Home » Bacon Side Dishes » Pan-Fried Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic

Pan-Fried Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic

This recipe for pan fried Brussel sprouts with bacon and Balsamic is easy to make and so delicious. With just 5 ingredients, it’s a super simple side dish you’ll love.

When they’re cooked just right, pan-caramelized Brussels sprouts are a wondrous vegetable to behold – tender, flavorful, with just a hint of natural sweetness. When you add crispy bacon and a splash of sweet, tangy Balsamic, you’ll be blown away by the complex flavors.

A cast iron skilled filled with cooked Brussel sprouts and bacon, set on a dark brown wooden table.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure statement.

Perhaps, though, in the past you experienced overcooked sprouts that were less than stellar.

Brussel sprouts contain glucosinolates, which are healthy nutrients that begin to release a sulfur smell during cooking.

The process begins after about five minutes, so the secret is to steam the sprouts for exactly five minutes and then finish them off in a hot pan to sear their tender goodness without overcooking.

Our easy preparation features lightly steamed sprouts finished in a large skillet with crispy, crunchy bacon. When the Brussels sprouts begin to caramelize, the dish is finished with a splash of tangy, sweet Balsamic vinegar.

(If you love accompanying meals with flavorful bacon, be sure to check out our collection of 15 Best Bacon Side Dishes for more tasty inspiration!)

Brussel Sprouts vs Brussels Sprouts

Before we get cooking, let’s settle the debate about what these tiny cabbage shaped vegetables are called. Is the proper name Brussel sprouts or Brussels sprouts?

For the definitive answer, I turned to Grammarist and learned that Brussels sprouts is correct, because the veggie is named for Brussels, Belgium.

You may notice that the headline of this recipe uses the incorrect form, Brussel, a fact that makes my eye twitch just a bit. The reason? More people search Google for it this way, and I want the recipe to be found. So there you have it.

Why This Recipe is Worth Making

  • It’s super easy, and you’ll have a fabulous crowd-pleasing side dish in less than an hour.
  • By properly steaming and caramelizing the Brussels sprouts, you’ll bring out their wonderfully sweet, nutty flavor.
  • You’ll love the complex taste of this dish. The ingredients cover all the flavor bases of savory, sweet, sour, lightly spicy and salty!

Ingredients Needed

A wood cutting board with a pound of bacon, a collander full of Brussels sprouts, a dish of balsamic vinegar and a dish of salt and pepper

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts – Look for sprouts that are fresh, green, similar in size for even cook, and with no wilted leaves. Sometimes you can find Brussel sprouts at the store that are still on the stalk, in which case you can cut them off the stalk.

Some stores sell bags of sprouts that are already washed and halved, but examine the produce inside carefully. We’ve had bad luck with these pre-cut sprouts not being optimally fresh.

8 strips thick-sliced bacon – Bacon is a natural product that varies, but in general this will be about 3/4 of a one-pound package. Look for the leanest bacon you can find for this recipe. If you only have regular sliced bacon, no problem! Just use 9 or 10 strips instead.

Since bacon is such a prominent component of this dish, use the best flavored bacon you can find. We love applewood or hickory spoked bacon for this recipe.

Garlic – the recipe calls for 1 clove finely minced, but feel free to add more if you’re a garlic lover.

Balsamic Vinegar – The sharp, sweet, fruity flavor of balsamic vinegar perfectly compliments the savory flavors in this dish.

If possible, use the good stuff for this recipe; this will create the syrupy glaze on the dish. Genuine balsamic vinegar is produced in Modena or Reggio Emilia, Italy and is labeled “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale” with a D.O.P. stamp guaranteeing its authenticity. The next best balsamic will be labeled Condimento; look for “grape must” in the ingredients list and an I.D.P. stamp for a quality product.

Salt and freshly ground pepper – The dish is highly flavorful, so you’ll only need a little salt and pepper at the end of the cooking process to fully season it.

Equipment Needed

Cutting board – Everyone goes hog wild for our cute pig-shaped maple wood cutting board! We’re also fans of this non-slip cutting board.

Sharp knife – It’s easier to cut through the sprouts and chop the bacon with a super sharp knife.

Medium pot with steamer basket – you can either use a large saucepan with steamer set or use a regular pot with a stainless steel steamer insert.

Frying pan – A large cast iron skillet works great for this recipe, but you can use any generously sized frying pan.

Large spoon – A sturdy large cooking spoon will make it easy to move the half-round sprouts around so they cook evenly.

Colander – A stainless steel colander with good drainage will give you the best results.

Basic Cooking Steps

A cast iron skillet filled with fully cooked halved brussels sprouts and bacon on a wood background

Here’s the simple process for cooking these Balsamic Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, which caramelizes the sprouts and brings out their nutty flavor:

  1. Cut the sprouts in half and steam them for five minutes.
  2. Cook chopped bacon in a large skillet while the Brussel sprouts steam.
  3. Add the sprouts to the pan and cook until the sprouts start to brown.
  4. Add garlic and continue cooking until the sprouts and bacon are browned. 
  5. Drizzle with a splash of Balsamic vinegar and serve.

We love the way bacon brings out the flavors of vegetables, like bacon-wrapped sweet corn and Fried Cabbage with Bacon

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook 101 More Things To Do With Bacon, written by BENSA founder Eliza Cross and published by Gibbs Smith.

