Who knew just 2 ingredients and 20 minutes in the air fryer could finally make Brussel Sprouts haters turn into converts! Crispy Bacon, with charred crispy leaves and perfectly cooked smoky sprouts for the side dish win!
Brussel Sprouts— a very dividing vegetable. People either love them or hate them. These crispy Brussel sprouts in the air fryer have made a convert out of me— and no one is more surprised than I am at how good these are and how I can’t wait to make them again.
If you have food you don’t like you’ll understand my pain for the last few years. Brussel Sprouts lovers are always saying to me—-” try this recipe, it’s amazing.” Or ” I know you hate them, but it’s because you’ve never had them prepared this way…..”
The Recipe for Roasted Brussel Sprouts that will convert the sprouts hater!
Trust me when I say I think I’ve had Brussel Sprouts 100 times and while they were certainly edible they were nothing I would ever want to eat again. Or understand how people raved about them.
My husband LOVES Brussel Sprouts and when I was recipe testing for my air fryer he just knew they would work well in one. Since we’re trying to eat healthier I knew it was a veggie he loved so I tried this simple recipe. I mean it’s not anything complicated… it’s just two ingredients.
No one was more surprised than I was when as I was taking photos for this post and I was filming the video of someone digging a fork into them when I absentmindedly took a bite off that fork— I couldn’t believe it— they tasted great.
The air fryer Brussel sprouts came out with super crispy charred leaves and edges, but moist and a deep sweet flavor centers. The bacon added a light coating and a crunchy salty texture to them that I easily took a second, then a third bite to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.
Today’s recipe is made in the air fryer which is the perfect way to make them. The hot rotating air gives a crunchier edge and caramelizes them to a perfect sweetness while maintaining the moistness (translation— not dried out and hard inside.)
The edges are so crispy and light its kind of like they were deep-fried— and who doesn’t love a deep-fried texture? The small amount of oil used while air frying Brussel Sprouts makes this a much healthier version than deep frying but I promise you won’t miss the crunch or flavor.
How to make Brussel Sprouts perfectly every time
- When buying Brussel sprouts at the market look for compact and tight little bulbs that aren’t shriveled. The color should be bright green, without yellow or brown tipped edges.
- Buy sprouts of similar size so they will cook in about the same amount of time.
- Slice the Brussel Sprouts vertically (see photo above— ) the sprouts will stay together better when cooking. Some of the outer leaves may fall off, but that will just give more crispy and varying textures to enjoy.
- Cut them in thin shavings, about 1/4″ thickness. If you have concerns getting them even you can use a mandoline like this one from Amazon . I find using a mandoline is often much faster than using a knife if I have a lot of sprouts to cut.
- Use thick-cut bacon or pancetta. It doesn’t fall apart like thin cut bacon does and thin cut bacon tends to burn quickly if not carefully monitored.
- Making a foil liner “pan” will make clean-up easy, and it also allows you to save the bacon fat.
- Toss to coat the sprouts in the rendered bacon fat— there is very little of it, but it gives a nice flavor coating and keeps the sprouts moist.
- After tossing the sprouts with the bacon and fat, spread them in an even layer on the bottom of the air fryer basket. Shaking them once during cooking will give you a more even cooking.
Common Variations on the Recipe for Brussel Sprouts
- Honey or Maple Glazed Sprouts– Follow this same recipe but drizzle honey or maple syrup on right before serving. This option would also work without bacon, but you would need to substitute 1 teaspoon of olive oil to coat the sprouts with to get them browned and crispy.
- Balsamic-Glazed Sprouts– Toss the sprouts with balsamic vinegar in the last 4 minutes of cooking to have the balsamic turn to a glaze texture.
- Parmesan Sprouts – toss the sprouts with freshly grated parmesan right before serving.
- Garlic Brussel Sprouts- Sliver garlic and add to sprouts before air frying. The garlic will brown during cooking and get crispy too. Other add-ins you might enjoy are red pepper slivers, onion pieces or diced shallots.
- Everything bagel Spiced Sprouts- Use regular olive oil to coat instead of the bacon fat and sprinkle with the spice at the last minute. You could also just use a simple salt and pepper at the last minute for plain sprouts.
- Korean Gochujang Glazed Sprouts – Use the sauce from the Korean Air Fried wings over the top in the last 5 minutes of cooking for a less traditional flavor that everyone will love. (Start with about 2 -3 tablespoons for the whole recipe.
Questions you might have on the recipe
I don’t have an air fryer can I roast them in the oven using this recipe? Yes you can use this recipe to roast the sprouts in the oven. Chop the bacon and toss with the sprouts and roast for 15-20 minutes at 400° on a sheet pan or baking sheet. Toss occasionally to help spread the bacon fat as its rendered.
I don’t like the sprouts cut like you’re doing it, can I just cut them in half to air fry them? You can cut them in half but you might want to parboil them for 5 minutes before air frying them so they cook all the way through and don’t get dry and hard. Completely dry them with a paper towel then proceed as the recipe states and you should be good to go!
I don’t like bacon, but love how crispy and charred these are can I omit the bacon? You sure can. Substitute 1 teaspoon olive oil instead of the bacon fat to coat before cooking. Season with salt and pepper before serving.
I don’t want to use any fat at all, will the recipe work? It will, but they may be really dried out. I suggest cutting as directed, then place in a bowl and cover with water. Add a teaspoon of oil, stir to coat, then drain the water/oil. There will be very little oil used, but the sprouts will be coated enough to not dry out when air frying.
Check out all of our Air Fryer Recipes here!
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- 1 Pound Brussel Sprouts
- 3 strips Thick Cut Bacon
- Cut off the bottom of the sprout and peel off any damaged outer leaves.
- Slice the sprouts from top to the bottom stem in 1/4 inch slices. Some leaves will fall off, keep them, they will get extra crispy. Place in a bowl and set aside.
- Cut the bacon into 1/3" strips.
- Make a foil tray that fits into the air fryer you own (on top of the rack)
- Place the strips of bacon in the foil tray and lay the foil tray on the rack in the air fryer.
- Cook for 5-8 minutes at 390° until bacon is crisp and bacon fat has rendered.
- Remove foil tray with bacon carefully to avoid being burned by hot oil. Pour the rendered bacon fat and the bacon pieces on top of the Brussel Sprouts in the bowl.
- Stir to combine.
- Place the Sprouts and Bacon mixture back into the air fryer ad cook for 10-12 minutes and cook at 390°. Open air fryer at about 7 minutes to shake the sprouts around so all sides can cook evenly.
- Remove from air fryer when the sprouts are caramelized and crispy on the outside and the center is cooked through.
- Serve immediately.
If you are concerned about cutting the sprouts evenly you can use a mandoline slicer. My mandoline is ancient, but I've used the OXO one at a friend's home and it worked beautifully. It also makes great french fries, juliennes carrots and does many pretty vegetables in addition to slicing sprouts.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 55Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 117mgCarbohydrates: 5gNet Carbohydrates: 0gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gSugar Alcohols: 0gProtein: 4g
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