Caramelized Red Chili Brussels Sprouts

I think Brussels sprouts might be my favorite vegetable. It wasn’t love at first sight — these things seldom are — but you could say, I guess, it all started back in my days of visiting Nashville, amidst the excitement and unknowns of another budding relationship, when one Sunday night having dinner with friends, we poured leftover walnut-sage brown butter onto roasted Brussels sprouts and couldn’t believe how good it was.

An image of a white bowl filled with fresh Brussels Sprouts.

In truth, I shouldn’t have been at all surprised, having tasted the sweet caramelization of Brussels sprouts less than a year before, both at a restaurant and in my kitchen, but, as we sometimes do when we’re busy or distracted or just not tuned in, I’d managed to forgot all about it. The Nashville Brussels sprouts, thank goodness, made a more lasting impression, and my life’s seldom been without them since.

A top view image of fresh Brussels Sprouts in a white bowl.

It’s funny how that works, you know? One day, Brussels sprouts — or say, that person you haven’t thought much of until now — does something impressive, and you think, Huh. I never noticed that before!

A chopping board with sliced Brussels Sprouts and a knife beside it.

And sometimes that’s enough to change your interactions ever after, to set on course a whole new path of life; other times, you forget and move on and have to be impressed all over again. For us, Brussels sprouts are that love that came softly, without our seeking it out or expecting it or planning for its entrance in our routines.

A close up image of sliced Brussels Sprouts in a skillet.

Through gentle persistence, it’s become the vegetable often accompanying our Sunday night dinners, the favorite dinner on a weeknight, the thing we pick up from the produce department “as a treat.”

An image of a fork and a white plate filled with caramelized Brussels Sprouts.

Nowadays, we like our Brussels sprouts very simple — barely dressed, just sauteed or roasted enough to turn soft and golden, with crispy edges that crunch when you bite in.

A close up image of a delicious Brussels Sprouts dish.

We cook them in coconut oil, with hefty dashes of salt and pepper, maybe with some red chili flakes thrown in — because, whereas before I thought little of this cabbage-like vegetable Rudy Huxtable pushed off her plate, today I celebrate it.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Red Chili Flakes
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
1 pound of Brussels sprouts, washed and quartered
A couple tablespoons coconut oil (or other high-heat oil)
Red Chili Flakes (optional)
Salt and Pepper

Directions:
To saute: Heat coconut oil in skillet until fully melted and add Brussels sprouts. Season with chili flakes, salt and pepper; toss a couple times.

Continue cooking until sprouts are soft and golden, about 30 minutes.

To roast: Lay sprouts on baking sheet and top with dollops of coconut oil throughout. Season with chili flakes, salt and pepper.

Place inside preheated 350-degree oven and bake for about 45 minutes, tossing once, until soft and golden.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.

14 thoughts on “Caramelized Red Chili Brussels Sprouts

  1. The photos here are crazy good. It feels like I can reach into my screen and pluck a sprout or two out from the pile. I love it! I also love Brussels sprouts. But weirdly, people don’t eat them that much here in Brussels. It’s never a thing. The fields are always full of them, but dinner plates never seem to be. I did a little spin on my beloved Brussels sprouts with chili flakes, but I have yet to try them with walnut-sage brown butter. But then again, when can you go wrong when sage and brown butter team up?

    • Thank you for those kind words, Emily! I have to say, Brussels sprouts are easy to photograph–they’re so naturally beautiful!

  2. As a child I didnt like Brussels sprouts. My mom and grandma always made them for a typical german sunday dish. But when I got older I learned to like them! And now I love them. I always cooked them first and then sauteed them in butter with curry powder or alot of nutmeg. But I just love your way of serving them. I have to try the roasted option. It sounds delicious. And Butter and sage are the perfect combination for Brussels sprouts I think.

    • What’s so nice about roasting, Katharina, is the way the Brussels sprouts will crisp around the edges. I really believe 90% of vegetables taste amazing this way! : )

  3. i didn’t try brussel sprouts until i was an adult, it’s not a vietnamese vegetable that made it to our dinner table growing up. i enjoy this vegetable a great deal and like you, very simply dressed with olive oil & salt/pepper for seasoning. i’ve made it with a liberal sprinkling of crumbled bacon & that was lovely too..

  4. Shanna!

    I love that you wrote about brussels sprouts! There is nothing that compares to fresh brussels sprouts. I grew 4 plants last year and am aiming for 12 this year. It’s the one vegetable I’m glad no one else in my family likes because then I don’t have to share! 🙂

    • Maxine! I love that you love Brussels sprouts—and even more that you’re growing your own!? Jealous. If I still lived in Illinois, I’d invite myself to come learn from you!

  5. We would just about commit a felony for a free case of fresh Brussels sprouts!!! So, so glad you saw the light after that first iffy foray. 🙂 Now I’ve got a craving …

    • Right? Such a blessing! I’ve come a long way since our early Brussels sprouts chats over email and Thanksgiving menus, haven’t I, friend? You were right all along.

  6. My favorite Brussels method: slice in half and put, cut-side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet that you’ve drizzled with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and red chili flakes, and kind of swish them all around to make sure they’re all coated with seasoning and that everyone’s cut-bottoms are in oil. Bake in oven around 400 degrees, for oh, I don’t know, 10 minutes? Until they’re golden brown and maybe a little crispy.

    Oh hey, it’s pretty similar to your method 🙂

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