Preparing Bacon Roasted Brussel Sprouts

The first step is to wash the sprouts well, remove any loose or dirty leaves, trim the stems and cut them in half.

Fit a steamer basket or insert in a medium pot, add about 1 inch of water, and bring to a boil. Add the sprouts to the steamer, cover, set your timer, and steam them for exactly five minutes.

A pound of halved Brussel sprouts in a stainless steel steamer basket

While the sprouts are steaming, add 8 slices of chopped bacon to a large skillet and begin cooking over medium heat, stirring often.

Close up image of 8 slices of chopped bacon in a black cast iron skillet

After the sprouts have cooked for exactly 5 minutes remove the pot from the stove, carefully pour into a colander, shake to remove any excess water, and let them cool.

Cook the bacon until it begins to brown.

Close up of partially cooked chopped bacon in a skillet with a spoon stirring it

Pour off excess grease and add the drained sprouts.

Partially cooked steamed Brussel sprouts with partially cooked bacon pieces in a skillet with a spoon

Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar and stir.

A close up of a small white dish of balsamic vinegar being drizzled over Brussel sprouts with bacon

Cook for a few more minutes to blend the flavors, remove from heat, and this delicious dish is ready to serve!

Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a serving dish or plates. This recipe makes about 6 servings.

Cast iron skillet with finished Brussel sprouts with bacon, garlic and Balsamic, ready to serve.

Storing Leftovers and Reheating

You can store any leftover bacon Brussels sprouts in an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

To reheat, add the leftovers to a skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, just until heated through. Don’t overcook.

Tips and Substitutions

Pro tip: Use an extra large frying pan for this recipe so the Brussels sprouts get the most contact with the hot surface and caramelize.

Pro tip: Choosing Brussels sprouts that are roughly the same medium size will insure that they cook evenly. If your store doesn’t have enough available, you can leave very small sprouts whole or cut very large ones in fourths.

Substitution: For a slightly healthier version, you can drain the bacon and all the bacon grease from the pan prior to adding the sprouts. Clean the skillet with paper towels, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, heat over medium-high, return the bacon to the pan, add the sprouts and proceed according to the recipe.

Recipe Variations

Make Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Cheese by omitting the Balsamic vinegar and sprinkling the dish with shredded Parmesan cheese just before serving. Or try a handful of crumbled feta cheese.

Skip the Balsamic vinegar and squeeze with half a fresh lemon instead.

Make Maple Bacon Brussel Sprouts by using maple-flavored bacon in the recipe in place of regular smoked bacon.

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes before serving for a spicy flavor.

Other Bacon Side Dish Recipes

Your guests will squeal with delight when you serve these tasty sides enhanced with crunchy bacon!

Deviled Eggs with Bacon

Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Asparagus with Bacon and Parmesan Cheese

View the web story for Bacon Balsamic Brussels Sprouts.

Here’s the complete recipe:

cast iron skillet filled with cooked Brussel sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic

Bacon and Brussel Sprouts

Eliza Cross
This easy Brussel sprouts recipe features lightly steamed sprouts finished in a hot skillet with crispy bacon that caramelizes the sprouts and brings out their nutty flavor. Minced garlic and a splash of zingy Balsamic vinegar complete the dish.
4.91 from 10 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Bacon Side Dishes
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 114 kcal

Equipment

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Medium pot with steamer basket
  • Large skillet
  • Large spoon
  • Colander

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 pounds medium Brussels sprouts trimmed and halved
  • 8 strips lean thick-sliced smoked bacon chopped
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • In a steamer over boiling water, steam the Brussels Sprouts for exactly five minutes.
  • While the sprouts are steaming, begin cooking the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often.
  • Drain the sprouts, shaking the strainer well. Add the sprouts to the skillet. 
  • Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until bacon is almost crispy and Brussels sprouts are starting to brown.
  • Add the minced garlic and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until bacon and sprouts are browned.
  • Drizzle with the Balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring to distribute, for 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir and check seasonings.
  • Remove from heat, and serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

Notes

Store any leftover Brussel sprouts with bacon in a covered dish in the refrigerator, and enjoy within 3 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 114kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 8gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 282mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2g
Keyword bacon, bacon recipes, brussel sprouts, side dishes, vegetables
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

If you enjoy this Bacon Brussel Sprouts recipe, we’d be thrilled if you clicked the little stars above and gave the recipe a 5-star rating.

If you use Pinterest to save and share ideas, here’s a handy pin:

A vertical Pinterest image of a skillet with bacon brussels sprouts and the recipe title

This post was updated with new directions and photography on September 15, 2021. It was originally published on October 29, 2015.

8 thoughts on “Pan-Fried Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic”

  1. 5 stars
    I love how this method of cooking Brussels sprouts brings out their sweet and nutty flavor! This recipe has that amazing umami flavor, thank you for sharing this incredible side dish!

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    I’m not typically a huge fan of Brussels sprouts, but anything is good when you cook it up with bacon! Love the balsamic vinegar as well, it really ties everything together.

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious and very tasty! My husband and I love the addition of bacon, but I’ve never added balsamic to it before. Such a great and easy recipe. So good!

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.