A simple trick for better Brussels sprouts

Roasted Brussels sprouts on a pan
Photo: VO IMAGES (Getty Images)
Rec RoomRec RoomHearty recommendations from The Takeout staff.

Can we all agree that poorly cooked Brussels sprouts are foul? If undercooked, they’re dense and bitter, but that’s not nearly as bad as the brownish mush they become when they’re overcooked. And I haven’t even mentioned their distinct fart smell yet! Apparently this is due to the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas which is also present in a number of other cruciferous (read: farty) vegetables.

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All of this is forgiven and forgotten, though, when Brussels sprouts are seasoned and roasted until crispy. Roasted Brussels sprouts are a savory textural delight, and if you avoid overcooking them, they won’t smell bad either. Unfortunately, they’ll cost you about 45 minutes in the oven. Halving the sprouts and roasting them in a cast iron skillet helps encourage browning, but even this method only makes a small portion of the sprout crispy; the insides will still be somewhat firm. But what if I told you that it’s possible to make guaranteed 100% crispy roasted Brussels sprouts in half that time? All you have to do is peel off the leaves.

It’s this simple: Rinse the sprouts and remove their knobby stems with a knife like you normally would. Then peel off the sprout leaves until you’re left with a small nub from the center of the sprout about the size of a standard die. Here’s a visual aid:

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Keep a small paring knife handy in case you need to cut off more of the stem midway through peeling. Trust me, this whole process is far less time consuming than you think, and it’s a fun task for kids who are starting to help out in the kitchen. Once you’re done peeling, toss the nubs and leaves with a bit of oil and seasoning (my go-to seasoning is a combo of salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese sprinkled with wild abandon). Spread them out on a baking tray so they aren’t overcrowded. The dry heat of the oven causes the sprouts to crisp up, so if you cram too many on a tray they’ll be touching each other rather than being exposed to the hot air. Roast the sprouts somewhere between 400-425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes or until some of the leaves get crispy and brown on top. With a utensil, give the sprouts a toss to ensure even cooking. Return the tray to the oven for another 10 minutes or until sufficiently brown and crispy.

the crispiest Brussels sprouts ever
Warning: objects in photo are crispier than they appear!
Photo: Emma Terhaar

What you do with your toasty Brussels sprout leaves is your business. You can season them with fresh lemon, black pepper, and grated parmesan, or fold them into a medley of roast veggies, or use them in a cold salad with other greens and fun garnishes like nuts and dried cranberries. The world is your oyster, or should I say, your sprout?

One final note: the sprouts are only crispy on the day they were roasted. You can totally roast them in advance and reheat them, and they’ll still be browned and delicious, but they probably aren’t going to have any crisp. So if you’ve talked a big game to all your relatives about your crispy Brussels sprouts, you may find yourself eating (Brussels) crow on Thanksgiving Day, and that guy’s not even American! (I know, I’m wincing too.)

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DISCUSSION

I’m just here for everyone’s recommended seasonings/preparations. We’ve just been halving, tossing with salt, pepper and olive oil, and baking them (20-25 minutes at 425) but I’m open to suggestions.