How to Cook Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Monday, January 18, 2016

Brussels Sprouts

At our house, Brussels sprouts have become the quintessential winter vegetable. Those small, tightly bound, cabbage looking globes that most people hate happen to be our favorite. But, that wasn’t always the case. I wasn’t always this much in love, it came gradually over time. I can only describe my past views on the leafy orb as loathing. It wasn’t until I ate at an upscale restaurant in TN that the love affair began. The simple mix of olive oil and sea salt and the pan roasting made them taste amazing and convinced me that my prior judgments were unfounded.

On a cool fall day I set out to recreate the simple sprouts with olive oil and sea salt I had in TN. As usual I was doing too many things at once and got side tracked with God knows what because I forgot about my experiment. When the smell from the oven brought me back my little globes had “over-cooked” a bit, or so I thought. Being the frugal farmgirl that I am and not wanting to waste anything I popped one into my mouth to see if they could be salvaged. One right after the other they went into my mouth until I realized I had hit on something! They were browned, almost to the point of being caramelized, crispy with slightly blackened leaves, and the center was tender and meaty. That’s right…meaty.

A drizzle more of olive oil and another sprinkle of sea salt and we had hit the jackpot.

Below is my “go-to” way of roasting sprouts. But, don’t stop there. Brussels sprouts are the perfect canvas to creating many different flavors with spices, glazes, and sauces, whatever strikes your fancy.

Now—for one important point, they are a pain to prep. There…I said it.

It must be done, though, so get to it. Halve and peel the outer leaves. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to do a pound.


  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed, halved and outer leaves removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400F and coat a large baking sheet with spray oil (preferably olive oil).

Use a paring knife to trim the ends, then slice in half lengthwise, remove any loose outer leaves.

Place prepped sprouts in a large bowl.

Add oil over sprouts and stir or toss with hands until thoroughly coated.

Add the salt and stir to combine.

Spread Brussels sprouts in a single layer on baking sheet. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Roast at 400F on middle rack for 20 minutes then turn sprouts. Continue roasting for another 5-15 minutes until browned to your liking. To make them “crispy” and charred, brown a bit more than you think you should. This is where personal taste comes in. You may have to make a few batches to find your desired doneness. Keep in mind, smaller sprouts will brown faster than larger ones. Choosing sprouts the same size will help with this.

Before serving, drizzle with a teaspoon or so of olive oil and toss to coat. This will infuse them with flavor and moisten them a bit after roasting. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired. Serve piping hot, immediately.

For variations on this recipe, try:

Adding a ½ teaspoon of Harissa spice blend to the above recipe

Sprinkling with grated Parmesan cheese before serving

Drizzling with pomegranate molasses or balsamic reduction before serving

Minced garlic cloves, garlic-infused oil, instead of the olive oil or garlic salt, instead of sea salt during the preparations

Drizzling with teriyaki sauce and sprinkling with sesame seeds before serving

Using BBQ sauce as a dipping sauce

Sprinkling toasted ground nuts, like pecans, or sesame seeds over the top


Or, use the recipe as a base and come up with your own creations. Brussels sprouts go well with spicy and hot seasonings, even hummus, so have fun experimenting.

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