(Note: this post was originally published on May 2, 2020. It has since been updated with a few tweaks.)
Sweet and Spicy Brussels Sprouts
Perhaps not surprisingly, I'm back with another fun (and easy!) skillet Brussels sprouts recipe. These beauties are perfectly caramelized, kissed with orange, tossed with charred jalapenos and sweet raisins, and then finished with creamy avocado, crunchy pepitas, and fresh herbs. They're my own personal heaven.
This spicy Brussels sprouts recipe is exploding with flavor; it has a perfect balance of sweet and heat. Best of all, these skillet Brussels sprouts come together very quickly, no oven needed. I love to serve these zesty sprouts as a happy hour snack, but they'd work equally well as a side dish or a veggie-forward main course. You could even stuff them into a taco or heap them into a burrito bowl.
Spicy Brussels Sprouts: The Story
My concept for these stovetop Brussels sprouts is based on one of my favorite bar snacks: the fried Brussels sprouts at one of our go-to (but sadly now closed) tequila bars on Kaua'i. Dave and I spent many delightful happy hours sitting at their bar, sipping margaritas, and munching on their amazing appetizers.
We usually made our way to this particular bar after a very long, hot hike on the coast that would leave us immensely thirsty and pretty wiped out. There's nothing more satisfying than some margaritas and these delightfully sweet and spicy Brussels sprouts (ok, and let's be honest, a few baskets of tortilla chips too).
I've made some changes to the original dish in order to make it a bit lighter and more friendly for the home cook, but my flavors are pretty faithful to the original. Instead of frying the Brussels sprouts, you'll caramelize them in a skillet. The original version used both jalapenos and raisins, which is the most magical (albeit surprising) combination, so I've kept that in my version. I also added orange zest and juice, as well as some fun toppings, to really make them special.
How to Cook Brussels Sprouts
Never fear, I'm here to solve all your Brussels sprouts cooking woes. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad ways to cook this delightful veggie. Boiling them can make them mushy, water-logged, and sulfury. Roasting them is good, but they can easily dry out and roasting can also take a lot of time. Cooking them in the air fryer works alright, but again they tend to dry out. For all those reasons, I've learned that cooking them on the stovetop is the way to go.
How to Cook Stovetop Brussels Sprouts
Skillet Brussels sprouts are fast and flavorful; they only take 15-20 minutes and the results are wonderful. Here's what you need to do:
Prepare the sprouts by trimming off the woody ends and cutting each sprout into halves or quarters depending on their size.
Cook the prepared sprouts in a skillet with a dash of oil at medium/high heat, tossing frequently. They'll only take about 15 minutes.
Lower the heat and let the skillet cool down so that you don't get splashed with hot liquid.
Bathe the sprouts in a liquidy sauce of your choosing, again tossing frequently. This infuses them with flavor and keeps them moist and succulent (instead of dry, like in the oven). If you have a lid for your skillet, cover them and let them steam for just a couple minutes.
Evaporate off the liquid and then enjoy.
Spicy Brussels Sprouts Variations
There are a lot of ways you can change up this skillet Brussels sprouts recipe to make it work for you. Most importantly, you have options with the jalapenos. You can use just one pepper or numerous, depending on your heat desire. You can also either leave the seeds in or take them out; removing the seeds and ribs helps to tame the heat of any pepper. If you want to minimize the heat further, a poblano pepper would work great instead of jalapenos.
You also have some options with regards to the citrus. Feel free to swap in any sweet, orange-like citrus that looks good. Regular oranges, blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, tangerines, clementines, tangelos, and even grapefruits will work. If I can find them, I love to garnish this dish with kumquat slices because they're so pretty.
Looking to make these easy stovetop Brussels sprouts into a meal? They're quite hearty anyways, especially with the avocado. But if you want to add some additional protein, just toss some black beans in at the end of the cooking time and you'll have a wonderful comfort food dinner.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here's what you'll need for these skillet Brussels sprouts, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Cooking oil. I like to use coconut oil, but whatever you prefer is fine.
Salt and pepper
Jalapenos. This is your opportunity to control the heat level of these spicy Brussels sprouts. Use one or several jalapenos, or even a poblano instead. You can remove the seeds and ribs if you want less heat, or leave them in for more heat. My personal preference: two jalapenos with the seeds in.
Zest and juice of an orange
Big handful of raisins
Honey. Or use agave for a fully vegan version. I love how a bit of honey complements the jalapenos so beautifully, but you can also leave this out if you're looking to minimize added sugars.
Citrus slices. For garnishing; use whatever citrus you like.
Roasted salted pepitas
Fresh cilantro and/or mint. Cilantro probably makes the most sense flavor-wise, although I love the combination of orange and mint. Use what you like, or use a combination of the two.
Have fun with these! They're jam-packed with flavor and texture, subtly sweet, delicately spicy, and the best sort of happy hour snack.
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
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Prepare the Brussels sprouts. For each sprout, cut off the tough stem, then cut into halves (for smaller sprouts) or quarters (for larger sprouts). Try to make them the same size for even cooking.
Cook the Brussels sprouts over medium heat in a large skillet with a splash of oil, tossing them frequently. Add generous salt and pepper.
Slice the jalapenos very thinly and add them after about ten minutes of cooking time.
Continue cooking and tossing until the Brussels sprouts are tender (but not soft) and have developed caramelized surfaces and until the jalapenos are soft and browned, another 5-10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and add the orange zest, orange juice, honey, and raisins, then toss again. Let it simmer for several additional minutes to concentrate the juice, plump the raisins, and continue softening the Brussels sprouts.
Once the liquid has evaporated and is just barely starting to caramelize, transfer the Brussels sprouts to a serving dish. Garnish with a few citrus slices, pepitas, finely chopped herbs, and sliced avocado.