How To Make Brussels Sprouts That Aren’t Gross

by | Dec 3, 2012
Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Hate brussels sprouts? So did I. But I also don’t like being a picky eater, so I was determined to learn to like these little devils.

This is the recipe that finally made me love brussels sprouts. Bacon makes anything taste good, but these days I appreciate the sprouts even without it.

Buy the freshest brussels sprouts you can get your hands on, preferably from your local farmers market. Like any vegetable the fresher it is, the tastier and more nutritious it will be. I usually buy a pound or so. The smaller they are, the better (sweeter and less bitter) they taste.

The secret is to halve and blanch the sprouts before cooking them with other ingredients. This helps them cook through and gets rid of the nasty, bitter taste that can be so characteristic of sprouts. The other trick is to balance the remaining bitter flavor with an acid like lemon or red wine vinegar. Oh, and did I mention bacon?

I prefer to purchase my bacon from a local butcher. Get two slices, but for a larger batch of sprouts increase it to three.

This recipe is delicious with either walnuts or hazel nuts. If you decide on hazel nuts, I prefer to toast them in the oven first (350 degrees) until the skins start to turn dark and crack, about 10-15 minutes. I then roll them in a paper towel or plastic wrap to separate the skins from the nuts. Don’t worry if all the skins don’t come off, they’ll still taste good.

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon


  • 1 lbs brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1 cipollini onion (or 1 leek or 2 baby leeks)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or hazel nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp butter
Blanching Brussels Sprouts

Blanching Brussels Sprouts

Start some water boiling and add a few pinches of salt. Rinse and halve your brus sprouts. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add sprouts and set a kitchen timer for 5 minutes. Do not rely on yourself to remember, overcooking at this stage will ruin your meal. Boil sprouts exactly 5 minutes, rinse with cold water, strain and set aside.

In the meantime, chop cipollini onions (or leeks) and the nuts. Slice bacon (pieces stacked) into half inch slices.

Heat a pan on medium heat and add bacon slices. Allow bacon to cook about 4-5 minutes, until fat starts to render in the pan. Add the nuts and stir. If you are using cipollini onions, add those too (wait if you are using leeks).

Cook nuts and bacon until the bacon is almost done, then add butter. You can add leeks at this point or skip this step and add Brussels sprouts directly. When leeks just begin to soften (about 1 minute), add Brussels sprouts, sea salt and pepper.

Stir sprouts and turn most of them so their cut faces are resting against the pan. I strongly recommend using tongs for this. After about 2 minutes, stir the sprouts and sprinkle on oregano. Continue to cook, stirring every 2 minutes or so until the faces of the sprouts are all browned and onions begin to caramelize, 8-10 minutes. In the last 3 to 4 minutes, add vinegar (or lemon). This step is essential to cut any last bit of bitterness remaining in the sprouts. Use the taste test to determine precise cooking time (depending on the size of the sprouts).

Brussels sprouts pair beautifully with almost any protein. Pork, chicken and fish work especially well. Here they are served with French green lentils.

How did you learn to love brussels sprouts?

Originally published October 27, 2008.

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34 Responses to “How To Make Brussels Sprouts That Aren’t Gross”

  1. Allie says:

    Awesome recipe! I love brussels sprouts anyway but usually I just steam them plain and I wanted to try something different. I used pistachios since I had them on hand and thyme instead of oregano (personal preference) and it turned out great. Considering the bacon, I went with a breakfast theme and had them with orange juice and scrambled eggs. My only complaint is I hardly tasted the sprouts you did such a good job covering them up! 🙂

  2. Darya Pino says:

    allie:That’s great!! Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Eggs and bacon is brilliant. To get more sprouts taste you could cut the amount of bacon in half and skip on the butter. We have several more months of sprouts, so enjoy the season!

  3. Q. says:

    We never had brussel sprouts growing b/c my mom hated them. (Her mom served all vegetables by boiling them in water – no seasonings, no butter, nothing.) It wasn’t until my sister and I discovered the bacon/brussel sprout combination that my whole family became brussel sprout fiends.

  4. konnie says:

    The sad thing is that until you have grown your own (or get to the
    market early)
    and cooked them fresh within hours of picking them, you have no idea what those little things taste like. incredibly sweet. like candy.
    no wonder most people don’t like them.

  5. Connie says:

    My husband went back for seconds of brussels sprouts. That is a first! I didn’t have any bacon! I browned some butter, added some balsamic vinegar and let that bubble for a couple of minutes. Added the (homegrown) sprouts and cooked them for a couple of minutes, then placed them into a hot oven (400F) for about 10 minutes then sprinkled with toasted, chopped almonds. Divine!

  6. My variation is to cook them in bacon fat, which I always have, even if I’m out of bacon. Then I add diced tomatoes and asiago cheese for brussels sprouts marinara.

  7. Madhu says:

    I always stirfry brussel sprouts with onion, ginger, tomato, cumin powder and coriander powder. This week I am going to try cooking your way. We dont eat pork, so I will skip the bacon part.

