How to Cook Brussels Sprouts Perfectly

Thursday 17 November 2022

Brussels Sprouts 


Brussels Sprouts have to be just about the most maligned vegetable out there. They are from the love it or loathe it group of cruciferous vegetables.  

I have heard them called everything from "little green balls of death" to "Satan's Gumdrops."  I just don't get it.  I am from the love school and I maintain that anyone who doesn't like them just hasn't been served them properly cooked! 

Steamed Brussels Sprouts

I would be the first one to put my hand up and agree that badly cooked sprouts are probably some of the worst tasting things on the planet.  I once bought some tinned brussels sprouts thinking I had bagged a tasty bargain.

Nasty. Nasty. Nasty. Totally, absolutely, positively the worst thing I had ever tasted. I binned them.

A perfectly cooked Brussel's Sprout however is a most delicious thing, wonderfully tasty. Bright green in color, slightly al dente, crispy tender with a nutty flavor that cannot be beaten.

Steamed Brussels Sprouts

I blame over-cooking as the instigator of creating a lot of Brussels Sprouts haters!  Over-cooked they become sulphureous and horrible tasting.  

No more than six minutes. That's my rule of thumb.  Six minutes will give you perfectly cooked mini or halved larger sprouts, when it comes to boiling or steaming them.  Here's exactly how I do them, and they turn out perfectly every single time. 

Prepping Sprouts

You do want to start out with the freshest sprouts possible, and try to get them as much the same size as you can. Mine today were a bit on the smaller side as you can see.

Begin by trimming off any damaged or discolored leaves, discarding them. You will also want to trim off the woody stem end cleanly.

Whatever you do, do not cut an "X" in the bottom of them. This is a complete waste of time and only served to increase the possibility of serving soggy sprouts, and none of us want that.

Once you have them trimmed, give them a good rinse under cold running water, draining them well afterwards.

I like to steam mine and have a proper metal steaming basket that I can expand or shrink according to the saucepan I am using.  Place them into the steamer basket, if you have one, and then into the saucepan. 

2 Prepping Sprouts

I like to add about an inch of boiling water to the bottom of my saucepan. If you don't have a steamer, it's okay, just add the sprouts to a saucepan and add about an inch of boiling water.

There is no need to completely submerge them in water and waterlog them. The steam from the bottom will cook them perfectly.

Cover and steam for no more than six minutes. They will be perfectly done.  Uncover, drain and then add a nice knob of butter and some freshly ground black pepper and salt.  Brussels sprout perfection!

Steamed Brussels Sprouts 

Don't throw the cooking water away!  It makes the perfect flavor addition to gravies and sauces! Filled with loads of nutrients, it would be a real shame to waste it if you don't have to.

One handy tip to bear in mind is when you are cooking sprouts as a valuable part of a roast dinner/main meal, cook them at the very last, just prior to serving your meal. The fresher the better! 

Steamed Brussels Sprouts


And that is all there is to cooking Brussel Sprouts! No fuss. No muss, and perfection each and every time.  

Of course, you can also roast them if you prefer.  Simply trim as above, rinse, dry, cut in half and toss with a bit of oil. There is a fabulous recipe for Roasted Cacio-e-pepe Brussels Sprouts here.  They look fabulous! 

Of course, I have a few really delicious recipes here in The English Kitchen for serving your sprouts as well!   

Skinny Sprout and Carrot Gratin

SKINNY SPROUT AND CARROT GRATINA delicious gratin of crispy roasted sprouts, and carrots with a fabulously tasty light cheese sauce.  Scrumptious and low in calories and fat! 

Sprouts and Bacon gratin

SPROUTS & BACON GRATIN - A delicious bake of crispy tender sprouts, salty pancetta lardons, and almonds in a rich Parmesan sauce, baked to golden perfection. A recipe borrowed from Sophie Grigson. This is an amazing side for anything from fish to roast beef!

Sauteed Sprouts with Pancetta and Shallots

 SAUTEED SPROUTS WITH PANCETTA AND SHALLOTS - There is something very wonderful which happens when you combine the nuttiness of sprouts with the saltiness of smoked bacon.  This is a brilliant combination! Incredibly delicious and such a simple make! 

Spaghetti with Shredded Chicken & Brussels Sprouts

SPAGHETTI WITH ROASTED CHICKEN AND SHREDDED BRUSSELS SPROUTSLeftover roast chicken (or turkey) tossed together with buttery soft shredded Brussels sprouts, whole wheat spaghetti, garlic and cheese.  Amazingly delicious! A great way to use up what's left of your holiday sprouts and any leftover poultry you might have languishing in the refrigerator.

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