Crisp on the outside, tender but not mushy on the inside and coated with a sticky sweet and spicy glaze, these Brussels sprouts are roasted till deeply caramelized with crunchy bits of charred shallots and garlic. These are an easy, versatile, mostly hands-off side, made with less than 10 ingredients, ready in under 30 minutes and so good you will be snacking on them straight from the baking sheet!
Brussels sprouts are a tragically underrated vegetable. I suspect their unpopularity stems from many people’s early encounters with sad soggy frozen sprouts or mushy sprouts boiled within an inch of their lives. But don’t blame the vegetable, blame the preparation! When cooked and seasoned well, Brussels sprouts are so good they’re basically a snack.
Brussels sprouts essentially taste like tiny, more strongly-flavoured, cabbages. They are deliciously sweet and nutty when balanced with other sweet, spicy, savoury or smoky seasonings. Garlic and shallots, red pepper flakes, lemon, bacon and of course salt are Brussels sprouts’ best friends. Beyond taming their sometimes bitter flavour, the other sticking point with Brussels sprouts is texture. You want some crisp and crunch to your Brussels sprouts, so don’t boil or steam or otherwise slow-cook them. This will leave them soft and mushy. Opt instead for quick, high-heat cooking methods like roasting at a high temperature or even pan searing - to get the best texture out of them.
Roasted Brussels sprouts are a great, easy, way to add nutritional value to simple pastas - like this shrimp scampi.
For this recipe, to get the best flavour and texture out of fresh in-season Brussels sprouts, I roast them quickly at a high temperature, pair them with savoury garlic and shallots and toss them in a sweet and spicy honey sriracha glaze shortly before the end of the cooking time.
How to Choose, Store and Clean Brussels Sprouts
- When buying Brussels sprouts, look for tightly formed heads that are firm when squeezed and are a vibrant green with no signs of yellowing and no black spots. Don’t worry, though, if the bottom few leaves are wilted or imperfect. They’re the first to wilt and yellow, and you’ll be removing them anyway as you prep them for cooking. You can tell if your Brussels sprouts have gone bad when they are pale and yellow, with soft mushy spots and/or black patches.
- If possible, choose sprouts that are roughly the same size, so they will cook evenly.
- Brussels sprouts are vegetables in the brassica family, cool-season vegetables like cabbage and broccoli, that are very cold hardy and often taste their best and sweetest after experiencing a few frosts. So, while you can probably find Brussels sprouts most of the year at a well-stocked grocery store, they are the highest quality when they are in season from late fall to early winter.
Looking to get in your greens with more quick-and-easy sides? Try this cucumber salad with spicy Thai dressing.
- Don’t wash your Brussels sprouts until you are ready to cook with them. Store them unwashed in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, ideally, in a paper bag. You can also store them in a plastic bag, but leave it slightly open, and place a few paper towels underneath the sprouts. The paper bag or paper towels will absorb moisture, preventing too much water from pooling around the sprouts which causes them to rot more quickly. When stored properly, Brussels sprouts will last in the fridge for several days.
- Since Brussels sprouts grow on tall stalks, you shouldn’t need to remove much dirt from them. To clean them, place them in a colander and rinse them with cold water. Then either allow them to air dry if you’ve cleaned them a bit in advance of cooking, or pat them dry with a paper towel.
Tips for Preparing and Roasting Brussels Sprouts
- To cut your Brussels sprouts, first trim off the firm stalk on the bottom, being careful not to cut away too much of the bottom leaves. Then, pull away the outermost bottom leaves and discard if they are wilted or yellowing. Cut the remaining sprouts in half, from top to bottom through the base.
- Don’t worry if some of the outer leaves fall off as you cut the sprouts. Include the loose leaves with the in-tact sprouts on the baking sheet. They will get extra crispy and charred - which means more flavour! These bits are so good you might want to deliberately tear off a few extra leaves from the outside of the sprouts to make more crunchy bits.
- Arrange the Brussels sprouts cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. This way, the surface area of the flat side will brown and caramelize nicely.
Try serving these honey sriracha Brussels sprouts - or any other quick-roasted vegetables - with this garlicky soy-braised chicken
- The key to getting the outside of your sprouts dark and caramelized, without turning the insides to mush, is using high heat (I recommend 425F), and allowing enough air to circulate around the sprouts as they roast. Don’t overcrowd the vegetables on your baking sheet. If they are too close together, as the moisture in the vegetables evaporates they will steam, rather than roast, and they’ll come out soft. If the baking tray is not big enough to give the sprouts room to spread into a single even layer, divide the vegetables over two trays.
- Don’t be afraid of a little char! I love the charred crunchy and pieces of garlic and shallot. They do add a hint of bitterness, but that works well with the sticky sweet and spicy honey sriracha glaze. If bitter flavours are not your thing, keep the garlic and shallots separate from the Brussels sprouts and toss them through the Brussels sprouts half way through the cooking time.
Serving Brussels Sprouts
- Always serve roasted Brussels sprouts as quickly as possible. Once they come out of the oven they start to lose their crunch within 20 minutes. Be sure to time the cooking so that the sprouts go into the oven no earlier than 15-20 minutes before the rest of your meal will be ready to serve.
- The strong flavours of Brussels sprouts stand up well to rich roasted meats and other fall and winter comfort foods that tend to be on the heavier side. They’re a classic side for a roasted chicken or thanksgiving turkey dinner, but they’re also the perfect quick-and-easy accompaniment to a simple weeknight pasta. Try serving these honey sriracha Brussels sprouts with:
Caramelized Honey Sriracha Brussels Sprouts Recipe
Serves 4 as a side dish
- 1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts, rinsed and pat dry
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 4 teaspoons sriracha
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced crosswise
- 3 large shallots, sliced into thin rings
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the honey and sriracha together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Trim the stems off each sprout and remove and discard damaged or yellowing leaves. Cut the sprouts in half (or quarters, if they are very large), top to bottom through the stem.
- Transfer the Brussels sprouts, garlic slices and shallot rings to the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread everything evenly over the sheet pan in a single layer and turn the Brussels sprouts cut-side down. If you cannot fit everything into a single even layer, divide over two parchment-lined baking sheets - don’t overcrowd! Roast for 20 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven, drizzle the honey-sriracha glaze over the top and toss to coat. Spread the sprouts in an even layer over the sheet pan and return it to the oven for 3-5 more minutes, or until the sprouts are browned and crispy. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.