Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts on your table in 15 minutes! 

These aren’t your mama’s Brussels sprouts!  These nutty, caramelized Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with garlic, lemon and butter are one of my favorite sides ever and SO QUICK AND EASY!  This Brussels Sprouts recipe make a fabulous quick-cooking side to practically any entrée and the flavor combinations are endless!  You will also LOVE the steaming trick for even cooking!

up close of Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with a wooden spoon

Brussels Sprouts Recipe

I didn’t grow up on Brussels sprouts because my mom didn’t think she liked them – that’s because she never has had these Sautéed Brussels sprouts.

My first introduction to Brussels sprouts was from a neighbor years ago.  She said her favorite food in the world was Brussels sprouts – she said just saute them with a little butter, garlic and you have the best food in the world.

While I want go as far as to say Brussels sprouts are my favorite food, these  Sautéed Brussels sprouts are definitely one of my favorite sides.

For this Sautéed Brussels Sprouts recipe, I went with the classic, magical combination of garlic, lemon and butter with a splash of Dijon and a sprinkling of salt and pepper but feel free to add Parmesan Cheese, bacon, nuts, etc.

You could also omit the lemon juice and play with other flavorings such as in my epic Easy Maple Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash.  That side is Thanksgiving worthy with all the bells and whistles, but for everyday quick and easy, its these sauteed Brussels Sprouts with garlic, lemon and butter for the win.

Why Do Brussels Sprouts Taste Bitter?

If you are not a fan of Brussels sprouts or don’t think you are a fan, its likely because you have eaten overcooked Brussels sprouts and not MY  Sautéed Brussels Sprouts recipe.

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 glucosinolates compounds but the longer they’re cooked, the more sulfur they release – hence the bad rap.

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!

ARE BRUSSELS SPROUTS MINI CABBAGES?

Brussels sprouts look like baby cabbages not because they are baby cabbages, but because they are part of the same family.

With cabbages, we eat the head that grows out of the ground. Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, are buds that grow along the length of a thick, fibrous stalk.

HOW DO I CHOOSE BRUSSEL SPROUTS?

For this Sautéed Brussels Sprouts recipe, you will need 1 ½ pounds Brussels Sprouts.

If you have a choice, purchase Brussels sprouts still on the stalk.  They will last even longer when left attached to the stem until ready to use.

If these aren’t available to you, look for the freshest sprouts that are green with a white base and firm to the touch. Smallest is best, they are the tastiest, as the larger ones will taste more like cabbage.

Always avoid any 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.

showing how to trim Brussels sprouts for Sautéed Brussels Sprouts recipe

HOW DO I STORE FRESH BRUSSEL SPROUTS?

Even if you select fresh Brussels spouts, 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.

Here are some great guidelines from EATBYDATE.COM for proper storage times for Brussels sprouts:

Brussels Sprouts (Individual) last for3-4 Days1-2 Weeks12-16 Months (blanch first)
Brussels Sprouts – Still On the Stem last for3-4 Days2-3 Weeks12-16 Months (blanch first)

HOW DO I TRIM BRUSSEL SPROUTS?

If you purchase Brussels Sprouts on the stalk, start by cutting the buds off. Most of the time in the store, you’ll find Brussel sprouts already removed from the stalk.  Next, peel off and discard any loose surface leaves.

For this Sautéed Brussels Sprouts Recipe, halve the Brussels sprouts once the flimsy outer leaves are removed.  Brussel sprouts will retain their shape even if they are halved, cut into quarters, wedges or coins due to their tightly packed leaves.

WHAT INGREDIENTS DO I NEED FOR Sautéed BRUSSELS SPROUTS?

