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How to Cook Brussels Sprouts That Even Haters Will Love

Skillet-roasting Brussels sprouts makes them so nutty and sweet, everyone at the table will love them. 
By Published Oct. 20, 2022

For people like me who love vegetables with a pungent, nose-tingling flavor, Brussels sprouts fit that bill perfectly. 

The buds’ tightly packed leaves contain an enzyme called myrosinase and sulfur-rich compounds called glucosinolates. 

When you cut (or chew) the leaves, the damaged cells release those two chemicals. They transform into compounds called isothiocyanates that give the brassica its distinctly bitter, mustardy taste.

Ordinary roasting deactivates some of the enzymes and tames that mustardy flavor somewhat–but usually not enough to please diehard Brussels sprouts haters.

That’s why those in the anti-sprouts camp need to try them skillet-roasted.

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How to Make Brussels Sprouts Taste Good (to Everyone)

Skillet-roasting fries the underside of the sprout and transforms it into something profoundly nutty and sweet. But it also keeps just a tiny bit of that mustardy bite for those of us who enjoy it.

  • Browning = Nuttiness During high heat cooking, amino acids and sugars in the sprouts undergo the Maillard reaction, which leads to the creation of hundreds of new toasty, malty, savory flavors. (The high heat also prevents the formation of those pungent isothiocyanates.)
  • Halving = More Surface Area Cutting a sprout in half dramatically increases its surface area, upping the potential for flavorful browning. 
  • Plenty of Oil = More Even Browning Often when browning, sprouts can develop the dreaded bull’s-eye: brown center, pale edges. This happens when there isn’t enough oil in the pan to make contact with the outer ring, which rises away from the pan slightly when the center puffs during cooking.

Cooks Illustrated Editor in Chief Dan Souza swears by skillet-roasting. Watch him explain why it works and demonstrate the technique.

How Science Can Transform Brussels Sprouts' Flavor

Try it for yourself! 

How to Skillet-Roast Brussels Sprouts

  1. Trim and halve your Brussels sprouts. Arrange sprouts in a single layer, cut sides down, in a nonstick skillet.
  2. Drizzle lots of olive oil (5 tablespoons per pound of sprouts) evenly over sprouts. Cover skillet, place over medium-high heat, and cook until sprouts are bright green and cut sides have started to brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Uncover and continue to cook until cut sides are deeply and evenly browned, 2 to 3 minutes longer, adjusting heat and moving sprouts as necessary to prevent overbrowning. 
  4. Off heat add seasonings and adjust to desired taste. 

Dress your perfectly browned sprouts however you like.

The best part? It only takes 20 minutes.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.