How to sautée Brussels sprouts

Sauteed Brussels sprouts 1 © J Horak-Druiff 2012

When people tell me they don’t like Brussels sprouts, my response is the same as when people say they don’t like sex:

“Oh sweetie, maybe you’re just doing it wrong!”

In some ways, I realise I’m lucky in that Brussels sprouts didn’t really appear on our table when I was a child, so I have no traumatic childhood memories of them to sully my enjoyment now.  But I know that there are loads of people who have fairly strong feelings to the contrary!  From a kid’s perspective, they are very green (always a bad thing!) and if they are boiled, I can see how they woudl become scary – a pot of green water into which all nutrients have been leached; a distressing cabbagey smell; and little green nuggets that are in all likelihood a but mushy and tasteless.

Hmmm – where do I sign up for those.  Not.

Luckily, by the time they appeared on our dining table, we had a microwave steamer, so we used to have them steamed with butter and black pepper, and done this way I always loved them.  But I can see that if you are suffering from post-traumatic sprout disorder, steamed sprouts may not be sufficiently far removed from the mushy green nuggets of your youth… So allow me to suggest something else:  sautee them!

It’s quick, it’s easy, and it brings out a delicious nutty flavour that you probably never realised that Brussels sprouts even had. Plus the sprouts take on a lovely caramelly hue that is, frankly, a lot more attractive than over-boiled grey-green. And if you still have some doubters in your midst, why not add in some bacon bits to the pan (because everything is better with bacon!).

So next time you do Brussels sprouts, make sure you do it right. 😉


4.8 from 12 reviews
Sautéed Brussels sprouts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Brussels sprouts suffer from bad PR, but this super-simple recipe will make you forget all your bad experiences as they are transformed into nutty, garlicky, caramelised balls of goodness!
Recipe type: Vegetable side
Serves: 2
  • About 600g Brussels sprouts
  • 4 shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • olive oil
  • vegetable stock cube/powder
  1. Clean the Brussels sprouts and cut each one vertically in half.  Finely chop the shallots and crush the garlic.
  2. In a large flat-bottomed frying pan, heat enough oil to cover the base of the pan.  Place the Brussels sprouts in the pan, cut side down, in a single layer.  Scatter the chopped shallots and garlic over the sprouts.
  3. When the sprouts are just starting to caramelise (you will smell them), turn them over and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  4. Add enough water to just cover the base of the pan with about 1mm of water and crumble half a vegetable stock cube into the pan (I used Kallo organic vegetable stock cubes). Give the pan a good stir and then allow to steam-fry until all the liquid has cooked off and the sprouts are tender.  Serve hot.


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  1. says

    Funnily enough I’ve had cabbage since I was a kid and I have no idea what people are talking about when they mention a disagreeable smell. Hmm… Am I immune or is there something about the cabbages here?
    So… The brussels sprouts look good, with the caramelization going on there :)

  2. says

    Wow what a suggestions! – Not overboil Brussell’s sprouts? Isn’t that against British traditions!
    I’ve never even though about sauteing them, but I looks like a great make-over for their image. I don’t mind them but I’ve never raved about them before and would hardly ever buy them by choice, except perhaps for Christmas dinner, which for some strange reason seems to be traditional, as long as they’re boiled that is!

  3. ysabelkid says

    Put me in the category of “former Brussels sprouts hater”. It was only last year, when I read a similar recipe on 101 Cookbooks (sans garlic and shallots, and ending with a sprinkle of finely-grated Parmesan) that I realised there was more to the little green balls than a boiled cabbage smell. I substitute the stock with a splash or two of orange juice, and mix them with sauteed mushrooms, roast cherry tomatoes or pine nuts. Now to try bacon!

  4. robin says

    Oh Jeanne, your post is just in time for Thanksgiving and on the heels of a brussel sprout disaster! I roasted the little sprouts tonight but left them in a bit too long. They were overdone and bitter – barely edible with a splash of white wine. I’ll try again with your recipe.

  5. says

    I am going to have to try these – we have a “situation” in our house, the husband LOVES brussel sprouts and the rest of us hate ’em. Hopefully this recipe will help 😉

  6. says

    You’re right, unless done right brussels sprouts can be a scary proposition. I love them, and usually roast them, which is also a good method. These look great, and adding garlic to anything is always a good idea!

  7. says

    My family hated brussel sprouts, I love it. I cook or steam them, until still crispy, but not raw. Add some lemon infused olive oil, salt, pepper and grated parmesan cheese……now my family loves brussel sprouts.. I’m going to try your recipe on them soon! I am sure they will love it!

  8. says

    Oh.. this is our favorite veggy (my son hates it) but my husband and I just love it. Sometimes, if I want to give him a healthy snack, I just give him a bowl of blanch brussel sprouts and gado-gado sauce. He loves it!

  9. says

    Boiled Brussels sprouts are enough to traumatise any small child for life, myself included. However, this year I am slowly coming around to the idea of trying a sprout again, so I shall leave my tastebuds in your capable hands and try this out next week!