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts transforms into a mouthwatering, caramelized side with just a few simple ingredients:

  • Brussels Sprouts: If they are large, I actually cut in quarters. For this recipe I cut them into halves from top to bottom.
  • Butter: use unsalted butter so you can control the level of salt.  You may substitute extra virgin olive oil but you will lose the butter flavor.  A better alternative would be half butter, half olive oil if you’re looking to save some calories.
  • Dijon:  adds a bright tanginess and awakens the other flavors.
  • Salt: salt is a MUST otherwise your Brussels Sprouts will taste bland.  You can use more or less to taste.  If your Sautéed Brussels Sprouts are missing something when you taste them at the end – it is probably salt!
  • Pepper: use more or less to taste.
  • Garlic:  I use two garlic cloves, but you are welcome to use more if you LOVE garlic!
  • Lemon juice:  lemon and Brussels Sprouts are a match made in heaven!  Use fresh lemon juice because we also want the lemon zest.
  • Lemon zest: this is the bright yellow outer layer of the lemon peel. Use a micro-plane or a box grater for grating. Make sure you only stop grating at the yellow part as the white under part (pith) is extremely bitter.

Can I use Frozen Brussels Sprouts?

Yes!  You can substitute frozen Brussels Sprouts for fresh in this Sautéed Brussels Sprouts recipe.

To freeze, I like to trim and half my Brussels sprouts before I freeze them.  Make sure to remove as much moisture as possible. I like to use a salad spinner for this.  Then place into an airtight freezer safe container.

When ready to use, make sure you completely thaw frozen Brussels sprouts first.  Again, remove as much moisture as possible before preparation with a salad spinner.

How to Cook Brussels Sprouts 

To cook these Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, I’ve combined both steaming and sauteing methods to ensure the Brussels sprouts cook evenly by first steaming and then caramelize beautifully by sauteing.

The sauteing also enhances the Brussels sprouts natural sweetness, and nuttiness as well as soaking up the lemon butter garlic deliciousness.   Now that’s my kind of 15 minute side!  To make:

  1. Dry Brussels sprouts: Dry the Brussels sprouts with a kitchen towel or salad spinner because the dryer the sprouts, the crispier they will become.
  2. Steam:  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ¼ cup water and Brussels sprouts to pan; cover and cook 5 minutes.  This will steam the Brussels Sprouts so they are cooked evenly and not just on the outsides.
  3. Saute:  Add butter, Dijon, salt and pepper to pan; cook, uncovered, 3 minutes, stirring often. This is where your Brussels Sprouts get crispy on the edges.  Cook longer if you want crispier Brussels Sprouts.
  4. Flavor!  Stir in garlic, lemon zest and juice and cook for 30 seconds OR until Brussels sprouts reach desired tenderness. This is where you would swap the lemon for balsamic/honey if you wish.

WANT CRISPY SAUTEED BRUSSELS SPROUTS?

  • Use a large sauté pan. Give these beauties some room to breathe when seared with the butter.
  • The individual sprouts touching the pan gives that crispy texture – the more surface area of sprouts touching the pan the better.
  • Make sure the skillet is hot enough to crisp up the Brussels sprouts.
  • Let the sprouts sit undisturbed for a minute or so before stirring.
  • If your Brussels sprouts are tender but you want crispier Brussels sprouts, turn the heat to high and cook until they are crispy around the edges.
showing how to cook Brussels sprouts in a black skillet for Sautéed Brussels Sprouts recipe

Brussels Sprout Recipe VARIATIONS

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts are fabulous because they are a chameleon when it comes to seasonings.  Once you have the cooking technique down for Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, the flavorings are endless!

I suggest starting with this super simple 15 minute Sautéed Brussels Sprouts recipe and then trying some of these other combinations:

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Bacon makes everything better!  To make Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, first steam the Brussels sprouts per instructions, then remove to a plate.

Add bacon to the skillet and cook until crispy.  Remove bacon to a paper towel. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons grease.  Use this grease in place of the butter and continue with the recipe.

Sautéed Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts and balsamic are a match made in heaven.  To make Sautéed Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, follow recipe according to directions but replace lemon juice and lemon zest with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar mixed with 1 teaspoon honey.

Sautéed BRUSSELS SPROUTS with Parmesan

Parmesan adds a tantalizing salty nuttiness that I adore.  To make Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan, follow the recipe according to instructions.  When the Brussels Sprouts are done cooking, toss with ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Please only use freshly grated Parmesan otherwise it will not melt.

