These Pan Fried Brussels Sprouts With Bacon make the perfect side dish for any roast dinner, Christmas or Thanksgiving celebration! Tender on the inside, yet caramelised on the outside, this will become your new favourite way to cook sprouts!
Brussels sprouts are a bit like marmite in the UK, they divide the nation. You’re either a lover or a hater!
Personally, I love them, my husband not so much, although he changed his mind after eating them cooked this way!
People only tend to eat them at Christmas time, a lot like mince pies & slow cooker gammon in coke. Although you can buy them all year round, Brussels sprouts are normally in season from around October to March.
I can pretty much guarantee that this easy recipe for pan fried Brussels sprouts with bacon will turn even the toughest sprout critics into fans. No more of those sad, soggy, boiled sprouts!
The trick here is to chop the sprouts in half and boil them for no longer than 5 minutes (that’s when they start to smell!!) then sauté them until charred in a pan with some crispy bacon and garlic…. Delicious!
This recipe will serve 4-6 people as a side dish alongside other vegetables.
🥘 Ingredients Notes & Substitutions
✋ Be sure to double check all packaging for allergens. ✋
- Brussel Sprouts: Go for fresh Brussels sprouts that have nice, bright green leaves. Keep in mind that the smaller sprouts are usually sweeter in taste. If you're using frozen sprouts, just cook them for a bit less than what the package says so they don't turn mushy. After boiling or steaming, go ahead and cut them in half.
- Bacon: You can either use smoked or un-smoked bacon. I use smoked as I prefer the stronger flavour. Cut up the bacon into small pieces. If you prefer, you can also use bacon lardons or pancetta, and I'd suggest around 100g of them for this recipe.
- Garlic: Feel free to adjust the amount of garlic to match your taste – more for a bolder flavour or less if you prefer it milder. Try and buy the big cloves to pack in as much flavour as possible.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Pairing Brussels sprouts with bacon and garlic is delicious, but here are a few more ideas you may like to try!
- ✔️ Add Onions or Shallots: Sauté finely chopped onions or shallots along with the garlic for a bit of added sweetness.
- ✔️ Spice It Up: Sprinkle some chilli flakes or paprika for a hint of spice and smokiness.
- ✔️ Parmesan or Pecorino: Grate some Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (dairy free if needed) over the cooked sprouts for a cheesy twist.
- ✔️ Balsamic Glaze: Add a couple of tablespoons of balsamic reduction or glaze to the pan when cooking the sprouts.
- ✔️ Dijon Mustard: Mix a teaspoon of Dijon mustard into the garlic and bacon mixture for an extra layer of flavour.
- ✔️ Maple Syrup: A drizzle of maple syrup can add a touch of sweetness that balances the savoury flavours.
- ✔️ Asian-Inspired: For an Asian twist, use sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds, and garnish with sliced spring onions.
- ✔️ Make It Vegan/Vegetarian: Swap the bacon for meat-free vegan bacon.
🤔 Why Are My Brussels Sprouts Soggy?
If your Brussels sprouts are turning out soggy, there are several possible reasons this may happen:
- Overcooking: The most common reason for soggy Brussels sprouts is overcooking. If they are boiled, steamed, or pan-fried for too long, they can become mushy. Brussels sprouts should be cooked until just tender but still have a slight bite.
- Crowding the Pan: Overcrowding the pan when pan frying can lead to steaming instead of frying. This means excess moisture, which means soggy sprouts! Cook them in batches if you need to, to make sure they have enough space in the pan.
- Using Frozen Sprouts: If you're using frozen Brussels sprouts, they can release more moisture during cooking compared to fresh ones. Cook them for a minute or so less and make sure you drain them well after cooking.
- Cutting A Cross In The Bottom: This used to be the most common way to prepare sprouts, but by doing this, you are actually letting water into the sprouts, which makes them go soggy! Trim the hard bottom off the sprout, but there is no need to cut a cross in it.
🤔 How To Prepare Brussels Sprouts
In the UK, Brussels sprouts are commonly available loose, but you can also find them sold while still attached to the stalk. The stalk option is usually more expensive than buying them loose.
To prepare them, start by removing any leaves that look discoloured or damaged. You don't have to peel them entirely. Then, use a knife to trim the base of each sprout because it tends to be tough and discoloured.
And that's it! There's no need to make a cross-shaped cut at the bottom of each sprout. This doesn't actually make them cook faster and can make them turn soggy by letting water in.
✏️ How to Make- Step-By-Step Instructions
⬇️ Here you will find an overview of how to make the recipe. For full information on ingredients and quantities please see the recipe card at the bottom of the page ⬇️
Step 1: Begin by preparing the Brussels sprouts as mentioned earlier, which includes removing any discoloured or damaged leaves. Afterwards, cut each sprout in half.
Step 2: Now, it's time to cook the sprouts. You have the option to either boil or steam them. Boiling or steaming for about 5 minutes is ideal, as it leaves the sprouts just tender without making them overly soft. Make sure not to let them cook for any longer, as that's when they can start to smell unpleasant.
Step 3: Whilst the sprouts are cooking, chop the bacon into small squares, and prepare the garlic. You can choose to finely chop the garlic or use a garlic press to crush it, depending on your preference.
Step 4: Heat up some olive oil in a frying pan over medium to high heat. Add the chopped bacon to the pan and fry it until it starts to turn crispy, which should take around 4-5 minutes.
Step 5: Once the bacon is crispy, add the drained sprouts to the pan and continue to fry for another 5 minutes. During this time, the sprouts will begin to caramelise and develop a nice brown colour on the outside.
Step 6: Turn down the heat to medium, add the garlic and continue to stir for another minute or so. Reducing the heat prevents the garlic from burning, as it can quickly overcook on a high heat.
Step 7: Finally, season the dish generously with some salt and freshly ground black pepper to enhance the flavours and serve immediately.
💡 Top Tips
- ✔️ Make sure the pan is hot enough when adding the Brussels sprouts to it. You need the high heat to brown and caramelise the outside of the sprouts.
- ✔️ Don't cut a cross in the bottom of the sprout. It actually lets water into the sprouts which gives you soggy sprouts!
- ✔️ Cook the sprouts in the bacon grease for added flavour.
- ✔️ Don't Overcook. When boiling or steaming the sprouts, avoid overcooking them. They should be just tender and not mushy. Poke a knife into a sprout, if it glides in easily they are cooked.
- ✔️ Pat the sprouts dry after boiling. This is to get rid of any excess moisture that may stop the sprouts from caramelising and charring on the outside.
- ✔️ Customise with Extras. Get creative by adding extras like chilli flakes for some heat, grated Parmesan cheese (dairy-free if needed) for a cheesy flavour, or a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a sweet and tangy kick.
- ✔️ Reheat with Care: If reheating leftovers, do so in a hot frying pan or skillet briefly to keep the crispy texture of the sprouts. Microwaving may make them soggy.
🥡 Storage & Leftovers
If you have leftovers they will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for around 2-3 days. Re-heat them in a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil for 5-10 minutes until warmed through.
You can also reheat the sprouts in the microwave but they will take on a softer texture and the bacon will lose its crispiness, so I would recommend reheating in a frying pan if you can.
Any leftovers can also be added to these Bubble & Squeak Patties!
As the texture of the sprouts may change and they may become soggy, I would recommend eating straight after serving if you can, however, if you do decide to freeze the sprouts, allow them to cool completely, then place them in a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat as above.
🍴 Serving Suggestions
These braised Brussels sprouts will taste amazing with your turkey or lamb leg roast alongside these Slow Cooker Roast Potatoes or Baby Hasselback Potatoes With Garlic & Rosemary, Roasted Carrots and Green Beans and this Creamy Dairy Free Carrot and Swede Mash.
💬 Recipe FAQs
You've got two ways to prep in advance. You can either leave the sprouts in a saucepan with water overnight until you're ready to cook or boil/steam them for 5 minutes, cool, and place them in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.
When it's time to cook, go ahead with the bacon and garlic as mentioned in the recipe, and toss in those prepped sprouts just like you usually would.
Should you parboil Brussels Sprouts before frying?
I would recommend parboiling the Brussels sprouts before frying because it makes sure the inside of the sprouts are tender and reduces the overall cooking time.
To do it, trim and briefly boil the sprouts (about 4-5 minutes), then drain and pat dry before frying with your ingredients.
Yes, you can use frozen Brussels sprouts, but be sure to thaw and drain them before cooking. Frozen sprouts may release more moisture during cooking, so adjust the cooking time accordingly.
📖 More Side Dishes
Check out these other tasty side dishes!
If you loved this recipe, please leave me a 5🌟 rating or comment below. I really do appreciate it. 😊
Pan Fried Brussels Sprouts With Bacon
- 500 g (17.5 oz) Brussels sprouts trimmed (see notes below)
- 4 rashers back bacon smoked or un-smoked depending on preference
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt & pepper to season. You may wish to leave out the salt if cooking for young children.
- Prepare the Brussels sprouts as per the notes below, then cut each sprout in half.
- Boil or steam the sprouts for 5 minutes until just tender & then drain.
- Whilst the sprouts are cooking, chop the bacon into small squares and crush the garlic using a garlic press.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium/high heat and fry the bacon for 4-5 minutes until it starts to go crispy.
- Add the drained sprouts to the pan and continue to fry for another 5 minutes until they start to char and brown on the outside.
- Turn down the heat to medium, add the garlic and continue to stir for another minute or so.
- Season well with some salt & freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately,
- Make sure the pan is hot enough when adding the Brussels sprouts to it. You need the high heat to brown and caramelise the outside of the sprouts.
- Don't cut a cross in the bottom of the sprout. It actually lets water into the sprouts which gives you soggy sprouts!
- Cook the sprouts in the bacon grease for added flavour.
- Don't Overcook. When boiling or steaming the sprouts, avoid overcooking them. They should be just tender and not mushy. Poke a knife into a sprout, if it glides in easily they are cooked.
- Pat the sprouts dry after boiling. This is to get rid of any excess moisture that may stop the sprouts from caramelising and charring on the outside.
- Customise with Extras. Get creative by adding extras like chilli flakes for some heat, grated Parmesan cheese (dairy-free if needed) for a cheesy flavour, or a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a sweet and tangy kick.
- Reheat with Care: If reheating leftovers, do so in a hot frying pan or skillet briefly to keep the crispy texture of the sprouts. Microwaving may make them soggy.