You'll never believe these bacon- and cheese-loaded Brussels sprouts recipes are actually healthy. 
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

A wise friend once told me, “If there are Brussels sprouts on the menu, order them,” and I couldn’t agree more. However, those tasty, crispy, savory Brussels sprouts dishes aren’t always super healthy, and they can rack up calories, sugar, and fats prety quickly if you're not careful.

The good news is, you can totally make a healthier version of your favorite gourmet sprouts recipes at home. You just have to make a few simple tweaks to amp up the nutrition, without compromising taste.

Tossed With Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Yup—that’s right. Brown butter. This shaved Brussels sprouts salad tastes creamy and indulgent, thanks to the buttery vinaigrette, but it’s actually pretty good for you! You’ll want to slice Brussels and some fruit, like grapes, and sauté for a crispy texture.

“Set a stainless steel sauté pan on the stove. Add 3 tablespoons of butter. Allow to heat to a deep golden brown. The melted butter will start to give off a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar to stop the cooking and season with salt for more flavor,” says Daisies owner and executive chef Joe Frillman.

Thinly slice some red onions and toast a handful of pecans until they’re shiny and fragrant. Let them cool. In the bowl with the shaved Brussels Sprouts, toss the sherry vinaigrette, salt, pepper, pecans, red onion and grapes until everything is combined. For a topper, add some cheese, like grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

A Perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish

’Tis the season for cranberries, and this simple roasted Brussels sprouts dish is the perfect side for your turkey, says Chicago-based Julie Pappas, RD. You’ll need a pound of sprouts, 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, a cup of walnuts, chopped, and 3/4 cup dried cranberries.

Place oil-coated Brussels in the oven at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, toss, and then place back in for another 10-15 minutes, depending on desired crispiness, she says. Then, mix the rest of the ingredients together. The walnuts and cranberries add a nutty sweetness that feels super decadent, but is highly nutritious.

Love Brussels sprouts? Try making these recipes next:

Simply Roasted (But Crispy!)

The easiest way to enjoy Brussels sprouts that taste decadent but are actually good for you is by roasting them until they’re extra crispy. “My favorite easy way to do that is combine 2 cups of shredded Brussels sprouts (I usually buy them pre-shredded from Trader Joe’s) with 1 tablespoon of olive and 1/8 teaspoon of salt,” says NYC-based Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD.

Roast in the oven at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until they start to crisp up and turn brown. “For an even saltier bite, sprinkle with shredded parmesan,” she suggests.

Put an Egg on Top

Take the simply roasted recipe from above and add an egg, says Rizzo. “Another way to make Brussels taste 'unhealthy' is to pair them with a runny egg, which offers some fat and protein,” she explains. You can make crispy Brussels in the oven and simply top with a fried egg, giving the dish that oozy, gooey, delicious texture and warmth. Add some spice, like cayenne pepper, sriracha, chili flakes, or miso for more flavor.

Stuff in a Taco

Swap lettuce for Brussels sprouts for a taco filling, which will increase the flavor profile and nutrition. “Top a breakfast taco with raw shredded Brussels, instead of lettuce. To do so, use a corn tortilla, top with a fried egg, some shredded Monterey jack, pico de gallo and shredded Brussels sprouts for crunch,” says Rizzo.

Plus, don’t assume you can’t eat these babies post-morning. You can enjoy tacos all day—plus, they’re a great way to get your kids to eat (and enjoy) Brussels sprouts.

Add Some Crunch

“Roasting with olive oil brings out a delicious flavor and pairs wonderfully with a feta and pumpkin seed mix,” says Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, CPT. You can follow the simply roasted Brussels sprouts recipe, but then add an ounce or two of feta cheese and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds for some crunch, depending on how much you’re whipping up. The crunchiness makes it taste indulgent—but it’s actually good for you and adds in some healthy fats, fiber, and protein.

Crumble Bacon Bits

“Nitrate-free Bacon is also a great, more indulgent addition where a little bit can go a long way,” says Shaw. Take about 1-2 slices of bacon and cut into 1-inch pieces, and then cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat and stir until pieces are brown. About 3 to 6 minutes should do it, with the longer amount of time increasing crispiness. Include in a basic sautéed Brussels sprouts recipe for a delicious, savory addition.