Crispy Brussels sprouts made on the stovetop are a fantastic snack, appetizer, or side dish, made even better with a tangy-sweet sauce.
It’s almost crazy that Brussels sprouts have become such a favorite bar snack. This is the very vegetable that for so long was an un-favorite. That is, until people discovered that the secret is to keep any cooking time (whether roasting, pan-frying, steaming, etc.) to the bare minimum, allowing these mini-cabbages to keep their color and flavor.
Of course, the crispy Brussels sprouts served at bars are often deep-fried and really oily (which is, admittedly, part of why they’re so yummy and addictive). For these, we’ll use some oil, enough to brown them but not so much to make them greasy.
A flexible quantity: This recipe is flexible in that it takes into account different amounts of Brussels sprouts. The basic formula is 2 tablespoons of oil per pound of Brussels sprouts. A pound of Brussels sprouts will disappear quickly, so if you have a group of hungry snackers or if you want a more plentiful side dish, use 1 1/2 to 2 pounds.
Keeping the color and crunch: Another tip to retaining their color and crunch is that we brown them first, then add some water to get them to a toothsome (don’t you love that word?) tender-crisp texture, rather than the other way around. All will be explained.
A cool sauce: The sauce is an easy combo of vegan mayo, mustard, agave, lemon juice, and optional (but highly recommended) pickle relish. This sauce provides a cooling contrast to the hot, crispy Brussels sprouts.
- 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon agave (or substitute maple syrup)
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons pickle relish (optional)
- 1 to 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
- 2 to 4 tablespoons high-heat vegetable oil (2 tablespoons per pound)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Combine the ingredients for the agave-mustard sauce in a small bowl and stir until completely blended.
- Trim some of the tough ends off the Brussels sprouts and cut in half lengthwise through the stem. Discard any discolored leaves; save leaves that fall off for another purpose (such as adding to soups).
- For every pound of Brussels sprouts, use 2 tablespoons of oil. So to be precise, 2 tablespoons for 1 pound; 3 tablespoons for 1 1/2 pounds; and 4 tablespoons for 2 pounds. Heat the oil in a wide skillet. When it’s shimmery-hot, add the Brussels sprouts (being careful not to spatter the oil and burn yourself) in a single layer. If using a larger amount, you’ll need to do this in batches.
- Allow the Brussels sprouts to cook over medium-high heat until nicely browned on the underside, then flip and brown the other side. How long this takes will vary according to the exact amount of heat applied and the type of skillet. It doesn’t take long, though, so watch carefully.
- At this point, your Brussels sprouts likely won’t be done. So now, pour 1/4 cup of water into the pan. It will sizzle like crazy and absorb quickly. Test one or two Brussels sprouts with a fork, and if they’re still tough, repeat the process as needed. You want them to be firm yet palatable and retain their bright color, so err on the side of undercooked.
- Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a serving plate. Serve at once with the sauce.
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