CHEESY Sautéed BRUSSELS SPROUTS

In addition to Parmesan, Brussels Sprouts are fabulous with cheddar or mozzarella.  To make cheesy Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, follow the recipe according to instructions.  When the Brussels Sprouts are done cooking, layer with 1 cup cheese.  Cover the skillet for 1 minute or so or until the cheese is melted.

OTHER INGREDIENT IDEAS:

You can add virtually anything to Sautéed Brussels Sprouts! Here are a few more ideas:

  • Cajun seasoning
  • Turmeric
  • Chinese 5 spice
  • Smoked paprika
  • Ground Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Red chili flakes
  • Craisins
  • Nuts (almonds, pine nuts, pecans, etc.)

CAN I MAKE SAUTEED BRUSSELS SPROUTS AHEAD OF TIME?

Freshly Sautéed Brussels Sprouts taste the very best.  If you want to prep part of your Brussels sprouts in advance, then you can clean, trim and cut the Brussel sprouts.  You can also mince the garlic and juice and zest the lemon.

When you are ready to eat, all you have to do is turn on the stove and sauté them up!

HOW LONG DO SAUTEED BRUSSELS SPROUTS LAST?

Roasted or Sautéed Brussels sprouts can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

HOW TO REHEAT BRUSSELS SPROUTS

You can reheat Sautéed Brussels Sprouts in the microwave or on the stovetop but for crispier Brussels sprouts, heat it in the oven at 350 degrees F until hot.

WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH LEFTOVERS SAUTEED BRUSSELS SPROUTS?

In the rare case you have the pleasure of having leftover Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, you can reheat them OR they are fabulous chopped up and added to pastas, rice, omelets and even pizza!

top up close of crispy Sautéed Brussels Sprouts in a skillet with a wooden spoon

WHAT TO SERVE WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS?

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts are good with EVERYTHING because they can be seasoned to suite your cuisine.

Need a side for your Asian dinner?  Pair Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with turmeric, curry powder, Chinese 5 spice or ginger and serve it with Tandoori ChickenAsian BBQ SalmonLemongrass ChickenMongolian Chicken or Asian Caramel Pork.

Need a side for your Italian dinner?  Pair Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Italian seasonings, garlic and Parmesan and serve it with Lasagna, Spaghetti,Chicken ParmesanBaked Penne, Million Dollar Mac or Shrimp Fettuccine.

Need a side for your comfort food dinner? Pair Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with smoked paprika and/or cheese and serve it with Beef Brisket, Spice Rubbed Steaks, Baked HamFrench Dips, Chicken Cordon Bleu or Oven Fried Chicken.

BENEFITS OF BRUSSELS SPROUTS

In a nutshell, Brussels sprouts are super-duper good for you!  Below is the nutritional value from the FDA:

Raw Brussels sprouts are 86% water, 9% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and contain negligible fat. In a 100 gram reference amount, they supply high levels (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin C (102% DV) and vitamin K (169% DV), with more moderate amounts of B vitamins, such as folate and vitamin B6 (USDA nutrient table, right); essential minerals and dietary fiber exist in moderate to low amounts (table).

The list does not stop there.  Brussels sprouts help your body detoxify and are potent rich anti-inflammatory veggies.  They are useful for fighting both chronic oxidative stress (inability to fight free radicals) and inflammation.

Brussels sprouts contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which your body uses to make isothiocyanates, which activate cancer-fighting enzyme systems in your body.  These green ‘mini cabbages’ are also known to be useful in fighting cancer.  Brussels sprouts contain glucosinolates (sulfur-containing compounds ) which your body uses to make isothiocyanates.  Those isothiocyanates activate cancer-fighting enzyme systems.

Are Sauteed Brussels Sprouts Good for You?

Yes!  Although boiling reduces the level of sulforaphane, neither steaming, microwave cooking, nor stir frying cause a significant loss in their nutritional value.

ARE BRUSSEL SPROUTS GOOD FOR WEIGHT LOSS?

