“Tanner, eat your Brussels sprouts!” is what my husband recalls when he thinks back to his childhood memories of eating vegetables at a dinner table. What a funny thing, childhood memories. The sad truth is that many adults had a traumatic experience with Brussels sprouts while growing up and have written them off as adults. If that’s you, I dare you to try these Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts. They are to die for. You’ll be fighting for the last one on the plate, I promise.
Brussels sprouts have probably the worst reputation of any vegetable. In fact, when I was buying Brussels sprouts for this recipe, I accidentally dumped the whole bag of sprouts on the floor, right in front of the cashier as he was about to ring them in. As I started chasing those little cabbages rolling around everywhere, he said, “just go get some new ones, nobody likes Brussels sprouts anyway”.
I get it. Brussels sprouts can taste (and smell!) pretty terrible if not prepared properly. The solution? Prepare them properly!
Tips for Making the Best Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts – pick Brussels sprouts that are firm and heavy for their size. The leaves should be bright green and tightly compacted. Avoid Brussels sprouts with yellowing leaves, a sign of age, or black spots, which could indicate fungus. Smaller sprouts tend to be sweeter-tasting and more tender, while larger sprouts are more cabbage-like.
Olive oil – a light drizzle of oil does a few things. For one, it encourages extra browning and creates a richer, more toasty flavor. A little bit of oil also helps the vegetables roast much more evenly than they do without oil, and keeps them from drying out. Use enough to give the vegetables a glossy coating, but not so much that the vegetables are swimming in oil. I usually toss the vegetables with my hands so I can rub the oil into the vegetables and make sure they have an even coating.
While roasted Brussels sprouts taste amazing on their own, I like to dress them up a bit. Brussels sprouts are a very savory vegetable so I usually pair them with some sweet vegetable, such as carrots or sweet potatoes. A drizzle of maple syrup boosts Brussels sprouts’ caramelizing potential as they roast, while also offsetting their slight cabbage-like flavor. Finally, the nutty flavor and crunchy texture of roasted hazelnuts just take the Maple Roasted Brussels sprouts to a whole new level.
These Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts are a sure way to convert even lifelong Brussels sprouts haters.
Roast – the trick to making Brussels sprouts taste incredible is to roast them instead of boiling or steaming them. Traditionally, Brussels sprouts have always been boiled, which is a recipe for disaster. It takes away all their flavor and doesn’t give them a great texture. Roasting, on the other hand, caramelizes the Brussels sprouts and brings out their rich sweetness. Roasting also creates a crisp exterior with a creamy delicious inside.
Don’t overcrowd the pan – you might be tempted to try to fit as many veggies on the baking sheet as possible. However, when the veggies are pushed up next to one another, or worse yet, in a double layer, vegetables will steam rather than roast. As they cook, vegetables give off moisture, and when arranged too close together it results in a soggy outcome. To achieve beautiful browning and crisp, roasted perfection, vegetables need some breathing room. So arrange the vegetables in a single layer and don’t overcrowd the pan.
Flip – roasting isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it method of cooking. Forget to flip the vegetables, and they’ll end up unevenly cooked, with one side that’s deep brown (or burnt), while the other has no color. It’s best to flip the veggies at least once during the roasting process.
Don’t overcook the Brussels sprouts – keeping an eye on the Brussels sprouts as they’re roasting is so important because Brussels sprouts contain natural compounds called glucosinolates, which are actually really good for you. However, they also release a lot of sulfur the longer they cook. That’s why overcooked Brussels sprouts taste and smell terrible. To reduce the sulfur taste and smell as much as possible, keep every Brussels sprout under an inch and a half in diameter. Yes, that means you might need to cut them in half. The bigger the Brussels sprouts are, the longer it will take them to cook. By the time the center is be done, the outside will be overcooked. For the same reason, keep all your Brussels sprouts approximately the same size.
I am a firm believer in the power of roasted vegetables. You can roast virtually any vegetable without a recipe.
To make the Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts, you’ll need Brussels sprouts, of course, and carrots. These two vegetables have approximately the same roasting time. But what if want to roast, say, asparagus with butternut squash? There are two options:
- Roast the vegetables individually on separate trays. This lets you pull each vegetable from the oven when it’s done and combine them after.
- Roast the vegetables in stages. Start roasting the hardest, longest-cooking vegetables first, and then add softer, quicker-cooking vegetables later on.
Here is a simple guide with roasting times for vegetables* inspired by Emma Christensen:
- Root vegetables (beets, potatoes, carrots): 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how small you cut them.
- Winter squash (butternut squash, acorn squash): 20 to 60 minutes, depending on how small you cut them.
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts): 15 to 25 minutes.
- Soft vegetables (zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers): 10 to 20 minute.
- Thin vegetables (asparagus, green beans): 10 to 20 minutes.
- Onions: 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them.
- Tomatoes: 15 to 20 minutes.
*Cooking times are for roasting vegetables at 400°F – 425°F.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Cutting Board (12″x 9″, Midori Way, Bamboo) | 2. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 3. Roasting Pan (Viking, Stainless Steel) | 4. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 5. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
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