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 to the sautéed brussel sprouts, you’ll be blown away by the complex flavors.
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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!
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.
Sharp knife – It’s easier to cut through the sprouts and chop the bacon with a super sharp knife.
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
Here’s the simple process for cooking these Balsamic Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, which caramelizes the sprouts and brings out their nutty flavor:
- Cut the sprouts in half and steam them for five minutes.
- Cook chopped bacon in a large skillet while the Brussel sprouts steam.
- Add the sprouts to the pan and cook until the sprouts start to brown.
- Add garlic and continue cooking until the sprouts and bacon are browned.
- Drizzle with a splash of Balsamic vinegar and serve.
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.
While the sprouts are steaming, add 8 slices of chopped bacon to a large skillet and begin cooking over medium heat, stirring often.
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.
Pour off excess grease and add the drained sprouts.
Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar and stir.
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.
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.
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 You’ll Love
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
- Pan Roasted Carrots with Bacon and Maple Syrup
- Bacon Wrapped Sweet Corn
Here’s the complete recipe:
Bacon and Brussel Sprouts
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Medium pot with steamer basket
- Large skillet
- Large spoon
- 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
- 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.
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You can watch a quick recap of this recipe on the Brussels Sprouts Bacon web story.
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This post was updated with new directions and photography on September 15, 2021. It was originally published on October 29, 2015.