Bacon Brussel Sprouts

~ Bacon Brussel Sprouts are a must for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this recipe is so easy and so very delicious, you’ll be craving it all year long! Crisp bacon, crunchy cashews and flavorful shallots combine with a simple, punchy sauce to elevate sautéed Brussel sprouts to a truly special side dish! ~

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Includes Make Ahead Steps    Gluten Free    Paleo (see note)  

Bacon Brussel sprouts recipe piled in handled white serving bowl on a herringbone striped cloth.

Brussel sprouts are certainly having their moment, aren’t they?

I’d say they’re giving cauliflower a solid run for its money in the “Veggie of the Decade” race.

It used to be that poor Brussel sprouts were the butt of every vegetable joke. And the stuff of nightmares for any kid unlucky enough to find them rolling around on her dinner plate.

Back in the day, Brussel sprouts were served up boiled within an inch of their lives. An unappetizing, mushy, gray-brown sphere of sadness.

But times have changed, friends!

Now, restaurant menus prominently feature Brussel sprouts as trendy appetizers, in addition to their familiar place as a side dish. And people can’t get enough!

Cook ’em right (more on that in a minute) and pair them with bold flavors (hello, bacon!), and you’ve got a whole new, glorious vegetable thing happening, that is absolutely NOTHING like the gray-brown orbs of the 1950s.

*** Psssst … if you want a little grammar lesson (because, I mean, who doesn’t want one??), pop on down to the FAQ box at the bottom of this post to learn about the Brussel Sprouts vs. Brussels Sprouts conundrum. And for everybody else who just wants to eat … onward! …

Why You’ll Love These Shredded Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Side view of white ridged serving dish so you can really see the bits of Brussel sprouts and bacon and cashews.

This particular recipe is a perfect example of why people are embracing Brussel sprouts like never before. We’re talkin’:

A deliciously light mound of confetti-like shredded Brussel sprouts, just barely cooked but still lively and bright.

Laced with thin slices of shallots and salty, crunchy pops of cashews.

And BACON! Bacon and Brussel sprouts are made for each other! Just a little bacon goes a long way, and we use it here both to add crisp bacon bits throughout the dish, and also for just a tiny bit of flavorful bacon fat (along with healthier olive oil) for making the sautéed Brussel sprouts.

All tossed with a simple, Dijon mustard and cider vinegar sauce. YUM! (My mouth is honest-to-God watering as I type this!)

It’s so quick and easy. Pure Brussel sprout and bacon joy!

And it’s a much-needed foodie revolution for those over-cooked balls of sadness kiddos choked down in the 1950s. This is a Brussel sprout epiphany!

My Bacon Brussel Sprouts recipe is sort of a mashup of two others: one from my cooking school days, and another from the 2006 issue of Eating Well magazine. In one form or another, I’ve been making this for years and years now, and it’s always a hit!

Overhead of recipe piled in serving bowl, with serving utensils and empty saute pan nearby.

Besides … the mmmmmm bacon … there’s another major key to Brussel sprout joy: Cook time.

How to Make Brussel Sprouts Delicious (Hint: Don’t Overcook Them!)

As the site Fooducate explains, too much heat causes Brussel sprouts to release something called glucosinolate sinigrin. That’s what’s responsible for giving overcooked sprouts an unappetizingly sulfurous smell. And why they just really don’t taste very good when you cook them to a mushy death.

The Chicago Tribune also helpfully points out that smaller sprouts are usually milder and sweeter. You don’t always have a choice at the grocery store, but if you can, go for small- to medium-sized sprouts.

But, I’ve cooked even some seriously BIG Brussel sprouts before, and as long as I don’t overcook them, they’re still pretty darn good. So, let’s all repeat this together …

The Biggest Secret to Great Brussel Sprouts is NOT to Overcook Them!

Whether you’re roasting them, steaming them – or making sautéed Brussel sprouts like in this recipe, the key is to keep the cooking quick. (In fact, you can even enjoy them raw, like we do with the shredded sprouts in our Superfoods Brussels Sprout Salad.)

In this recipe, we’re gently cooking them for only about 3 minutes. That’s all you need!

So, with that critical bit of wisdom in mind … let’s make these yummy sprouts!

How to Make Bacon Brussel Sprouts

This recipe needs only a few, simple {flavorful!} ingredients.

