How to Make Brussels Sprouts Good

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A quick sauté of sprouts with bacon and shallots makes for a quick and flavorful side dish. Learn how to make Brussels sprouts good.

sprouts and bacon in pan stirred with wooden spoon

Perhaps when you were a child, your mom served these baby cabbage-like guys once in awhile. From a box. From the freezer section. Sometimes with cheese.

Maybe you were a fan. But, probably not.

There’s a reason why folks give Brussels sprouts the side eye. They’ve been done wrong. 

I totally understand.

About 12 years ago one of my children requested Brussels sprouts. I can’t even remember where he had ever heard of them because they were not something Bryan and I would have ever talked about. We were not fans.

But who am I to deprive a child of sprouts? Really.

On a whim I bought a box to cook that night for dinner. From a box. From the freezer section. I was so proud of my boy for wanting to try something so new and foreign. And this boy was my pickiest eater at the time!

Needless to say, it was a train wreck.

No one cared for these hard, cabbagy clumps, and so we retired brussels sprouts from our kitchen.

Over the years, two close friends both insisted that fresh sprouts were entirely different. And I nodded and said okay. But, I was certainly not going to buy any.

dinner plate of sprouts, quinoa, and chicken

But a produce co-op has a way of forcing itself — and unwanted vegetables — on you. 2012 was our year for expanding our horizons when we subscribed to a produce co-op.

And because I hate waste more than I hate any vegetable, I’ll at least try the weird thing in the box. And of course, one day there were Brussels sprouts. 

Fresh. Not in a box from the freezer section.

My eldest child, a food adventurer, and I did some research on Brussels sprouts, busted out some bacon, and had a go at it. What resulted was a very pleasant surprise.

  1. Most of my kids tried them.
  2. Most of my kids like them. Even asking for seconds!
  3. Bacon proved itself once again as being able to make all things good.

This is a quick and easy recipe for brussels sprouts that could make a lover out of a hater. They are now a regular featured Thanksgiving recipe for our family.

Try ’em. You’ll like ’em.

brussels sprouts on stalks at grocery store

Why are they called Brussels sprouts?

Brussels sprouts are a type of cabbage that was grown in the 1500s near Brussels. They got their name from their famous hometown.

How should you buy Brussels sprouts?

While most frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh, this is not the case when it comes to brussels sprouts. You need to buy fresh ones. You can find them in the produce department of the grocery store. They can be purchased on the stalk, in pre-measured bags, or in loose bins for you to choose from.

Choose small, brightly colored, green sprouts with compact leaves. Store unwashed sprouts in the refrigerator  in an airtight plastic bag, for up to 3 days.

How do you trim Brussels sprouts?

Remove any damaged leaves and trim the stem end and remove any thick core. You can cook small sprouts whole, but they will have more surface for caramelizing if you thickly slice them or quarter them.

cutting brussels sprouts off stalks on kitchen counter

How do you cook Brussels sprouts so they are not bitter?

Sautéing or roasting brussels sprouts adds a caramelized flavor to them; something that boiling or steaming certainly cannot do. Add a pinch of brown sugar to help offset their natural bitterness and allow them to brown lightly.

How do you make Brussels sprouts good?

Bacon makes everything better, including brussels sprouts. In this recipe sautéing the thickly sliced sprouts in a bit of bacon fat and olive oil adds delicious flavor and helps the caramelization process. Add in some coarsely chopped bacon and shallots to further enhance this veggie.

What kitchen tools do you need for this recipe?

Having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I like to use in this recipe.

step-by-step process of making brussels sprouts

How do you make Brussels sprouts affordable?

Brussels sprouts are a fairly seasonal vegetable, showing their faces often near the holidays. Watch for sales. Last year, my Sprouts sold them originally for $4/stalk, but reduced this price to $1.50 a day or two before Thanksgiving. I’ve also found them reasonably priced at Costco and ALDI.

Bacon will, of course, be your pricier ingredient in this recipe. Again, watch for sales and stock up and freeze bacon at the best price. Since this recipe only uses 5 slices, you should be able to stretch your bacon purchase.

Can you use turkey bacon or vegan bacon?

Feel free to substitute whatever type of bacon you prefer. I use uncured bacon, but turkey bacon or vegan bacon will work. If you use a product that doesn’t produce much drippings, be sure to add another tablespoon of oil to compensate.

Do I have to use the bacon fat?

You do not have to use the bacon fat, but it adds a lot of flavor. Feel free to substitute another tablespoon of oil or butter if you are omitting the bacon drippings.

