Creamy brussels sprouts with bacon will be everyone’s new favorite side – on your table in 30 minutes!
These creamy brussels sprouts with bacon are an easy, one pot side dish that pair beautifully with any holiday or company meal. They are a creamy, cheesy, garlic lovers dream and will have even sworn Brussels sprouts haters licking their plates – plus this recipe is gluten free, low carb and keto! These creamy Brussels sprouts are drenched in a creamy, cheesy, garlic herb sauce topped with Gruyere, mozzarella, and crispy bacon then baked to bubbly perfection. This recipe can be assembled ahead of time then baked when ready for the ultimate stress-free, crowd pleasing dinner or holiday side.
This creamy Brussels sprouts recipe is a fabulous go-to side for special occasions along with million-dollar mac and cheese and company mashed potatoes. If you love Brussels sprouts try my Cranberry Apple Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad (one of my favs, I’m serving for Thanksgiving this year), Roasted Brussels Sprouts (including honey sriracha!), Lemon Garlic Sautéed Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts with Butternut Squash.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS RECIPE
“This actually makes Brussels sprouts taste good.” – spontaneous comment from Patrick when tried this recipe for the first time.
Brussels sprouts have earned a bad rap for being sad, overcooked and mushy but this Brussels sprouts recipe will have you falling in love with Brussels sprouts all over again, or for the first time. This creamy brussels sprouts recipe elevates the lowly Brussel sprout to rich, creamy, decadent, splendor with a bacon-studded, herb infused gratin bathed in mozzarella and Gruyère cheese sauce.
To make these creamy Brussels sprouts, I wanted to create an easy recipe, made in one pot in the shortest amount of time possible with the maximum flavor. To accomplish this, I simplified the process – no blanching the veggies, no separate pan for the sauce and no roux. Instead, the creamy Brussels sprouts and bacon are all cooked in one pan from start to finish for a hassle free side with easy cleanup.
To make this recipe, Brussels sprouts are lightly bathed in leftover bacon grease, steamed, sautéed with garlic, then heavy cream, chicken broth, Gruyere cheese and herbs are added directly to the pan to create the luscious sauce, which is topped with more Gruyere, mozzarella and crispy bacon then popped in the oven to guarantee delicious sprouts everyone will go crazy for.
The total dish is made in under 30 minutes – but it can be our secret. Your guests will devour these creamy Brussels sprouts as if they took you all day!
Read on or use the “jump to recipe” button at the top of the page to skip directly to the recipe.
WHAT ARE BRUSSELS SPROUTS?
Brussels sprouts are a delicious, nutrient packed leafy winter vegetables in season from fall through late winter so that is why you are seeing them everywhere this time of year! Despite being the most hated vegetable in the US (due to poor preparation) Brussels sprouts are delicious roasted, stir-fried or sautéed – as long as they are not overcooked. When cooked properly, Brussels sprouts are fabulous, even addictive with a pleasant, nutty-sweet flavor and a mildly crisp texture.
Brussels Sprouts are named after Brussels, Belgium where they were heavily cultivated and thus popularized in the 16th century. They look like mini cabbages because they are part of the same family. Cabbages, however, are the head that grows out of the ground, whereas Brussels Sprouts are buds that grow along the length of a thick, fibrous stalk.
Now let’s clear up some of the reasons you might think you don’t like Brussels sprouts!
WHY DO BRUSSELS SPROUTS TASTE BITTER?
If you are not a fan of Brussels sprouts or don’t think you are a fan, it’s likely because you have eaten overcooked Brussels sprouts. When Brussels sprouts are overcooked, they turn unappetizingly squishy and develop a bitter and sulfur flavor reminiscent of rotten eggs. This is because Brussels sprouts contain healthy glucosinolate compounds. The longer they’re cooked, the more sulfur they release – hence the bad rap.
In this recipe, I’ve combined both steaming and sautéing methods to ensure the Brussels sprouts cook quickly and evenly without the chance of overcooking so they won’t develop a strong smell. Additionally, steaming the sprouts until the water evaporates allows them to gently caramelize.
So, DON’T OVERCOOK your Brussels sprouts, and you will have a deliciously crisp tender, cabbage-like vegetable that is a blank canvas for all sorts of aromatics and other yumminess – shallots, onions, garlic, herbs, lemon juice, balsamic, Dijon, Parmesan, bacon, pistachios, pine nuts, pecans – the possibilities are endless!
HOW DO I PICK BRUSSELS SPROUTS?
For these creamy Brussels sprouts, you will need 2 pounds Brussels sprouts. Look for the freshest sprouts that are green with a white base and firm to the touch. Look for small and tightly packed Brussels sprouts as they will have the best flavor.
