Growing up in the American south, Brussels sprouts were a staple at our dining table. As a child, I hated them. They were bad, bitter, and boring. As an adult, I’ve learned they can be fun, flavorful, and a total family favorite–if cooked properly. My favorite Brussels sprouts recipe includes bacon, a balsamic vinaigrette, and Parmesan cheese. Here’s how to cook Brussels sprouts with bacon.
This roasted Brussels sprouts recipe has quickly become a family favorite. We serve them when we make a fancy steak dinner at home or rotisserie chicken. They also pair well with mac and cheese. This is a popular holiday dish in our family and it is served every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
Brussels Sprouts vs. Brussel Sprouts
I’ve long wondered the correct spelling of the word. Brussels sprouts are part of the cabbage family and originally from the Mediterranean climate. The little sprouts were harvested and moved to northern Europe in the late 12th and early 13th century, where they were planted in the lowland countries (today’s Belgium and the Netherlands).
The vegetable became quite plentiful and very popular in central Belgium and were named after the capital: Brussels. So the correct spelling of the name is actually Brussels sprouts, not Brussel sprouts. However, in recent years, both spellings have been recognized.
How to Cook Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Over the years, I’ve experimented with lots of different ways of roasting Brussels sprouts and cooking them other ways. I’ve found this multi-step process results in the most tender and most flavorful sprouts possible.
Prepping the Brussels Sprouts
Slice the Brussels sprouts in half length-wise. Blanche them by briefly adding them to boiling salted water until they are just cooked and still firm. Then plunge them into a cool ice bath to stop the cooking process.
You may lose a few Brussels sprouts leaves in the blanching process. Discard them. Once cool, dry the Brussels sprouts with paper towels.
Cooking Brussels Sprouts
Now, add a thin layer of peanut or corn oil to an oven-safe saute pan and heat over medium-high until the oil is hot. Take care not to smoke the oil. Place the Brussels sprouts in the oil with the cut side down. Cook them until brown. Lightly sprinkle with salt & pepper. Finish the Brussels sprouts by adding about 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. Shake the Brussels sprouts. Now finish your roasted Brussels sprouts in the oven for a few minutes.
If you have more Brussels sprouts than can fit in the saute pan at one time, repeat the above process with the remaining sprouts.
Making the Balsamic Vinaigrette
In many fine restaurants, Brussels sprouts are severed with a balsamic reduction. I’ve found a simple balsamic vinaigrette works just as well in half the time.
To make the balsamic vinaigrette, simply whisk the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and honey together in a large mixing bowl. Add a little sea salt and pepper to taste.
Serving Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
Place the Brussels sprouts on a large serving plate and then drizzle liberally with the balsamic vinaigrette. Sprinkle crumbled pieces of bacon on the top.
For an additional gluttonous and delicious touch, you can finish by shaving fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top. I recommend shaving curls of the cheese off a block using a paring knife. Do not grate the Parmesan cheese because the smaller pieces will melt and glob together.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Tasty Brussels sprouts are enhanced in this savory side dish with the richness of bacon and the acid of balsamic vinaigrette. For an even more special presentation, serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano curls.
- 1 1/4 lbs Brussels sprouts, (about 25)
- 4 tbsp corn oil, divided (peanut or other mild oil also works)
- 4 tbsp butter, divided
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp honey
- 6 pieces thick-sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved (optional)
- Cook bacon over medium-high heat until crispy (about 15 minutes). Remove from pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble bacon when cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
- Fill a bowl with cold water and ice to use as an ice bath.
- Cut off root end of Brussels sprouts. Then, cut in half length-wise. When water is boiling, add sprouts to water for 2-3 minutes until just cooked but still firm.
- Using slotted spoon, remove cooked Brussels sprouts from boiling water and plunge into ice bath.
- Cool Brussels sprouts in ice bath for 1-2 minutes. Dry the sprouts using a paper towel.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp corn oil in an oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat. Make sure the oil does not smoke.
- When oil is shimmering, add half the sprouts to the pan, cut-side down. Cook until brown, about 3-4 minutes. Do not shake the pan. Sprinkle sprouts with salt and pepper.
- When sprouts are brown, add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. Shake pan to coat and place in oven for 3-5 minutes until Brussels sprouts have softened slightly and browned.
- Repeat with remaining half of the Brussels sprouts.
- To make the vinaigrette, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined.
- To serve, drizzle vinaigrette over Brussels sprouts and crumbled bacon. Top with shave Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired.
Be careful not to cut off too much of the root end of the Brussels sprouts or the leaves may come apart during the blanching process.