How to Make Brussels Sprouts
Everything you need to know to buy and prepare this versatile, tasty, good-for-you vegetable, with our 20 best Brussels sprouts recipes
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Above: Honey Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts. Photograph by Olga Ivanova.
In my extended family, I’m known as the Brussels sprouts queen. Back when I was single, I’d bring home a pound of those cute little guys and roast ‘em up, then eat every last one for dinner. No main course, just Brussels sprouts. Now that I have a family of my own and am responsible for more than just my personal dietary whims, I put more thought into how I use them. But when my husband and son aren’t around, I’ll still roast up a batch just for me.
It wasn’t always this way. Growing up I had more than a few encounters with overcooked Brussels sprouts. Leave them on the heat a few minutes too long, and those bright green leaves turn olive drab while the insides get mushy. And oh, the smell! Sprouts contain a sulfurous compound that breaks down when heated. I stayed away from them for years because I thought the stink was inescapable. How wrong I was. Treat your sprouts with respect, and they’ll reward you with mild, nutty, slightly sweet flavor.
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Health benefits of Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous family, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. An awful lot of nutrients are packed into those bite-sized heads — 1/2 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts will give you 81% of your daily requirement for vitamin C and 137% of vitamin K, along with 12% of your folate needs and a dose of heart-healthy fiber. Plus they’re rich in antioxidants, which help protect your body’s cells and prevent inflammation. All that for just 28 calories!
Brussels sprouts FAQs
Whether you’ve never touched fresh Brussels sprouts before or you’re looking to improve your results, these tips can help.
How to buy Brussels sprouts
Outside the farmer’s market, you’ll mostly find sprouts sold either loose or in small containers. Choose sprouts that feel firm and compact, with tight, bright green leaves. If the outer leaves are yellowing, they’re past their prime. The flavor changes depending on the size — smaller equals sweeter. The larger the sprout, the more it’ll remind you of cabbage.
How to cook Brussels sprouts
For years, I only cooked Brussels sprouts one way: Trim ends and remove damaged outer leaves; toss in a large bowl with extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper; spread on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; and roast in a hot oven. (You’ll find detailed instructions and several variations on roasted Brussels sprouts below.)
But I’ve since discovered how irresistible Brussels sprouts can be when sauteed, air-fried, breaded, and even grilled. Oh! And my current favorite way to eat them: raw. Shaved into pretty strands, they make a killer salad. The only way I wouldn’t serve them is the version I grew up with — boiled into submission.
How to store Brussels sprouts
When you get your sprouts home, examine them and toss any discolored or loose leaves. Put them in a plastic bag and stick ‘em in your fridge’s crisper. The flavor of raw Brussels sprouts gets stronger the longer they sit. So while a bag of refrigerated sprouts will stay fresh for more than a week, for best results you should use them sooner.
As for how to store cooked Brussels sprouts, if you have leftovers or just like to cook ahead, stow your sprouts in a covered container and refrigerate up to five days. Reheat gently, or they’ll turn mushy, gray, and stinky.
How long do cooked Brussels sprouts last?
That depends on how much your family loves to eat them! I rarely have any last more than a day or two, but stored properly in the fridge, cooked brussels sprouts will stay good for up to five days.
Roasted Brussels sprouts recipes
Crispy roasted Brussels sprouts are the gateway to sprouty nirvana. When roasted under high heat until golden brown (or even a little beyond), the outer leaves get lacy and caramelized, the insides tender and sweet.
This basic baked Brussels sprouts formula is so good, you’ll wind up weak in the knees. Halved sprouts tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper go cut side down on a baking sheet until they’re crisp-tender and slightly charred.
The addition of just one ingredient — finely minced garlic cloves — at the right moment makes roasted Brussels sprouts exponentially more delicious.
I’m not sure what it is, but Brussels sprouts have an affinity for cured pork products. Here, roasting chopped bacon along with the sprouts adds smoky flavor and crispy texture.
A honey balsamic glaze sounds so fancy, doesn’t it? Nobody will guess that this sophisticated side dish gets its extra-ness from a simple combo of honey and balsamic vinegar.
Kid-friendly Brussels sprouts recipes
I know, Brussels sprouts are a hard sell for many kids. But if you give them a little twist, you may see some magic happen.
Air fryer Brussels sprouts take roasted sprouts on a ride to crispytown — perfect for kids. They turn a gorgeous, dark golden brown, and the leaves get extra-crunchy. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese when they come out, and the heat will melt it just enough.
Who would’ve guessed that separating sprouts into individual leaves would produce something that rivals the can’t-eat-just-one nature of potato chips? Tossed with olive oil and salt, then given a quick roast, these are better than kale chips.