Always avoid any yellowed, moist, soft or moldy sprouts. Browning of the edges of the leaves and a lightening of the green color are also indications they are going bad. An old Brussels sprout will smell rather harsh, sort of like old cabbage. As they age the smell becomes more potent. Older sprouts lose any sweetness and taste rather sour. So, set yourself up for success and choose the brightest, freshest Brussels sprouts.
HOW DO I STORE FRESH BRUSSELS SPROUTS?
Even if you select fresh Brussels sprouts, they can mold or go bad quickly without proper storage.
- First, Do NOT wash the sprouts until you are ready to use them, as moisture will quicken the mold growth and spoiling process.
- Next, remove any leaves that are bruised, discolored or torn.
- Store Brussels sprouts in the refrigerator until ready to use, preferably in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer.
- The stem of the stalk (if purchasing them on a stalk) can be placed into some water or a wet paper towel for extended storage. Only place the stem into water, and not the individual sprouts.
- Brussels sprouts can last up to a week in the fridge but they should be used within three to four days for the best flavor.
HOW TO PREPARE BRUSSELS SPROUTS
- Wash: Before trimming, wash your Brussels sprouts to remove any dirt by running them under lukewarm tap water. Lukewarm water is better at removing dirt and chemicals than cold water. Gently pat the sprouts very dry with paper towels before cutting.
- Trim: Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk and are cut off leaving behind just a little bit of hard stem at the base. You’ll want to trim a little bit of the tough stem off, but not too much or you’ll lose all the out leaves.
- Remove leaves: After you trim the bottom of the stem, peel off any flimsy, damaged or yellowed outer leaves.
- Cut: Next, cut the Brussels sprouts in halve lengthwise through the stem. If you have a few giant ones, go ahead and quarter them. If all your sprouts are giant, quarter all of them.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS Recipe INGREDIENTS
- Brussels Sprouts: choose small Brussels sprouts with tight leaves, wash, trim and cut in half. These delicious little green veggies are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and Vitamin C.
- Bacon: use thick cut bacon so it doesn’t get lost in the gratin and stays nice and crispy. We will also use some of the bacon grease to cook the Brussels sprouts in for extra flavor.
- Butter: unsalted butter so we can control the salt. You’ll need softened butter so it can melt instantaneously once added to the pan along with the garlic.
- Chicken broth: is more flavorful and less fattening than using all heavy cream. We’ll mix it with 1 tablespoon cornstarch so it thickens beautifully like cream.
- Cornstarch: helps thicken the sauce without having to make a roux so it’s beautifully rich and creamy and not runny.
- Heavy cream: is the creamy in this Brussels sprouts recipe. It is the base of the luxurious sauce. It is found in the refrigerated section near the milk at your grocery store and is usually labeled “heavy whipping cream.”
- Gruyere: is the consummate melting cheese and one of my favorite cheeses to use! It’s sweet, slightly salty, creamy, nutty and boasts enough flavor to cut through the richness of the sauce and melts seamlessly for additional luxurious creaminess. Gruyere is a Swiss cheese and can be found with the specialty cheese (usually by the deli) in your grocery store.
- Mozzarella: is creamy, buttery and melts beautifully. Use only freshly grated mozzarella as pre-shredded cheeses are pumped with anti-clumping chemicals which prevents the cheese from melting as seamlessly.
- Garlic: is delicious with Brussels sprouts. I use 5 cloves garlic but feel free to use less if you prefer. You may also use 1 teaspoon garlic powder – but the real stuff is so much better!
- Italian seasonings: parsley, basil, thyme, and oregano play beautifully with the sauce without overwhelming the sprouts.
- Salt and pepper: are critical to enhance all the flavors of your Brussels sprouts. You can season more to taste at the very end of cooking.
Can I use frozen Brussels sprouts?
Please use fresh Brussels sprouts for this recipe. Frozen Brussels sprouts will result in a funky, even mushy texture. If you aren’t particular about texture and still want to use frozen Brussels sprouts, then thaw them completely in the refrigerator and dry in a salad spinner and pat very dry with paper towels.
Do I have to use heavy cream?
Please use heavy cream and not milk or half and half or your cream sauce can curdle. If you are looking to save calories, you may substitute the heavy cream with evaporated milk whisked with ½ tablespoon cornstarch.
IS THIS Brussels sprouts recipe GLUTEN FREE?
Yes, creamy brussels sprouts with bacon is gluten free, keto and low carb.
HOW TO MAKE CREAMY BRUSSELS SPROUTS
- Preheat oven and fry bacon. Bacon serves 3 purposes: 1) salty, tantalizing bacon flavor; 2) grease to caramelize sprouts in for additional flavor 3) crispy beefy texture. Cook the bacon over medium heat so the bacon cooks slowly giving the fat time to render and become super crispy.
