An impressive Thanksgiving side dish need not be time intensive, nor terribly difficult. Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts with crunchy pecans and a dash of bourbon (optional, but delicious!) are super easy, but a total showstopper both in flavor and presentation.
They can be partially prepared in advance, and then finished in less than 15 minutes. A Thanksgiving dinner (or really any dinner) side dish winner!
Bacon and brussels sprouts and maple syrup and bourbon, oh my!
These are most definitely a few of my favorite things. And if you’re reading this post, they’re probably some of yours too, which means we can totally be friends. A friend who shares her bacon is a friend for life. BFFs = Bacon. Friends. Forevah.
Brussels sprouts are sort of a culinary line in the sand, right? If you love them, you really really love ’em. You love crispy Brussels sprouts in the air fryer and shredded Brussels sprouts in the oven. You love them raw in a salad, and you definitely wouldn’t turn your nose up at Christmas Brussels sprouts with pistachios and cranberries.
And if you don’t? Well, you just might need bacon and bourbon to make ’em palatable. And you’re in luck!
Maple bacon Brussels sprouts are both sweet and savory; crunchy and tender; and oh so very pretty to look at. The best part? This recipe is really easy to make – even for beginners!
- Brussels Sprouts: choose the freshest sprouts you can find. In their peak season, you can often find Brussels sprouts still attached to the stalk. Those are great! But they’re not essential. For the freshest Brussels sprouts, look for bright green sprouts with firmly packed leaves that aren’t yellow or withering. Avoid sprouts that are cracked or have too many black spots.
- Bacon: both regular and thick cut bacon work.
- Pecans: use raw, unsalted pecans. Coarsely chop them, or buy “pecan pieces”. If you don’t like pecans, walnuts are a nice substitute.
- Ground (Dry) Mustard: dry mustard is just ground up mustard seeds. On its own, it’s essentially flavorless, but once it’s “activated” by a liquid (in this recipe, bourbon) it bring a pleasant pungency and a bit of acidity to the dish.
- Bourbon: bourbon is used to deglaze the pan, and lends a smoky flavor. But more importantly, bourbon is slightly acidic! This is important, as the acidity will neutralize the sulfuric odors released during the cooking process (those orders, and resulting flavor, are why some find Brussels sprouts so off-putting. Neutralize it for clean, rich flavor!).
- Maple Syrup: our sweet foil! Opposites attract, and here we have a few. Maple syrup will balance out the saltiness in the bacon, the pungency of the mustard, and the acidity of the bourbon. It’s a must, so don’t skip!
BOURBON SUBSTITUTION: If you don’t consume alcohol, or don’t want to use bourbon, replace it with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
How to Cut Brussels Sprouts
Before you even get started, be sure to use sprouts that are (roughly) the same size – this way they’ll cook evenly, at the same rate! The only thing worse than a mushy sprout is an undercooked sprout, and uniformity from the start will make the job that much easier.
- Use sharp paring knife to trim off the root end of each sprout.
- Peel away any withered or yellowed leaves. If your Brussels sprouts are very fresh you should only need to remove the outer layer.
- Slice each sprout in half lengthwise, from top to bottom. This cut allows the densely packed leaves to cook through all the way to the center.
How to Make Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts
With maple syrup, bacon, and pecans, this Brussels sprouts recipe has a little something for everyone. Start by blanching the Brussels sprouts in salted water, then finish them on the stove – this method creates tender interiors and crisp edges. The bourbon is optional, but recommended. You can substitute for apple cider vinegar if you don’t cook with alcohol.
- Blanch the Brussels sprouts in salted water. Cook 4-5 minutes, or until the sprouts are tender but still bright green. They’re ready once you can easily piece the stem using the tip of a knife.
- Strain the sprouts, then run them under cool running water or plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Shake well, then air dry on a kitchen towel to remove any clinging water droplets.
- Cook the bacon in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until the fat renders and the bacon is crisp, then remove the bacon pieces using a slotted spoon.
- Increase the heat to medium high and add the Brussels sprouts and pecans to the rendered bacon fat; saute until the edges of the sprouts are crisp, about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the ground mustard over the sprouts and pecans and cook 1-2 minutes more.
- Deglaze the pan with the bourbon, stirring constantly until its completely absorbed.
- Pour in the maple syrup and cook 1 minute more, or until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve right away. Enjoy!
- Use real maple syrup, not pancake syrup, for pure maple flavor.
- Swap pecans for walnuts, or simply omit them.
- Don’t overcook the Brussels sprouts when blanching! Drain them when they’re still bright green, after 4-5 minutes.
- Season the water with plenty of kosher salt – about a tablespoon; it will infuse the Brussels sprouts with flavor from the inside out.
- Use a large, 12″ skillet. This allows the Brussels sprouts to make lots of contact with the surface for crispier edges.
- Wait to season with salt and pepper until the end – you may need just a pinch of salt, or none at all.
What’s the Easiest Way to Cut Bacon?
If you’ve ever tried to slice bacon with a chef’s knife, it’s sort of a cumbersome process. Use kitchen shears instead! It makes for quick, efficient work.
Can I Make This Recipe in Advance?
Yes, maple bacon Brussels sprouts are partially make ahead friendly!
Blanch the Brussels sprouts, then plunge them into an ice bath. Drain, then store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Cook in the skillet as directed 15-20 minutes before you’re ready to serve.
Did you make these Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts? I’d love to know how they turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
30-Minute Stovetop Maple Bacon Brussels SproutsPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1½ lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 1 tbsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 4 strips bacon, diced into ½" lardons
- ½ c pecans, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 2 oz bourbon, or 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- ground pepper, to taste
- Fill a large pot with enough water to fully submerge the brussels sprouts, and place over high heat. Bring the water to a boil and season with the kosher salt. Add the brussels sprouts to the boil water and give them a good stir. Boil 4-5 minutes, until the sprouts are tender but still bright green in color. Drain in a colander, run under cold water to stop the cooking process, then lay on a kitchen towel to dry.
- Place the bacon in a 12" skillet and heat over medium heat. Saute, stirring occassionally, until the fat renders and bacon is crisp, 7-8 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place onto a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
- Increase the heat to medium high, then add the blanched Brussels sprouts and pecans to the rendered bacon fat. Saute over high heat, stirring frequently, until the sprouts are crisp, 4-5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the mustard powder over the sprouts and pecans, then stir constantly for 1 minute. Pour the bourbon (or cider vinegar) into the pan to deglaze; stir and scrape constantly until any browned bits have been scraped up and the bourbon is completely absorbed, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the bacon back to the pan, then pour in the maple syrup. Give everything a good toss, then cook 1 minute more, until the syrup is slightly thickened. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if needed. Serve right away, and enjoy!