These sweet and spicy honey balsamic brussels sprouts are pan-seared and tossed in a warm honey, bourbon, and balsamic vinegar sauce.
Growing up, I was pretty into veggies.
I loved them– green beans, spinach– feed me all the greens!
But there was one vegetable I could not stand.
It was little.
It was green.
It was steamed, slimy, and tasted like sulfur.
It was– the brussels sprout.
And then, one day, not very long ago, I tasted the magic that is an oven-roasted brussels sprout.
Next, I tried pan-seared brussels sprouts, and I was SOLD.
You see, when you pour a little oil on a brussels sprout, and then cook it at really hot temperatures (like in a piping-hot cast-iron pan), it transforms from boring to extraordinary.
These honey balsamic brussels sprouts are thinly sliced, seared in a hot pan until the edges caramelize, and tossed in a deliciously sweet sauce.
Want even more brussels sprout ideas? Try this brussels sprout and persimmon salad, brussels sprouts gratin, sweet and sour salmon with brussels sprouts, or raw brussels sprouts salad with tahini dressing.
Are these Honey balsamic brussels sprouts still bitter?
The sprouts get sweeter when you sear them in the pan.
The sauce is sweet.
You’ll be left with a sweet veggie recipe with mildly bitter notes.
This is the brussels sprouts recipe to feed your bitter-food hating friend or partner.
This is a gateway recipe towards all things delicious and cruciferous.
Want more brussels sprouts? Try these: oven-roasted brussels sprouts with apple cider vinegar, shaved brussels sprouts salad, and roasted brussels sprouts salad with persimmons.
How to Pan-Sear Brussels Sprouts
Start by heating oil in a cast-iron pan. I usually use an 11″ or 12″ pan.
While the pan heats up, begin shaving (thinly slicing) your sprouts.
You’ll cut off the tough, woody end pieces.
Add the sprouts to the hot pan, and don’t touch them.
When they begin to char on the bottom, remove them from the pan.
How to Make the Honey Balsamic Sauce
The honey balsamic sauce has a secret ingredient– bourbon.
Technically, this sauce is a gastrique— a sauce made by caramelizing the sweetener (here it’s the honey), and then deglazing the pan with something acidic (the balsamic vinegar).
The most important thing to know about making a gastrique is that you should have all of your ingredients gathered within arm’s reach before starting to prepare the sauce.
Start by heating the honey over medium heat. Stir it often.
The honey will begin to bubble, then it will darken, and then it’ll turn a gorgeous amber (golden brown) hue.
Pay attention to this part: Watch your honey as it cooks, and be ready to add the vinegar and bourbon.
A few seconds can mean the difference between a delicious, sweet sauce and burnt-to-the-pan honey sadness.
As soon as the honey darkens– and really, WITHIN SECONDS– stand back (because of splash-back), and add the balsamic vinegar and bourbon.
Stir, stir, and stir some more.
If that step sounded complicated, it’s really fairly easy. It just moves quickly, and you need to be ready for each step before beginning the sauce.
Serving honey balsamic brussels sprouts
Toss the brussels sprouts in the honey balsamic sauce just before serving, and watch as your brussels sprouts doubting friends smile with delight!
Pair these honey balsamic brussels sprouts with butternut and sweet potato soup from Girl Heart Food!
Honey Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
No, But Can Be Partially Prepared Ahead of Time
- 1 pound brussels sprouts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ⅛ cup honey
- ⅛ cup balsamic vinegar
- ⅛ cup bourbon (or unflavored whiskey)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt Or use 1 teaspoon kosher salt (I use Diamond kosher salt)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Heat 1 TB olive oil on medium heat in a large heavy pan (such as cast iron).Note: If using a medium-sized pan, you may need to work in 2 batches.
- While the pan gets hot, thinly slice the brussels sprouts. Discard the woody ends.
- Add the shaved sprouts to the hot pan, and allow them to cook 3-4 minutes until lightly charred. Stir the sprouts periodically with a wooden or metal spatula while they cook. Remove sprouts from pan and add to a mixing bowl.
- Note: This step in the recipe will go quickly and requires extra attention. Before beginning this step, have the bourbon and balsamic ready to use and within arm’s reach.Heat the honey over medium heat, whisking constantly. When the honey begins to turn golden brown (or amber), stand back at arm’s length (in case of splash-back) and add the balsamic vinegar and bourbon.
- Stir the sauce over medium heat 1-2 more minutes, and then pour immediately onto the brussels sprouts.
- Add the salt and red pepper flakes, and serve immediately.
- Prepare Ahead: The brussels sprouts can be sliced up to 2 days ahead of time.Make Ahead: Up to 2 hours before serving, make the sauce, and toss the sprouts in the sauce. Serve the brussels sprouts cold instead of warm.