- Steam Brussels sprouts. Next, remove the bacon from the pan but leave behind most of the drippings. Add the Brussels sprouts and give them a good toss to create an intoxicating flavor base. The bacon drippings also prevent the sprouts from burning and promotes a golden caramelized crust. Flip as many sprouts as you can so they are cut side down, then carefully add some water to the pan, cover and steam for a few minutes. Next, add some softened butter to the pan followed by garlic and sauté 2 minutes.
- Add sauce ingredients. The creamy sauce takes this Brussels sprouts recipe to next level – and it’s super easy! Add the heavy cream, chicken broth whisked with cornstarch and Italian seasonings and bring to a simmer.
- Add cheese and bacon to sauce. After the sauce is slightly thickened, stir in 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese directly into the sauce for a richer, creamier sauce. At this point, you’ll also add half of the bacon for bacon goodness through and through.
- Sprinkle with cheeses and bacon and bake. Sprinkle with additional Gruyere cheese and mozzarella cheese. Top with remaining bacon and bake for 12-15 minutes, until hot and bubbly around the edges.
- Dive in!
COOKING TIPS for the best brussels sprouts recipe
This Brussels sprouts recipe is very simple but you need to pay attention to a few key tips such as using fresh, medium-small Brussels sprouts and softened butter or your creamy Brussels sprouts can and up bitter with burnt garlic. Here’s the keys to success:
- Set yourself up for success and use the freshest Brussels sprouts possible. Brussels sprouts can last up to a week in the fridge but they should be used within three days for the best flavor. The fresher the Brussels sprouts, the sweeter they will be. Over time, the Brussels sprouts taste gets stronger and less sweet, which means you’re bordering on bitter or sour Brussels sprouts even when cooked properly.
- Use medium-small Brussels sprouts. Meaning, you don’t want super tiny Brussels sprouts but average Brussels sprouts that lean towards the smaller side. Smaller sprouts tend to be sweeter-tasting, while larger sprouts are more cabbage-like and can taste more bitter.
- Don’t purchase pre-bagged Brussels sprouts. These pre-packaged bags are handy but you will end up with a mishmash of Brussels sprout sizes. It is best to hand-pick your Brussels sprouts.
- Use uniform size Brussels sprouts. To that end, choose Brussel sprouts that are all the same size to ensure they all cook at the same rate. If you have some small and some large sprouts, quarter the extra-large sprouts.
- Use softened butter. We don’t want to have to wait for the butter to melt once added to the pan or you risk overcooked Brussel sprouts and burnt garlic. Burnt garlic will ruin your entire dish.
- Use freshly grated mozzarella. Pre-grated cheeses use anti-clumping chemicals which prevents them from melting as well. Freshly grated mozzarella will melt beautifully.
- Use a large enough pan. Use a large pan to cook the Brussels sprouts so they have enough surface area to slightly caramelize. If your large pan isn’t oven safe, simply transfer the sprouts and sauce to a 9×13 pan when ready to top with cheese.
- Don’t burn bacon. Your bacon drippings should be golden and not black. If your drippings are burnt, your entire dish will taste burnt. If you have any burnt specks, clean them out before proceeding with the recipe.
- Steam larger Brussels sprouts longer. If your Brussels sprouts are more medium size, steam them for an additional 2-3 minutes for a total of 4-5 minutes steaming instead of 3.
- Don’t overcook Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts can be tricky to cook; cook them for too long, they will turn mushy and smelly and lose their bright green color. However, if properly cooked, these vegetables will have a bright green color, a pleasant smell and flavor. It is best to steam the Brussels sprouts so they are a little golden on the edges but not overly caramelized because they will continue to cook in the oven.
VARIATIONS OF THIS RECIPE
This Brussels sprouts recipe is creamy and cheesy but you can customize it by adding different proteins, cheeses or crunch! Here are a few ideas:
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Turkey Bacon: You can swap the bacon for turkey bacon but it won’t be quite as flavorful. If you do so, you will need to add some extra butter or oil because there won’t be as much bacon grease.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Chicken: Stir some cooked, bite size pieces of chicken in with the cream sauce to make this a complete meal.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Ham: Swap the bacon with ham.
