balsamic braised brussels with pancetta

It seems unfair to compare the two Brussels sprouts dishes I have made in the last couple weeks because they’re so different, about the only thing they have in common is the stand where I bought them. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, boiled lima beans and chocolate cake, the cuteness of my kid versus the cuteness of any other baby on earth… you know? One of the dishes is rich, salty-sweet and fork tender, the other is raw, slightly rubbery, acidic and at least according to a review on Epicurious that I probably should have taken more seriously, “was like eating a bowl of grass”. You’ll never guess which one we liked better.

shaved brussels with walnuts and pecorino

But still, I couldn’t resist the latter one. I’m obsessed with slaws and the prospect of making a winter slaw of shredded Brussels was impossible to resist. I shaved them as thin as mandoline possible, toasted walnuts, added peels of Romano cheese and tossed them with lemon juice and olive oil only to end up with a knotty bowl of … grass. I salvaged it a bit by soaking it a while in a homemade vinaigrette with a bit of honey and you know, we did eat it which is the sign of a not-total-disaster, but I wouldn’t willingly make it again from this recipe.

readying the brusselsbrowning brussels and pancettareadybalsamic braised brussels, bread crumbs

Nevertheless, infant fist-sized Brussels are everywhere right now and I am always looking for new ways to cook them, so when I starting considering how lovely a flavorful braise of them could be, I was thrilled to see that one of my favorite cookbooks had beaten me to the punch. These were phenomenal, and like all of the recipes in that book (like those short ribs and this cake), just layers upon layers of flavor — crunchy breadcrumbs, buttery shallots and balsamic-caramelized pancetta — somehow all nested together in one cozy dish.

jacob eats local

One year ago: Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust, Veselka’s Cabbage Soup and Brown Butter Brown Sugar Shorties
Two years ago: Fennel Ice Cream and Ratatouille Tart
Three years ago: Salted Chocolate Caramels and Zucchini Ham and Ricotta Fritters

Balsamic Braised Brussels with Pancetta
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques

The only major change I made to this recipe was that I adapted it to cook the medium-sized brussels I can easily get, versus the baby ones Goin recommends — this required more liquid and much more cooking time but the reward is a heartier bite with the same complex flavors. The recipe below is for the larger sprouts.

Serves 6 to 8 as a side

1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (though I found I needed far less)
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus an extra glug or two for drizzling
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds medium-sized brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
Salt and pepper
6 ounces pancetta in small dice (1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups veal stock, rich chicken or vegetable broth, more if needed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix bread crumbs and thyme with a couple glugs of olive oil, and spread on a cookie sheet. Toast, tossing frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

Heat butter and remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until foamy. Add brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté, tossing frequently, until lightly browned, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add diced pancetta, and sauté, tossing frequently, until sprouts are well browned and softened slightly, and pancetta is crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Reduce heat, add shallots and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, 2 minutes.

Increase heat to high, add balsamic vinegar and stock, and cook, tossing frequently, until sprouts are glazed and tender, about 20 minutes; add more stock if needed. Taste, adjusting seasoning if necessary, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Transfer to a warm serving bowl and scatter bread crumbs on top.

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214 comments on balsamic braised brussels with pancetta

  1. Bri

    I always just fry up some bacon (till it’s extra crispy), drain half of the fat, and then fry up quartered sprouts in there until it’s a bit cooked but still crunchy. Then you’ve got to add the bacon back in. Black pepper, a dash of salt, and some parm is all it takes!

    This looks fantastic too!

  2. Jil

    This looks and sounds amazinnng! and the brussel sprout in his fist is just about the cutest thing ever. I think I might have said “Awww” out loud. haha :)

  3. Maureen

    Anything with pancetta is wonderful, so these look delicious. Best of all is the darling baby’s sprout-filled fist…ah! Too precious.

  4. Celeste

    Did you know that a French term of endearment is “mon petit chou”, literally “my little cabbage”??? Because if not, what a most perfect photo you happened to take of your baby son holding that baby cabbage!

  5. I bought pancetta for my Thanksgiving stuffing at the Italian place in Chelsea Market, but from the look on the guys face I think I prononced it wrong. Still tasty stuff though. This might be a good way to use the leftover pancetta that I have, though I’ve never made sprouts…

  6. I’m not really a brussels sprouts fan, but I’m trying to like them, mostly by trying every recipe under the sun. This might be the one to win me over.

    PS-I think I emailed that picture to half of my friends when it showed up on your flickr page last week. There was a collective “awwww!”

  7. Here’s an idea, save that picture, then when Jacob is 18 have him hold a cabbage in one hand, place the pictures side by side, it will be a nostalgic moment I am sure (although you still have plenty of time!) Aside from the cutest picture ever, I am loving this recipe. Are the cooking times you posted for the medium-sized brussels sprouts or for the baby ones Goin recommends?

  8. Lisa

    I’ve made a similar recipe for the balsamic sprouts with pancetta. It’s on epicurious and it is fabulous. I made it for Thanksgiving a few years back and everyone (even the haters of the sprout) liked it. How can you not with all the yumminess surrounding a cruciferous vegetable.

    Love the kid pics. Makes me sad that mine are so big already. Not enough to have more but at least I get to ooh and ahh vicariously through your little guy.

  9. My sister finally got me to eat brussels a few years ago. I think I was turned off as a kid and then just avoided them. Now that I know how tasty they are, (especially pulled straight from the garden after a frost), I can not imagine life without them. Siblings are great. Thank you for this new twist – I will be sure to try it on the weekend :) (cutie pie hand with sprout!)

  10. Susan

    First things first: that picture of Jacob holding the sprout? Words fail me. Tears come to my eyes remembering my guys’ hands that small. Priceless!

    Now, on to the sprouts. I made the Bon Appetit Brussels Sprouts slaw with mustard seed dressing and maple pecans (Nov 2009 issue) for Thanksgiving and made one change, that I would recommend you try in your slaw. Instead of boiling the sprouts and then slicing them thinly as directed, I sliced them like you did above, and then quickly sauteed them in olive oil, letting them get just a little bit brown. After they had cooled slightly, I added the mustard dressing and pecans. Yum. In fact, I had to go buy more sprouts yesterday so I can make it again because the three of us sprout eaters devoured that recipe for 8 in two sittings.

    I think giving them a quick saute just to soften will eliminate the grassiness you experienced.

  11. CT

    Here I am, embarking on a major home rehaul that will leave me without a kitchen for a month, and you taunt me with this. I have been craving brussels sprouts for weeks, and it’s not like you can go out and get delicious brussels sprouts at a restaurant. I am devastated. Devastated, I tell you.

  12. KZ.

    Not only does this sound amazing, seasonally appropriate and hearty yet not too rich, but that photo of the brussel sprout in your baby’s hand made even this non-kid-person melt into a pile of goo.

  13. I LOVE brussels sprouts. My favorite way to prepare them is roasted w/ EVOO, salt and pepper. Once done, I like to drizzle them with fresh lemon juice. I’m intrigued by your recipe though — it sounds delicious!

  14. Yes, yes, yes. This is happening ASAP. WANT. I just discovered a store near my house that specializes in olive oil and vinegars, and they have the BEST balsamic vinegars. I’m going to use a sweet syrupy 18 year old balsamic with these. YUM!

  15. Love that picture of the sweet one…and brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables…alas…I am the only one in this family of mine that loves them! Thinking, thinking…possibly I could make this heavenly dish and freeze portions of it for a later time???

  16. Hot damn! I personally am the rogue brussels sprouts lover of our family, but I’m thinking this may creep onto the dinner table one night this week and be a success.

    Who doesn’t love anything involving crunchy bread crumbs and some form of bacon?!

  17. Salley

    deb – we made a brussel sprout slaw for thanksgiving that we just winged from tasting it at lupa a few years ago. we just did it in the food processor, shaved ricotta salata, quite a bit of it, lemon juice, olive oil, quite a bit of salt, and pepper, and people raved about it. it was great when we tried it at lupa as well. no nuts, though… i can’t wait to try your supper at lucques recipe!

  18. Liz C.


    This reply is actually to comment on the Chicken, Chorizo and Olive Empanadas you posted a long time ago. I made them this week, and they were delicious. =)

    Also: I rarely go for brussel sprouts, but I think I could like them prepared this way!

  19. just last week, i made roasted brussels sprouts with a balsamic, panchetta and shallot sauce. working off the fly, the flavors were all there but the actual execution was off. i planned to attempt it again by cooking the brussels in the sauce-to-be instead of roasting separately. here i was thinking i was creating something original, but little did i know you had this recipe stashed away! i will be trying these.

  20. Lynne

    What does it mean when I find myself visiting your website almost as much for the cutie pie pictures than the recipes? Good enought to eat, and I am NOT talking about the admittedly-tempting-will-try-soon sprouts.

  21. The balsamic and pancetta sound like the perfect foil for the slight bitterness of Brussels sprouts. I have shredded them before, too, but used them as a base under seared scallops with a light sauce. Not so grass-like in that circumstance.

  22. I’ve grown quite fond of brussels sprouts in the past few years, and this recipe sounds like a great use of them!

    I love the photo of Jacob holding the itty bitty brussels sprout… absolutely precious.

  23. If you’re looking for a less-grass-like brussels sprout slaw, try Alton Brown’s recipe. It has dried cranberries and nuts and will make a believer out of even a brussels sprout hater! Well, almost… turns out I can’t quite stand them no matter HOW they’re prepared, but if I was ever going to like them, Alton’s recipe would have been the one. And if I actually liked brussels sprouts, it would have been my new favorite dish!

