Brussels sprouts have always been my favorite, but we used to only eat them at Thanksgiving. While they are more plentiful during the holiday season, they are available year round – you’ll even find them in the frozen foods section of your local market.
According to MelinePlus.com, Brussels sprouts are chock-full of antioxidants – they fall in right behind kale and spinach in the leafy greens category. All of these antioxidants help to prevent cell damage, which can lead to cancer and premature aging.
One serving or one-half cup of prepared Brussels sprouts will provide you with half of your daily required amount of vitamin C.
These super-veggies are also packed full of other vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are rich in potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate.
One of their better attributes is the fact that the leaves are packed tightly, making them filling but low in calories.
Now, one might think that adding a little bacon grease to them kind of defeats the purpose. Well, a little bacon grease never hurt anyone! And fats make the absorption of all of those fat-soluble nutrients (like vitamins A and K) so much easier for your body.
I prefer mine steamed (along with most of my vegetables) rather than boiled. I like them al dente and definitely not mushy – plus, this helps to keep more of the vitamins intact.
The addition of herbs and spices like fennel seed and dill also helps to keep the added sodium content to a minimum, and the various flavors and textures combine to make a veg side that’s truly delicious.
- 1 pound fresh, organic brussels sprouts (can substitute frozen)
- 3 slices thick-cut bacon
- 1/4 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh, to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed (to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
- Prepare Brussels sprouts by washing and trimming off the ends. Remove any wilted or damaged outer leaves.
- Steam them for 5 minutes or until they are just tender. Drain well.
- Slice the bacon into 1/2-inch strips. Add to a frying pan and cook until they done, but not crispy.
- Add the Brussels sprouts, dill, and fennel seed to the pan and cook on medium-high for another 5-8 minutes, or until some of the sprouts are just starting caramelize. Season with black pepper.
- Add sea salt to taste, remove from pan, and serve.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step One – Prep
Thoroughly wash the Brussels sprouts in a colander and let drain.
Using a cutting board and a chef’s knife, chop off the ends and remove any outer leaves that are damaged or wilted.
Step Two – Steam
Use a small stainless steel stockpot or a soup pot with a steamer insert to steam the veggies. You don’t want to overdo this – they should be just al dente.
There’s nothing worse than mushy, yucky Brussels sprouts, and this is probably how they earned their bad reputation. I left mine in for about five minutes.
Remove from heat and drain well.
You can also choose to prepare them in the pressure cooker for another fast cooking option.
Step Three – Mmmm, Bacon!
Slice your bacon up into strips about 1/2 to 1 inch wide. Add the pieces to a skillet set on medium to medium-high heat (depending on your skillet and heat source). On my portable induction unit, I had it set on 7/10.
You’ll want to cook the bacon until it is done, but not crispy. It’ll be charred at the end if you let it cook more than to the point where it’s just done at this phase of the recipe.
I like to use a carbon steel skillet for this type of cooking. I find that it adds a bit of unique texture and flavor that really can’t be described (at least by me).
Here, I’m using a Lodge 12-inch carbon steel model that is reviewed in detail in this article.
Cast iron would also work but you need to be careful to remove the ingredients as soon as they are done. They will become overcooked if left in the pan, even if it is removed from the heat source.
If you are cooking in cast iron (or if you prefer to skip the steaming step), you may choose to remove the bacon from the pan at this point and set it aside until your Brussels sprouts are nearly cooked, to avoid burning.
You can also choose to cook the bacon in the oven, and cut into pieces after it is cooked.
Step Four – Bring on the Veggies!
Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan along with the fennel seed and dill. You may want a little more or a little less of both.
I used peppered bacon when preparing this, but if you used regular thick-cut slices, you can add some freshly ground pepper at this point.
Continuing sautéeing for another 5-7 minutes. Remember – don’t overcook. You want the veggies to be al dente, not mushy, and you don’t want the bacon to be charred.
Step Five – Plate
Test for saltiness (bacon varies) and add some more to taste if you need it. Plate and serve.
This recipe can serve as a meal for one person, or a side dish for a very small family. For four or more adults, you’ll want to double it.
What about you? Do you have any tips for making this maligned vegetable more palatable for the masses? Be sure to tell us, and the community, in the comments below!
