Bourbon Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Story by Karyl Henry, KarylsKulinaryKrusade.com

I was a very picky eater growing up, especially with vegetables. I ate green beans and kale by the pound, but you couldn’t pay me to eat spinach, lima beans, or brussel sprouts. Nothing and nobody could change my mind.

Over time I’ve become a much more adventurous eater. I still won’t eat lima beans, but I am a big fan of spinach. And, while it has taken considerably longer, I now like brussel sprouts too. 

I have been looking for more ways to incorporate brussel sprouts into my meal plan. I recently discovered a fabulous bourbon bacon sauce and wanted to create a savory side dish that is perfect for the holidays and beyond, Bourbon Bacon Brussel Sprouts.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

  • You can make the bourbon bacon sauce ahead.
  • By cooking the brussel sprouts in the same skillet as the sauce, they absorb even more flavor.
  • It’s a great side dish for weeknight dinner or holiday entertaining.

I’m telling you, even if you think you don’t like brussel sprouts you need to try these Bourbon Bacon Brussel Sprouts. The sprouts get nice and caramelized, and the sauce adds incredible flavor and a sweet and salty bite.

INGREDIENT TIPS FOR BOURBON BACON BRUSSEL SPROUTS

Use fresh brussel sprouts. Sprouts in a can or jar are pickled, and not right for this dish. Frozen brussel sprouts will have too much water, and will not caramelize properly.

Look for brussel sprouts that are all about the same size, so that they cook evenly. Cut off about a 1/2″ from the bottom end and then cut them in half lengthwise before cooking. That provides more surface area for caramelization.

If you’re short on time, make the sauce ahead. You can store it in the fridge for up to one week, and it is a fabulous condiment to use on burgers, serve with cheese, and many other options.

If you do make the sauce ahead, take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before making the brussel sprouts. That way it can come to room temperature before adding it to the skillet.

Use real bacon. This is not the time for bacon bits or imitation bacon.

A specific type of bourbon is not critical for this dish, so you don’t need to use a top-shelf variety. And if you need to buy some, go with a mid-range price point. I have Maker’s Mark on hand so that is what I use.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can you make Bourbon Bacon Brussel Sprouts ahead? I do not recommend it. Brussel sprouts are best served within 30 minutes. If needed, you can make the sauce and prep the sprouts ahead, but then cook right before serving.

How about leftovers? I personally don’t like leftover cooked brussel sprouts. Instead, I recommend having extra sauce on hand and cooking the sprouts as needed.

Will Bourbon Bacon Brussel Sprouts work for a potluck or holiday table? Absolutely. If you are using chafing dishes this is a perfect dish, because you can keep it warm. That will help keep the bourbon bacon sauce from getting clumpy.

Bourbon Bacon Brussel Sprouts from KarylsKulinaryKrusade.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs Brussel sprouts, all about the same size
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
  • 12 oz thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add bacon to a large skillet over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes, until done. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, reserving the fat in the skillet.
  2. While the bacon cooks, rinse and drain brussel sprouts. Trim 1/2″ off the bottom of each sprout, and then slice sprouts in half lengthwise. Set aside.
  3. Turn heat to medium-low, and add diced onion. Cook for 5 minutes, until golden. Add minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add brown sugar, vinegar, bourbon, water, and pepper. Stir together and simmer for 5 minutes. Add bacon, stir well, and continue to simmer for 5 minutes until sauce thickens.
  5. Transfer sauce to a bowl and set aside.
  6. Add avocado oil to the skillet and, when the oil begins to sizzle, add brussel sprouts face down. Cook for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally until both sides are caramelized.
  7. Return sauce to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to combine.