If you like, you can bake the bacon and add it at the end.

dinner table with sprouts, quinoa, and chicken

If you prepare this recipe, be sure to take a picture and hashtag it #GOODCHEAPEATS. I can't wait to see what you cook up!
5 from 1 vote
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
A quick sauté of sprouts with bacon and shallots makes for a quick and flavorful side dish. Learn how to make Brussels sprouts good.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brussels sprouts, brussels sprouts with bacon, sprouts
Servings: 8
Calories: 109 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee or olive oil
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • pinch brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
  1. Peel the outer layer off the brussels sprouts, trim the ends and cut them in half. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan and chop coarsely.
  3. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the pan. Add butter and melt together.
  4. Saute the shallot in the pan and saute until starting to go clear.
  5. Add the brussels sprouts and continue to cook on medium-high heat, until tender and starting to brown, about three to five minutes. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Continue cooking for a few more minutes until the sprouts are tender, then add the chopped bacon and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Facts
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots
Amount Per Serving
Calories 109 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 13mg4%
Sodium 125mg5%
Potassium 369mg11%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 685IU14%
Vitamin C 73mg88%
Calcium 36mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. lol…I never liked brussel sprouts either. Recently we tried them roasted in the oven…delicious!

  2. Jane says

    We’ve been doing something similar but using the leeks that are in the box!

  3. Karen says

    I have never had the frozen sprouts, but would love to try these. Bacon makes almost anything better. Unfortunately our stores only have really big (usually not so great) overpriced ($2.49/#) sprouts right now. I usually load up when they are cheap so might have to wait till fall to do this one. Sigh.

  4. Kristal says

    I went through a Costco sized bag of them over the weekend…I love them roasted with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt…you should try them shredded in a Caesar style salad…and shredded and stir fried quickly…so yummy! I also separated the leaves off of a few and put it on a pizza-the edges were so crisp and it really made for a yummy pizza night!

  5. Shell says

    You can also steam or roast these and then slice them in half and put them in a skillet with a little Olive Oil and five spice powder and they are absolutely delicious. Instead of bacon , we sometimes sprinkle a small amount of chopped walnuts in.

  6. Harriet says

    You all please feel free to eat my family’s supply of sprouts. Not happening over here, even though the bacon would get picked out and eaten before they hit the trash.
    We did like roasted cauliflower though!

  7. Tammy says

    If you really want to experience the wonderfulness of Brussels Sprouts and have (or someone in the family has the time) to separate the sprouts into separate
    leaves – I KNOW, It’s labor intensive but well worth it. The flavor is so delicate, and completely different that the usual Brusssels Sprouts/mini-cabbage taste.

    • Jessica says

      Fun! My kids would totally go for that.

  8. Sandi says

    So can you use the frozen ones (without any sauce) and cook them this way with edible results, or should frozen ones be ignored altogether and only fresh ones ever used?

    • Jessica says

      @Sandi, the frozen ones we had were horrible. So, I would bypass the frozen altogether.

      • Jenn says

        Roasting makes everything better! I think I’ve bought frozen from Trader Joe’s in the past with good results. I’m not the biggest cabbage fan but carmelizing makes Brussels sprouts heavenly!

  9. Teri says

    We received some brussel sprouts with our CSA this weekend and I had no idea what to do with them since I’ve never had them. Thankfully, I ran across this recipe and was wowed! I substituted a red onion for the shallot since they are impossible to find in North Texas. I was really thrilled with the outcome of this and even my 3 year old son ate some.
    Thank you for posting!

    • Jessica says

      Yeah! So glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Christine A. says

    I made these Brussels sprouts tonight but used a sweet onion (because that is what I had), and added a chopped up peeled apple (Braeburn). It is sooooo good and added a twist of sweetness! I had used the “apple peeler-corer-slicer” gadget earlier in the day and had an extra left over apple…just sitting there starting to turn brown! Didn’t want it to go to waste!

    • Jessica says

      Brilliant. Love it!

      You doing the Pantry Challenge, too? 😉

      • Christine A says

        I hesitate to say I am doing the Pantry Challenge….I did inventory our freezers and pantry, and I am more conscious of using what we have for meals!!! Does that count??? 🙂

  11. april abbott says

    I got in trouble one time when I was a kid when faced with a serving of boiled Brussels sprouts at dinner…
    my mother…trying to sell us on the gnarly smelling pile of soggy green awfulness said cheerfully
    :eat em up…vegtables are good for you
    Prompting my snarkey 12 year old self to say
    Brussel sprouts arnt a vegtable… they’re a punishment…
    Needless to say I didn’t get dessert that night…lol

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