Say hello to the crispiest smashed Brussels sprouts recipe—tender inside and extra crisp on the outside. Easy to make, cheesy, and bursting with a balsamic garlic flavor. Cook them in the air fryer or oven!
The crispiest smashed brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts get a bad rap, and everyone seems to claim they “hate” them. But let me tell you, you just haven’t tasted the good stuff yet. Brussels are meant to be crispy and packed with flavor. People only think they “hate” them because some restaurant went and served up sad, steamed Brussels once. Steamed, soggy, flavorless Brussels? Total no-go!
Now, meet the ultimate Brussels sprouts recipe: these crispy smashed Brussels sprouts are genuinely life-changing. They’re tender inside and super, super crispy outside.
I have a ton of Brussels sprouts recipes on my blog, from these balsamic maple brussel sprouts to these honey sriracha brussel sprouts, but smashing them is my all-time favorite. Why? Because they get so crispy.
These crispy smashed Brussels are easy, cheesy, and flavored with garlic and balsamic. And guess what? With this recipe, you can either oven-roast or air-fry them. You can even use frozen or fresh Brussels sprouts. Options are the secret sauce in the kitchen.
Why you’ll love this easy recipe:
- So Crispy: Hands down the crispiest Brussels sprouts you’ll ever make.
- Oven or Air Fryer: You pick the cooking method!
- Flavorful: They have the best balsamic, honey, garlic, and parmesan flavor.
- Easy & Quick: 5-minute prep for cooks of all levels.
- Fresh or Frozen Brussels: You can use either in this recipe!
- Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free: Fits in everyone’s diets.
- Family Winner: Win over vegetable skeptics with these crispy smashed Brussels.
- Try these air fryer smashed potatoes and balsamic maple brussel sprouts next!
You only need six ingredients, plus salt & pepper, to make these crispy smashed brussels. They’re easy to make, healthy, and the perfect way to transform brussel spout haters into fanatics. This recipe is gluten-free, with vegan and dairy-free options! Here is a list of everything you need so you are prepared:
- Brussels Sprouts: The star of the show and such a misunderstood vegetable. Use fresh or frozen Brussels; I left instructions below. Once smashed and cooked, the brussels are super tender inside with an extra crispy exterior. They’re also packed with fiber, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C.
- Olive or Avocado Oil: Helps crispen up the smashed Brussels sprouts.
- Balsamic Vinegar: My secret ingredient. Balsamic adds the best flavor to these sprouts.
- Honey: Sweetens the deal and balances the acidity. You can also use maple syrup if you’re vegan.
- Garlic: Use freshly minced garlic or garlic powder.
- Salt & Pepper: For seasoning.
- Parmesan Cheese: Sprinkle on top for a cheesy finish. For a dairy-free option, try nutritional yeast or omit it.
Kitchen tools needed
Here is a list of kitchen utensils you will need to make these quick and easy smashed brussels sprouts:
- Oven or Air Fryer
- Whisk + Tongs
- Pot + Bowl
- Cutting Board + Sharp Knife
- Glass or Measuring Cup
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
How to make smashed brussels sprouts
These crispy smashed Brussels sprouts are so delicious and easy to make. Once you have one, you won’t be able to stop. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures for visual reference so any level cook can make it. The full recipe and ingredient measurements are at the bottom of this page in the recipe card.
Preheat oven to 425°F or air fryer to 400°F and fill a large bowl with ice water.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add Brussels sprouts and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.
Drain Brussels sprouts, transfer to ice water for a few minutes to cool, then dry and place on a baking sheet. TIP: Make sure they are dry, or else they won’t get as crispy.
Then, drizzle about 1/2 tablespoon of the dressing over each salmon portion to season them, then rub the dressing over the salmon to coat.
Use a small glass or measuring cup to flatten sprouts, drizzle the “dressing” on top, and flip the Brussels to ensure they are all coated.
Oven Method: Roast in the oven for a total of 30 minutes. Roast for 20 minutes until the bottoms are crispy and golden brown. FLIP the Brussels, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes or until they reach your desired crispiness level.
Air Fryer Method: Arrange sprouts in a single layer in the preheated air fryer. You may need to do two batches for the entire 2-pound batch. Air fry for 6 – 7 minutes until crispy. FLIP, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and air fry for an additional 5 – 6 minutes or until they reach your desired crispiness level.
Expert recipe tips:
- No Parchment Paper: My #1 tip. Omit parchment paper for the crispiest smashed Brussels sprouts; instead, use foil or place them directly on the oiled pan for optimal results.
- Avoid Overcooking the Sprouts: Overcooking will result in a mushy texture. The Brussels should be just fork tender.
- Dry the Spouts After Boiling: This is very important! After boiling and before air frying, ensure the sprouts are completely dry. This promotes better crisping during the cooking process.
- Air Fry of Oven Bake: You can do either in this recipe. For the crispiest smashed Brussels, I recommend air frying.
- Flip Them: Whether baking or air frying these smashed Brussels sprouts, ensure to flip them halfway through to achieve optimal crispiness.
- Dairy-Free & Vegan: Simply leave off the parmesan cheese and substitute it with nutritional yeast for that cheesy flavor.
How to air fry smashed brussels sprouts:
Instead of baking, you can air fry these smashed Brussels sprouts. Here is how to do it:
- Preheat your air fryer to 400°F.
- Add a single layer of smashed and seasoned Brussels to the air fryer basket. NO OVERLAPPING!
- Air fry for 6-7 minutes until crispy. FLIP the sprouts and air fry for an additional 5-6 minutes until they reach your desired crispiness level.
- Sprinkle with parmesan in the last 2 minutes of air frying, and enjoy!