Whole Brussel sprouts scattered on cutting board with slices of bacon, unpeeled shallots and a bowl of cashews.

Prep Tips

Once you’ve got all your ingredients cut and prepped, this recipe comes together in a jiffy!

And, I’ve got a few tips to make the cutting fast and easy, too.

A key here is that you thinly slice or shred both the Brussel sprouts and the shallots. Thinly.

I’ve tried using the food processor for the Brussel sprouts and can’t get it to do nearly as good a job as my trusty old chef’s knife.

To shred your Brussel sprouts:

  • Start by trimming off the stem end.
  • Then, depending on how big your Brussel sprouts are, cut them vertically either in half (for smaller sprouts) or in quarters (for larger ones).
  • Then thinly slice from top to bottom to create fluffy mounds on sprout-confetti!
  • You can remove dense bits of the core either by cutting it out before you slice your sprouts, or by picking out any really clunky bits of core from the confetti after cutting.

You do basically the same thing for your shallots. Peel them and cut away the top and bottom, then slice them up very thinly, working from top to bottom (not sideways).

Voilà!

Now about that bacon. Bacon can be frustrating to cut before it’s cooked. A simple hack:

3 slices of bacon just beginning to be diced on cutting board.

Pro Tip: Pop your bacon into the freezer for maybe 10 or 15 minutes before you try to cut it – just long enough for it to firm up a little, without being frozen solid. It makes cutting the bacon a breeze!

Now you’re ready to bring this whole Brussel Sprouts and Bacon recipe together. Easy-peasy!

Step #1

Cook your bacon in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, just until it’s crisped to your liking.

Because we’re using center cut bacon, which has about 25-30% less fat than regular bacon (mainly because the fatty ends aren’t included), there’s no need to drain the bacon.

The tiny bit of bacon grease in the skillet adds to the flavor of the final dish. And don’t worry – with center cut bacon, it’s only a teeny bit.

In fact, you’ll actually have to add a little additional fat – in the form of heart-healthy olive oil – before you dump in your shallots.

Step #2

Cook those onion-y shallots for about a minute, just to give them a chance to soften a little.

Step #3

Then dump in your water, some tangy cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and stir that flavorful sauce concoction around. Be sure to loosen up any browned bits left on the bottom of the pan from cooking the bacon, too … YUM!

Next, dump your shredded Brussel sprouts on top and mix them in.

Shallots, sauce, bacon and Brussel sprouts in pan before sprouts are sauteed.

Give it all about 3 minutes, and your sprouts are ready!

You want your shredded sprouts to be warmed and slightly wilted and soft … but still vibrantly, freshly green … and definitely not overcooked and mushy.

Step #4

Pull them off the heat and stir in those crunchy cashews.

Recipe in pan after begin sauteed with cashews just sprinkled on top to be stirred in.

Shopping Tip: Whole cashews are quite a bit more expensive than ones sold as “halves and pieces.” You’re breaking them up into pieces for this recipe, anyway, so save a few bucks and grab the cheaper ones!

Also, to change things up a bit, you can try this recipe with pistachios, too. Another super yummy option, and a great bet if you happen to find pistachios on sale!

Taste your glorious mound of shredded sprouts, and sprinkle them with a pinch more salt, if needed.

Salt tip: The exact amount of salt you’ll need to season this recipe at the end can depend on several factors, like how salty your brand of bacon is, how heavily salted your brand of nuts is, and also how much of your Brussel sprouts had to be trimmed away (larger sprouts have larger, tough cores). If you decide you need just a tad more salt at the end to really get those flavors poppin’, go slowly … maybe just 1/16 teaspoon at a time, since you probably won’t need a whole lot more salt to ratchet the flavors up to where you want them.

Sprinkle a few more chopped nuts on top if you’d like (just for that pretty presentation), and then … serve ’em up!

(And be prepared for all those folks who claim not to like Brussel sprouts to have a little sprout epiphany. Welcome, Brussel sprout converts!)

Overhead closeup of sauteed Brussel sprouts and bacon, still in pan, with wooden spoon.

FAQs At-a-Glance

Is it Brussels Sprouts or Brussel Sprouts?

Technically, it should always be Brussels sprouts. Why? Because these veggies are named after the the city of Brussels, which is the capital and largest city of Belgium. Even if you’re only talking about one sprout, the “s” should still remain after “Brussel”: Brussels sprout. Soooooo … why didn’t I name my recipe correctly? Ugh. This was tricky for a grammar-loving, rule-follower like myself! BUT as many as 77% of people (at least according to a British poll) refer to them as Brussel sprouts (without that “s”) … so if I wanted the majority of sprout-seeking folks to find my recipe in a Google search … welllll … I needed to call my recipe what you’d call it: hence the missing “s.” Don’t you just love grammar lessons?!?! 😉

Why Does This Recipe Call for Center Cut Bacon?

Center cut bacon is (as Cook’s Illustrated explains), basically a regular strip of bacon with the fatty end cut off. That leaves you with the meatier center of the strip. And, it generally shaves off about 25-30% of the (mostly unhealthy) bacon fat.

Can I Substitute Another Type of Nut for the Cashews?

Pistachios are terrific in this recipe, too! Nuts can be expensive, so if pistachios happen to be on sale (but cashews aren’t) feel free to go the pistachio route. (And don’t forget: if you’re using cashews, you’ll save a few bucks if you buy cashew pieces instead of whole cashews.)

Can I Make This Recipe Ahead of Time?

You can definitely shred and slice your shallots, Brussel sprouts and bacon earlier in the day. In general, though, this recipe is best served straightaway after cooking. While it does warm up relatively well if you have leftovers, you want to be very, very careful to reheat it only very gently and NOT to overcook those sprouts (see above for more info on the perils of overcooking). Also, if you’re going to try reheating later, you’ll want to hold off on adding the nuts until just before serving, so they’re as crunchy as possible.

When Are Brussel Sprouts in Season?

Luckily, Brussel sprouts are available mostly year-round now. But, their true season is from fall through mid-winter. That’s why Brussel sprouts are so common at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Ready to turn all your sprout-suspicious friends and family into Brussel sprout loooovers?!?

Serve up these yummy Bacon Brussel Sprouts for the holidays. They really are delightful with Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas roasts and ham. (Maybe with our Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and either a festive Thanksgiving Salad or a wreath-shaped Christmas Salad.)

But I’m just gonna bet you’ll be making these all year ’round, too. (I sure do!) They’re perfectly quick, perfectly delicious.

And honestly, kind of addictive. (True story: just the other night, my husband called to tell me how much he was looking forward to having these Brussel Sprouts and Bacon for dinner that night!)

Overhead closeup of final recipe in white serving dish.

Look out, Buffalo Cauliflower Wings … now that we know how to cook ’em right, Brussel sprouts just might edge you out as “Heart-Throb Veggie of the Decade”!

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Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Yield: 4 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 9 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 19 minutes

These Bacon Brussel Sprouts feature crunchy cashews, flavorful shallots, crisp bacon, and a simple, punchy sauce to elevate sautéed Brussel sprouts to a truly special side dish!

  Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Includes Make Ahead Steps    Gluten Free    Paleo (see note)  

Ingredients

  • 3 slices center cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound Brussel sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced/shredded
  • 1/2 cup salted, chopped cashews

Instructions

  1. In a large, nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until beginning to crisp, about 6-7 minutes.
  2. Add oil and shallots, and continue cooking 1 minute longer.
  3. Add water, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir and then add Brussel sprouts, stirring again to combine. Continue cooking for about 3 minutes, until sprouts are hot but just barely wilted and still vibrantly green. Avoid overcooking.
  4. Remove from heat, and stir in cashews. Taste and adjust seasoning if a tiny bit more salt is needed (see note). Serve immediately.

Notes

Salt: Depending on how salty your brands of bacon and nuts are, and the exact amount of Brussel sprouts you use (which can vary a little based on how much of the core you need to trim away), you might like to add an extra pinch of salt to some batches, so the flavors pop.

Doubling this recipe: I've made a double batch, all in the same large skillet, and it works just fine, although you may need to cook it for just half a minute or a minute longer after adding the sprouts. If, however, you want to make an even larger batch, you should definitely use a second pan.

Paleo diets: If you're following a paleo diet, be sure that your Dijon mustard is paleo-approved. While many brands fit with a paleo diet, some may include additives or additional ingredients that aren't strictly paleo.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 servings Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 107Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 176mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.

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