Do you find yourself embracing tasty Brussels sprouts? If so, these recipes should tickle your tummy:
- Pasta with Shaved Brussels, Leeks, and Pine Nuts
- Shredded Sprouts Salad with Toasted Walnuts & Dates
- Sesame Sage Roasted Vegetables with Barley
Photos by Mike Quinn, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally posted July 11, 2015. Revised and updated August 14, 2016.
About Mike Quinn
Mike Quinn spent 20 years in the US Army and traveled extensively all over the world. As part of his military service, Mike sampled coffee and tea from all virtually every geographic region, from the beans from the plantation of an El Salvadorian Army Colonel to "Chi" in Iraq to Turkish Coffee in the Turkish Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. He spent nearly a decade in the Republic of Korea where he was exposed to all forms of traditional teas. Mike formerly owned and operated Cup And Brew, an online espresso and coffee equipment retail operation.
27 thoughts on “Organic Brussels Sprouts Sautéed with Bacon, Fennel Seed and Dill”
My girl will only eat bsprouts when they are actually fried in the bacon grease, with maple syrup.
I mean they are delicious, but certainly not good for you.
I think I can transition her over to this fine recipe here!
Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to let you know the results.
Being a vegetarian, I was wondering if the recipe would work with soy chunks or panneer (a form of tofu) ?
May I suggest one of the heavily seasoned meat alternatives they have out there. Something akin to ‘Faken’. Sprouts work so well with pork products because of the salt and the fatty aspects of the meat. Especially bacon. So you’re lucky to live in a time where vegans have a ‘fake’ version of pretty much everything out there on the market
I understand your dilemma raman_u. I’m not a vegetarian, but I try to limit animal products as much as possible. I might eat meat two or three times a month, maybe. And even then it is in small quantities. I do this for health reasons. The problem is that bacon is a very powerful flavor. It is hard to find an adequate alternative. You can find things that are similar in texture, but not in flavor. Just google “bacon flavor substitutes” and do the best you can. Gook luck!
@phoenix2015 and Joan McWench thank you for your suggestions, actually I have never eaten bacon in my life (and probably will not do so, haha) so I don’t really know the flavor (though I do know how it smells). I shall try out Faken though and maybe soy chunks too just for the heck of it!
I’m a vegetarian as well, and sometimes I have to cook for vegans as well. When I make brussel sprouts like this I usually cube tofu and fry it separately from the sprouts. I mix them together once the sprouts are nicely caramelized. You can flavor the tofu any way you like (I like it spicy), and if you want to you can even buy liquid smoke and make it taste like bacon!
I’ve never had Brussels sprouts cooked in the oven or sauteed, so, I will have to try this recipe. I can get them frozen year round at my local grocery store, so there’s no time limit, which is great. I enjoy them plain with a little butter, salt and pepper, but since I love bacon, this would be a nice new side dish I can add to my future menus.
I never understood the dislike for Brussels sprouts, they might be my favorite vegetable. I like to keep it simple: in a pan with olive oil, seasoned with kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic.
I absolutely love bacon in my meals, though I’ve never tried it with the particular vegetable before. The picture of it looks delectable, at least. As my family typically has brussel sprouts at Thanksgiving, I’ll have to suggest this recipe to spice up the meal some. Thank you!
Brussel sprouts are one of the best veggies in the world (they follow closely behind asparagus) – I will never understand why there are so many people that hate them! This is the perfect recipe, considering we planted some of these in our garden this year. The mix of the bacon put in with the vegetables sounds incredible. I’ve never tasted them fried this way so it will be a new experience, and one I am very much looking forward to. It sounds very versatile, too. I think for this one I’d add in a few more veggies to the dish; make it a mix of several delicious greens that I grew myself. Thanks for another great meal idea!
I also like anything with bacon added to it and this recipe is very tempting. Would it be ok to substitute for turkey bacon if a person wanted a different alternative?
When I was young we were often fed brussel sprouts that were bitter and awful. I really hated them and have never bought them as an adult. This recipe does look interesting and has got me rethinking this vegetable. I am seriously considering buying some brussel sprouts and making this for my family. It may just help me forget the bitter experience I had in the past.
This is such a simple receipe but I love it. It’s so tasty. However I feel like brussel sprouts are something that either you love or you hate and I love them. For me even though it might not be one of the most well balanced meals I would honestly eat that just as my dinner if I am feeling super lazy and not in any mood to do anything I will do this !