  10. liz says

    I just came across your blog in the wonderful nordjlus blog links and as soon as I saw the name I thought bet it’s south african and rightly so ! Now you’ve made me all nostalgic for koeksusters (I get a craving for them now and then and have not had one for more than 10 years as I now live in Paris (PARYS in France…)) I don’t know if the fact that the craving has been going on for so long has not exacerbated the taste that i remember and so I’m almost too scared to taste one again in case the idealized taste that I’ve been carrying around for so long in my imagination is somehow let down by the real thing !! However I did find the recipe on your blog (thanks !) and I might try them out if i’m feeling brave one of these days or maybe I’ll just keep on dreaming about them (easier on my hips)
    Take care and keep up the good work

  11. says

    I am also a reformed sprout hater and, unsurprisingly, it was sauteed sprouts that turned it around. I have since realised that you can eat nice boiled sprouts but they really need to still be a bit crunchy.

  12. says

    Like Brilynn, we invariably add bacon to our sautéed Brussels sprouts. And bread crumbs. And garlic – of course!
    Have you tried separating the leaves and sautéeing them that way (a la Laura Calder, et al) They are quite delicious that way too.
    (I am a former loather of Brussels sprouts, having been subjected to the over-boiled version for Sunday dinners. The introduction of bacon and a little wine vinegar converted me. So much that I cannot imagine not liking sprouts now. Unless they are over-boiled, mushy and greenish grey.)

  13. says

    I had the soggy sprouts as a child but have overcome that phobia (in fact I didn’t like most of the green veg I now love) – roasting is definitely a good way to eat them but I have found that a little cointrea and orange zest add to the sort of saute you have posted about – much better than honey which my mum used to try and disguise the taste with!

  14. says

    I too am a ‘former Brussel sprout hater’. Luckily, I’ve seen the light – this is a great way to serve them and sure to win over the sprout-loathers!

  15. kellypea says

    I’ve always love Brussels sprouts — even boiled. But I’m with you on all the great ways they can be made — especially when they’re prepared like yours. All those caramelly brown parts…Mmmmm…

  16. Teuchter says

    I am so pinching all these sprout recipes. They sound delicious.
    Garlic and sprouts are a marriage made in heaven, I reckon. We usually do ours very lightly steamed and then sauteed with butter, garlic, S&P, orange rind and a splash of juice – then finished with toasted, chopped hazelnuts.

  17. says

    So, I’ve just made the sprouts. And, much as I hate to say it, they are good! Now, if only my boys would come home, I’d serve up Sunday lunch and see what they make of them. (Apparently ‘food at 2′ means ‘we assumed you’d be late, so started driving back at 2. Argh!!)

  18. Rick says

    I do pretty much the same as you describe, but panchetta rather than bacon and then coat them in a creamy Gorgonzola sauce…my kids love ‘um

  19. says

    This is DELICIOUS! I loved brussel sprouts just boiled to death, but we won’t be doing that very often. Plus, the fresh sprouts (which I admit I had never purchased) were the same price and lasted a good bit in the fridge. There is no reason NOT to buy fresh. We are PUMPED about these sprouts!

  20. says

    Thank you so much for this recipe. It has literally been 30 years since I last ate a Brussel Sprout and that was when I hated them and was forced to eat them! Used your recipe tonight and wow, I’m definitely going to be eating more of these little things. My husband loves them in any form and he has made me promise to add them to my vegetable garden next summer.
    I found your recipe after a Google search put your recipe right near the top of the list ….. saw your blog title and thought “bet she’s South African!” I left SA in 1996 and after much travelling around the US we’re now settled in Canada.
    I’m looking forward to doing more browsing through your blog.

  21. says

    I think pecans,almonds and chestnuts are delicious with sprouts. The other day I peeled a handful of raw chestnuts and tossed them into the roasting pan alongside my leg of lamb.
    The chestnuts took on a wonderful meaty glaze during the roasting of the lamb.
    I then tossed the meaty chestnuts into my buttered sprouts…mmmm!

  22. Julie says

    FABULOUS!!! I am a former brussels sprouts hater, but this recipe has reformed me. Nice with toasted pine nuts too. Can’t wait to make them again!

  23. Bill davis says

    Really taken with the sauteing of sprouts. Then the recipe did the unforgivable. What is it with cooks and GARLIC!!!! It stinks. It makes people stink. It makes me want to throw up. Please give it a rest and send it back to the Europeans

  24. KSM says

    Great Brussels Sprouts recipe. They came out absolutely fantastic, and was so easy to put together. Thanks so much for sharing and looking towards browsing your other recipes.

  25. Gini says

    We call them the “Devils Candy”. My mother in law would buy the frozen-Yuck. I sautee mine, add a little balsamic and seasoned almonds. It’s a must have during the holiday. Yum.

