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Whole Brussels Sprouts Steamed, Stir Fried, Roasted

Brussels sprouts roasted

Cook Brussels sprouts until the insides are just tender, not soft, and the flavor will be sweet, mild, and delicious.

Choose Brussels sprouts that are dark green, tightly formed, and of uniform size–smaller, not bigger is best.

Cook the same day they come off the stem or use the sniff test to tell you they are fresh–avoid sprouts that are cabbagey smelling.

Many recipes tell you slice Brussels sprouts before cooking–but they won’t be as showy as those you cook whole. Whole sprouts steamed, stir fried, or roasted are beautiful and tasty.

To prepare whole Brussels sprouts for cooking, closely trim the stem end and remove any yellowing outer leaves. Cut an X in the stem end to bring heat to the centers more quickly.

Here are three ways to cook Brussels sprouts whole:

Steamed Brussels Sprouts

brussels-sprouts-steamedA very easy way to steam Brussels sprouts is in a sauce pan. Add ½ inch of salted water and bring to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the sprouts yield to the tip of a knife and the water is just evaporated—about 5 minutes. These sprouts will offer some bite, but won’t be mushy. For the best, nutty flavor don’t over-steam Brussels sprouts—over-steamed sprouts can have a strong cabbage flavor (and smell).

The tried-and-true method of steaming Brussels sprouts is in a pot with a steamer basket. Bring about an inch of water. Put the sprouts in the steamer basket, set over the boiling water, cover, and steam until tender to the bite, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the sprouts to a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss with butter and chives. Alternatively, spritz them with lemon juice or toss them in toasted sesame oil.

Serve hot or warm.

Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts

brussels-sprouts-sauteed-bittmanSteam the Brussels sprouts until barely tender, then rinse and set aside. (See above)

Heat a wok or heavy pan over medium heat.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil and bacon chopped into small bits. Cook until the bacon is brown, but not crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set to the side. To make this vegan, use chopped hazelnuts instead of bacon.

To the oil add one small diced onion and cook until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown.

Turn the heat to medium-high, add the Brussels sprouts cook, stir, and toss until the sprouts are heated through and just starting to brown—about a minute or two.

Add the bacon (or nuts) and toss. Season with salt to taste.

Serve hot or warm.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

brussels-sprouts-roastedPreheat the oven to 450°F.

Roasted Brussels sprouts is a combination of steaming and roasting.

Once the sprouts are steamed (see above), put them in a large ovenproof skillet with ¼ cup of virgin olive oil added and put them in the oven. Roast for about 30 minutes occasionally shaking the pan until the sprouts are brown and tender.

Drizzle with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve hot or warm.


Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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