  24. cybercita

    i just read a review of a restaurant in the new yorker that mentioned brussels sprouts with a sauce of sriracha, honey, and lime, which sounds infinitely intriguing…

  25. I had a salad at Bottega in Napa very similar to the failed bowl of grass you describe, but it was wonderful. The cheese was in very small crumbles and toassed throughout with marcona almonds. I assume there was a lot of olive oil. We could NOT STOP eating it, and I have been trying to figure out what was in it, or whether they briefly blanched the thin shreds of brussels.
    Maybe you could decode the recipe? “Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad marcona almonds, sieved egg, pecorino, whole citrus vinaigrette”

  26. If only my boyfriend would eat these with me. The ONLY way he will eat brussel sprouts is if they come frozen, out of a bag, and boiled to death in chicken (boullion) stock, and swimming in butter. Um, pass. I will make these anyway, and when he turns up his nose at them, I will laugh at his misfortune and eat my dinner of sprouts. Because, as always, I’m right and he’s wrong. I don’t wanna share anyway.

  27. Sarah

    Oh. my. god. This picture is tied for first with the sad face pic, the crisco pic, and the legs one from soon after he was born. I still check your blog for recipes, but your little one is definitely contributing to why I now check almost everyday. *brussels sprout fist pump!*

  28. Denise Rivers

    OK, seriously? The poor, misunderstood and underappreciated Brussel sprout had a hard enough battle. Now you, oh so innocently, put it in that yummy little fist. Done. Game over. Fist wins. How is the innocent little sprout supposed to compete. Vicious, just vicious I tell you.
    I will take it upon myself to make this recipe and lovingly devour those sprouts so that they might once again feel special. Really woman, are you mad?!

  29. luvmyrussian

    Okay, this looks amazing, and Jacob totally sold me on it! I mean, if he likes it, it must be good! :-) Question though–I can never find pancetta in my little small town grocery store…would it completely ruin this dish to use bacon?

  30. This is probably a stupid question, but any flavorful vegetarian substitution suggestions for the pancetta? Husband’s a veg and I don’t eat mammals, but I’m eternally optimistic that somewhere in the universe, a non-meat vegetable flavor enhancer exists that is on par with, erm, Wilbur.

  31. I’ve never understood why someone would want to shred Brussels sprouts– the little nooks and crevices are the best part! Think I could make this vegetarian, or is the pancetta crucial to the flavoring?

  32. Kath the Cook

    this post really makes me wish I liked brussels sprouts. I think I may have to give them another try…after all, I like cabbage! happy holidays to all!

  33. OK. The baby-hand-clutching-brussels-sprouts picture is now on the walls of foodie heaven. My kids are old enough to hold a pomegranate. Not quite the same thing…

    Chef Dad

  34. I’ve been watching everyone’s Brussels sprouts recipes and nothing has hit me as something I’d make for my kids, aged 16 months to 9 years, but this one has. I am thinking I’ll have a family of Brussels eaters by the end of next week. Thanks for the infant fist-sized inspiration.

  35. Elizabeth L.

    Oh, how sweet he is! The past two pictures have reminded me of the exact point (4 months) my beautiful girl gained control of her arms…it all changed from that point on!

    She does love Brussels sprouts, however.

  36. Patty in Jersey

    Perhaps a dumb question, but I am a brussel sprouts novice. I notice a pile of what looks to be trimmed leaves next to your sprouts. Do you take off the outer leaves before cooking them?

    1. deb

      Patty — I removed the imperfect outer leaves (as you might with lettuce or cabbage). There were a lot this time. If yours look good to go, don’t bother peeling them down.

  37. i’ve heard about these raw brussels sprout (horrifying!) salads, but have never been brave enough to try one– no matter how much everyone rants and raves about how great they are. thanks for taking one for the team. and… OMG!!! baby brussels sprout hand!!!

  38. Irene

    I happened to watch Martha Stewart a week or 2 ago, and she had on Chef David Chang from Momofuku, who made his famous (supposedly) brussels sprouts. I love them in all forms; I used to work at a restaurant that would parboil huge pots of them and then keep them in the walk-in, where I also kept a salt shaker so I could grab and munch a few each time I went in there! His recipe is posted on her site at

  39. Tried this recipe tonight because I happened to be lucky enough to have all the ingredients in my house. It was wonderful! I substituted roughly chopped crimini mushrooms for the pancetta to make it vegetarian, which I thought worked really well–they have that same umami character. Next time I might cut the sprouts in half so they cook a bit faster, but this is definitely something I’d make again.

  40. i don’t get what everyone has against brussels sprouts. they are SO GOOD. my favorite way to cook them is to roast them in the oven with olive oil and garlic. then again, almost anything is better when you add garlic to it.

  41. I just made this tonight and it was the BOMB. A definite keeper. I was doubting the long cooking time, but it was absolutely perfect. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  42. Marie M.

    I love Brussels Sprouts. I don’t love the smell when cooking them. Odorous cruciferous. Very odorous. Any suggestions on how to cope with the odour when cooking them?

    Oh Jacob. What a sweetie pie.