It is a dish that would be hard to do wrongly but yet seems like a lot of thought was put into it. Honestly a huge thumbs up from me !
Brussels sprouts are only really served at Christmas dinner here in the UK and the majority of us really don’t like them at all. The smell, in aprticualr, is most offputting. So it’s good to learn about different ways of cooking them. I’m sure they would be far less offensive baked in the oven and considering I’ll quite happily roast all manner of veg, I’m surprised I’ve never thought of trying sprouts like this too.
I’ve been trying to think of a way to make brussel sprouts since I love them and my household does not. The addition of bacon may just do the trick! Who can resist the combination of garlic and bacon?? Not I!
Brussel sprouts and bacon are definitely one of my favorite dishes. There’s something about the Brussel sprouts frying in the grease from the bacon that makes this dish so good. I know it’s not healthy (I gues only if you use turkey bacon). I made this for my family at thanksgiving and my sister who hates Brussel sprouts even liked it. This is definitely one of my go to dishes for family events.
As a Belgian I can say that this recipe is perfect 🙂 We have tons of Brussels sprouts in Belgium and I like to eat them in different ways, but sauteed with bacon is definitely the best way! We usually boil them before putting them in the pan with the bacon, but roasting them in the oven is an interesting way that will add flavor. When we boil them, we make 2 small incisions at the bottom for faster cooking.
I have to say, I absolutely LOVE brussel sprouts! I usually boil them (as that is how I have always made them as well as how my mom made them growing up). I will be giving this recipe a try. No one in my household eats them except for me, so when we have our next family get together I will make this dish. I think this would be a hit with my family as we are always trying new things, and the our family members are the guinea pigs lol. Thank you for sharing this. I think with bacon involved, I may try to make this and feed it to my daughter (who is 6 and very picky). She happens to love bacon. I may even be able to get my fiance to try it. Here’s to hoping! Thank you again for this recipe!
I LOVE brussels sprouts! I used to think they were just “meh,” until I tried something similar to this recipe. After that, I was hooked for life! I can’t wait to try this. The next time I go to the farmer’s market, I’m going to get some sprouts so I can make this dish.
Be still my heart…this looks so yummy. I love Brussels’s sprouts…my mini cabbages…. so much. I have been in the market for a new recipe. What a jazzy recipe and the bacon oh my. Let’s just say this will become a side dish..and Brussels’s sprouts in the frozen bags are so fresh and delicious. I usually put tomatoes and garlic with them but bacon is a whole new texture.
I actually enjoy Brussels sprouts! There are many people out there who find it disgusting and to tell the truth, this is all we can see in the tv shows and movies too.
Broccoli and Brussels sprout are the biggest movie villains.
I am a vegetarian so the bacon is not so good for me but I would try this recipe any day!
This is a Christmas tradition in my house, with a couple of minor tweaks. I add some pine nuts to the recipe, and also sauté using butter, not oil – it is Christmas, after all!
Brussels Sprouts are one of my favorite veggies. I love them roasted with garlic and olive oil, but until seeing this recipe, I never considered adding bacon to the mix! I love bacon and it would make the perfect accompaniment to Brussels sprouts!
Well I would usually be one to actively avoid the brussels sprouts, but I have to say that they might be saved here by the bacon and the fennel. We all know that bacon can do wonders for various dishes, and can be the saving grace if it needs to be, and I just personally love the sharp taste of fennel. This looks like a winner, and for something that I would not otherwise use, that is saying a lot. Thanks for sharing.
These look amazing. I can’t wait to cook these up for my little ones – they will go crazy over the bacon in it
This sounds such a great recipe since this type of veggie it’s kind of tasteless by itself and it kind be quite boring for me, which is not really nice. I think that’s because I have only tried them by themselves, never really accompanied with anything. I really need to give it a try to this one, I’m a big fan of bacon and having this veggie as an accompaniment it may make me feel less guilty, lol.
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
I’m the only one in my household who actually likes this particular veggie. The rest of my family likes the meat you added though, so now I’m wondering if this addition might get them to give the sprouts a try. Hmmm, I guess it’s worth a shot.
If they don’t bite, I guess I’ll have to eat the rest myself. Do they freeze well?
Sure does sound good to me. I hope the rest of my gang will give this a try.