Why does broccoli smell?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Why does broccoli smell?” We will also discuss how to stop the smell of broccoli when cooking and whether you can eat smelly broccoli.

Why does broccoli smell?

Broccoli has a strong, sulfur-like smell because it contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a sulfur-containing compound that is formed when the glucosinolates found in broccoli are broken down. 

When the glucosinolates in broccoli are broken down, they release sulforaphane which has a strong sulfur-like odor. This sulfur-like odor is what causes broccoli to have a strong, unpleasant smell. 

In addition to the sulfur-like odor, broccoli also contains other compounds that may contribute to its smell. These compounds include phenolic compounds, which can have a woody, earthy odor, and carotenoids, which have a sweet, floral odor. 

How does cooking affect the smell of broccoli?

Cooking amplifies the smell of broccoli by releasing volatile compounds into the air. When broccoli is cooked, these volatile compounds are released due to the heat of the cooking process. 

These compounds are responsible for the strong smell of cooked broccoli, which can be much more intense than the smell of raw broccoli. The compounds are also broken down into smaller molecules, which are more easily detected by the nose. 

The heat of the cooking process also causes the cell walls of the broccoli to break down, releasing more of the compounds and further intensifying the smell.

How can you stop the smell of broccoli when cooking?

  • Start by cutting the broccoli into small pieces. This will help to reduce the strong smell that broccoli produces when it is cooked. 
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a teaspoon of salt. This will help to reduce the smell of the broccoli. 
  • Place the cut broccoli into the boiling water and cover it with a lid. Allow cooking for 5 minutes. 4. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and drain the cooking water. 
  • Place the cooked broccoli in a colander and rinse with cold water. This will help to reduce the smell of the broccoli. 
  • Place the rinsed broccoli in a bowl and add a tablespoon of lemon juice. The lemon juice will help to neutralize the smell of the broccoli. 
  • Finally, place the broccoli in a baking dish and add 1/4 cup of white wine or chicken stock. The liquid will help to keep the broccoli from drying out and will also help to reduce the smell. 
  • Bake the broccoli at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until tender.

Can you eat broccoli that smells?

No, you should not eat broccoli that smells. The smell is a sign that the broccoli has gone bad and is no longer safe to eat. Eating bad broccoli can cause food poisoning, which is an illness caused by eating food that is contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. 

Symptoms of food poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. In some cases, food poisoning can lead to more serious complications, such as dehydration or even death. 

Therefore, it is important to always inspect your food for signs of spoilage, like an unpleasant smell, before eating it.


In this brief guide, we have answered the question, “Why does broccoli smell?” We have also discussed how cooking affects the smell of broccoli and whether you can eat smelly broccoli.

Hope you find this blog useful, in case of any questions please let us know





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