  26. Laura Fisher says

    OMG, I am now a brussels sprout eater. I absolutely hated them, even as an adult. The funny story is that when momma would cook them as children, we had only 1 sister that would eat them, so of course, we all passed our serving to her – until we got caught. I would be the last one to leave the table because they were so awful!! Ok, many years later, I have a condition which requires that I quit eating most of the vegetables that I love :( — so I am not so happy right. However, I need veggies (I don’t eat meat (but not a vegetarian, just don’t care for any of it)) and brussels sprouts are the recommended veggie (yuck) – instantly I became more unhappy by the second. So I knew I had to find a way to get my veggies — long story short – I came across this recipe, decided to try it – SUCCESS!!! I LOVE THIS RECIPE – THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!!! Ok, Ok, my 11 year old daughter even loves them too. Oh, I added a vegetable herb seasoning to mine and fixed it with Pati’s rice and toasted angel hair: link below

  27. miriam says

    I love Brussels sprouts, and I’m happy not to have any bad memories of them, except when I’ve overcooked them by mistake.

    As for people who say they don’t like sex, maybe they’re asexual.

  28. mike says

    Sauteeing Brussell Sprouts is definitely the way to go. They come out great and not mushy at all. Here is my quick recipe if anyone wants to create a variation. I peel, slice off the bottom, and make a small slit in the center of each half. I don’t know if this is a good or bad idea. I then blanch for ~1 minute and place in an ice bath. Once cooled, i place in a mixing bowl and add salt, pepper, garlic powder, any seasoning that you wish really, lemon, fresh/dry herbs. Heat a little oil in a pan and add the sprouts. Sautee for ~5 mins while flipping for an even cook. Eat and enjoy. As previously mentioned, you can add other ingredients or remove. Substitute fresh garlic for the powder. Using this basic method is sure to put a smile on your face come dinner time. ENJOY

  29. Dierdre says

    I did this by accident a few years ago and fell in love with this way to prepare them! I also added a little soy sauce, black bean paste, sesame oil and a dash of chili hot sauce – YUMMMMMMMMMM!

  30. Bob says

    my wife got some fresh Brussels sprouts at the farmers market. they were still on the stock. everyone in our family loves these “small little cabbages”….. so we are going try your recipe tonight…..hopefully it will go good with our main course….

  31. Sharee says

    Wow! Fantastic–my kids asked for more! Granted I only make them have 2 when we have Brussel Sprouts, but they’ve never, ever asked for more. I had been oven roasting them with garlic and olive oil, and I liked them. But this method is a revelation! Thank you so much.

  32. Ann says

    You have a very interesting site. I like the recipes and photos! Last year, at a church dinner I was exposed to what I think can only be described as the British way of cooking sprouts – boil the hell out of them, for 45 minutes. Perhaps this is to properly cook the worms in them (as last year the brit wasn’t going to even trim off the outer leaves), protein during the war no doubt. So this year I took matters into my own hands and did the sprouts, young, tender small beautiful pricey sprouts, properly prepped (soaking them in warm water with a little salt for awhile, trimming the stalks, removing a few outer leaves and rinsed cleaned to avoid worms). Unfortunately, this year the same lady adamantly insisted they be boiled 45 minutes. Fortunately, after 5 minutes I scooped out mine from the pot. The ones cooked longer were all bitter. Over-cooking makes brussel sprouts bitter! Ah, church dinners!
    Your recipe looks delicious and I am going to try it soon! I have always loved sprouts!

  33. Deb says

    Brussels sprouts are amazing cooked this way! I have never liked them before I tried them like this. Jeanne, thanks so much for your recipe!!!

  34. Stacie says

    Thank you for this recipe. It’s only the third time I’ve tried cooking Brussels sprouts and the first two times were horrible. This was super easy and delicious!

  35. Ginni says

    People say the don’t like sex? Which people? You’re not asking kids that, right? 😀 😀 Nah, great recipe, cheers.

  36. Trev says

    I couldn’t have tried harder to stuff this recipe up. I used onion instead of shallots, under-cooked the flat side, over cooked the other side and poured in to much water – and yet the end result, messy and unattractive, was delicious. Great recipe.

    • Jeanne says

      Hahaha – thanks for the amusing feedback Trev! And always good to hear one of my recipes is bullet-proof :)

  37. Shelly says

    OK some of you – if you’re going to cook them, serve them, eat them, you might as well know the proper name for them: brussels sprouts (not brussell sprouts).

  38. Carol says

    We adore brussels sprouts and are crazy about this recipe. Though bacon adds something else, it does detract from the delightful taste of the sprouts themselves. This recipe has become the ‘go to’ recipe in our home. Thank you.

  39. Jodi says

    Hi. Im make this recipe right now. It sounds great! But I was unsure if I should cover the pan at the end or not. I’m just going to wing it today, but for future reference, please let me know. Thanks!

    • Jeanne says

      Hi Jodi – I don’t cover the pan at the end – I just allow all the liquid to cook off. If they are then still not soft enough for your taste, add a little more liquid (but I like mine still to have some bite to them!)