- Vegetarian Creamy Brussels Sprouts: You may omit the bacon and add olive oil instead of the bacon grease. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. I only suggest vegetable broth if you are vegetarian because it’s not quite as flavorful as chicken broth.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Different Cheeses: The combination of Gruyere and mozzarella is fabulous, but you can also play around with different cheeses such as Gouda, white cheddar, provolone, Havarti, Asiago, Fontina, Muenster or Parmesan. Feta could be added for a tasty flavor addition (along with sun-dried tomatoes) but I wouldn’t replace a cheese with feta because it is not a melting cheese.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Herbs: Swap the dried herbs for fresh herbs. The general rule is 3x fresh to 1x dried.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Onions: Sauté ½ cup of thinly sliced yellow onions with the bacon grease before adding the Brussels sprouts.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Tomatoes: add chopped sun-dried tomatoes with the garlic.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms: Sauté the onions separately from the Brussel sprouts and stir into the sauce before popping in the oven.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Panko topping: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add ½ cup panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until crumbs turn golden brown. Sprinkle over the cheeses before popping the Brussels sprouts in the oven.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Nuts: top with chopped pine, walnut or pecans.
- Brussels sprouts with Marinara: mix up the flavor profile and swap the creamy sauce for Bolognese or marinara. In this case, I suggest swapping the Gruyere for Parmesan.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts Casserole: You can transfer everything to a 9×13 casserole dish if your if your pan is not oven friendly.
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Lemon: add a splash of lemon juice for a sunny pop of flavor.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH brussels sprouts?
This Brussels sprouts recipe goes with EVERYTHING! Here are a few serving suggestions but don’t limit yourself to these alone!
- Fantastic with any protein: fish, shrimp, steak, pork, chicken, etc.
- Delicious with Italian food: Lasagna, Spaghetti, Chicken Parmesan, Baked Penne, Million Dollar Mac or Shrimp Fettuccine.
- Cozy with classic comfort food: Beef Brisket, French Dips, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Oven Fried Chicken, Pot Roast, and BBQ Pork.
- Superb with company favorites: Spice Rubbed Steaks, Beef Tips and Gravy, Garlic Herb Butter Pork Tenderloin and Slow Cooker Honey Balsamic Roast Beef, Thanksgiving Turkey, Honey Baked Ham, Maple Glazed Ham, Brown Sugar Ham.
How to make creamy BRUSSELS SPROUTS AHEAD OF TIME
You will love that this recipe can be made ahead of time, so it’s an easy bake and eat side for the holidays without any of the prep! To make ahead, completely assemble the casserole up to the point of baking. Cover with foil and refrigerate. When ready to serve, let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F until warm and bubbly around the edges, about 15 minutes.
How to store and reheat brussels sprouts
- Storage: Let the creamy Brussels sprouts cool to room temperature. Cover or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 3 to 5 days.
- Freezing: I do not recommend freezing this recipe as the Brussels sprouts will become mushy and the sauce and cheese will become a funny texture.
- To reheat in the oven: Let the pan sit on the counter for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (glass or ceramic dishes can crack if transferred straight from the refrigerator to the oven). This will also help the casserole reheat more evenly. Cover and bake for 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
- To reheat in the microwave: Transfer a serving to a microwave safe plate and microwave for 60 seconds then at 20 intervals until warm through.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH LEFTOVERS BRUSSELS SPROUTS with bacon?
In the rare case you have the pleasure of having leftover creamy Brussels sprouts with bacon, you can reheat them OR they are fabulous chopped up and added to pastas, Parmesan risotto. Greek rice, eggs, omelets, savory crepes, frittatas, pizza, pasta, soups or salads.
Are Brussel sprouts good for you?
Let’s talk about one more reason to love this creamy Brussels sprouts recipe – they are MEGA good for you! In a nutshell, Brussels sprouts are a nutrient-dense super food that your body and mind love. Brussels sprouts are low in calories but high in fiber and many nutrients, such as vitamin K and vitamin C.
Here’s a brief breakdown of Brussels Sprouts nutrition:
- Brussels Sprouts CARBS: 8 grams carbs in one cup Brussels sprouts.
- Brussels Sprouts CALORIES: 38 grams in one cup Brussels sprouts.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS NUTRIENTS (per 1 cup):
- Vitamin K: 260% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 160% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 25% of the RDI
- Folate: 25% of the RDI
- Manganese: 18% of the RDI
In addition to the nutrients above, Brussels sprouts contain small amounts of vitamin B6, potassium, iron, thiamine, magnesium and phosphorus.
All of these nutrients in Brussels Sprouts help your body in many ways. For example, vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory that can boost immune health and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The compound glucosinolates, is beneficial in protecting against several chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
In short, the benefits of Brussels Sprouts:
- aids in tissue repair
- boost the immune system
- promote bone health
- promote blood clotting
- support regularity and gut health
- may reduce cancer growth
- help decrease inflammation
- promote heart health
- helps iron absorption
- promotes collagen production
So, in addition to how yummy these Creamy Brussels Sprouts are, now you have dozens of reasons to eat Brussels sprouts, no just for holidays, but year round!
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