How to Cut Brussels Sprouts, with Photos & Recipe Suggestions

How to cut Brussels sprouts
Four ways to cut Brussels sprouts. One method works best for cooking Brussels sprouts whole, another way works best for roasting, still another for quick-cooking just the leaves. Step by step photo illustrations of each technique.

Some times, you look at a vegetable and wonder how in heavens to cut it up for cooking. Take Brussels sprouts. The baby cabbages may look like green golf balls but really, they're tightly bound leaves surrounding a dense core.

(While we're at it, how do we spell Brussels sprouts? THIS IS THE RIGHT WAY Just remember Brussels sprouts, with an S at the end, like the Belgian city. THIS IS THE WRONG WAY Forget the incorrect spelling, Brussel sprouts, no S.)

Step by step, these photographs demonstrate the best ways to cut Brussels sprouts, depending on how they're going to be cooked. Each technique has something in common: breaking up the dense center core. That's because:

Brussels sprouts cook more evenly when more heat reaches into the core.
Brussels sprouts taste better (even to people who don't like them) when some of the naturally occurring chemicals are leached out when the cores are broken up.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED
A cutting board
A sharp knife
Fresh Brussels sprouts
That's all!

LOOKING JUST FOR A LIST OF BRUSSELS SPROUTS RECIPES? You’ll find them all here, in Brussels sprouts recipes.



Wash the sprouts really wellFirst! Please do wash the Brussels sprouts well, even if planning to cut off all the exterior bits.

Why? Because if there's anything unsavory on the outside, then just putting it on the cutting board will contaminate the board; anything that gets cut on the board is at risk of contamination, too. In addition, the knife will cut through the outer areas so will transfer any contamination into the interior areas.
A stalk of Brussels sprouts, an alien beingIn winter, grocery stores some times sell fresh Brussels sprouts still right on the stalk. Don't be intimidated by the other-worldly appearance. The sprouts are attached to the source of their life, so this is good!
Snap off a few sprouts!It can take a few minutes but right in the store, break off truly fresh Brussels sprouts. Especially if cooking whole, choose sprouts that are roughly equal in size, more important than selecting the 'small sprouts'.
The stem cuts may need a little freshening upMostly, however, we find fresh Brussels sprouts already off the stalk, so the stem cuts can be a few hours or a few days old and thus a little gnarly.

Some times the outside leaves are bruised or yellowed, too.
Slice off the gnarly partsSo just slice off the rough part of the stem, sometimes that's a thin slice, some times it's a little bit more. Toss it into the compost or the rubbish bin.

If the outer leaves are unappetizing, slice them off too.

NOW, choices. What you do next depends on how you expect to cook the Brussels sprouts.
An X cut helps the heat penetrate the core for even cookingBest for cooking whole Brussels sprouts
Cut an X into the core with the tip of a knife. If the sprout is large, cut deep into the core although without cutting through the whole sprout.

Recipe Suggestions:
Brussels Sprouts with Dijon
Brussels Sprouts with Apricot Glaze
Lemony Creamy Brussels Sprouts & Celery
Vertical halves create the most surface areaBest for creating flat edges that will caramelize during roasting or pan-sautéeing
Cut the sprout in half, vertically, cutting right through the core. This means that during cooking, the heat needs to penetrate only half as far so the sprouts will cook evenly. But it retains the flat surface that's so important for creating the crusty edges that are ever so delectable. If you like, slice into the core a bit with the tip of a knife so that the heat can penetrate.
Recipe Suggestions:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Fast Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
A deep V cut will remove the slower-cooking coresSome times, a recipe will suggest cutting out the core with a deep V cut. This bypasses the core entirely and so the sprouts will cook still more quickly. If the sprouts will be tossed in a sauce, you might want to twist the sprouts to open up the leaves a bit so that the sauce has more surface area to coat.

But cutting out the core means throwing away a lot of the sprout so is quite wasteful. Life is full of choices!
Quarters or sixths will cook quicklyInstead of cutting out the cores, cut the halves in half again (for quarters) or into thirds (for sixths). These will cook still more quickly (and retain some flat edges) but won't be as wasteful as removing the cores.

Recipe Suggestions:
Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Garlic
Braised Brussels Sprouts
Cutting whole Brussels sprouts cross-wise into thin strips is not recommendedBest for cooking Brussels sprouts quickly and lightly
To cook Brussels sprouts the most quickly, a quick sauté, say, you want the smallest pieces. You might start with a whole sprout and cut it crosswise into thin rounds -- although this is probably the least effective way to cut a Brussels sprouts for it concentrates the cores into just a few slices, rather than spreading them around.
Instead, two cuts are neededInstead, cut the sprouts in half lengthwise, then place a half facedown on the cutting board and cut it crosswise in thin strips.

Recipe Suggestions:
Bodacious Brussels Sprouts

Trim the stem, cut in half, cut a deep VBest for cooking just the leaves of the Brussels sprouts
First, when trimming the stem off, you might want to cut deeper of more than a little bit, as much as a third can work. Then cut the Brussels sprouts in half and then cut out the cores with a deep V cut. (Yes, I know I warned against that earlier. This is different!)
Break off the leavesWith your hands, twist off the outer layers of leaves, then break apart the centers.

Recipe Suggestions:
Lemony Leaves of Love

With Photos
A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic

Text Only
A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic



MORE FAVORITE BRUSSELS SPROUTS RECIPES
~ more Brussels sprouts recipes ~



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12 comments:

Now I'm hungry for brussels sprouts. Nice pan-roasted ones. Yum.

i just posted about a new bs recipe i tried last week. check it out. http://foodwithkidappeal.blogspot.com/2010/01/wilted-brussels-sprouts-with.html i stumbled this.

Thank you for posting this. I just recently discovered that I really enjoy eating steamed Brussels Sprouts with some butter and McCormick's veggie seasoning! I've been eating them whole but wondered if I should be trimming the stems or what! Now, I don't feel so silly! And, thanks for the spelling lesson also! :)

brussel sprouts are one of my favorite veggies. i love roasting or pan-searing them!

Great pictures, never thought about how best to cut these things up. I usually roast them as that is how I learned to eat (and love)so many veggies that I would never touch as a kid. Thanks for the links to other recipe options I think we are grown up enough now to branch out and try cooking them in other ways!

Thank you so much for posting this! I'm not a tremendous fan of sprouts, but my husband and daughter are, so I'm trying to work them into our meals more and never know how to cut, what to cut, how to prepare. This was so timely!

wow, look at that, I'm already drooling, great color, looks delicious

Hi just found your blog! Love it! I never loved brussel sprouts, but recently shredded them and just sauteed them in a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper for 4 minutes and they were fantastic!

I love, love, love roasted brussels sprouts, but I sure wasn't spelling it right. I need to link back to this tutorial when I post about them. Thank you for the great info.

Youd have to be retarded not to be able to figure this out on your own.

thanks so much - great information - I would love condensed versions - short attention spans

Gina ~ Good idea! In fact, to skip the pictures entirely, you might check the “text only” print version. It’s hard to know what to leave out but I really do appreciate this viewpoint, I’m always after the “meat of it” myself on something like this.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna