Let the broccolini sit in the ice bath for one minute, then remove and place on a rack set inside of a sheet pan for the broccolini to drain. *If you put the broccolini away when it's wet, it will get mushy.
  • You can also make the vinaigrette ahead of time, and refrigerate for up to a week.
  • To reheat, gently warm in a skillet, then add vinaigrette before serving. The acid in the citrus will discolor the greens over time.
  • If you can't find broccolini, substitute with baby broccoli or broccoli rabe.


Serving: 1gCalories: 181kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 4gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 254mgFiber: 7gSugar: 16g
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Originally published 4/9/2018. Most recent update 1/29/24.

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