Cook Charred Brussels Sprouts with the cut side down in a hot cast iron skillet to create a buttery, toasty sear, then toss them with bacon and drizzle with zesty garlic aioli for an irresistible hot appetizer.
Quicker than oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, these Brussels get a jump start by steaming them in the microwave for a couple of minutes first. Then, they are seared quickly in melted butter until charred, resulting in a rich caramelization without burning.
For even more amazing favor, use a smoked thick-cut bacon. My favorite bacon for this recipe is Benton’s Hickory Smoked Bacon — there’s just no comparison!
Charred Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Aioli
This past week our family was in the charming town of Franklin, Tennessee, for our daughter’s wedding. Before heading home, we stopped in for dinner at Gray’s on Main, a trendy restaurant housed in an historic building circa 1876.
Gray’s was once a pharmacy, but now “honors the heritage of Tennessee’s culture through soulful sounds, traditional flavors and vintage spirits”. I had the Southern Chop with jalapeño cornbread stuffing and peach chutney — it was excellent, by the way — but I was particularly impressed with the Brussels Sprouts appetizer we shared. I almost ordered a second one just for myself!
I was so impressed, I set out to create my own version of Charred Brussel Sprouts with Garlic Aioli. Although I’m pretty sure the Gray’s Brussels sprouts were deep-fried, I opted for searing my Brussels in butter and I must say they turned out pretty darn delicious!
How to make charred Brussels sprouts
- Prep the sprouts. Place the Brussels sprouts in a colander and rinse with cool water, then pat dry with paper towels, removing any of the loose leaves. If the sprouts are small, cut them in half through the core. For larger sprout heads, cut them into quarters.
- Cook the sprouts. To jump start the cooking, steam the Brussels in a microwave basket for two minutes. While the sprouts are steaming, melt the butter in a cast iron skillet. Add cracked black pepper and sauté until sizzling. Place the steamed Brussels in the hot skillet cut side down and cook for about 5 minutes without turning. Stir and cook another 4 to 5 minutes, adding in crumbled bacon.
- Prepare the aioli. Do this ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve or whisk it up while the Brussels sprouts cook. You may use either fresh garlic or the jarred minced garlic and both are delicious.
- Serve! I can’t decide if this recipe should be categorized as an appetizer, a side dish, or even the whole meal!
How to make garlic aioli
Aioli is a fancy name for a very simple dipping sauce that’s so quick and easy to whisk together — literally!
To make garlic aioli from scratch, simply add the mayonnaise, a bit of whole grain Dijon mustard, and lemon juice with minced garlic (fresh or jarred) to a small bowl. Whisk together until combined or all ingredients are emulsified into the mayo for a smooth sauce. Season with kosher salt and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make this recipe, you may need…
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As a Southern cook, my Lodge cast iron skillet literally stays on top of my stove twenty-four seven. There’s no use putting it away between meals since I most likely will be using it again the next time I cook anyway!
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As a Southern cook, my cast iron skillet literally stays on top of my stove twenty-four seven. There’s no use putting it away between meals since I most likely will be using it again the next time I cook anyway! That being said, here are a few of my favorite recipes made in a cast iron skillet — I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
- Oven-Roasted Red Potatoes with Balsamic Vinegar — Seasoned with rosemary, thyme, and garlic, these crispy Oven Roasted Red Potatoes are finished with a drizzle of quality aged balsamic vinegar.
- Rustic Sausage and Grits Egg Skillet — Baking and serving in cast iron makes for a deliciously fun country brunch with layers of cheesy grits, sausage and eggs.
- Honey Cornbread with Fresh Sage — Both savory and sweet, bake this cornbread in a hot cast iron skillet to get a crispy, golden crust speckled with fresh whole sage leaves.
- Chicken Shawarma Wrap — These 30-Minute Chicken Shawarma Wraps are made with chicken thighs seasoned in a savory, garlicky spice rub.
- Spicy Sweet Cast Iron Catfish — A little bit spicy, a little bit sweet, cook these smoky catfish in a cast iron skillet right on the grill!
- Pan-Seared New York Strip — Learn the secret to cooking steaks at home like the those served at fancy steakhouse restaurants!
- Easy Broccoli Fritatta — This easy vegetarian fritatta with both cheddar and Parmesan cheese is a delicious low-carb meal.
When serving these, you might want to reserve a little aioli for extra dipping on the side because it is just that good!
And, if you’re ever in Franklin, I highly recommend that you stop by Gray’s on Main. The atmosphere is both historic and trendy, the service is great, and the food is absolutely delicious. Check out Gray’s Facebook page for their menu and live music schedule.
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- 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half or quarters
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- sea salt, to taste
- 2 slices thick-cut bacon, fried and crumbled
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 pinch salt
- Rinse Brussels sprouts and pat dry. Trim stems and cut each in half lengthwise.
- Place into the basket of a microwave steamer with 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave for 2 minutes. Remove from steamer to stop the cooking.
- While the Brussels are steaming, melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add freshly ground pepper and stir until just sizzling.
- Add the Brussels to the skillet in a single layer, cut side down as much as possible. and sprinkle with salt. Cover without turning for 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the Brussels over and continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft and lightly charred. Add the crumbled bacon and stir.
- To serve, drizzle with half the aioli, reserving the rest for extra dipping, if desired.
- Prepare the aioli by combining the mayo, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and garlic in a small bowl. Add salt to taste and refrigerate.
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Serving Size:4 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 216Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 487mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g
Sheila Thigpen, author of The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook, is a recipe developer, food photographer, and food writer. She spent 20+ years as a business manager in the publishing industry before she retired in 2018 to focus on her passions — cooking, photography, and writing. A Southern girl living near the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Sheila and her husband have two adult daughters, are active in their church, love to travel, and are over-the-moon excited about becoming grandparents last year. Follow Sheila on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!