Broccolini vs Broccoli: 5 Key Differences

Written by August Buck
Published: July 29, 2022
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Also known as baby broccoli, there are a number of differences between broccolini vs. broccoli. In fact, broccolini is not actually a young version of broccoli. It is indeed its own distinct species and variety of the broccoli plant, but in what ways are these plants similar to one another, and in what ways are they different?

In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about broccolini and broccoli so that you can learn all of the differences between these two vegetables. We will address their physical descriptions, their culinary uses, their nutritional value to you as a consumer, and finally their plant care so that you can grow them in your own backyard. Let’s get started and learn all about these strikingly similar vegetables now! 

Comparing Broccolini vs Broccoli

Broccolini vs Broccoli
The primary difference between these two vegetables is the fact that the stocks or stems on broccolini are much thinner compared to the thick stocks of the average piece of broccoli. 

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BroccoliniBroccoli
ClassificationBrassica oleracea var. botrytisBrassica oleracea var. italica
DescriptionThin stalks with small florets atop and delicate yellow flowers. Much more delicate in appearance and flavor, often considered sweet and mild compared to broccoli. Leaves are slender and also edible, and broccolini is great when eaten raw or sauteedTreelike vegetables forming fluffy green heads atop thick, lighter green stalks. Mild and peppery taste, with a nice crunch when eaten raw. Has leaves on the stem, also edible
UsesLesser known culinary vegetable prized for its delicate texture and flavor. Perfect when sauteed, eaten raw, or roasted, and makes a nice side dish.Great culinary vegetable for all ages. Ideally eaten steamed, raw, roasted, or grilled. A popular soup addition as well.
Nutrition InfoFull of Vitamin A and calcium; less carbs and protein compared to broccoliPacked with carbohydrates, zinc, and calcium; more calories compared to broccolini 
Hardiness Zones and Care2-10; give plenty of water, sunlight and food. Harvest the stems multiple times in a growing season!2-11; plant in well-draining soil and full sunlight. Be sure to feed often and thin the young plants!

Key Differences Between Broccolini vs Broccoli

Broccolini vs Broccoli
Broccolini has much more Vitamin A compared to broccoli, though broccoli is eaten more often compared to broccolini.

©iStock.com/sommail

There are a number of key differences between broccolini and broccoli. For example, broccoli has a much thicker stem compared to the delicate stem of broccolini. The taste of broccolini is slightly sweeter and less bitter compared to the taste of broccoli. Finally, broccolini has much more Vitamin A compared to broccoli, though broccoli is eaten more often compared to broccolini. 

Let’s go over all of these differences in more detail now. 

Broccolini vs Broccoli: Classification

It’s likely not a surprise to you that broccolini and broccoli are from the same plant family. In fact, they are directly related to one another, and broccolini is technically descended from traditional broccoli. You may not have known this, but broccolini was created by crossing the traditional broccoli with Chinese broccoli, lending to a sweeter and delicate vegetable! 

Broccolini vs Broccoli: Description

Broccolini vs Broccoli
The taste of broccolini is slightly sweeter and less bitter compared to the taste of broccoli.

©Valery121283/Shutterstock.com

There’s a reason why many people confuse broccolini and broccoli for each other: their physical descriptions are strikingly similar to one another. However, there are a few key things to pay attention to so that you can know the difference between broccoli and broccolini. The primary difference between these two vegetables is the fact that the stocks or stems on broccolini are much thinner compared to the thick stocks of the average piece of broccoli. 

In addition to broccolini’s slender appearance, it also frequently has long and slender leaves attached to it, wild broccoli has wider leaves overall. These vegetables are the same color, but broccolini is often harvested with small yellow flowers in the florets, which broccoli does not have. Finally, the taste of broccolini is sweeter and more mild compared to the peppery taste of broccoli. 

Broccolini vs Broccoli: Uses

Broccolini vs Broccoli
The popularity of broccoli and the fact that it is readily available in just about every grocery store makes it more regularly consumed compared to broccolini.

©iStock.com/bhofack2

When it comes to their uses, broccolini and broccoli can be used interchangeably. However, the popularity of broccoli and the fact that it is readily available in just about every grocery store makes it more regularly consumed compared to broccolini. When it comes to cooking, broccoli is popular in soups, roasted, and steamed, while broccolini is served as a side dish or used in sautes more often than not. 

More research needs to be done before confirming or denying this particular study, but one study suggests that broccolini is useful in fighting certain cancer cells in humans, while broccoli has not been studied for this particular health benefit. It just goes to show you that eating your vegetables can go a long way! 

Broccolini vs Broccoli: Nutrition Information

While they may seem strikingly similar to one another, there are some nutritional differences between broccolini and broccoli. For example, broccoli is full of carbohydrates, zinc, and calcium, while broccolini has strikingly more vitamin A compared to the average piece of broccoli. In addition to this, broccolini has fewer grams of protein per serving, but broccoli has more calories per serving. 

Broccolini vs Broccoli: Hardiness Zones and Care

Broccolini vs Broccoli
Broccoli is full of carbohydrates, zinc, and calcium, while broccolini has strikingly more vitamin A compared to the average piece of broccoli.

©MarinaVarnava/Shutterstock.com

If you are interested in growing broccolini or broccoli in your own backyard garden, there are a few things to note about their care and preferred growing locations. For example, broccolini grows best in zones 2 through 10, while broccoli is a bit more hearty, growing in zones 2 through 11. While this is a subtle difference, you may have more luck growing broccoli in your location over broccolini. 

Both of these crops enjoy full sunlight exposure and well-drained soil. Water frequently for best results, and both broccolini and broccoli enjoy being fed regularly, especially during the growing season. Something interesting to note about these vegetables is the fact that you may get lucky enough to harvest multiple stalks of broccolini from a single plant in a growing season, while broccoli grows a single head and is done for the season. 


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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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