  8. Natalie says:

    I learned to love Brussels sprouts after picking up Julia Child’s book Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. I followed the recipe to the T, and ever since, I’ve been in love! I learned the technique, which is much like yours, though I don’t recall her using bacon. I do use bacon now though, but never thought to add in the red wine vinegar and nuts! I will definitely have to try that.

    Ever since then, I buy good looking Brussels sprouts whenever I can, and the hubby and I have a feast with them! YUM!

  9. Lana says:

    Love Brussels sprouts! I have never had them before I arrived to the U.S. but it was love at first sight (even when they were prepared just steamed with s&p).
    But bacon? And hazelnuts? Cannot think that it is anything short of divine. I can get some fresh-on-the-stalk Brussels sprouts at the Irvine Farmers Market, I hope.
    I’m so excited!

  10. Tommy Wenzlau says:

    Hey Darya! I decided a few days ago, that I am turning over a new leaf and I am elevating my healthstyle. (So thank you for your guidance.) I made this last night for dinner with a slice of pork tenderloin. However, I did make a few adjustments…I omitted the vinegar and oregano, and added a chopped apple and some fresh grated nutmeg. I also didn’t boil the sprouts, but after browning them, I cooked them on low heat with the apples and some lemon juice. It really puts it into a different realm! Tonight I am going on an adventure with green lentils/carrots/onions and sea bass.

  11. emma says:

    would this be a meal you would have for dinner?

  12. Monica says:

    I was a weird child – I fell in love with brussels sprouts when I was 5. My mom bought some, roasted them, and tossed them with salt and margarine (you know, the trans-fatty 1980’s midwestern stuff), and I was hooked.

    In my “old” age, I’ve come to appreciate that they are even better (and by some degree healthier) tossed in olive oil or real butter, and/or bacon, as here.

    Thanks, Darya!

  13. E. Foley says:

    Chef Chloe also has an amazing brussels sprouts recipe:

    My boyfriend and I made it last week and it is SOOOOOO good.

  14. Susan Alexander says:

    If you’ve never had them this way, you should REALLY try it. I love brussel sprouts anyway, but THIS recipe changed my life:


  15. Amy Thompto says:

    Another great option is to roast your fresh picked brussel sprouts with garlic, fresh cracked pepper, sea salt and olive oil. If you turn them every 5 minutes or so the outsides will have a delicious salty crisp and the insides will be tender mini-cabbages of yum.

  16. Sarah Newkirk says:

    Brussel sprouts are one of the great rediscoveries of my adult life! I’ll add a preparation idea, lifted from Barbuto restaurant in New York: raw shaved brussel sprouts with toasted walnuts, pecorino and lemon. The preparation was so unexpected, and in a meal filled with courses of delicious meat and pasta, the whole table voted the brussel sprouts the plate of the night.

  17. Kevin W says:

    I just made this tonight and I’ll totally be making it again. I’ve never had brussels sprouts before, so this recipe set the bar high!

    Thanks Darya!

  18. Frank Rosinski says:

    Way back when, as a child, I could not stand them; now, as a “geezer”, I find I love them. I guess our tastes change as we ripen! Great recipe, thanks!

  19. Sara says:

    How many calories is this dish?

  20. Jack O'Shyte says:

    Cut them in half and add to equal part ditali. Add cheese sauce. Consume. Add chopped pimento for color. Add dash of ground cumin for interest. No bacon required.

  21. Hello Darya!

    I am newly OBSESSED with your website, really, your knowledge!! I love the way you explain things so simply, and clearly, and base your suggestions on science and enjoyment of food! I am a dietitian, and question many things that I have learned, because there is so much scientific evidence that strays from my formal education. I want to recommend the best possible advice, based on science, and I already have read so much (and watched some too!) from you, and I know I am going to be coming here OFTEN! I loved your e-book all about nutrition, and I will be first in line to read a book you write!! I even told my hubby all about you, and he said, “I think I told you about her — she’s Kevin’s girl friend!” …he seems very nice! We used to watch his tech shows all the time (5-9 years ago…before kids…), and I’m pretty sure my husband still watches/listens to him today! I do make Brussels sprouts too, which I love (only since making this recipe: Thanks for all you do!!
    Colleen 🙂 PS- sorry for all the !!!! I get so excited about nutrition 🙂

  22. K. Sharp says:

    Brussels sprouts is looking quite impressive and i will definitely try it and thanks for this recipe!!!

  23. Judy says:

    I am not a great cook, not a good cook, or even an OK cook. But this recipe was amazing. I did everything the same, except left out the oregano, and used very fresh green onion. I didn’t have red wine vinegar, so I used balsamic vinegar.
    I am happy to say that this was the best Brussels sprouts we have ever had!! I think the vinegar made a huge difference with the bitterness.
    Thank you so much! I will use this recipe often.

  24. Leonie Farrington says:

    Just made this last night for dinner. So good! Foodist approved, and, bonus, husband approved! 😊👍

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