Brussels Sprouts With Bacon

October 12, 2022
6 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine Food Stylist: Kate Buckens.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Serves 4 as a side (or 2 as a main)
Author Notes

Brussels sprouts and bacon are like mac and cheese, or chili and cornbread, or cookies and milk. Which is to say they’re meant to be together. We love this recipe as a festive holiday side (for Thanksgiving, Christmas, you name it). It’s also great any old day of the week: Soft-boiled eggs and a crusty baguette turn it into a quick but hearty dinner; or you could toss the whole thing with hot pasta (8 ounces of any short shape, like rigatoni or penne, to feed 2 to 4 people).

This fall, our test kitchen set out to create its ultimate version. Here’s how we made our Brussels sprouts with bacon stand out from the rest:

First, we opted for an oven approach versus stovetop. If you’re like us, a sheet pan is (a lot!) bigger than any skillet you own, which is important here for one big reason: browning. If you cooked these many Brussels sprouts on the stove, you’d have to sauté in batches to avoid overcrowding and steaming, which is a bit fussier than we’d like. A sheet pan lets the Brussels sprouts stretch out as much as they want (caramelization, ahoy!), and you can cook them in one go.

That said, we aren’t actually cooking the Brussels sprouts first. Before they hit the sheet pan, the bacon gets to cook for a few minutes in the oven. This head start encourages fat to render, creating a flavorful base for the sprouts. It also gives the pan a chance to heat up, which means better browning. Note: This step yields crispy-crunchy bacon; if you want softer, chewier bacon, simply toss the bacon with the Brussels sprouts and other ingredients.

Now about those other ingredients: Both yellow onion and garlic underscore this dish’s savory vibe. Freshly ground black pepper and chile flakes add some spicy input (and, yes, you can skip the chile flakes if you want). Maple syrup adds just enough sweetness (don’t get us started on how tight maple syrup and bacon are together). Finally—and this one may seem a little surprising—apple cider vinegar. Besides its apple-y autumnal spirit, this ingredient also makes everything else pop. Think of when you add a log to a fireplace and embers start flying up the chimney.

This dish is great served hot, of course. It’s also wonderful at room temperature, if that makes your holiday or dinner easier to plan. Leftovers aren’t ideal, since sprouts get soggy in the fridge, but we have a feeling you won’t run into this issue. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
  • 4 thick slices bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 medium to large yellow onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Add the bacon to a sheet pan and roast for 5 minutes.
  3. While the bacon is roasting, add the Brussels sprouts, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper to a mixing bowl. Toss to combine.
  4. After the bacon has been in the oven for 5 minutes, remove the sheet tray and add the Brussels sprout mixture. Use a spatula to carefully toss, then arrange the Brussels sprouts so they’re evenly spread out and facing flat side-down.
  5. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes—shuffling the sprouts with a spatula and rotating the sheet pan halfway through—until the bacon is crisp and the Brussels sprouts are tender and beginning to char. Drizzle with maple syrup, carefully toss again, then return to the oven for another few minutes, or until the Brussels sprouts are as crispy as you like them.
  6. As soon as you pull the sheet pan from the oven, drizzle the Brussels sprouts with apple cider vinegar and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Toss, taste (watch out, it’s hot!), and adjust the salt, spice, and vinegar as needed.
  7. This is great served hot, warm, or at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Molly Cronin
    Molly Cronin
  • Donna Hayes
    Donna Hayes
  • Dawn
  • AntoniaJames
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

14 Reviews

Molly C. November 27, 2020
I loved this recipe! I let my bacon cook for 5, then threw in the onions for another few minutes to give them a head start. I used honey instead of maple syrup and omitted the crushed red pepper. They were awesome -- I will totally make again. Thank you!
Donna H. June 21, 2020
I like to finish with a maple balsamic or just a nice 12 year old balsamic. 😋
Tam March 26, 2020
Good flavors, sweet, tangy and tiny bit spicy. So good. I cheated and used a cast iron skillet because I wanted it quick. Cooked each item separately then combined at the end with cider vinegar, maple syrup and pepper flakes. I will add a little more vinegar next time, maybe balsamic vinegar. Thank you.
Dawn January 6, 2020
I have made these several times already. They are green candy and our guests are crazy for them!!
abruno December 2, 2019
Hi! Do you have this recipe in Spanish? Or any others?
AntoniaJames November 29, 2019
Made these again for Thanksgiving . . . . additional notes: I should have baked the bacon for more than 5 minutes, which I'm fairly certain I did the first time I tried this recipe. And next time, I'll halve even the small Brusslies. The timing didn't work as well this time in terms of getting all of the ingredients properly cooked with none of them burnt, all at the same time. The dish turned out okay, but the Brusslies were a bit on the hard (undercooked) side. The fact that we had other things going in and out of the oven might have been a factor, but in any event, I'm going to cook the bacon longer next time. There is no real downside to having the bacon a bit crispy. I'm also going to try throwing the onion and garlic 10 minutes after putting the Brusslies in. I like the maple and apple cider vinegar finishes, but recommend more vinegar.

I'm only going to use this oven method when I'm serving a larger group. I like the combination of ingredients, but doing a quick pan sear in a large skillet followed by covering the pan to steam over low heat, and then bringing the heat up again right before serving, will no doubt take less time and allow for more control, balancing ingredients that cook at different rates. I have six burners on my range, and yesterday (Thanksgiving) I had not a single pan on my stovetop during the half hour before we served dinner - and too much traffic in my large oven, even while smoking the bird in our Big Green Egg. I'd made gravy ahead of time and heated it, right in its Mason jar, in the microwave - first time I've done that, but certainly not the last. ;o)
Zubin November 27, 2019
This is probably the best brussels sprout recipe out there! Thanks for a good one!
Emma L. November 27, 2019
Yahoo, thanks Zubin!
AntoniaJames November 26, 2019
My notes on these: I used shallots instead of onion. Good idea.
Tossing olive oil seemed a bit like carrying coals to Newcastle, so I just tossed the Brusslies (what we call them in our house) with the shallots, garlic and salt before tipping them onto the sheet pan, and flipping them over a few times in the bacon fat waiting for them.
Use small Brusslies if possible, and halve ones that are medium-small. The Brusslies need more time than the shallots and garlic, so you risk "over-caramelization" of the aliums (uh, burning them) if the Brusslies are too big. I kind of shoved everything together in the center of the pan mid-way through to compensate, as mine were not uniformly small. That worked.
I forget to add the maple syrup. The dish was delicious without. I'll probably give it a go on Thursday, but expect we may be splashing a bit more vinegar on, which is fine with me.
Best way to advance prep the Brusslies a few days beforehand: trim and put in lukewarm water that has been salted (make sure the salt dissolves), then keep in the fridge until an hour or so before using. Drain and lay out on a kitchen towel. If you live in a place with more humidity than we have here, a mile up in CO, you may need to dry the Brusslies off with a towel before throwing them on the sheet pan. If you miss a few drops, don't worry.
These will be on our table this Thanksgiving, which means they passed our testing with flying colors. I like how uncomplicated they are, not just to make, but also, in their flavor profile. ;o)
Emma L. November 26, 2019
So glad you enjoyed, AntoniaJames—thanks for the thoughtful feedback!
Zubin November 22, 2019
How would you recommend reheating this dish if making in advance? Or, is that not recommended due to potential sogginess? Thanks!
Emma L. November 22, 2019
Hi! Reheating would sap the color from the Brussels sprouts a bit, but if you don't mind that, you could use an oven or skillet. I would also cook the Brussels sprouts a little less the first time around, so they don't get too soft when you reheat. Just hold off on adding the vinegar and chile flakes until right before serving.
AntoniaJames November 21, 2019
Making this tonight . . . . ;o)
Emma L. November 21, 2019