Garlicky Butter Bath Will Wake up Your Weeknight Side Dish Game

March 4, 2021 Updated: March 4, 2021

Broccoli and cauliflower are two of my go-to vegetables for dinner sides—my whole family loves them. But as the family cook, I quickly get bored with our bi-weekly rotation of roasted broccoli or mashed cauliflower. Boiling these two cruciferous vegetables in a garlicky butter bath is my No. 1 way to love and appreciate them.

I was first introduced to butter bath cooking for corn on the cob. It makes even the best sweet summer corn impossibly better, so just imagine what it can do for basic broccoli and cauliflower (even the pre-cut bagged stuff!). Garlicky butter bath broccoli and cauliflower is going to make you fall back in love with these dinner staples.

Anything but Boring

Boiled and steamed vegetables get a bad rap for being too tender and flavorless, but butter bath boiling changes all that. Essentially, you’re making a milk and butter broth to cook vegetables in. Add in your favorite spices or aromatics—here, a ton of minced garlic—and the vegetables are infused with robust, unbeatable flavor.

The key to making truly delicious butter bath broccoli and cauliflower is to make sure you don’t overcook it. One-inch florets, like the kind you might find pre-cut in the produce section, take less than 10 minutes to cook. Be sure to test them before draining—a fork should easily pierce their woody stems.

Speaking of draining, save a little butter bath. You can serve that garlicky elixir as a sauce for the vegetables.

butter bath broccoli and cauliflower
Boiled and steamed vegetables get a bad rap for being too tender and flavorless, but butter bath boiling changes all that. (Joe Lingeman/TNS)

Garlicky Butter Bath Broccoli and Cauliflower

Serves 6

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 1 pound cauliflower florets

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, mince the garlic.

Add the garlic, milk, butter, and kosher salt to the pot. Carefully add broccoli florets and cauliflower florets. Reduce the heat to medium and boil, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli and cauliflower are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and serve.

Recipe Note: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to four days.

Meghan Splawn is the food editor for The Kitchn’s skills content at, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to Copyright 2021 Apartment Therapy. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.