What Are Brussels Sprouts?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

Brussels sprouts

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Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage and cauliflower that's gained popularity in homes and restaurant kitchens around the world. Cook, shred, pickle and fry Brussels sprouts for a side dish for a healthy, satisfying side dish.

What Are Brussels Sprouts?

Brussels sprouts are vegetables from the Brassica family. It's one of the only vegetables to have a capitalize letter in its name, a result of its Belgian origin. Brussels sprouts became so popular, King Leopold I made them the country's official vegetable in 1820.

Romans called Brussels sprouts "bullata gemmifera," or "diamond makers," believing the vegetables (which were imported from Western Europe) made one smarter.

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What to Do With Brussels Sprouts

There are a multitude of ways to cook Brussels sprouts, but avoid boiling them or risk an unpleasant flavor and texture. Prep the sprouts by slicing off the bottom and loosening any leaves around the head that look worn.

For best results, roast whole or halved sprouts with a little salt, pepper and olive oil in a hot oven until golden-brown and crisp. Another delicious preparation is to shred raw Brussels sprouts into a salad. Thanks to their sturdy texture and robust flavor, stronger dressings are good pairings. Pair them with cheese, nuts and dried fruit for a satisfying dish. Brussels sprouts also substitute well for cabbage in coleslaw.

What Do Brussels Sprouts Taste Like?

Brussels sprouts taste similar to cabbage, but stronger and spicer. The sprouts can get a little bitter when cooked for too long, a result of glucosinolates, a sulfur-containing compound found in most cruciferous vegetables. Try Brussels sprouts raw and cooked for a good idea of the range of flavors they can impart.

Brussels Sprouts Recipes

Where to Buy Brussels Sprouts

Find loose Brussels bins or pre-bagged at supermarkets year-round. During early summer and early fall tall, specialty produce and farmers markets sell them on the stalk.


Keep Brussels sprouts refrigerated or in a cool, dark spot in a bag or bin, and they'll last a week to ten days or more. Brussels sprouts also freeze well and can be kept frozen for six months.


All Brussels sprouts come from the same plant, Brassica oleracea gemmifera. There are more than 100 varietals, with the most common being Early Half Tall, Bedford, and Noisette. Each variety has a similar size, flavor, and texture.