Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Fork-tender roasted brussels sprouts with caramelized flavors from high heat cooking. The trick to making each bite golden brown on the outside with sweet centers is to steam then roast the vegetables. These tasty sprouts are ready in just 20 minutes!

top down view of a white bowl filled with roasted Brussels sprouts

I never thought I would say this, but I like Brussels sprouts. Once I figured out how to properly cook them they have become a steady appearing side dish on our dinner table. The raw sprouts look like mini cabbages with a bitter taste and tough texture. Most people shred them up and toss them into salads, but I think the best way to maximize the flavor potential of these veggies is to combine the steaming and roasting cooking methods.

Roasting creates a high heat environment that quickly generates new flavors and colors on the sprouts due to caramelization. However, the hot dry-heat alone doesn’t firm up or tenderize the insides. The steam pre-cooks the vegetable for a contrast of textures. Using one pan, all you need are some fresh sprouts, olive oil, water, salt, and pepper, that’s it!

Raw Brussels sprouts in a white colander

Selecting brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables that you can often find year-round with their peak season from September to February. You can find them still attached to their stalks, I’ve seen them this way at Trader Joe’s. They are also sold loose or trimmed and packaged.

When selecting Brussels sprouts, look for green leaves, firm to the touch, and compact. Typically the smaller ones, about 1 to 1 ½ inches in size are sweeter. Check the steams to look for browning and cracks, avoid those pieces. For even cooking, choose ones that are similar in size.

For this recipe try to find sprouts that are 1 ½ inch long and cut them in half. If smaller than 1-inch, keep them whole. If you have jumbo-sized sprouts larger than 2 ½ inches, cut them into quarters. Trim off any browned and bruised leaves.

cut open pieces of Brussels sprouts on a cutting board

Steam the brussels sprouts first

All you have to do is toss the cut or whole sprouts with olive oil, a small amount of water, salt, and pepper. Tightly cover the tray with foil, this allows the water to turn into superheated steam, and cook the interior of the sprouts first.

This 10-minute process ensures that moisture loss is minimized, and makes the sprouts taste slightly sweet instead of bitter. When you remove the foil, the sprouts will be bright green, and firm, yet tender. Now it’s time to roast!

Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan partially covered in foil

How to caramelize brussels sprouts

Now that the sprouts have already been pre-cooked, it’s safe to drive off the extra moisture on the surface. Roasting at 500 degrees allows the exposed sprouts to caramelize and pick up extra flavor. After about 9 minutes, the surface of the vegetables will pick up a deep golden brown appearance.

Make sure to place any halved sprouts cut side down. The pan holds heat more efficiently than the hot air in the oven, so anything touching the metal will brown quicker and develop more flavor. Roasting also makes the Brussels sprouts crispy on the edges.

Additional toppings

Now that you’ve learned the simple technique for roasting brussels sprouts, it’s time to get creative with flavors.

  • I love to chop up oven-roasted bacon and sprinkle it on top.
  • Drizzle on a balsamic vinegar glaze for a sweet and tangy combo.
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese with fresh herbs like parsley and basil make a nice combo.
  • Add chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans for crunch.
  • Make a lemon vinaigrette or honey mustard sauce, and toss.
  • Or just simply enjoy with salt and pepper.

serving spoon lifting roasted Brussels sprouts off of a sheet pan

More side dish recipes

Pre-cook the brussels sprouts for better texture

To avoid burnt dried out Brussels sprouts, briefly steam them first. For 2 pounds of sprouts, only 1 tablespoon of water is necessary. Steaming keeps the vegetable firm and tender by activating the enzyme pectin methylesterase, at temperatures between 120 to 160ºF. The enzyme helps the pectin link with the calcium ions to strengthen the bonds in the cell walls so that the sprouts don’t become mushy. (Source: Cooks Illustrated)

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Fork-tender roasted brussels sprouts ready in 20 minutes. This recipe uses the steaming and roasting cooking methods for improved taste.
Pin Print Review
4.5 from 16 votes
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds brussels sprouts, 1 to 1 ½-inch long, trimmed and cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Place oven rack in the upper-middle position and preheat to 500ºF (260ºC).
  • Cut brussels sprouts in half lengthwise. Keep pieces that are smaller than 1-inch in size whole. 
  • Combine brussels sprouts, olive oil, water, salt and pepper in a large bowl. 
  • Spread the sprouts in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet, turning the cut sides facing down.
  • Tightly cover baking pan with foil and roast for 10 minutes. 
  • Remove the foil and roast until the sprouts are a deep golden-brown and tender, about 9 to 12 minutes depending on the size.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

Notes

  • For sprouts that are 1 ½ inch long, cut them in half.
  • If smaller than 1-inch, keep them whole.
  • If larger than 2 ½ inches, cut them into quarters.

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Nutrition Facts
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 95 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Sodium 246mg10%
Potassium 441mg13%
Carbohydrates 10g3%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 855IU17%
Vitamin C 96.4mg117%
Calcium 48mg5%
Iron 1.6mg9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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10 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. JJ says

    Nice! My daughter-in-law makes these often, and adds roughly chopped garlic cloves with the bake. She keeps the heat lower, and stirs often. For those garlic-lovers, this is a terrific add-in.

      • Anna Leah says

        Love the steam then roast method because it means I’m munching on the sprouts sooner. I roasted them a wee bit longer because I like to crisp up the loose leaves that have fallen off the cut sprouts so that they’re like chips. I drizzled balsamic vinegar and grated lemon zest on them. Yum!

  2. Cheryl says

    My mouth is watering reading this. Have never tried the steaming method before roasting, but will have to do this from now on. I love my roasted sprouts with a simple sauce of olive oil/honey/grainy French mustard and rosemary and garlic, then tossed with walnuts and raisins. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Jessica. I do have one question – If the sprouts are frozen and then thawed, do they need to be steamed first before roasting as well? Thanks. I usually just use frozen sprouts steamed and buttered and then fresh for roasting.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow Cheryl, you are a brussels sprouts queen! I’ll have to try your combo, I love sweet and savory. If the frozen sprouts are raw, I would drain them really well and still steam and then roast. If they are pre-cooked, I would keep using them how you already do. Let me know how it goes!

  3. Nancy says

    Question please – no where do you mention stirring them up during the cooking time. Do you leave them cut side down the whole time? I normally roast my brussels sprouts and stir them around half way thru cooking. Thank you.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Nancy- I leave them cut down the whole time so they get nicely browned. If you notice them getting too browned when roasting at 500 degrees, you can certainly stir them halfway through 🙂

  4. Lorraine says

    Hi Jessica, long time reader first time commenting. I made one tweak. After steaming during the roasting step, about 8min in, I shoved the sprouts to the border of the pan and added bacon strips to the middle (following your oven-roasted bacon recipe). Luckily the timing worked out and both things got perfectly roasted/ crisp. Also made the miso-glazed salmon. Don’t know how to send you a photo of the whole plate of Jessica-tested recipes. Thanks!

  5. Judy Caywood says

    Delicious and healthy. And I want to add I like Lorraine’s idea for the bacon too. yummy

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