How to Cook Brussels Sprouts 7 Different Ways—Including Roasted, Sautéed, More

There are many ways to enjoy the healthy veggie!

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Who would have predicted that Brussels sprouts, a vegetable once reviled by so many, would gain such popularity? Indeed, the tiny cabbage-like vegetable plays a starring role on trendy restaurant menus from coast to coast, usually roasted or fried to a pleasing crisp. A few factors may explain the shift. First, Brussels sprouts are less bitter than decades ago because savvy scientists worked their cross-pollinating magic to minimize unpleasant characteristics. Just as importantly, home cooks and kitchen professionals alike discovered inspired new ways to cook them. Gone are the days of boiling Brussels to within an inch of their little lives. 

Beyond the fact that Brussels sprouts are darn tasty, they’re also enormously good for you. A member of the cruciferous vegetable family (which boasts such nutrition superstars as kale and cauliflower), Brussels sprouts deliver fiber, a boatload of vitamin C, plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, all at just 38 calories per cup.

When buying Brussels sprouts, look for lively green coloring, and leaves that are snug to the head, without black spots. To prepare the sprouts, give them a good rinse, cut a thin slice off the bottom, and remove any sad-looking leaves. Once cooked, Brussels sprouts, like nearly all vegetables, benefit from a hit of acid, such as lemon juice or balsamic vinegar (a fan favorite for sprouts). A light drizzle of olive oil or pat of butter, along with salt and pepper, also make a fine finish. Chopped nuts, grated Parmesan, or crispy breadcrumbs scattered on just before serving are terrific, too. A few tips to keep in mind:

  • Cooking times vary depending on the size of the sprouts. 
  • The best test for doneness is to cut a sprout in half and give it a try. It should be just tender, never mushy. 
  • For nicely browned Brussels, dry them after washing, and whether roasting or air frying, don’t crowd the pan. 
  • When boiling or steaming, drop the cooked sprouts into an ice bath to cool, then drain. This will help preserve the color. 

Now it’s just a matter of choosing your cooking method. Want to know how to cook Brussels sprouts? Here are seven ways to get it done.

How to Steam Brussels Sprouts

One benefit of steaming is that it minimizes nutrient losses during cooking, particularly for vitamin C. If you don’t own a steaming basket, you can follow this method as directed, piling the sprouts directly into the pot. 

  1. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half through the stem. 
  2. Add an inch of water to a saucepan. Put Brussels sprouts into a steaming basket and lower it into the pot. Cover with a lid. 
  3. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Steam until the sprouts are just tender, 6 to 7 minutes. 
  4. Transfer the warm Brussels sprouts to a bowl, drizzle with olive oil or stir in a pat of butter. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, and serve. 

How to Roast Brussels Sprouts

A pan of roasted Brussels sprouts is a thing of beauty. It’s easy to throw together with no special equipment required. The result?  Tender on the inside, a touch crispy on the outside. Yes, please! 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half through the stem.
  2. Pile the sprouts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Lightly coat with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Spread the sprouts out so they’re not overlapping (they need room to brown, so use a second baking sheet, if necessary). 
  3. Roast until nicely browned and just tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Add a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar over the top, if desired, and serve. 

How to Grill Brussels Sprouts

What’s tricky about grilling Brussels sprouts, is that they’re small and wobbly, so they can easily drop beneath the grill grate. One solution is to thread sprouts onto skewers, which also makes for a smashing presentation. If you have particularly large sprouts, you can cut them in half and scale down the cooking time accordingly.

  1. Parcook the Brussels sprouts by steaming them whole, using the method above for about 5 minutes, so they lose their crunch, but aren’t yet tender. 
  2. Toss the Brussels sprouts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Spear 5 to 6 sprouts on a skewer, leaving a little space between each one. 
  4. Lay the skewers on the grill, cover, and cook until nicely browned. Rotate to cook on the opposite side, for about 10 minutes total grilling time. Squeeze lime juice generously over the sprouts and serve.

How to Sauté Brussels Sprouts

This gets similar results to roasting, without having to wait around for the oven to heat up. If you don’t have a sizable skillet, sauté the sprouts in batches. 

  1. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half through the stem. 
  2. Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a heavy skillet (such as cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add a clove of minced garlic, if desired. 
  3. Add the sprouts to the skillet, cut-side down. Leave them to brown without touching, 5 to 6 minutes. 
  4. Sauté the sprouts, stirring them regularly, so they brown on all sides and are just tender on the inside. 
  5. Season with salt, pepper, and a light shower of Parmesan cheese, and serve.

How to Cook Brussels Sprouts in the Air Fryer

If you want the crave-worthy crispiness you find with restaurant Brussels, the air fryer is a good way to go. As for how to season the finished sprouts, chili flakes, a squeeze of lime, Parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts are all excellent options. 

  1. Heat an air fryer to 400 degrees. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half through the stem.
  2. Put the sprouts in the air fryer and toss with olive oil and salt. 
  3. Cook until pleasingly crisp, about 17 minutes. Stop two to three times during cooking to stir the sprouts. 
  4. Transfer to a plate and add any favorite fixings, and serve. 

How to Cook Brussels Sprouts in an Instant Pot

The beauty of the Instant Pot is that it’s an entirely hands-off method for cooking. If your sprouts are particularly small (or large) scale the cooking time up or down by 30 seconds.  

  1. Pour 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth, 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves, and Brussels sprouts into the Instant Pot. 
  2. Secure the lid, and set it to high pressure for 2 minutes. Once done, use the quick release button. 
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and zest, salt, and black pepper, and serve.

How to Boil Brussels Sprouts

This is the most old-school method of the bunch that results in a comforting bowl of Brussels. They key? Don’t overcook them. You’ll know they’re done when you can slide a paring knife into the center with little resistance. 

  1. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half through the stem.
  2. Fill a saucepan with water and add enough salt so that it tastes like the sea. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pot and boil until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. 
  4. Drain and transfer to a bowl. While the sprouts are still hot, toss with a pat of butter, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper, and serve.
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  1. USDA FoodData Central. Brussels sprouts, raw. Accessed May 5, 2023.

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