How to Cook Brussels Sprouts So They're Actually Delicious
If any vegetable has suffered an undeserved bad reputation, it's Brussels sprouts—mostly because the preferred cooking method used to be boiling them beyond recognition. But once it was discovered that they could be roasted to caramelized goodness—with a crisp exterior and tender, buttery interior—or shredded raw into light and crunchy salads, Brussels sprouts became a revelation.
How to Clean & Prep Brussels Sprouts
Before we get into specific methods on how to cook them, learn how to clean and prep Brussels sprouts.
1. Start by trimming a thin slice from the stem end of each sprout. From there, you'll want to remove any brown or yellow leaves for the tastiest end results. Then, rinse your buds in a colander under cold running water.
2. The next step really boils down to personal preference: you can leave your Brussels sprouts whole or cut them in half (or quarters).
3. You can also slice them very thinly with a sharp knife.
4. Another option is to shred them by pulsing them in the food processor a few times.
How to Cook Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts can be boiled (gently, please), steamed, roasted, grilled, braised and sautéed. Good flavor companions include onions, garlic and shallots; walnuts; caraway and fennel seeds; a mustardy vinaigrette; brown butter; bacon and other smoky, salty meats; nutty, pungent cheeses, such as Swiss or Gruyère; and herbs like sage and dill.
Try breaking the heads apart into individual leaves and quickly stir-frying or scattering the leaves over the top of a pizza with Italian sausage or caramelized onions and blue cheese. Or keep reading for more classic preparation styles.
How to Roast Brussels Sprouts
Wondering how to make crispy Brussels sprouts that are slightly caramelized with a tender center? Well, it's as easy as throwing them on a sheet pan and letting the roasting magic of an oven take over. Here's exactly how to roast Brussels sprouts.
1. Toss 2 pounds halved Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.
2. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast in a 450°F oven, stirring once, until sprouts are tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
How to Sauté Brussels Sprouts
For times when you just don't want to turn on the oven, you've probably found yourself wondering how to cook Brussels sprouts on the stovetop. You're in luck because their browned bottoms make sautéed Brussels sprouts one of the most delicious veggies on the block.
1. Heat one to two tablespoons of salted butter in a large pan over medium heat. (Make sure the pan is big enough so you don't overcrowd your sprouts!)
2. Place halved Brussels sprouts face down on the pan and let cook until they are slightly brown on one side, about 5 to 8 minutes.
3. Stir and cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, until they are tender.
4. Finish off with salt and pepper, herbs and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
How to Steam Brussels Sprouts
We don't always go for steamed vegetables, but sometimes the method has a time and place. And one of those instances is when you don't have enough time for roasting or sautéing but don't want to serve raw Brussels sprouts. Not to mention, a quick steam is the perfect way to cook the sprouts and keep their vibrant-green hue intact. For end results that aren't too mushy, here's how to steam Brussels sprouts.
1. Place 1 pound quartered Brussels sprouts in a steamer basket over 1 inch boiling water. Cover and steam until tender, 7 to 8 minutes.
2. Toss steamed Brussels sprouts in your favorite dressing.
How to Boil Brussels Sprouts
Boiling Brussels sprouts is a quick and easy way to cook Brussels sprouts. Simply, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, toss in the sprouts and let them cook for 6 minutes or until tender.
How to Make Brussels Sprout Chips
Don't throw out the loose leaves that fall off the sprout when you're prepping your Brussels—instead, roast them into chips!
1. Remove enough outer leaves from Brussels sprouts to make 4 cups.
2. Place in a large bowl and add oil, pepper and salt. With clean hands, gently massage the leaves until evenly coated. Spread in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.
3. Roast at 400°F until the leaves are browned and crispy, about 10 minutes.
How to Choose Brussels Sprouts at the Store
Choose firm, bright green, tightly furled sprouts. Avoid sprouts that are yellowing, beginning to open or have brown spots. Try to get sprouts that are approximately the same size so they cook evenly (small Brussels sprouts have a sweeter, milder flavor than larger ones). And if you find sprouts still attached to their stalks, beware that the stalks suck moisture out of the sprouts as they sit. If you want to buy them this way, make sure the stalks were recently picked and cut the Brussels off right when you get home.
How to Store Brussels Sprouts
If you ever prepare a batch of Brussels sprouts and have leftovers you want to keep, refrigerate them in a plastic bag for up to one week in the refrigerator.
Brussels Sprout Nutrition
Now let's break down Brussels sprout nutrition: 1/2 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has 28 calories 28, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar (not added), 2 grams of protein, 16 milligrams of sodium and 247 milligrams of potassium.
Plus, with four times the cancer-combating glucosinolates of broccoli, these little gems boast more of these compounds than any other crucifer. Chopping them, as for a slaw, works to release even more of these cancer-fighters.
How to Grow Your Own Brussels Sprouts
And now that you know everything from Brussels sprout nutrition to how to cook Brussels sprouts, we wouldn't be surprised if you wanted to start growing some on your own—and you're in luck! Brussels sprouts require little more than sunshine, regular water and ample space. Start seeds indoors in early spring, 90 days before the last frost. In spring, transplant 24 to 36 inches apart. Harvest when sprouts are 1 to 11/2 inches in diameter, picking sprouts from the base of the plant upward.
Although they aren't tiny cabbages, Brussels sprouts resemble cabbages in more ways than one. When growing, they sprout from a thick stalk that can grow up to 2 1/2 feet tall, crowned with a spray of blue-green leaves. Not only do the sprouts themselves look like mini cabbages, but the leaves on top gather together in a cabbage-like way.
With a late harvest, Brussels sprouts are in peak season from fall to early winter. Since they thrive so well in cool weather, they taste even sweeter and milder after the first frost of the season. And when prime Brussels sprouts season rolls around, try one of our fall-forward recipes that give Brussels the respect they deserve.