Stewed Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprout sticks
Brussels sprouts sticks

Not everybody loves Brussels sprouts. But, unless you are overly sensitive to bitter flavors, you will find this to be a delicious side dish.

Brussels sprouts are the buds of a kind of cabbage belonging to the Brassica family (along with broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnip, and mustard). This vegetable has an inherent bitterness that constitutes a defense mechanism, but it can be minimized by first roasting it, and then stewing it. Roasting, in fact, adds flavor due to browning, but mostly allows the inside part of the Brussels sprouts (which is the part where the bitterness is the most intense) to reach an intermediate temperature (60 to 80 °C) which activates the enzymes responsible for the flavor generation. The enzymes’ activity stops when the temperature reaches 100 °C – if this temperature is reached too quickly (like when the vegetables are plunged into boiling water), the bitterness remains intense(1). After roasting, the Brussels sprouts can be stewed to complete the cooking. It’s important, however, not to overcook them since they otherwise develop a sulfur odor.

But enough of all of this theory! Let’s get on the recipe 🙂

(1) Harold McGee. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. 2nd edition (2004).

Stewed Brussels Sprouts

Yield: 2 servings (as a side)

Total Time: 25 minutes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Stewed Brussels Sprouts


  • 300 g (10 oz) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and washed
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 splash of white wine
  • ½ glass of vegetable stock
  • salt


  1. Fry garlic and shallot in olive oil at medium heat for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the Brussels sprouts, roast for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the wine and allow it to evaporate fully.
  4. Add the vegetable stock, cover and stew for 15 minutes at medium-low heat.

8 thoughts on “Stewed Brussels Sprouts”

  1. I am going to try these… I bought way too many sprouts at the Farmer's Market one day to freeze up… thanks for the good idea.

  2. I'm actually one of the seemingly few people who enjoy brussel sprouts. But I've never tried them this way, I always boil them first, then braise them in butter, the 'old fashioned' way. Now I know better…

    By the way, a funny thing happened after I heard your audioblog episode where that sensitivity to bitter flavors was mentioned: whereas I had never been one of those 'super tasters' before, I started *really* tasting the bitterness in certain vegetables like broccoli rabe. The power of suggestion?

    1. Hi Frank, let me know how you like them this way. I find the 'old fashioned' way a bit hardcore 🙂

      Interesting that you've developed some kind of hypersensitivity to bitter flavors. I hope it will be a temporary one, like the one I experienced once after eating pine-nuts (of which I was talking about in the podcast).

  3. Thanks for this post, Paolo! I appreciate your notes on how to reduce the bitterness. I am thinking of using some small Brussels sprouts, in order to add vegetables (and reduce calories/serving) of Boeuf Bourginon (fancy beef stew, with a wine base). My concern is that the Brussels sprouts will add an unwanted sort of “twang”. I could potentially roast them, first, like you’re suggesting, but the dish already takes hours to prepare, as it cooks for a long time in the oven. What do you think about just tossing them in, with everything else? Will that detract from the flavor of the dish, because of the bitterness? Or do you think that will cook out, in the oven, over the 2-3 hours that they’re baking in the stew?But, this is also a very expensive project, so I don’t want to ruin it. I would appreciate your input. Thanks!

    1. Hi Claire. Thank you for your question, although I don’t know if I can answer it. What I’m thinking is that I would roast them first, and then add them to the dish 15-20 minutes before it’s ready. Also, I would test the recipe first 🙂

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