How to Cook Brussels Sprouts

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
June 12, 2018

Learning how to cook Brussels sprouts and work them into your meals will teach your family to love this nutritional powerhouse vegetable. Learn more here.

Brussels sprouts are one of the nutritionally richest of the “crucifers,” the family including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, radish, cabbage, collard greens, and turnips. These vegetables may protect us against several cancers, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Pick “the brightest green, evenly shaped and firm bulbs that feel heavy for their size,” note the experts at California’s Ocean Mist Farms. Stay away from sprouts with spotting or yellow leaves. Choose sprouts about the same size so you can cook them together evenly.


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A cup of boiled sprouts contains about 2.5 grams of protein and the same amount of fiber, with 7 grams of carbohydrate and 1.7 grams of sugar. You’ll find lots of vitamin C, vitamin K, and other nutrients.

Cauliflower is easier to feed to children than Brussels sprouts, because of their slight bitterness. In one study, however, researchers had some success serving the kids sweetened cream cheese with the sprouts.

Note that the sprouts contain sugar, which comes out when they’re cooked, as with onions. Some people even add sugar to the cooking pan. To get that caramelized taste without sugar, try steaming sprouts whole for 7 minutes or so until just tender. Let them cool a bit and then cut each in half. Next heat olive oil over medium heat, place the sprouts in one layer, with the cut side down and let them brown for 4 to 5 minutes. Check that the heat is enough to brown your sprouts without burning them. Flip and cook the other side for no more than 3 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice to serve.

For a simple preparation with garlic, choose among these recipes:

Sauté. Trim and slice sprouts in half. Heat olive oil and cook garlic in it for about a minute. sauté the sprouts in the pan for 10 to 12 minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and lemon juice, and serve.

Roast. Mix olive oil, garlic, lemon, and salt and pepper in a large bowl with the sprouts. Make sure they’re coated. Then spread the mixture on an ungreased baking sheet and cook for 15 to 17 minutes at 400 degrees.

Steam. Cook in a steamer over boiling water for no more than 8 minutes, and add the seasonings along with a little olive oil, margarine, or butter in a serving bowl.

Microwave. This depends on your machine, so experiment. There is some evidence that microwaving makes the chlorophyll in the green leaves even more available to the body, and chlorophyll may block the cancerous effects of charred meat. So you might plan on including some microwaved Brussels sprouts on the side the next time you grill hamburgers or steak.

Raw sprouts are the healthiest bet for nutritional value, and there are lots of salad recipes to explore. The key is to shred your sprouts.

For a sweet (and possibly peppery) salad, add any combination of these ingredients to 2 cups of shredded sprouts:

  • 1/2 large red onion, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season salad
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (from about 1/2 a large one)
  • 1/2 large unpeeled apple, cored and diced (Granny Smith, Pink Lady, or Honeycrisp)
  • Juice of half a lemon, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons honey, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup toasted, cooled walnuts, lightly crushed or coarsely chopped
  • Ground chipotle chili pepper, hot smoked paprika, or another chili flake, to taste


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April 09, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN