14 Ways To Give Brussels Sprouts A Serious Flavor Boost

Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts are a holiday staple, and they're served with roast dinners throughout the year, too. In other words, there's no getting away from them. If you've not been converted to how good they can be, that might be because you're not eating them in the right way. At worst, they can be flaccid, watery, and pale green with a taste that is reminiscent of wet socks. Beyond this, they are often regarded as boring, slightly acrid-tasting vegetables to be avoided as an adult. Meanwhile, parents beseech little ones to "try at least one" in a bid to get them to eat up their greens. 

However, combined with other ingredients or cooked in certain ways, the distinct, cabbage-like taste can transform into a delightful mouthful. A Dickensian-style offering of tasteless mush can magically become a gourmet dish that's worthy of a place on the table of a grand feast. Prepare to be surprised by the incredible ways to give Brussels sprouts a serious flavor boost. The results are so mouthwatering that these fairy cabbages may be about to become your favorite side of all. 

1. Crumble on Cheetos

Wherever there's a culinary tip or hack, a bag of Cheetos never seems far away. What stands out with these snacks is that the flavor packs a punch and they are mighty crunchy — just what you need to elevate your Brussels sprouts. After frying sprouts with garlic, simmer them in chicken broth for a few minutes, and then remove them from the stock. They should be a little crisp and wet. Time to roll them in Cheetos that you've already broken up in a food processor. Or, blitz the white cheddar cheese variety of Cheetos and crumble them onto par-boiled, smashed sprouts, and bake in the oven. 

You could even throw a few whole Cheetos on top of a serving of the cooked veg. That way, you don't have to mess around with a food processor. You won't get a fine crumb, but you'll definitely get a contrast in taste and texture. If you like a little heat, why not try another variety of this popular snack, such as Flamin' Hot Cheetos? They'll make sure the flavor blasts off into a hot and spicy dimension. Think about what other crispy chips you could top your sprouts with. 

2. Roast them

Halve fresh spouts, season, and roast them on parchment paper with lemon halves and peeled garlic cloves. The citrusy, garlicky, charred sprouts will taste out of this world. Roasting gives Brussels sprouts a serious flavor boost with deliciously browned edges adding crispiness and an almost creamy softness. For a deliciously sweet roasted Brussels sprouts recipe, start by trimming the sprouts and removing the tough outer leaves. Cut in half lengthways and coat in olive oil with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until they are almost done and then pour on maple syrup to coat the veg. Roast so that the outsides caramelize and enhance the sweetness. 

For a twist on Ina Garten's roasted Brussels sprouts, coat the veggies with maple syrup before putting them in the oven. Do this when you add the olive oil and seasoning. If you want a crispier result, keep them in the heat for longer. The savoriness of the sprouts with the smoky sweetness of the syrup creates an elevated side for a festive table. Whether you parboil or not, use a sturdy jar to squash individual sprouts before roasting. The smashed veg, which is akin to a smashed burger, comes out crispier and a little more charred. 

3. Add Parmesan

It's a fact that cheese usually makes food taste even better. And that includes Brussels sprouts. Elevate the veggies with a sharp tangy cheese flavor booster by making air fryer Parmesan Brussels sprouts. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan mixed with panko on sprouts halfway through the cooking time so that you get a gorgeously salty crunch. For perfect grilled Brussels sprouts, thread half-cooked, halved vegetables onto skewers after tossing in olive oil and seasoning. Grill for a couple of minutes or so on each side before squeezing lemon juice and zest on top along with the grated Italian cheese. Serve immediately. 

Create a totally different taste by chopping parboiled sprouts in a food processor. Add Parmesan and heavy cream and bake the mixture in the oven. After putting the creamy sprouts in an ovenproof dish, cover the top with more of the cheese so that you get a crunchy, golden crust. Or, add Parmesan to sprouts before roasting them. For an extra flavor boost, top the cheese with powdered ranch dressing. Dip the roasted sprouts in a creamy ranch dip for a snack or to create a festive appetizer. 

4. Make with bacon

Bacon with Brussels sprouts is a game-changing flavor booster. The salty, savory taste of the meat elevates sprouts so that they aren't as bland. Add cooked bacon bits to sprouts with onion, garlic, and a generous pour of maple syrup. The saltiness contrasts mouthwateringly with the sweetness and transforms the crispy softness of sprouts. For easy roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, roast the veggies in the oven in extra virgin olive oil with salt and pepper. Fry bacon slices and crumble onto the sprouts once they're ready. 

For a festive touch, boil halved or quartered trimmed sprouts. Meanwhile, fry chopped-up smoked bacon in a knob of butter. Once that's starting to brown, add the drained sprouts and continue to cook. You want to sprouts to turn lovely and charred. Add chopped-up ready-to-eat chestnuts to the skillet with bacon and sprouts. Fry for a little longer before serving with a good sprinkling of grated Parmesan. The sweet, nutty, almost buttery taste of the chestnuts is delicious with the umami smokiness of the bacon and the tanginess of the cheese. Together they transform the taste of sprouts and create a side that's simply spectacular. 

