What Are Brussels Sprouts? Plus Tips, Tricks, Recipes, and More

Although Brussels sprouts are available pretty much all year round, the fall and winter months are when they’re at their best. Read on for everything you need to know about them, plus tasty recipes to try.

What Are Brussels Sprouts?

Brussels sprouts are derived from wild cabbage and resemble miniature cabbages. Cultivated throughout Europe and the United States, sprouts grow underground in bunches on the stems of plants that may reach about 3-feet tall. They are typically a sage green color, though that can vary depending on the variety. In grocery stores, the sprouts are often sold individually, but they may be found still attached to the stalk (which is edible) in some specialty markets or farmers markets. 

Members of the cabbage family, they are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Research has shown that this family of vegetables contain numerous cancer-fighting chemicals in the form of glucosinolates. 

How to Select and Store Them

Brussels sprouts should be firm and appear fresh, with a vivid green color. Avoid sprouts that look yellow, dull, or wilted. While available year round, the peak growing season is fall through early spring. 

Keep sprouts in the vegetable crisper drawer in the refrigerator until ready to use. They should stay fresh up to five days if raw and up to three days once cooked. They can be frozen for up to a year—but before freezing, they should be blanched for three to five minutes. Once cool, they can be sealed in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag and stored in the freezer. Learn more about blanch cooking!

How to Prepare Brussels Sprouts

Before washing, remove any stems or discolored leaves, and then wash the sprouts well under cold running water. Sprouts may be cooked whole, halved, quartered, or shaved/shredded. When shredded, they can also be eaten raw. 

There are lots of delicious ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts. Here are some quick serving ideas:

  • Mix raw, shaved sprouts with a vegan Caesar dressing and whole grain croutons.
  • Toss whole or halved sprouts with vinaigrette, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and any other spices you like; place on a parchment- or silicone-lined sheet pan, and roast at 425°F until golden brown. (You can also do this in an air fryer.) 
  • Steam them and top with a tahini dressing
  • Braise them in vegetable broth with herbs such as basil, thyme, or rosemary. 
  • Combine cooked sprouts with your favorite cooked whole grain and a vinaigrette; then top with toasted nuts.

Vegan Brussels Sprouts Recipes to Try

This post was produced in collaboration with the Natural Gourmet Center, a plant-centric culinary arts program from the Institute of Culinary Education.

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About the Author

Headshot of Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN and dietitian with the Institute of Culinary Excellence

About the Author

Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, Institute of Culinary Education

Chef Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN, is a chef and registered dietitian with the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). An ICE graduate herself, Gellman also holds a master’s degree in nutrition from Columbia University. She combines her formal nutrition and culinary education to teach other nutrition professionals about food through webinars, workshops, and speaking engagements. She contributes recipes to health magazines and hosts cooking videos on YouTube and Facebook Live.
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