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Brussels Sprouts: Small In Size, Big On Flavor and Nutrition

It might be time to give Brussels sprouts a second chance. Try this easy recipe with these delicious topping ideas and you're sure to be a convert!

If your only memories of Brussels sprouts are that of overcooked, flavorless little heads of smelly cabbage that even the dog wouldn’t eat, you owe it to yourself to give them another try. Not only are they a great source of vitamins A and C, high in protein, and loaded with fiber, but when prepared properly, these little gems are sure to be your new favorite vegetable, guaranteed.

Brussels sprouts (yes, they have an “s” at the end of their name for the capital city in Belgium where they originated) are one of seven cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea or wild cabbage. Cultivars—short for “cultivated varieties”— are plants that have been produced by selective breeding. Other popular cultivars of Brassica oleracea are kale and collard greens, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Fun Fact: Brussels sprouts contain the gene, TAS2R38, which causes them to taste bitter to certain people.

Cooking Brussels Sprouts

Like other cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts release a smelly sulfur scent when they are overcooked. It’s important to cook them just until tender. They can be steamed, boiled, oven-roasted, grilled, or sautéed; the flavor often benefitting from a bit of caramelization, i.e., browning, by roasting or pan-frying. Try to choose sprouts of a similar size so they will cook evenly. Splitting the sprouts in half reduces cooking time, which is important when trying to avoid overcooking.

Selecting The Best Brussels Sprouts

When choosing them in the grocery store or farmers market, find tight, hard, compact heads, that seem heavy for their size. Avoid leaves with brown or yellow patches or any leaves that are starting to get slimy. If some outer leaves are loose, or have become darker green and coming away from the head, trim them when cleaning, along with any brown coloring at the cut end.

This simple recipe is sure to make you a convert:

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

close up of crispy roasted brussels sprout

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

 The trick to cooking perfect, crispy Brussels sprouts is roasting them in the oven
Course Salad
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Directions:
    Preheat oven to 400º F. Trim the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Cut each sprout in half. You’re looking to make all the vegetables the same size.
    Toss veggies in a large bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour them out on a sheet pan in a single layer and roast for 35 to 40 minutes until browned and crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Halfway through the cooking time, use a spatula to turn them so they cook evenly. Serve immediately.
Keyword Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Brussels Sprouts Topping/Dipping Ideas

Roasted Brussels sprouts are delicious by themselves, but they’re even more delicious with any one of these toppers/dippers! Ideas include:

  • A drizzle of honey and balsamic vinegar
  • A simple squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper
  • Crumble 1/2 cup goat cheese on the top of the roasted vegetables right when they come out of the oven.
  • Creamy Sriracha Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
  • Garlic aioli (recipe below) and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese
  • Lemon aioli (recipe below) and crispy pancetta

Creamy Sriracha Dipping Sauce

Creamy Sriracha Dipping Sauce

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and let flavors meld for an hour in the refrigerator. Serve on the side with your roasted Brussels sprouts as a dipping sauce.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, pressed through a garlic press

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and let flavors meld for an hour in the refrigerator. Serve on the side with your roasted Brussels sprouts as a dipping sauce.

    Basic Garlic Aioli

    • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 cloves garlic
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

    Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let flavors meld. To serve, drizzle over the top of your roasted Brussels sprouts, or serve it on the side for dipping.

      Keyword Creamy Sriracha sauce, sriracha sauce recipe
      Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

      Mustard Aioli

      To the garlic aioli recipe, above add:
      3 tablespoons prepared mustard – you can use Dijon or honey mustard

      Lemon Aioli

      Using the basic garlic aioli recipe, above, reduce mayonnaise by 1/4 cup and add
      1/4 cup sour cream (do not use low fat)
      and the zest of 1 lemon

      How do you serve up your Brussels sprouts?

      Edward Higgins is a freelance writer, artist, home chef, and avid fly fisherman who lives outside of Portland, Maine. He studied at Skidmore College and Harvard University. His article 10 Best Edible Insects appears in the 2020 Farmers' Almanac.

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      8 Comments
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      Richard J Downing

      One thing most do not know, Sprouts must freeze to bring out the sugars and sweeten the flavor. Been growing them for many years here in central Idaho. We eat out first sprouts in late Nov, and often don’t pick them until mid Dec. Try it, let them freeze.

      Al Whitaker

      Slight enhancement to your recipe, add a 1/2 tsp of mild or hot (your preference) chow chow to the sliced side of each sprout before cooking. When they come out of the oven, cover with parmesan or romano cheese. Return to oven to melt the cheese. These will start a fist fight!

      Susan Higgins

      Hi Al, thanks for sharing. Sounds yummy! For those wondering, chow chow is a pickled vegetable relish.

      marshall reagan

      I think that you would have less of a pest problem after the first frost & it would improve the flavor also.

      Elizabeth Poteat

      I know you can get the bugs (worms) to turn loose from Broccoli if you dip the heads in a stout solution of salt water and they will be gone. Can you do the same with Brussel Sprouts ?

      Mom of 5 inAL

      Is there a time of year when Brussels sprouts taste better or have fewer bugs?

      Our family uses a similar recipe, and the kids nearly fight over the leftovers!

      Susan Higgins

      Hi Mom of 5 inAL: Taste is best when they’re freshly picked; if you consume them as close to freshly picked as possible. Bugs depend on where they are grown (every region has its own pests).

      M.Hoffman

      Brussel Sprouts added to veggie soup adds a special flavor.

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