Pan-fried Brussels Sprouts

January 9, 2008 at 8:39 am (101 cookbooks, Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Monthly menu plan, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

This is my favorite way to cook brussels sprouts. (I still haven’t mastered the art of roasting brussels sprouts in the oven.) Derek and Alma love them too. Even after all these years if I don’t follow the recipe carefully and just try to wing it I still struggle to get them perfectly cooked. But even if they’re a tad under- or over-cooked we still like them.


  • 400g of brussels sprouts 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese or chopped nuts – your choice!
  • zest from one lemon (optional)
  1. Wash the brussels sprouts well. Trim the stem ends and cut each sprout in half from stem to top. Toss the sprouts in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Don’t overheat the skillet, or the outsides of the sprouts will cook too quickly. Place the brussels sprouts in the pan flat side down (single-layer), sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt, cover, and cook for roughly 5 minutes; the bottoms of the sprouts should only show a hint of browning. Cut into or taste one of the sprouts to gauge whether they’re tender throughout.
  3. Note from Derek: The original recipe says if the sprouts are not tender at this point, to cover and cook for a few more minutes. Derek says that if you keep cooking them, they will burn. So at this point he usually stirs the sprouts, adds some water to the pan, and cooks for another couple minutes covered. If the pan seems too hot, he may turn down the heat a bit too.
  4. Once just tender, uncover, turn up the heat, and cook until the flat sides are deep brown and caramelized. Use a metal spatula to toss them once or twice to get some browning on the rounded side.
  5. Remove from the heat. Season with more salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a dusting of grated cheese (or nuts) and lemon zest (if using). Eat immediately.

Note on amounts: The original recipe called for 1 pound of brussels sprouts, but I can’t fit a whole pound of sprouts in a single layer in my 12-inch skillet. Plus, in Germany brussels sprouts often come in 500g bags. I usually fit what I can in a single layer on the skillet and then thinly slice the remaining sprouts and scatter them on top. When I cut the sprouts I often lose the loose leaves. Rather than toss them, I throw them in on top of the sprouts. They’re usually Alma’s favorites part!

Original post from Jan 9, 2008:

I really love brussels sprouts, and my favorite way to eat them is roasted. They taste sweet and caramelized and delicious, nothing at all liked boiled-to-death sprouts. That said, I’ve been quite unsuccessful at roasting them in the oven. They’re more often pale or even putrid green, burned on the outside while still raw on the inside, rather than the perfect vibrant green, succulent, caramelized sprouts I’ve had at restaurants. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong; my only theory is that the restaurants use much more oil than I’ve tried, or perhaps parboil the sprouts first. In any case, I was excited when I saw this recipe for pan-roasted brussels sprouts on 101cookbooks.

I followed her directions exactly, and my 24 small sprouts just barely fit in a single layer in my 12-inch skillet. The final sprouts were just a tad too crisp for my taste, but I think with a bit more practice and experience with my stove I could get them to a more tender state. This is definitely a promising technique that I’ll be trying again. It makes the perfect amount of sprouts for two (assuming both love brussels sprouts as much as Derek and I).

I served the sprouts with amarillo pepper sauce, that tangy, spicy, yellow pepper sauce from Peru that I used to eat at La Feria in Pittsburgh. I found it here in Montreal at a South American store on St. Laurent, and have been enjoying it on sandwiches and as a dip for all kinds of foods. In the past when I’ve made roasted brussels sprouts I’ve served them with a yogurt mustard sauce, like the one I described in my recipe for baked tofu. It goes wonderfully with the sprouts, with the mustard faintly echoing the cruciferous tastes of the brussels sprouts, and the sour/sweet yogurt complementing the bitter/sweet carmelized sprouts.

Rating: B
Derek: B


  1. austingardener said,

    I agree. This recipe is near perfect and would make a brussel sprout lover out of anyone. We ate the brussel sprouts plain, no sauce.

  2. Instant Pot Brussels Sprouts with Maple Mustard Sauce | The captious vegetarian said,

    […] almost always cook brussels sprouts the same way, pan-fried and dusted with parmesan cheese. But I was in the mood for something different, and I kept seeing people rave about this recipe […]

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