5. Spice sprouts up

Adding a fiery kick is one of the best ways to give Brussels sprouts a serious flavor boost. It's a simple idea, but getting the balance just right can make or break this side. You don't want spiciness to overpower the bite-size veggies, leaving your mouth on fire. However, if it's too subtle then it won't cut through the cabbagey taste. To begin with, you might try following a spicy lemon Brussels sprouts recipe that promises to turn what many report as a boring vegetable into a brilliant side dish. Trim and quarter fresh sprouts and coat them in olive oil with chili oil, garlic powder, and lemon juice, along with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Spritz with lemon zest and serve. Choose a chili oil that's going to give you just the right amount of heat. 

You can also roast veggies and when they come out of the oven cover them with Tajín seasoning. The Mexican condiment gives the roasted sprouts an instant salty flavor bomb of lime and chili. Smash the sprouts so that they come out of the oven extra tasty. For a sweet and spicy sprout sauce, combine three parts Sriracha hot sauce with two parts maple syrup and one part rice wine vinegar. Squeeze in lime juice and season with salt and pepper. For a meaty hot taste, fry chorizo slices and cook sprouts in the now-chilified oil before roasting.

6. Sweeten with honey

To sweeten up a chorizo sprout side, add honey before roasting to temper down the spiciness. It'll turn your sprouts lovely and sticky, too. To make Brussels sprouts with chorizo and aioli, fry the veggies in butter with the Iberian sausage, along with honey and sherry vinegar. Drizzle with the creamy, garlicky homemade aioli to serve. The ingredients mellow out the bitterness of the sprouts beautifully. 

For another take, serve roasted Brussels sprouts with honey, Aleppo pepper, and garlicky melted butter. The heat and the floral sweetness are divine with brown butter and transform the charred simplicity of the sprouts. Give parboiled and roasted sprouts a sweet glaze with a honey and balsamic vinegar mix. Make the honey-balsamic glaze with unsalted butter and minced garlic. Let the mixture reduce. Brush onto smashed roast sprouts before popping them back in the oven to caramelize. Or what about mixing honey and red miso paste with olive oil and coating the veg before roasting? You can get hot honey at the store, too, and simply mix this with olive oil and salt before coating and roasting Brussels sprouts. Drizzle on more of the hot honey when you serve the veg, and to balance the flavors crumble on a little salty feta cheese. 

7. Create an Asian twist

Take your recipes on a culinary adventure to find ways to give Brussels sprouts a serious flavor boost. For an instant umami hit, give them an Asian twist. A simple way to do this is to coat roasted sprouts in an Asian-style sauce. Reduce honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil to a sticky consistency. Season with garlic powder and Indonesian chili paste (sambal oelek). 

Make copycat Red Lobster Brussels sprouts by air-frying the veggies and topping them with crispy fried onions. Serve with a sauce made from a reduction of brown sugar and soy sauce with minced garlic and grated ginger. Another great combination is soy sauce and sesame oil with garlic and sesame seeds. Or make a fish sauce vinaigrette to toss roasted sprouts in. Mix the fish sauce with lime juice, sugar, and rice wine vinegar. Add garlic, fresh birdseye chilis, and fresh herbs. Everybody loves kung pao, right? So, translate these ingredients into a Brussels sprout dish. The honey and soy glaze is great with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and Sriracha, plus fresh garlic. Garnish with green onions, cilantro, and peanuts.

8. Cook with fruity ingredients

A fruity twist gives a savory side bursts of sweetness and juiciness rather than sweetening the whole dish. It happens to be a fantastic way to seriously boost the flavor of Brussels sprouts. For festive flair, add dried cranberries and chopped pecans which will toast in the oven. You could also use dried cherries instead for a sour tang. If you are using fresh cranberries in a sprout dish, add a little sugar to them before roasting to reduce the tartness. To liven up the fruity taste, make a glaze using orange-flavored olive oil and stir in mandarin or clementine orange pieces into the finished side. Another fruity idea is to roast apple slices with sprouts and combine them with cranberries and pecans for a sweet, tart, and nutty taste. 

Try adding pomegranate molasses to sprouts before cooking, along with olive oil and garlic. Smash and roast, adding shredded Parmesan toward the end of the cooking time. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top to serve. A sophisticated sprout dish is to roast the green veg with long slices of pear, plus thyme, shallot, and extra virgin olive oil. Toast pecans or hazelnuts and chop before tossing into the roasted sprouts and finish with a good squirt of freshly squeezed lemon juice. 

9. Add a creamy sauce

Everything tastes better with a creamy sauce. And that includes sprouts. To seriously upgrade the flavor, serve the veggies with a garlic and cream sauce. Combine the cooked sprouts and garlic with heavy cream and a good grating of Parmesan in a skillet. Add a few chili flakes to cut through the creaminess and season. Adding cream is about as simple as it gets, so make this fresh and avoid premade sauces. 