  43. Jenn

    You have saved the holidays! I really, really, really dislike brussel sprouts, but my husband and kids and other relatives who will be joining us at the table this year like them. But I’m the cook. But it’s the holidays. What’s a girl to do. AHA! I love balsamic, I love pancetta, I can definitely eat these. Thank you! P.S. Oh my goodness that little hand holding that little veggie. Stop it! (no, don’t really)

  44. Carolin

    I am not a fan of brussel sprouts but my husband loves them. But this recipe may work, I will make this for sure to find out, thanks for mixing it up. Oh and what a cute picture!

  45. Kim M.

    I LOVE brussel spouts (especially roasted)! These look incredible, and I will definately make soon! Thanks for sharing, Deb!

    P.S. Jacob’s little tiny hand is just too cute!

  46. Oh Deb….you torment me lately! This recepie might be the thing to make me get my garden started! You absolutely cannot find bussels sprouts in Uganda (I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer). Will have to plant some this weekend!

  47. JB

    It definitely makes a difference which type of brussel sprouts u use. DUe to timing, I missed my local farmers market and for t-giving bought brussel sprouts from my Fox and Obel here in Chicago and they source from California and the bs’s were huge. I cut them into 4 pieces but they still were not sugary and sweet like the small local ones. Cutting them right off the stalk and then into the water or saute is the best!!!

  48. Oh my goodness I love a baby with a good grip!! And, to have such a healthy eater so young….great picture….makes me remember the good ole days of little grippers. I have a picture of my Ava with her still slightly chubby 5 year old hands around a bowl of brussel sprouts that we grilled this summer.

  49. Sounds amazing. Love brussels. And I love that shot of the baby fist! You know, if you have luck like mine, the kid will end up hating brussels sprouts, forever tormenting you! (I have two of the pickiest kids in the world – it frustrates this food-loving mama to no end!)

  50. I made something similar to this for Thanksgiving last week. I made braised brussel sprouts but with bacon and cipollini onions instead of pancetta and no balsamic. It was so good. I’ll try this one later this week.

  51. Babs

    Seriously – can Jacob be any cuter??? I think not. Love the picture of him holding a brussel sprout. This also looks like a great recipe and I can’t wait to make it. Keep those pictures of your adorable baby boy coming. I love them!

  52. Diana

    I have been making this recipe since the cookbook came out and it is an absolute favorite. Even people who didn’t think they liked brussel sprouts, enjoy this dish. It has become a staple at Thanksgiving dinner and throughout the winter months. Also, you can substitute the pancetta for bacon if you do not have it on hand.

  53. I love Brussels Sprouts but have been having a hard time feeding them to my children (age 4 and 2). I’ll try this recipe of yours because it looks so delicious….
    And yes, never too early to expose children to new vegetables and recipes! Just the smell might make him want to eat some Brussels Sprouts in a few months!

  54. CB

    I can’t stand whole brussels spouts as the result of getting a mushy one as a kid, but I love them quarted or in big slices and carmelized. Try the grass salad again but with quarters or wide slices.

  55. Kim

    awwwww. the brussel sprout looks so big in your son’s hand! LOVE IT. I’m so bad now. I scroll down to look at the baby picture before reading any of the recipe. Eventually I do read the recipe, but I must see cuteness first. :-)

  56. aecummings2

    Your Brussels look delicious and your little Sprout continues to be adorable!!
    You capture him in ways I never thought of!! If you ever grow weary of cooking, I’m sure there’s a niche for you in photography.

    1. deb

      I have a wonderfully inexpensive one that I picked up three years ago just to see if I actually would use it enough to justify the purchase of a fancier one (this is how I approach almost all purchases, not that anyone asked) and it turned out I’ve never needed anything else. I’m particularly amused to see all the Food Network chefs using it, rather than one they can sell in their store for a lot more.

  57. Wow these look amazing and idk why but I am Brussels sprout obsessed these days and really want to add the balsamic Brussels to my Brussels sprout repertoire.

    So I see a lot of non capitalization of of Brussels sprouts and I feel like that is wrong. They are Brussels sprouts from Brussels (the country) right?

    On another note I wonder how many of you are buying organic Brussels? I am also organic obsessed these days, especially after seeing this video: and want to know how many other people share my mentality? Let me know who is with me on both of these things.

    1. deb

      Brussels is a city.

      The non-capitalization of Brussels is indeed wrong — worse so because I knew it was wrong but found the Brussels Brussels Brussels distracting and justified it when I saw that many newspapers inconsistently capitalize the ingredient. Is it any surprise that this site gives grammar junkies seizures?

  58. Sarah

    My boyfriend’s aunt made these for Thanksgiving and I loved them, then saw that you had put this post up and I thought it was a sign that I had to make them. But…they didn’t have fresh brussel sprouts at the grocery store so I tried it with frozen. Big, fat, giant mistake. It ended up looking like a steaming pile of poo. Lesson learned: always go fresh.

  59. I had been planning on making brussels sprouts for dinner last night and this recipe looked a lot more interesting than the one I was planning on, so I tried it and they’re delicious! I think I must have a very hot stove, though, things got a little smoky really fast.

