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The Best Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

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These caramelized Brussels sprouts are a revelation! Sweet and crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, almost candy-like, and incredibly delicious. This an easy recipe perfect for the holiday season!

many caramelized sprouts sprinkled with red peppercorns,

You will not be able to stop eating these caramelized Brussels sprouts. If, by any chance, you will have leftovers after the meal, you will probably keep snacking on them until they are all gone. They are that good! Probably the best Brussels sprout recipe I’ve ever made.

Another great thing about this recipe is that it will only need three simple ingredients. The cooking process is super-fast as well, but you also have to consider the time you need to clean the sprouts.

And if you like these baby cabbages as much as we do, check out the Roasted Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon – German-Style, and Cheesy Bacon Brussels Sprouts.

Recipe ingredients

bowl with raw brussels sprouts, butter, sugar, salt and pepper.
  • Brussels sprouts: About 1 ½ lb/ 700 g weighed before cleaning. After I removed the wilted outer leaves, I was left with about 1.1 lb/ 500 g.
  • Butter: Salted or unsalted; adjust the salt you need accordingly.
  • Granulated sugar for caramelizing the Brussels sprouts.
  • Some fine sea salt or Kosher salt and ground black pepper. Both to taste.

How to trim Brussels sprouts?

  • Cut off the tough stem using a small knife.
  • Remove the outer yellow, wilted, or loose leaves.
  • Cut in half.
  • Cutting them in half gives you more area that can caramelize nicely, but if some of them are much smaller than the rest, leave them whole, or they will cook sooner than the rest and become too soft.
  • Place the sprouts in a colander and rinse them well.

How to caramelize Brussels sprouts?

  • Par-boil sprouts: Set a large pot of water on the stovetop. Clean the veggies while the water comes to a boil. Add salt and vegetables to the boiling water. Cook for about 5 minutes, you should be able to stick a fork into them, but they should not be mushy.
    • Remember that they will cook for a little longer in the pan.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet or frying pan on medium heat (1).
  • Add the sugar and let it melt.
  • At first, the sugar-butter mixture will be yellowish and foamy, and it will seem that the two ingredients will separate. Stir gently to help them come together. The mixture will soon start changing color (2).
collage of two pictures of making caramel with butter in a pan.
  • Once it starts getting just a bit darker, add the sprouts (3).
  • Turn them well in the hot skillet to coat them with the sugar mixture, and continue turning them in the pan (with a wooden spoon) until the sugar is caramelized and the vegetables are coated with the caramel mixture. This step will take about 3-4 minutes (4).
  • Season the sauteed Brussels sprouts with a little salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
collage of two pictures of caramelizing sprouts in a pan.

Possible toppings

  • Cooked and crumbled bacon
  • Toasted pine nuts, sesame seeds, chopped and toasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts
  • Freshly grated Parmesan
  • Red chili flakes and a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice

Expert Tips

Keep an eye on the butter and sugar mixture; it should caramelize and get darker, but it should not burn, or it will turn bitter. The perfect caramel has a deep amber color.

Don’t worry if some of the vegetable’s outer leaves are getting too dark; that’s great! They will be particularly crispy and caramelized.

Choose good vegetables. They should be vivid green, tight and compact. Yellowish, light, papery leaves signify that they are past their prime.

black plate with golden pan fried brussels sprouts.

Recipe FAQ

Why aren’t my sprouts crispy?

It would be best if you used a large pan. If the sprouts get crowded in a smaller pan, they will rather steam than crisp up. I use a 12-inch/ 30 cm pan that allows the sprouts to lie in a single layer at all times.

How to store and reheat?

Refrigerate in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
Reheat in the pan, often stirring, or in the oven at 350°F/ 180°C until hot.
I love to eat the caramelized Brussels sprouts cold, just as they are; they are a true delight.

How to serve?

The perfect side dish for the holiday table. Try them with Spicy Pork Roast, Red Wine Turkey, Baked Lamb Chops, Balsamic Beef, Roast Chicken for Christmas, and so on.

They are also great for any weeknight dinner when included in other dishes. For instance, add them to any of these grain salads: Couscous Salad (with Chickpeas), Roasted Buckwheat Salad, or Vegan Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas.

Make rice bowls with brown rice, caramelized Brussels sprouts, feta, cooked chicken, roasted tofu, and a sauce, for instance, tahini sauce.

overhead view of a plate with golden brussels sprouts and a spoon on a dark background.

More delicious side dish recipes

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close up golden caramel sprouts with red peppercorns.

The Best Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

These caramelized Brussels sprouts are a revelation! Sweet and crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, almost candy-like, and incredibly delicious.
4.50 from 2 votes
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 179kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • Large pan 12 inches/ 30 cm
  • Large pot

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ lb Brussels sprouts uncleaned weight, Note 1
  • 3 tablespoons butter Note 2
  • 2 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
  • fine sea salt or Kosher, to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Boil water: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Use the time to clean the Brussels sprouts.
  • Trim Brussels sprouts: Cut off the tough stem with a small knife. Remove the wilted outer leaves. Cut the sprouts in half, but leave the tiny ones whole. Rinse them well in a colander.
  • Par-boil sprouts: Add salt and the sprouts to the boiling water. Cook them for about 5 minutes, you should be able to stick a fork into them, but they should not be mushy (they will still have to cook for a few minutes in the pan). Drain in the colander.
  • Make the caramel: Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the sugar and let it melt. At first, the sugar-butter mixture will be yellowish and foamy, and it will seem that the two ingredients will separate. Stir gently to help them come together. The mixture will soon start changing color.
  • Caramelize Brussels sprouts: Once the sugar mixture starts getting darker, add the sprouts. Turn them well in the pan to coat them, and continue turning them in the pan (with a wooden spoon) until the sugar is caramelized and the Brussels sprouts are covered with the caramel mixture. This step will take about 3-4 minutes (Note 3).

Notes

  1. You will have about 1 lb/ 450 g left after cleaning the sprouts
  2. Salted or unsalted butter, adjust the salt you need accordingly.
  3. Keep an eye on the sugar mixture, it should have a nice amber color, but it should not get too dark, or it will turn bitter.

Nutrition

Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 111mg | Potassium: 664mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1549IU | Vitamin C: 145mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 2mg
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