Learning how to cook Brussels sprouts is essential for every home chef and will result in many flavorful dishes to come in your kitchen. Promise!
This crunchy, cruciferous vegetable is the subject of much debate; some love it and some hate it. When not cooked or seasoned well, Brussels sprouts can admittedly be a bit bland and bitter. But when Brussels sprouts are cooked properly, the crunchy texture is enhanced, the bitterness is removed, and the inside has a tender bite that is simply sensational.
If you’re looking to make Brussels sprouts that will wow even the pickiest of eaters, then oven roasted is the way to go. Oven roasting Brussels sprouts allows them to brown and get ultra crispy. With a drizzle of maple syrup and sprinkle of sea salt, they are absolutely addicting.
While roasting Brussels sprouts may be the tastiest cooking method, it is not the ideal method for obtaining maximum nutrients. The healthiest way to cook Brussels sprouts is steaming them.
Brussels Sprouts Nutrition
Brussels sprouts boast a broad range of nutrients and health benefits. These mini cabbages are a great source of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, and B vitamins including B1, B2, B3, and B6. They also are notably rich in folate, manganese, fiber, potassium, phosphorus, omega-3 fats, and iron, among other minerals.
In addition to providing the body with essential vitamins and minerals, Brussels sprouts also aid the body in detoxification, and support the cardiovascular and digestive systems. The compound sulforaphane is responsible for those benefits as well as the sulfur-like smell and taste of Brussels sprouts.
While Brussels sprouts can usually be found year-round in grocery stores, they are a cold weather vegetable. Their peak season is September to mid-February which makes them ideal for a variety of seasonal recipes.
Brussels sprouts are not on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, nor are they associated with high pesticide residue. That means that it is safe to buy conventional Brussels sprouts–but for maximum health benefits, go for organic Brussels sprouts whenever possible.
Where To Buy Brussels Sprouts
In their peak season, fresh Brussels sprouts can be found both at farmers markets and grocery stores on the stalk or loose. This is also when they are most affordable. During this time, they can usually be found on sale at grocery stores for around $1.50 a pound.
If you aren’t able to find fresh Brussels sprouts, then go for frozen Brussels sprouts, which retain their nutrients and are a healthy choice.
Brussels Sprouts Cooking Tips
The key to cooking delicious Brussels sprouts is counteracting the bitter sulfur flavor. You can do this by adding a touch of sweetness which balances the flavors. Some ideas for sweet additions to your Brussels sprouts recipes are pure maple syrup, caramelized onions, raisins, or a tangy balsamic reduction.
The most important thing to avoid when cooking Brussels sprouts is overcooking. Overcooking Brussels sprouts pronounces the sulfur flavor even more and makes them mushy. Cook them until they are just fork-tender.
Another tip to step up your Brussels sprouts game is to make them visually appealing. After boiling or steaming Brussels sprouts, drain them and then transfer them to a bowl of cold water for about 15 seconds which will perk up the green color. You just want to plunge them long enough that the cooking process will be stopped but not long enough that they will become cold.
How To Prepare Brussels Sprouts
Before you start cooking your Brussels sprouts, you’ll need to clean and prepare them. Start by removing the two or three outermost loose leaves and discard. Then add Brussels sprouts to a colander and rinse well. Transfer to a cutting board and chop off the stems. Then, chop them in half down the center. They are now ready to be cooked.
How To Cook Brussels Sprouts
Boiling Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts can be ready to eat in under ten minutes when opting for boiling. Half a cup of boiled Brussels sprouts contains approximately 28 calories, 0.4 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.
To boil Brussels sprouts, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add halved Brussels sprouts to the pot. Boil for about five minutes or until just fork tender. Drain and then serve.
Steaming Brussels Sprouts
Steaming Brussels sprouts is another quick cooking method with similar nutritional values to boiled Brussels sprouts.
To steam Brussels sprouts, fill a pot with enough water to reach the bottom of a steamer basket. Bring to a low boil and add halved Brussels sprouts. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for about six minutes. Serve immediately.
Roasting Brussels Sprouts
Roasting Brussels sprouts results in caramel-like flavors with a smoky touch that’ll leave you salivating. Half a cup of roasted Brussels sprouts tossed in oil contains approximately 104 calories, 7.3 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and 2.9 grams of protein.
To roast Brussels sprouts, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat. Place one pound of halved Brussels sprouts into a large bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons safflower oil (or other high-heat cooking oil) and a teaspoon of sea salt.
Transfer to the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes then toss using a spatula. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes, or until Brussels sprouts are fork tender and lightly browned.
Broiling Brussels Sprouts
Broiling Brussels sprouts results in a similar flavor to roasted Brussels sprouts but is quicker and adds more charring. This method results in a similar nutrition to roasted Brussels sprouts so see above for approximate values.
To broil, Brussels sprouts, preheat the oven on the broil setting or to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a baking sheet with safflower oil. Place one pound of halved Brussels sprouts into a large bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons safflower oil and one teaspoon sea salt.
Transfer to the baking sheet. Broil for about 12-15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Brussels sprouts should be lightly charred and fork tender.
Sauteing Brussels Sprouts
Sauteing is a quick and healthy way to cook Brussels sprouts. You can easily season them as they cook and make sure they don’t overcook. Half a cup of Brussels sprouts in olive oil contains approximately 81 calories, 7 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and 1.5 grams of protein.
To sauté, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium low heat. Add two minced garlic cloves and sauté for one minute. Add one pound halved Brussels sprouts to the pan. Raise heat to medium and cook for about ten minutes, or until fork tender. Add desired seasonings and serve.
Images via Karissa Bowers