We Tried 8 Methods for Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Found a Fuss-Free Winner
When I took my twin boys to their 4-year checkup, their pediatrician asked about their eating habits. I explained that they were good eaters and loved vegetables, and he teased, “Let me see, I’ll bet you just love Brussels sprouts!” The boys didn’t understand that this was a joke. Instead, they replied, in unison, “We love them!” Then one of the boys specified, “Especially roasted!”
That last part about the cooking method was hard-learned. At a buffet restaurant, both boys asked for some sprouts, which were boiled. I didn’t say a thing, not wanting to influence them. But they discovered — very clearly — that mushy Brussels sprouts are not for them. The same is true for their parents, and for most people I know. A bad experience with soggy sprouts has turned many people off from them. But once you’ve had well-cooked ones, with crispy edges and a crisp-tender interior, you’re absolutely hooked.
We all still love Brussels sprouts, so when given the opportunity to test the best method for crispy ones, I jumped at the chance. I went online to find the most popular techniques that tout crispy results and tested the top ones. Even after eating sprouts eight different ways in a short time span, we’re still hooked. In fact, there wasn’t a single method that we outright disliked. But there were definitely a couple of standouts that we loved.
So, What Is the Best Way to Cook Brussels Sprouts to Make Them Crispy?
As noted above, I enjoyed the sprouts from every one of these methods. But for me, the ones I roasted at moderately high (425°F) heat delivered a perfectly crispy exterior all around, with a just-past-tender interior. Read on to learn more about which methods truly succeeded in this skills showdown.
A Few Notes on Methodology
The sprouts: I purchased fresh, bright green Brussels sprouts that felt firm, with tightly packed leaves. I tried to choose ones that were the same size, but ended up with some that were a little bigger than the rest.
The tests: I tested each method with one pound of sprouts and used olive oil with them (with one exception, noted below). For that amount of sprouts, I seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. I was careful to avoid crowding the pan with the sprouts, as this can inhibit crisping. You can see how far apart I spaced them in the photos. In an effort to create uniformity among the tests, I did not include any other seasonings or glazes.
The times: The prep for each method was the same — halve the sprouts lengthwise, which took just a couple of minutes. Since that was the same for each method, I included info about the cook time only, as that intel could be helpful to folks searching for their ideal method.
Ratings: I judged each method on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the absolute best. The main criteria was texture, aiming for crispiness around the whole exterior.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Method: Roast at Two Temperatures
- Cook time: 45 minutes
- Rating: 6
About this method: Following the technique outlined by Food Network, I tossed my halved sprouts in a large baking dish with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, plus salt and pepper as explained above in the methodology notes. These sprouts roasted at 400°F for 35 minutes, then at 450°F for 10 minutes.
Results: There were a few outer leaves from some of the sprouts that fell off, and those got nicely crisped. The sprouts themselves didn’t pick up that much crispiness, and the overall texture was very soft, bordering on mushy. I think that a shorter initial roasting time (perhaps 20 to 25 minutes) would work much better for my taste.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Method: Roast on a Preheated Sheet Pan
- Cook time: 25 minutes
- Rating: 7.5
About this method: I used the method described in an article by Bon Appetit: I preheated a sheet pan in a 450°F oven so that when I added the sprouts to it, they sizzled (they were tossed with 2 tablespoons of oil, plus the salt and pepper). I arranged them cut-side down on the pan and roasted them for 25 minutes.
Results: I anticipated getting crispier results than I got, as this is a method I’ve often used for sprouts. A few of the outer leaves got crisp, and the sprouts themselves were cooked just a teensy bit softer than crisp-tender. They were well-browned and absolutely delicious, just not very crisp.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Method: Sauté
- Cook time: 13 minutes
- Rating: 7.5
About this method: First of all, you might notice that this method has the same rating as the previous and following methods. Yes, sometimes, the results are dead even with each other. For this test I used the instructions from Delish, which entailed heating oil (I used 2 tablespoons) in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then adding the sprouts cut-side down and sprinkling with salt and pepper. You cook them undisturbed until lightly caramelized on the bottom, about 6 minutes, then stir and continue cooking until done to your liking (6 to 8 minutes).
Results: Because the skillet is uncovered, the sprouts cook from the bottom of the pan up. This is different from roasting in the oven, which surrounds the sprouts with heat on all sides. What this does, then, is brown the sprouts just where they make contact with the pan. The cut sides got slightly crispy, and the overall texture was wonderfully crisp-tender. The sprouts retained a vibrant green color on the rounded sides, which was lovely, but they fell a little short of delivering the truly crispy results I was after.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Method: Deep-Fry in Canola Oil
- Cook time: 12 minutes
- Rating: 7.5
About this method: I used a recipe from A Spicy Perspective for this technique. It instructs you to heat 1 to 2 inches of oil (here I used canola oil) to 375°F to 400°F in a large, deep skillet. I used a wok, thinking that the shape might help contain any splatters. Working in small batches, I fried the sprouts for 2 to 3 minutes and kept the cooked ones warm in a 200°F oven as I worked on subsequent batches.
Results: First and foremost, if you use this method, make sure you follow the instructions to cook in small batches. I did, and I was very glad. Because of the moisture in the sprouts, the oil pops and sputters a lot when you lower them in. Even though I used my large wok, I still ended up with oil splatters all over my cooktop and on the floor in front of my range, which is to be expected. Kitchn editors recommend using a splatter screen when frying to prevent this.
The leaves came out lacy and crispy, and the overall texture was surprisingly tender for such a short cook time. While the sprouts got somewhat crisp, they didn’t get as crispy as I expected they would. And their nutty sweetness was a bit obscured by the frying.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Method: Start on Stovetop and Finish in Oven
- Cook time: 20 minutes
- Rating: 8
About this method: I looked to Mark Bittman’s method on the New York Times website for this test. First, I heated the oven to 400°F. I then heated enough oil to coat the bottom of a large cast-iron skillet (4 tablespoons for me) over medium-high. I then added the sprouts in a single layer, cut-side down, and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. Similar to the sautéing method, I cooked the sprouts, undisturbed, until they were browned on the bottom (about 6 minutes). I then transferred the pan to the oven and roasted the sprouts until tender and browned (about 14 minutes), shaking the pan to stir every 5 minutes.
Results: The sprouts were almost completely tender, with a little bit of bite, and somehow almost juicy inside; the texture was intriguing. They were delicious and slightly crispier on the outside than the other methods described above, but still not super crispy.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Method: Roast at High Heat
- Cook time: 25 minutes
- Rating: 8
About this method: I used the method outlined by A Couple Cooks for this test. I tossed the sprouts with 2 tablespoons of oil, salt, and pepper, then spread them onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, arranging them cut-side down. I roasted them at 450°F without stirring until they were very browned and tender, 25 minutes.
Results: The sprouts had some crispy edges and crunchy loose outer leaves, and they were deeply browned and caramelized. They were absolutely delicious but not what I would characterize as especially crispy overall.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Method: Air-Fry
- Cook time: 15 minutes
- Rating: 8.5
About this method: I used the guidance from Well Plated as well as our own technique to test this method. I skipped the optional soaking step that Well Plated describes and instead tossed the halved sprouts with 1 tablespoon oil, along with the salt and pepper. I air-fried them at 375°F for 15 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through the cook time.
Results: I loved the overall texture of these sprouts — perfectly crisp-tender through and through, with some particularly crispy loose outer leaves. Note: For people who prefer their sprouts on the more tender side, this method isn’t ideal.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Method: Roast at Moderately High Heat
- Cook time: 25 minutes
- Rating: 9.5
About this method: For this simple method, I used Kitchn’s own recipe, minus the honey and balsamic finish. I preheated the oven to 425°F and tossed the halved sprouts on my sheet pan (not in a separate bowl) with 2 tablespoons of oil as well as the salt and pepper. I then arranged the sprouts so that they were all cut-side down on the pan and roasted them for 25 minutes, stirring them after 13 minutes.
Results: While these didn’t achieve potato chip–level crispiness, they definitely delivered the best crispiness of the bunch. They were cooked the slightest bit beyond crisp-tender and had good crisping on both the cut sides and with the loose outer leaves. They were absolutely irresistible; I kept popping them in my mouth as if they were popcorn.
Final thoughts: As I explained at the beginning, I enjoyed the finished results from every one of these methods and feel that there’s a lot to love here. I tried to describe the overall texture of the sprouts with each method so that you can find the technique that gives you what you love most — be it softer, more tender sprouts or bites with a little firmer chew