The 5 Best Ways to Cook Brussels Sprouts Everyone Will Love

Learn how to make Brussels sprouts in ways that will totally reframe the way you think about this sometimes-polarizing vegetable.

As Brussels sprouts have become less bitter-tasting and skyrocketed in popularity, we're trying many new recipes for this affordable, sturdy, year-round mainstay. There are five simple ways to cook Brussels sprouts to make them shoot to the top of your favorite veggies list.

Like other cruciferous vegetables, which are part of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts are wildly healthy. They're low in calories, high in fiber, and deliver a good dose of vitamin K and vitamin C. Despite this, they certainly don't have to taste like "health food."

Before we dive into how to cook Brussels sprouts, we should point out that you can eat them raw, too. If that's more your style, try our Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Green Onion Vinaigrette, Pickled Lemon-Thyme Brussels Sprouts, or Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Apricot Salad.

How to Choose the Best Brussels Sprouts and Prepare Them for Cooking

Look for Brussels sprouts that are firm, tightly compacted, and bright green rather than loosely furled, yellow, or with brown spots. Aim for evenly-sized nodes so they cook at about the same rate, or keep in mind any variance in size as you prepare them and slice them into uniform sizes. Small Brussels sprouts tend to have a milder and sweeter flavor than larger ones, which tend to be more cabbage-like in taste.

Once you bring your Brussels sprouts home, thoroughly wash them to remove any dirt. Then use a sharp knife to slice off any woody stems. Remove any damaged or yellow leaves, and cut each Brussels sprout into halves or quarters, depending on size. Feel free to leave the very small sprouts whole.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts Bacon
Andy Lyons

The 5 Best Ways to Cook Brussels Sprouts

These tried-and-true ways to cook Brussels sprouts make them utterly irresistible. Learn the different methods for cooking Brussels sprouts that will inspire everyone to ask for seconds.

How to Roast Brussels Sprouts in the Oven

In a side-by-side taste test, you might notice that oven-roasted Brussels sprouts (essentially high-heat baked Brussels sprouts) err on the softer side. If you like crunch, however, fear not: The leaves on the exterior still score that lovely char, as do any loose leaves that end up floating around the pan. (Sprouts chips, anyone?) Since you can also cook other items on the sheet pan at the same time—as our Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apple and Pancetta prove—this is one of our go-to side dish ideas. It's easy enough for a weeknight yet elegant enough for dinner parties.

To roast Brussels sprouts:

  • Preheat the oven to 400℉.
  • In a large bowl, toss sprouts with oil, salt, and black pepper.
  • Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet pan, and arrange the sprouts cut-side down and spaced out in a single layer. Use two sheet pans if necessary.
  • Roast 20 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through.
Soy- and Chile-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Shiitake Mushrooms
Karla Conrad

How to Make Sautéed (aka Pan-Fried) Brussels Sprouts

Sautéed Brussels sprouts, pan-fried Brussels sprouts, seared Brussels sprouts, pan-roasted Brussels sprouts…whatever you call it, we deem it delicious. All of these monikers refer to the same way to cook Brussels sprouts: using a skillet over high heat to sear the vegetables until they're cooked through. Compared to oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, recipes like our Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Soy- and Chile-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Shiitake Mushrooms, and the vegetables that are part of Sprouts and Cherry Toasties tend to stay firmer in texture.

To make pan-fried Brussels sprouts:

  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Place sprouts in the pan, cut sides down, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes or until the sprouts are golden brown.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl, season to taste, and toss with your favorite dressing, if desired.
Air-Fried Brussels Sprouts
Dera Burreson, Ryan Krull

How to Air-Fry Brussels Sprouts

For a fast-food-like flavor that's slightly lower in calories and fat—since little oil is required—an air-fryer is an excellent option. Using this countertop appliance is one of the simplest ways to cook Brussels sprouts. Recipes like Air-Fried Brussels Sprouts and Air-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Bourbon Glaze are doable in just 25 minutes.

To make air-fryer Brussels sprouts:

  • Preheat the air-fryer to 375℉.
  • In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with oil, salt, and black pepper.
  • Working in batches, if necessary, arrange Brussels sprouts in a single layer in the air fryer basket without overcrowding the pieces.
  • Cook 10 to 12 minutes or until sprouts are browned and tender, shaking or stirring once.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl, season to taste, and toss with your favorite dressing, if desired.
Pressure Cooker Maple-Bacon Brussels Sprouts
Jason Donnelly

How to Make Brussels Sprouts in an Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker

The easiest way to make Brussels sprouts is to get an assist from your Instant Pot (or whatever model of electric pressure cooker you use). It's how we make these Pressure Cooker Maple-Bacon Brussels Sprouts in less than 30 minutes, after a mere 3 minutes of cook time!

To make Instant Pot Brussels sprouts:

  • Add broth and Brussels sprouts to the pot of a 6-quart pressure cooker.
  • Lock the lid in place, then set the electric cooker on high pressure to cook for 3 minutes.
  • Quickly release pressure, then open the lid carefully.
  • Drain sprouts mixture in a colander; transfer to a serving bowl.
  • Season to taste and toss with your favorite dressing, if desired.

How to Make Steamed Brussels Sprouts

If you prefer a pop of vibrant green color and a tender texture rather than those golden-brown crispy edges, consider steamed Brussels sprouts. This way to cook Brussels sprouts is quick and light; it's our go-to method during prime sprouts season when we really want their flavor to shine.

To make steamed Brussels sprouts:

  • Place 1 inch of water in a medium saucepan, then bring the water to a boil.
  • Add a steamer basket on top of the water.
  • Place Brussels sprouts in the steamer basket.
  • Cover the pan with a lid, and steam until the sprouts are tender (about 7 minutes).
  • Season to taste and toss with your favorite dressing, if desired.

Tips for Making the Best Brussels Sprouts (No Matter the Method)

Whether you prefer air-fried, sautéed, steamed, or roasted Brussels sprouts, remember these tips to make your best batch yet.

  • Dry well. Water is an enemy if you're aiming for crispy Brussels sprouts. After rinsing and slicing the vegetables, pat them dry with clean kitchen towels or give them a twirl in the salad spinner to shake off any remaining water.
  • Choose the proper pan. Crowded Brussels sprouts will steam. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing (and is absolutely what you're going for if steamed Brussels sprouts are your style), your veggies won't get as crispy if that's the texture you're after. Spread them out on the sheet pan so they're not touching in the skillet or the air-fryer basket, ideally cut-side down, for the crispiest exterior.
  • Crank up the heat. Cooking Brussels sprouts with high heat caramelizes the exterior, tames the bitterness, and accentuates their natural slightly-nutty flavor.
  • Preheat your appliance. Be it the oven, stove, or air-fryer; this will encourage the high-heat cooking that yields the best flavor.
  • Add acid. Brussels sprouts (and almost all roasted vegetables) crave it, so don't be shy when adding lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or pickled onions. Or grate on some lemon zest.
  • Season to taste. Before serving, sample a sprout and add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, or anything you feel is missing before adding your side to the spread.

If you're lucky enough to have leftovers, transfer cooked Brussels sprouts to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 4 days. When you're ready to enjoy, simply reheat them in a skillet over medium heat until warm, or reheat in the oven by roasting the Brussels sprouts at 350℉ until warm. Both methods should take about 5 minutes.

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