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Brussels sprouts, bacon, pecans, and cheese all go hand in hand so why not create a dish combining all of them? These cheesy roasted Brussels sprouts with maple bacon and spicy candied pecans are the ultimate winter vegetable side.
What makes this dish special
Every year, I want to make new side dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sure there are some staples like my favorite sausage and apple stuffing, but I always enjoy creating new dishes. Sometimes I'll go ethnic, other times I'll go traditional, and oftentimes, I'll take a classic and jazz it up. These cheesy roasted Brussels sprouts with maple bacon are a perfect example of a fancy classic side.
Take basic roasted Brussels sprouts and add parmesan and manchego to the mix to create the most delicious version of sprouts. Then, pair those crispy sprouts with maple bourbon bacon bits and spiced candied pecans for a flavorful side. If you were ever on the fence about Brussels sprouts, I have no doubt that this dish will change your mind.
- Brussels sprouts: Small, green cruciferous vegetables that resemble miniature cabbages. They have a slightly bitter flavor and a firm texture.
- Parmesan: A hard, aged cheese with a rich, nutty flavor. It's often grated and used to add a savory, umami depth to dishes. You can substitute parmesan with pecorino romano or grana padano if you prefer.
- Manchego: A Spanish sheep's milk cheese with a firm texture and a slightly sweet and nutty taste. If you're not a fan of manchego, substitute it with parmesan.
- Bacon: A type of salt-cured pork that is typically smoked. It adds a savory and salty flavor to the dish.
- Bourbon: A type of American whiskey known for its distinctive sweet and smoky flavor, derived from the charred oak barrels it's aged in. If you don't have bourbon, you can use whiskey instead or omit it completely.
- Pecans: A nut with a sweet and buttery flavor, commonly used in both savory and sweet dishes. Walnuts or almonds can be substituted for pecans, depending on your preference
- Cayenne: A hot chili pepper that adds heat and a subtle earthy flavor. For a mild version of the candied pecans, omit the cayenne.
- Make vegetarian: Replace the bacon with vegetarian bacon. You can also omit the bourbon and use maple syrup with black pepper to flavor the bacon.
- Make nut-free: Omit the pecans completely or use toasted pumpkin seeds instead.
How to make cheesy roasted brussels sprouts with maple bacon
Step 1: Prepare toppings
Begin with the irresistible maple bourbon bacon. This is one of my favorite ways to dress up bacon because it become almost like bacon candy. Each bite is a little sweet and a little salty, the best of both worlds.
To make the maple bacon, first lay four strips of bacon on the prepared sheet. Mix 2 tablespoons of maple syrup with 2 teaspoons of bourbon and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper until well combined. Brush half of this rich glaze onto the bacon and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. We're keeping the oven temperature relatively low to prevent the sugars in the glaze from burning before the bacon is done cooking.
Flip the bacon, brush the remaining glaze, and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until irresistibly browned.
While the bacon works its magic, prepare the spiced candied pecans. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside. Then, combine 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, with 2 teaspoons of water, ½ teaspoon each of salt, cayenne, and paprika in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Let it simmer for 1 minute before adding 1 cup of toasted pecans. Stir well, simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes, and spread the pecans on the prepared sheet. Let them cool completely.
Feel free to prepare both the bacon and pecans the day before, especially if you're making this dish for the holidays.
Step 2: Roast brussels sprouts
Now, onto the star of the show—the cheesy roasted Brussels sprouts. Cut the sprouts in half lengthwise and toss them with ¼ cup of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, 1 teaspoon each of fresh thyme, granulated garlic, and onion powder, and ½ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Add in ½ cup each of grated Parmesan and Manchego, ensuring every sprout is coated in this cheesy goodness. I found it easiest to mix the Brussels sprouts with the seasonings with your hands.
Next, lay the sprouts cut side down on a baking sheet. To make sure that you get those insanely delicious cheese crusts, make sure that each sprout has some cheese on the cut side.
Step 3: Putting it all together
Roast the Brussels sprouts for 15-20 minutes or until the bottoms turn a delectable golden brown, rotating the sheet halfway through. I found that I didn't need to flip the sprouts over but since one side of my oven is hotter, I did have to rotate the sheet pan.
Once done, transfer the sprouts to a serving platter, topping them with the spiced candied pecans and the irresistible maple bacon. For an extra burst of flavor, sprinkle additional grated Parmesan on top if desired.
When you know the flavor combinations are going to work, you already know the dish is going to be a winner even before you taste it. I mean how can you go wrong with cheesy roasted Brussels sprouts with maple bacon and spicy candied pecans? You just can't.
Frequently asked questions
To make it vegetarian, omit the bacon and consider using a vegetarian bacon substitute.
Absolutely. If you prefer a milder spice, reduce the amount of cayenne in the candied pecans. Adjust according to your taste preferences.
Yes, you can prepare all of the components including the pecans, bacon, and sprouts ahead of time. Keep the ingredients separate and reheat the Brussels sprouts in the oven before serving. Right before serving, plate the sprouts on a serving platter and top with the pecans and bacon.
This cheesy roasted Brussels sprouts with maple bacon make a great side for almost any meal, including Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. These are my favorite meals to serve with the side dish:
Cheesy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Bacon
Maple bourbon bacon
- 4 strips bacon
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons bourbon
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Spiced candied pecans
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup toasted pecans
Cheesy roasted brussels sprouts
- 2 lb brussels sprouts halved
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- ½ cup grated manchego
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack on top.
- Lay bacon strips on prepared baking sheet. Mix maple syrup with bourbon and black pepper until well combined. Brush half of maple syrup glaze on bacon and bake for 10 minutes. Remove bacon from the oven and flip over. Brush remaining maple syrup glaze on top and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until browned. Remove and let cool.
- Meanwhile, make spiced candied pecans. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine brown sugar, water, salt, cayenne, and paprika in a medium sautepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for 1 minute. Add pecans, stirring to combine. Continue to simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and lay pecans on prepared baking sheet. Let cool completely.
- Prepare brussels sprouts. Toss halved sprouts with olive oil, lemon zest, thyme, granulated garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, parmesan, and manchego. Make sure every sprout is coated in cheese and lay the cut down facing down on a baking sheet in one even layer.
- Roast brussels sprouts for 15-20 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown, rotating the sheet halfway through. Remove from the oven and transfer sprouts to a serving platter. Top with spiced candied pecans and maple bacon. Sprinkle extra grated parmesan on top if desired and serve.