Another approach is to create a creamy sauce separately while sprouts are roasting. Start by frying shallots and garlic in butter with a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Add heavy cream, shredded mozzarella, and cheddar. Once the cheese has melted, mix it with the cooked sprouts in an ovenproof dish, and crumble on cooked bacon bits. Bake in the oven to create a cheesy, creamy sprout casserole that's gooey, velvety, and luxuriously creamy with a salty crunch. 

10. Fry Brussels sprouts

You can boil and roast them, but one of the best ways to give Brussels sprouts a serious flavor boost is by frying them. To achieve a caramelized taste and soft texture, char halved sprouts in a skillet with sea salt. Once they've crisped up and browned, add a little water and put a lid on the pan to steam them. When they are off the heat swirl in butter and fresh lemon juice for a creamy, citrus taste. Our recipe for panfried Brussels sprouts is great, too. Start by frying onion and garlic before adding the sprout. After up to 10 minutes, once the sprouts are charred, add water or broth and simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes. Once browned and tender, add garlic powder and season before serving. 

What about deep-frying sprouts and serving them with a sweet, spicy, garlicky dip? Fry in batches to avoid overcrowding as they only take a couple of minutes in the hot oil. If you love a glazed veggie, then combine balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and agave syrup. Simmer the ingredients and drizzle onto deep-fried Brussels sprouts. 

11. Shred Brussels sprouts

A great way to make sure these veggies soak up all the flavors of other ingredients and are wonderfully golden brown is to shred them. To get them super-thin use a mandoline or slice them in a food processor. For a fuss-free side, fry the shredded sprouts in garlic butter and serve. Try shredding and roasting and add other flavors with garlic, maple syrup, or balsamic vinegar.

Parmesan is perfect with shredded Brussels sprouts, too. If slicing with a knife, halve the veggies lengthways. Hold the stem part of each half, cut side down, so that it doesn't slide around, and slice across from the top. TV chef Ina Garten slices Brussels sprouts in the food processor. She then sautés the slices in oil and butter, stirring continuously, before drizzling with balsamic vinegar to serve. Try roasting shredded sprouts in olive oil, adding grated Parmesan, and cooking for a further minute. Serve with extra cheese on top. 

12. Stuff them

If you can stuff peppers and make jalapeño poppers then what's stopping you from stuffing a Brussels sprout? If you want to put out a showstopping festive side during the holidays, then it's worth the extra time and effort. Make wells by hollowing out the middles of blanched sprouts and stuff these with a cheesy breadcrumb filling. Lemon zest and red pepper flakes create other flavorful notes, with a last covering of grated Parmesan turning golden brown and melting on top. 

To make sprouted sandwiches, roast smashed, parboiled sprouts with garlic butter brushed on top. Add cold fillings between two sprouts, such as tomato, pesto, and mozzarella. Secure with a wooden toothpick. You've just turned a side into a cocktail canape or appetizer. Or, try air-frying sprouts with garlic and onion powder before crumbling cooked bacon bits and shredded cheese on top so that it melts. A fantastic festive side is Brussels sprouts loaded with sausagemeat and dried cranberries, cooked with shallot, turkey stock, and panko. 

13. Bread the veggies

Give sprouts a crispy coating by breadcrumbing them. Parmesan crusted fried mushrooms are delicious, so why not Brussels sprouts cooked in the same way? Try parboiling the little cabbage-like veggies, smashing them, and then coating them with panko seasoned with garlic powder. After roasting, serve the crispy bites with a creamy peri-peri dip. Lightly breadcrumbed sprouts are spectacular when served with crunchy bacon bits, too. 

If you don't have the time, or desire, to crumb each sprout, then take a shortcut. Boil sprouts or cook them however you like. Add a knob of butter to them in an ovenproof dish. Mix melted butter with breadcrumbs, garlic powder, and Parmesan, and season. Pour the buttery crumbs over the sprouts and broil for a few minutes so that the top turns golden brown and gets crunchy. Or, cover uncooked, trimmed, and halved sprouts with olive oil, onion powder, and black pepper. Add garlic powder, breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning, and grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Roast the sprouts and serve with a balsamic vinegar drizzle. 

14. Marinate

Marinating has to be one of the most effective ways to give Brussels sprouts a serious flavor boost. And you can do this before or after prepping the veg. Blanch the veggies for a few minutes in boiling water and immediately plunge in iced water. Chill in the fridge for a minimum of half an hour in vinaigrette. Make this with olive oil, sherry vinegar or rice wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard, plus red onion chopped finely. If you're firing up the barbecue, let partially cooked sprout halves soak up olive oil with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard to begin with. Thread the marinated sprouts on skewers and grill for a sweet, tangy, and salty taste. 

Alternatively, roast sprouts after covering them with garlic, mustard, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil for at least 10 minutes. You could also add maple syrup for a sticky, caramelized coating. Try to leave the veggies for longer than 10 minutes — even overnight if possible. Think umami ingredients for your marinade and you can't go wrong.