  60. Becky

    Seriously? That baby photo almost makes me want a second baby! So flippin’ cute I can hardly stand it! I love your blog, your attitude, and your photos! I hope this is how you make your living and that you don’t have to have some boring desk job, too.

    1. deb

      Oh, that there is a GREAT idea, Alyxherself.

      I also think that the slaw could have been saved by the slightest amount of cooking (steaming, sauteeing, etc.) the Brussels before dressing them… so they still had a crunch, but not one that was rubbery and raw.

  61. Deb, These sound delicious! I love, love, love brussel sprouts and always love finding new recipes. Have you ever tried them creamed? It is like heaven on a plate. I’ve posted a recipe that I’ve made thousands of times. It is so simple, yet so delicious!

  62. Betsy

    I have cooked shredded brussel sprouts in butter with a little parmesan added at the end. I got the recipe from the Beaujolais Restaurant cookbook in Mendicino. It is a very good way to cook them and very quick once they are shredded.

  63. I was SO excited when I saw this post! I’m a big Brussels sprout fan & have recently converted my boyfriend, most notably with a dish I randomly threw together a couple of weeks ago involving a delicious balsamic reduction! And then I saw that you’d shredded your sprouts too & I was even more excited because I just had mandolined Brussels sprouts at Momofuku Ko (an awesome birthday suprise from the aforementioned bf) & was super-inspired by them. It’s sad that yours didn’t work out so well — I haven’t had a chance to try them at home yet but I’m pretty sure they did a quick sautee with their sprout shreds before serving & they were delicious — still firm and crunchy but not raw tasting at all. Also, I had some bacon alongside my Brussels the other night & it was awesome so the pancetta here sounds like utter perfection. Ahhhh Brussels sprouts… I could keep going on about them but I’ll stop now…

  64. Laurence

    I know it sounds stupid but what would you use to replace shallots?
    I live in Sarajevo and we don’t have easy access to such luxury ;)

  65. We love roasted brussels sprouts here, (enough that my 4 year old had to go to the emergency room when he burned himself on the hot pan) but this recipe is going to make me stray.

    btw, I love your guidelines on the comment section as it pertains to parenting advice. If only you could apply those rules to strangers in public as well.


  66. Elisa

    I love Sunday Suppers and have been so happy to see you posting recipes from it! I hadn’t tried this one yet, so as soon as I saw your post, dinner that evening was decided. Delicious! Previously, I had made the brussels/chestnuts dish you posted and had actually added some guanciale to that, but it wasn’t a complete success. This was far more successful, and the balsamic is just divine! Thanks for the inspiration!

  67. Hello,
    I made a smaller version of this dish last night and it was wonderful with the cold weather coming in. Also as a graduate student who’s been living on far too much premade food, it felt amazing to make something of my own. I love following your site and I hope to keep making more things off of it. Also I didn’t have stock or breadcrumbs so I just mixed in some water and it was still very tasty.

  68. Elizabeth

    I made the balsamic braised sprouts last night, without pancetta. They were good, although I think I would add more garlic next time to offset the kick of the balsamic vinegar. I imagine they would be perfect with pancetta, though I don’t think my vegetarian boyfriend would much appreciate that.

  69. Lori

    Outstanding! My husband and I love Brussels sprouts, but my parents hate them. When I said I was making them for dinner, they both made faces. But when they tried these? Let’s just say we have Brussels sprout converts. Fantastic recipe. Thank you!

  70. Charlotte

    These were fantastic, even without the pancetta. A few of my sprouts were a good bit bigger than the others, so I cut them in half – the halved ones ended up being the favorites because they soaked up more of the balsamic-y goodness. I think I’ll halve all of them next time!

  71. Kara

    On the off chance anyone is still checking comments a few days out: To the commenter who made this with creminis instead of pancetta, I am going to do the same tonight – did you just stir them in when the pancetta would have gone in, or did you fry them up separately to get them crispy? I am also going to halve my sprouts, I think, as last time I felt like the breadcrumb to sprout ratio was a little low with whole sprouts. Would I need to alter the liquid/cooking time? I would assume at least a little shorter cooking time, no? Thanks!

  72. What a fantastic recipe! We brought these to a Christmas dinner last night and they were the hit of the party. One mistake we made that didn’t hurt at all is that my wife thought that I had bought ingredients for a double recipe (I didn’t, just the 2 lbs.of brussels sprouts and 6 oz. of pancetta). So basically we had twice the fat in there. Again, it didn’t hurt at all :) The flavor was amazing though! Just the right texture on the sprouts themselves, and a nice contrast between the nutty flavor of the sprouts and the acid of the balsamic. Thanks!

  73. Peter

    Finally got around to making the balsamic glazed Brussels sprouts tonight. It’s a great combo. I cut the sprouts in half, which is a bad idea as they tend to disintegrate when being sauteed and it’s difficult to brown them evenly as the flat side likes to be on the pan. Use a Zingerman’s balsamic, which was great. The flavor of the sprouts was terrific. However, they were very dark and caramelized. I’m thinking that next time I may cook them and then toss them in the broth balsamic reduction.