My kid will try almost anything if it’s breaded. Here, Brussels sprout halves get dipped in egg and then fluffy panko crumbs before being baked into crunchy little munch bombs. If your kids don’t care for spicy dips, swap in honey mustard for the Bang Bang sauce.
Grilling your sprouts adds a layer of smoky flavor you just won’t get anywhere else. These skewered veggies have a sweet-and-tangy sauce made with Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and garlic.
Shaved Brussels sprouts recipes
“Shaved” in this context has nothing to do with razors. When you thinly slice raw Brussels sprouts into ribbons, it seems to transform them into a different vegetable altogether.
The simplicity of this recipe is misleading — the salad it creates could be on a poster for “greater than the sum of its parts.” Shredded sprouts, toasted walnuts, and Parmesan cheese make the salad itself, which is tossed with a punchy dressing featuring extra-virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, and mustard. Since there’s no cooking involved the total time is only 20 minutes.
Here’s a Brussels sprouts salad that’s hearty enough for lunch or a light dinner. Cubes of caramelized butternut squash add heft to your shaved sprouts, and chopped apple gives some sweet crunch, while crumbled feta and pumpkin seeds provide some fat and protein. Putting maple syrup and cinnamon in the lemon juice-olive oil dressing creates a nice hint of autumn. Pro tip: no pomegranate? Swap in dried cranberries for a similar burst of sweet-tart contrast.
What happens when you mix shaved Brussels sprouts with shredded cabbage, toasted pecans, and creamy dressing? You get a slaw that’s perfectly autumnal. I love how the tahini in the dressing adds some voluptuousness along with nutty flavor.
Lest you think shaved Brussels sprouts are only good for salads, here’s a recipe for sauteed Brussels sprouts that has you thinly slice them before they hit the skillet. Not only do they cook much faster than whole ones (cook time: 10 minutes), the shreds have a lovely contrast of charred frills and tender centers.
International Brussels sprouts recipes
These recipes may not be particularly authentic, but I love combining global flavors to play up Brussels sprouts’ unique attributes.
I have eaten more takeout Kung Pao chicken than I’d like to admit. Too often it’s heavy and greasy, and I need a nap afterward. But swap roasted Brussels sprouts halves for the stir-fried chicken and all that heaviness disappears. This recipe is genius.
Bubble and squeak is a classic British dish that makes the most of leftover mashed potatoes and cooked vegetables. I’m not a big fan of reheated Brussels sprouts — they tend to get mushy — but this English-accented hash lets you use either raw or leftover sprouts. Thanks to the diced leftover ham, with a side salad you could easily eat this as a main course.
“Au gratin” is a French term for a humble but elegant cooking technique. Mostly, it’s a reference to the alluring, golden brown crust that develops when you bake something beneath a lid of cheese or buttered breadcrumbs. Here, Brussels sprouts mingle with cream, garlic and herbs under grated Parmesan and cheddar cheese. The sprouts that peek out get gorgeous crisp edges.
What’s that you say, Brussels sprouts are too boring for tacos? I can’t believe you still think that after seeing all these recipes. But more importantly, sprouts sauteed until tender along with poblano pepper, onion, and garlic turns out to be an exceptionally tasty combo. Add black beans, an avocado-sour-cream-lime sauce, and a bit of crumbled cheese and start filling those tortillas.
Main dish Brussels sprouts recipes
Sometimes, you just want to cook one recipe for an entire meal.
Here’s an easy recipe with very little clean-up. You’re only dirtying a cutting board, a knife, a large bowl and spatula, and a sheet pan — and the pan’s lined with parchment paper. But more importantly, you’re cooking a tasty, satisfying dinner that comes together in minutes.
This, right here, is comfort food. Brussels sprouts get sauteed in bacon fat (I repeat: sauteed in bacon fat) and tossed with al dente spaghetti, garlic, Parmesan, red pepper flakes, and of course the bacon that rendered that smoky fat. On a cool fall evening, I might have trouble sharing this with my family.
Everything’s better on pizza, right? That holds true even for Brussels sprouts. This beauty is anything but ordinary, with a sweet-spicy-garlicky balsamic sauce, shaved sprouts, crispy bacon, and mellow havarti (or fontina) cheese. BRB, off to make pizza…
I have to admit, I didn’t have blueberries, basil, or salmon on my Brussels sprouts bingo card. But holy moly, what a combo! The rich fish, the sweet-and-zingy blueberry sauce, the perfectly cooked sprouts — it’ll knock your socks off. Baked Brussels sprouts are similar to their roasted brethren, only a little less crispy, a little more tender. And here’s the best part: The whole thing takes just 20 minutes, including prep time.
So many ways to enjoy your vegetables
Whether you're using up end-of-season fresh veggies from the market or looking for inspiration for the long-keepers from the pantry and the freezer, we have loads more recipes to explore.