What to serve with brussels sprouts:
Brussels sprouts are the perfect side dish for just about any meal. They are nutritious and pair well with high-protein, vegetarian, salads, and even pasta recipes. Here is a list of the best options:
- Proteins: Anything from grilled chicken to steak to salmon and shrimp goes super well! We love everything bagel salmon, air fryer chicken thighs, and chicken penne alla vodka.
- Vegetarian Options: Try simple quinoa or rice bowls, stuffed mushroom caps, or even these halloumi gyros.
- Pasta Dishes: Brussels goes well with pesto pasta, lemon garlic shrimp pasta, chicken bolognese, and creamy lemon caper pasta.
- Salads: Go traditional with a salmon Caesar salad, or try Greek chickpea pasta salad, chicken Caesar pasta salad, or salmon quinoa salad.
- Soups: Brussel sprouts go super well with any soup; try this butternut squash soup, Greek chickpea soup, tomato soup, or turkey lentil soup.
Recipe variations and ingredient substitutions:
- Balsamic Vinegar Substitute: Use balsamic salad dressing, 1 tbsp balsamic reduction, or red wine vinegar.
- Spicy: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a hint of heat.
- Herbs: Sprinkle fresh thyme or rosemary on the dish after drizzling the dressing.
- Dairy-Free: Substitute nutritional yeast for parmesan.
- Crunchy Nuts or Seeds: Add extra crunch with toasted pine nuts or chopped pecans/walnuts.
- Citrusy: Brighten flavors with zest from lemon or orange in the dressing.
- Alternative Cheese: Try crumbled feta or goat cheese instead of or in addition to parmesan.
- Dijon Mustard: Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard for tanginess.
- Maple Syrup: Substitute or add maple syrup instead of honey for a sweeter flavor.
- Bacon: Add crispy bacon crumbles after roasting. So good!
- Extra Balsamic Glaze: Drizzle a balsamic reduction or glaze for an intense flavor burst.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use frozen Brussels sprouts for this recipe?
I recommend using fresh Brussels sprouts for the best texture; however, you can still use frozen ones after thawing and ensuring they are thoroughly dried. If your frozen Brussels sprouts come in a microwave steam bag, cook them according to the package instructions, then dry them thoroughly before proceeding with the recipe.
Can you cook the fresh Brussels sprouts in the microwave, not boil them?
No, I don’t recommend microwaving fresh Brussels for this recipe because they will not get tender enough during cooking.
Can I steam the Brussels instead of boiling them?
Absolutely! Steaming Brussels sprouts is an excellent alternative to boiling. It preserves their nutrients and vibrant color while achieving the desired tenderness in about 5 – 8 minutes. Ensure they are thoroughly steamed before smashing and roasting for optimal results in your recipe.
Why do you have to put the boiled Brussels in an ice bath?
Dunking the Brussels sprouts in an ice bath right after boiling stops them from cooking further. This is super important because overcooked Brussels are mushy.
Can I make this recipe dairy-free?
Yes, substitute nutritional yeast for parmesan cheese.
What other toppings can enhance the dish?
Experiment with bacon crumbles, fresh herbs like rosemary, toasted walnuts or pecans, balsamic glaze, crumbled feta, or goat cheese.
Does air frying or baking ensure the crispiest smashed Brussels sprouts?
Both air frying and baking can yield crispy smashed Brussels sprouts, but they achieve crispiness in slightly different ways. I have tried both dozens of times and found that air frying will always produce the crispiest Brussels.
Why aren’t my smashed Brussels spouts getting crispy?
If your smashed Brussels sprouts aren’t getting crispy, consider these factors: (1) Ensure the Brussels are thoroughly dried after boiling to prevent excess moisture; (2) Ensure that the baking sheet nor air fryer basket is overcrowded; (3) Flip the smashed sprouts halfway through the cooking time to ensure even crispiness on both sides.
How to store and reheat smashed brussels sprouts:
Storing: Smashed Brussels are best enjoyed piping hot within 20 minutes of making them. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Reheating: To reheat, place them on a baking sheet or in an air fryer and heat at 350°F (180°C) until they reach your desired temperature, typically 5-8 minutes. Ensure even heating by flipping them halfway through the reheating process.
If you love this recipe, try these next!
- Hot Honey Brussel Sprouts
- Balsamic Maple Brussel Sprouts
- Air Fryer Smashed Potatoes
- Smashed Fingerling Potatoes
- Crispy Tater Tots
- Roasted Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Smashed Brussels Sprouts
- 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
- 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 – 2 tsp honey
- 2 cloves minced garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ – 1 tsp salt, based on preference
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- ⅓ – ½ cup parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 425°F or air fryer to 400°F.
- Fill a large bowl with ice water and set it to the side.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add Brussels sprouts and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.
- While sprouts cook, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Drain Brussels sprouts, transfer to ice water for a few minutes to cool, then dry and place on a baking sheet. Make sure they are dry, or else they won’t get as crispy.
- Use a small glass or measuring cup to flatten sprouts.
- Drizzle the “dressing” on top and flip the brussels to make sure they are all coated.
- Oven: Use a baking sheet WITHOUT parchment paper. You can use foil if necessary. Roast in the oven for a total of 30 minutes. Roast for 20 minutes until the bottoms are crispy and golden brown. FLIP the Brussels, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes or until they reach your desired crispiness level.
- Air Fryer: Arrange sprouts in a single layer in the preheated air fryer. You may need to do two batches for the entire 2-pound batch. Air fry for 6 – 7 minutes until crispy. FLIP, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and air fry for an additional 5 – 6 minutes or until they reach your desired crispiness level.
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