  74. I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. Like Peter, in the above comment, I cut the sprouts in half. They browned fine, but I did have to take them out of the pan early in order to keep them from overcooking while the broth and vinegar reduced. I didn’t have any shallots, so I subbed onion and my grocery store only has thin slices of pancetta, which I used cut into strips. I also cut back a bit on the butter and used extra olive oil. It turned out great and I will recommend this recipe to other sprout fans.

  75. sarah

    I also made this recipe last night– amazing! Only if there were a clear balsamic vinegar.. wouldn’t turn the sprouts super dark. Anywho, a great intro to brussel sprouts for me, never had them before :) thanks for sharing this recipe!

  76. brendalynn

    we’re making this tonight! I showed the darling photo of your baby with the brussel sprout to my fiance (tonight’s cook). I think he actually cooed. But then he wanted to know: is it a baby with a brussel sprout, or a giant with a cabbage? Cute!

  77. John

    Deb, of the many recipes you’ve published and endorsed, this one is in one respect misguided.

    Brussels sprouts are a relatively new food for humans, becoming prominent in Europe late in the 18th Century. They promptly established an honored place in American culture and cookery. Thomas Jefferson planted them in his own gardens in 1812. In 1845 Eliza Acton, widely regarded as establishing the modern form for written recipes, included a recipe for Brussels sprouts in her seminal ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families.’

    As a food at its best in late fall, after several frosts and when little else comes fresh from the garden, a serving of these diminutive members of the Brassicaceae family should bring joy to diners. But many a child raised after the great wars would rather do without them. Their disfavor is due to the chemistry of overcooking.

    An average-sized Brussels sprout is perfectly cooked by steam or boiling water in about seven minutes. Further exposure to heat causes the vegetable to give off increasing amounts of sinigrin, a sulfur-bearing compound. Overcooked Brussels sprouts therefore approach a flavor profile closer to rotten eggs than one might prefer, while also losing much of the abundant nutrients that the sprouts began with. Halving or quartering them not only cuts cooking time by a minute or two, but aids in getting the denser, central core to doneness at the same time as the exterior.

    This recipe calls for the sprouts to be cooked in fairly intense heat for the better part of an hour. At even half that they would be beyond their best. The unfortunate results are masked, though, by the overwhelming intense taste of reduced Balsamic vinegar. And because Balsamic syrup is delicious, the final dish seems pretty tasty. But the days of intentionally disguising bad-tasting foods with potent sauces ought to be behind us.

    Essentially the same dish, with happier and more nourishing results, could be made by preparing the glaze on its own, steaming or boiling the sprouts separately (each of which can be done in advance), and combining them at service. Jacob, who shows an eminently good grasp of this wondrous vegetable, is more likely to think fondly of eating them if their preparation avoids overcooking.

    1. Merey

      I like the idea of not over-cooking the brussel sprouts, but I’d also like them crispy. So, how would blanching for a few minutes and then finish cooking them by adding them to the pan to cook with the butter, olive oil and pancetta? And then prepare the reduced balsamic glaze separately?

  78. Kathryn

    I made these for a dinner party tonight and they were incredible. One guest (whose favorite vegetables are brussel sprouts) said they were the best he’d ever had. I used the panko breadcrumbs I had in the cupboard, and I sort of wish that I had made fresh bread crumbs instead… maybe with a heartier bread. Also, the glaze cooked down fairly quickly, so I ended up adding quite a bit more stock. One more thing: I cut a shallow X in the stem-end of each sprout (someone said that it helps whole sprouts to cook more evenly). They were so lovely and quite impressive.

  79. Cristin

    This was the first time I ever made brussel sprouts and they were amazing! This recipe is totally worth it, and I will definitely make them again. Yum – bring on the brussel sprouts!

  80. shari

    i will be making these for thanksgiving. my family will probably look at me like im crazy because of the preconcieved notions about brussel sprouts. hopefully they are as delish as they look and everyone will be happy!

  81. steve

    we had them last night for dinner – made a half recipe as it was just two of us. They were great. I picked through the bin and pulled mostly tiny sprouts and found the cooking times were generally less (as you noted above). Would not make for thanksgiving as they require a good bit of last minute attention (and we are feeding 12, including some picky kids – my own included) but definitely will make these again.

  82. I know I am a year late on this comment, but it was linked on your… one year ago under today’s post. Thank you for this post as I have brussel sprouts and pancetta both sitting in my fridge waiting to go bad. I was suppose to make fried brussel sprouts but my husband has been called out of town, and I really DID NOT want to go through all the trouble for just myself and this looks like a fabulous replacement… yahoo… happy holidays.

  83. Jennie B

    SOOOO delicious!!!!! Instead of pancetta I added butter beans and it was a delicious meal that just warmed me up inside!! Will definitely make this again. And Jacob is adorable! Thanks Deb!