If you’re looking for an extremely nutrient-dense food that’s also tasty and easy to prepare, look no further than Brussels sprouts.

In a new study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine they stated “eating high-fiber, low-glycemic load foods—like Brussels sprouts and broccoli—was associated with greater loss of weight compared to foods with a higher glycemic index that were lower in fiber, like carrots.”

So, it’s a no brainer to add this Sautéed Brussels Sprouts recipe with its ease and benefits to your regular dinner rotation!

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up close of easy Sautéed Brussels Sprouts in a skillet

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

These nutty, caramelized 15 Minute Brussels Sprouts sauteed with garlic, butter and lemon are one of my favorite sides ever and I love the steaming trick for even cooking!

15 Minute Garlic Lemon Butter Brussels Sprouts

These aren’t your mama’s Brussels sprouts!   These nutty, caramelized 15 Minute Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with garlic, lemon and butter are one of my favorite sides ever and SO QUICK AND EASY!  This Brussels Sprouts recipe make a fabulous quick-cooking side to practically any entree and the flavor combinations are endless!    You will also LOVE the steaming trick for even cooking!
Servings: 6 servings
Total Time: 14 mins
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 9 mins

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. halved brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Optional Add In Ideas

  • Additional Lemon Juice
  • Parmesan cheese
  • bacon
  • Almonds/pecans

Instructions

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ¼ cup water and Brussels sprouts to pan; cover and cook 5 minutes.
  • Add butter, Dijon, salt and pepper to pan; cook, uncovered, 3 minutes, stirring often.
  • Stir in garlic, lemon zest and juice and cook for 30 seconds OR until brussels sprouts reach desired tenderness.
  • Garnish with additional salt, pepper and lemon juice if desired (taste first but I strongly recommend more lemon). Feel free to customize with any sort of fun add-ins like bacon and Parmesan!

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10 Comments

  1. sherrie says

    These look delicious. Does this recipe work with frozen BS or do they have to be fresh? If frozen will work, should they be thawed first?

    • Jen says

      Hi Sherrie, I actually haven’t tried this recipe with frozen Brussels sprouts but I think they will will work great but I would definitely thaw them first. Enjoy!

      • Sheryl says

        I have made the Garlic Lemon Butter Brussels Sprouts twice now and my family LOVES them! I steam the BS and then toss them into a large saucepan with the butter, Dijon mustard, sea salt, black pepper and garlic and lemon juice. For Thanksgiving, I have placed them in a casserole dish topped with chopped pecans.

        • Jen says

          Hi Sheryl, I’m so happy you love these Brussels Sprouts and they sound perfect for thanksgiving with pecans! I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Diana says

    I can’t see where I’m supposed to do the rating. Anyway- I have made this recipe numerous times, so I thought to myself, “The least you can do is to give it the 5 star rating it deserves.” But I can’t see how to do that. Sorry.

    Personally, I love Brussel sprouts. I especially like the roasted, blackened ones, but my family isn’t as enamored as I am with that. This particular recipe – they love. So, it has turned out to be my routine way of making sprouts. It is foolproof and yummy. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Jen says

      YAY! I’m so happy this is a “5 star rating” in your house even though your family isn’t Brussels sprouts fans! Thanks so much Diana!

  3. Cassie says

    I need to comment, this is the best brussels sprouts I ever ate in my life. Thank you so much. I didn’t add lemons, I didn’t have.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment – I’m thrilled you loved them so much!

  4. English Rose says

    Tis the season for this incredibly, delicous recipe which I have cooked so many times now and it is so quick and easy to make. I probably indulged a bit more on the garlic and dashes of squeezed lemon juice and as suggested, I added some Parmasen cheese at the very end and let it melt into a lovely, gooey topping.
    Thank you Jen … I will never entertain a plain, boiled brussel sprout ever again!

    • Jen says

      Yesss! I love hearing how much you love this recipe and I’m happy to hear you don’t skimp on the garlic, lemon and Parmesan – all the best things! Thank you!

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