  84. Julie

    I made these for a dinner party and they were a huge hit. Absolutely delicious. I used onion instead of shallot and bacon instead of pancetta (limitations of supermarket and wallet). I also cut half the butter – next time I might cut all the butter. The fat from the bacon would be enough to keep it rich.

  85. Made this for dinner last night–it was absolutely delicious. I had chorizo on hand, so used that instead of pancetta, used a little less than half the amount of butter suggested, and cooked the Brussels (and onions, chorizo and garlic) first, then removed from the pan to make the glaze, before adding everything back to the pan to let it all mingle. I found the glaze to be a little to sweet with just the Brussels alone, so I also made some quinoa to go along with it. Will definitely be making this again.

  86. Alice

    Made these last night and served with pork tenderloin and goat cheese mashed potatoes. Brussels sprouts were a big hit! Loved the flavors and textures and my husband put his vote in for these at Thanksgiving. Thanks for getting me out of our roasted Brussels sprouts rut!

  87. Beti

    @Sarah on January 9, 2010 – you might try white balsamic vinegar (I’ve found it at Trader Joe’s). The flavor isn’t as sweet as dark but it’s still pretty good.

    Thanks for the recipe, Deb. Like some others commented, I’m trying to like sprouts (they are such pretty little vegetables!) but haven’t been converted yet. I’ll figure out a vegetarian replacement for the pancetta and give it a go.

  88. Charlotte

    just curious.. if you were to make a vegetarian twist on this, what would you suggest in place of the pancetta? (I’m sorry to even ask as I’m sure there’s no real replacement)

  89. Laura

    Made these tonight with the buttermilk roast chicken. So good. I had some rosemary in the fridge so I added that with the thyme to the bread crumbs. Amazing.

  90. I love brussels sprouts and adding pancetta is brilliant. To pair a wine with this, I focused on the slight anise of pancetta and the vegetal character. A Chilean Sauvignon Blanc would do really well with this.

  91. Jessica

    I have been making this recipe for the last three years… I think it is hands down one of the best ways to serve any veg!! This is truly the perfect dish… the sweetness of the balsamic, the smokiness of the pancetta, and the brussels are delicious!!!

  92. Made this recipe and loveedd it!
    I think I’m going to make these for a big lunch party I’m throwing, I wonder how they would hold up if I made them the day before and reheated (I could add the breadcrumbs on the day). Any thoughts Deb?

  93. Liz

    I’m also curious how these would hold up if made in advance… I’m thinking only a couple of hours, but wondering how the re-heating would go

  94. Mary

    I made this tonight, soo delicious. My husband who isn’t a huge fan of the sprouts loved it! Thank you for another wonderful recipe.

  95. Jennifer

    This looks Deelishhhhh. I’ll try it soon! Had a similar dish at a place near me recently. They seemed to have substituted soy sauce for the balsamic and a pinch of wasabi. Holy cow. Amazing!

  96. Connie

    I made these for easter lunch today. i threw in some pearl onions with the brussels but otherwise stuck to the recipe. these were amazing, the best thing on the table! it had a really great depth of flavor, very umami-full.

  97. I made this for the family dinner potluck. While I was cooking I kept thinking about my mother in law and how I have yet to make brussel sprout that she would like. When dinner was finally served, she steered clear of the brussel sprouts, though all the other guests kept approaching me “mmm, you made this? It’s delicious” pointing to this dish. Eventually, she too went bck to the table for a taste. She came back with a heap on her plate and on her way back to her seat, past me, emphatically stated, “you see what just happened? I tasted your brussel sprouts, and I had to have more!”

    SO I hope this stor demonstrates just how much your recipe was appreciated.
    I love brussel sprouts in most recipes, but this was REALLY yummy.

  98. Rose

    I made these without pancetta AND without breadcrumbs, topping with toasted sliced almonds and parsley, using diced onion instead of shallots and only flavoring the olive oil with garlic (also flavored with thyme), adding a little red wine.

    I’ve always been a brussels skeptic, and I served them to a similarly minded audience.

    We ate them all. Delicious.

  99. symphonic chef

    Skipped the pancetta, added toasted hazelnuts to the breadcrumbs and whizzed them in the food processor to make them finely chopped. YUM! Best Brussels sprouts. Thanks Deb :-)

  100. Kate

    I made this recipe last night for a large Thanksgiving dinner and the results were fantastic. People raved about the brussels sprouts, even though I decided to wait to add the bread-crumb topping until serving time and then completely forgot it. I would definitely make this again, with or without the topping!

  101. GP


    I would really like you to revisit this recipe sometime. I made this last night and I feel like the cooking time is far too long and the cooking temps are also odd. . The balsamic reduces to much, even when adding in more stock and because the sprouts are cooking for so long they end up quite mushy.

  102. cristina

    I rate this recipe as YUM. I halved this recipe & adjusted measures for my preferences. Took someone’s suggestion and added cannellini beans. There were more bread crumbs than I need so I’d reduce that amount. Would repeat with mushrooms or bacon as an alt to pancetta.

  103. I am planning on making this for Thanksgiving, but the fresh brussels sprouts at our grocery store don’t look the greatest. Do you think frozen would work if I let them thaw completely before using them? Thanks

  104. Suzers

    I know this is old and a long shot for a response, as I’m sure you’ve got a lot of questions during Thanksgiving week–but is there any reason not to halve the sprouts and just reduce the cooking time to compensate? I love when you get the browned crispy bits on the flat side, and I think they’re much easier to eat when cut before cooking.

    1. Katy Newton

      My husband hates sprouts, so when I cooked our leftover sprouts today I used this recipe (minus breadcrumbs) and slices each sprout into four cross-sections, like coins. It is softer and less crunchy this way but my husband really liked them (“they don’t taste like sprouts at all!”). They were more like Savoy cabbage this way. So slicing them up is pretty good for people who can’t handle the mustardy pong of a really good sprout, I think.

  105. Noel Weer

    Had these as part of Christmas dinner yesterday. Declared to be delicious by all. Thank you.

    (Note: I used Espresso Balsamic, one of my favorites, and it was a nice rich touch.)

    1. deb

      I wouldn’t expect it to get too soggy the longer it sits but it may when rewarmed. That said, these are braised and intended to be pretty tender. You can cook them a little “under” to acommodate any extra softness they’ll pick up later.

  106. Jenny K.

    Made this as a counterpoint to my usual roasted or shredded brussels, and it was amazing! I was trying to use up the contents of my out-of-town fridge, so I made a few adjustments. My brussels were LARGE, so I sliced them in half; they were tightly formed and they stayed together just fine in the pan – phew! Used bacon in slices instead of diced pancetta, veggie broth, omitted the parsley, and cut the whole recipe in half. Didn’t need to add any extra liquid, and ate them over noodles with a little pasta cooking water to loosen it up. Delicious!!

  107. Laura

    I made these yesterday for a party of 26 I was hosting and they were a HIT! I tripled the recipe and made them in my large roasting pan on 2 stovetop burners. The recipe was easy to follow and easy to make right before dinner was served. I love brussels sprouts but I don’t think they keep well if made ahead of time. I needed a stove-top recipe as my oven was occupied with 3 beef tenderloin roasts, and this totally delivered. Highly recommend.

  108. Bree

    This is the first brussels sprout dish I ever made, back in 2012, back when I was experimenting with vegetarian cooking (I eliminated the pancetta, of course). It started me on my love of these little greens! Thanks so much for this delicious and rich recipe!

  109. Beth

    I am making these again for Thanksgiving this year. As a measure of their delicousness quotient, they are the ONLY thing from last year’s menu that my husband remembered and requested again. Thank you, Deb, for all that you do to help all of us out here in Thanksgivingland!

  110. I made this yesterday for Thanksgiving. It’s fantastic! I got many compliments on it, which is amazing considering that the green thing at Thanksgiving is hardly the star and generally more obligatory than outstanding. I’d say these are the best Brussels sprouts I’ve ever made, and I’ve made them lots of different ways.
    I followed the recipe exactly except I left out the bread crumbs because they had to be gluten free. I’m sure the bread crumbs would have been a good addition, because how can you go wrong with crispy bread crumbs on top. But it was still great without them.
    One suggestion – reduce the amount of broth to 1 cup and add a little more as needed. I found the amount of broth to be too much. I used medium sized sprouts and they were tender before all the broth had reduced. Which meant that they sprouts didn’t get caramelized. So I made the recipe a 2nd time and reduced the broth to 1 cup. That was a tad too little, so I added just a little bit more broth towards the end of the cooking time. Perfection!

  111. Any suggestions on what I can substitute for pancetta if I want to make a vegetarian version? This sounds delicious! Half of my family is vegetarian, though, so it’d be nice if I could make it for everyone…

  112. M

    Lest anyone doubt the powers of this recipe: I made them for Christmas dinner this year and my dad, a very picky old midwestern rancher, proclaimed them the best brussels sprouts he’d ever had. :)

  113. Sarah+D

    These are outstanding! The only way I typically like bessel sprouts is roasted, so the braising made me nervous, especially when I saw how much liquid went in. But I was wrong. These are delicious!!

  114. Laura

    I made this today as a main dish for me & my partner, with a side of roast potatoes. My first time cooking brussel sprouts at all and it was lovely! I halved the recipe (but used bacon instead of pancetta, and doubled the quantity of that) and it was plenty for two people, very rich with loads of flavour. Who needs a turkey?

  115. Ishie

    So fun story. The reason I had the “only one bite” rule as a kid was because my mom got forced to eat Brussels sprouts as a kid and wouldn’t inflict such a fate on me. My boyfriend was coming over and I take care of my mom now and was already making coconut chicken to tide her over so I made this. My mom finished every bite. Liked it more than the chicken. It’s so good. Definitely a keeper for the recipe files.