Recipe for how to cook Brussels sprouts in the air fryer, plus 3 ways to serve them: with balsamic glaze, Parmesan-garlic or yogurt-miso sauce. Crispy, caramelized perfection!
Air frying Brussels sprouts is one of the easiest ways to prepare this healthy vegetable. And either you add garlic, Parmesan cheese or balsamic vinegar with a touch of maple syrup, they're going to taste delicious.
These air-fried Brussels sprouts are a great side dish for any meal.
They can be served plain with just a pinch of salt and black pepper (and optionally some dried garlic granules), but in this article you will also find 3 delicious ways to serve them.
The first is with balsamic glaze, the second with a garlic-Parmesan sauce (which is like a pest but without the basil) and the third with a healthy yogurt and miso sauce.
Is it better to boil Brussels sprouts?
Boiling Brussels sprouts is my least favorite way of cooking them because it can give them a sulfurous smell, especially if you overcook them.
On the other hand, air frying them, roasting them or sauteing them in a skillet, cooks them in a way that they're caramelized on the outside while still remaining crunchy on the inside.
However, a lot of people ask: should I boil my Brussels sprouts before frying or roasting?
I wouldn't say boil, but blanch them instead. Blanching is the procedure when you briefly submerge vegetables in boiling water.
Blanching them is optional, because even if you don't do it the sprouts will still be great, but it takes away some of the bitterness and also makes the sprouts “fluffier” probably because some moisture gets trapped inside the leaves.
How to make Brussels sprouts in the air fryer
Here are some simple steps I follow every time I want to make perfect air fryer Brussels sprouts:
Step 1: Choose and Prepare the Brussels Sprouts
The first step in cooking Brussels sprouts in the air fryer is to select fresh and firm sprouts.
Choose even-sized, small to medium sprouts that are firm to the touch and free from yellow or wilted leaves. Trim the ends of the Brussels sprouts and remove any damaged or discolored leaves.
Step 2: Cut them in half from top to bottom.
For perfectly cooked sprouts, you should cut them in half from top to bottom to make them cook faster and more evenly.
Another tip is to score their base by making a small incision with a knife. This will reduce some of the bitterness and will also help them cook more evenly.
Step 3: Soak them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes (blanching).
This step is optional, but it makes the Brussels sprouts more crispy on the outside and tender inside. It also takes away some of their bitterness.
You can use a bowl and boiling water form the kettle or just heat water in a pot and trasfer them there for 2 minutes.
Step 4: Drain and dry
Drain the sprouts well and pat dry with kitchen paper. Removing the extra moisture will help them crisp up better during cooking.
Step 5: Cook the Brussels Sprouts
Place the Brussels sprouts in the air fryer basket but don't overfill it. Overfilling it will steam the sprouts instead of air frying them.
Shake and toss the sprouts inside the basket 3-4 times during cooking to ensure that all the sprouts are cooked evenly. If you have a large batch of Brussels sprouts or a small air fryer, you may need to cook them in batches to ensure even cooking.
How long to cook halved brussel sprouts in air fryer
The exact cooking time will depend on several factors such as the air fryer, the size of the sprouts and the quantity.
In general you should estimate 13-15 minutes for halved Brussel sprouts when air fryed at 380°F (190°C).
How do you make brussel sprouts taste better?
To cut through the strong flavor of Brussels sprouts you can add something sour because it will balance their bitterness.
Another thing you can do is to add differerent seasonings which will give an extra dimension to your dish.
Lastly, pairing the sprouts with ingredients like bacon, nuts and dried fruit can help to make them more interesting. An extra pinch of salt may also help!
Here are some addings that will make your Brussels sprouts taste better:
Balsamic vinegar: The tangy sweetness of balsamic vinegar adds a bright and acidic flavor to the earthy Brussels sprouts. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over roasted Brussels sprouts, or make a balsamic glaze to use as a sauce.
Garlic: Garlic adds a savory depth of flavor to Brussels sprouts. Use minced garlic and cook it with the sprouts or try some dried garlic powder for a milder flavor.
Lemon: The bright and acidic flavor of lemon juice or zest can help to cut through the slightly bitter flavor of Brussels sprouts. Drizzle fresh lemon juice over cooked Brussels sprouts or sprinkle them with lemon zest for a fresh and flavorful finish.
Parmesan cheese: The nutty and slightly salty flavor of Parmesan cheese pairs well with the earthy taste of Brussels sprouts. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over roasted Brussels sprouts or toss them with a garlic Parmesan sauce for a delicious and savory flavor combination.
Here are some herbs and spices that complement the natural taste of the sprouts.
Rosemary: Rosemary adds a woody, aromatic flavor that pairs well with roasted or sautéed Brussels sprouts.
Thyme: Thyme adds a slightly lemony and earthy flavor that complements the taste of Brussels sprouts.
Nutmeg: Nutmeg adds a warm, sweet, and slightly spicy flavor
Cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper adds a touch of heat that balances their bitterness.
Smoked paprika: Smoked paprika adds a smoky, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with the sprouts.
Overall, there are many different flavors that pair well with Brussels sprouts, so feel free to experiment with different ingredients and find your favorite flavor combinations!
The 3 different ways I like to serve Brussels sprouts:
1. Balsamic glaze: A sweet and tangy sauce made with Balsamic vinegar, maple syrup (or honey), olive oil, and mustard.
You can make this glaze by transferring all of the ingredients in a jar and shaking well or you can make a reduction by simmering the glaze until thick and syrupy.
The easiest way is to buy a bottle of balsamic glaze (you can also find it as balsamic cream) from the store.
2. Parmesan sauce:
A simple sauce made by combining grated Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon zest, pistachios and garlic (or roasted garlic). This sauce resembles to pesto but without the basil.
3. Greek yogurt and miso
This is my personal favorite combination. Transfer some Greek strained yogurt, white miso paste and dried thyme to a bowl and mix with a fork.
I also use this yogurt - miso combination in this creamy cucumber salad.
Why did my brussel sprouts burn in the air fryer?
This could be because the temperature of your air fryer is too high, but the most common reason is that you don't shake the air fryer basket throughout the cooking process, thus risking the sprouts to burn before they are fully cooked.
Can I air Fry brussel sprouts without oil?
You can air fry Brussels sprouts with no oil, but they'll probably be less crispy on the outside and a bit firm in the middle.
That's why I recommend using at least a tablespoon of olive oil per pound of sprouts.
If you want to use as less oil as possible, use cooking spray to spray the sprouts. Cooking spray coats them evenly and helps them cook better.
What about frozen Brussel sprouts in the air fryer?
My biggest problem with frozen Brussel sprouts is that I could only find them whole, so cutting them in half is difficult (not to mention the risk of cutting some of my fingers in the process).
Halved frozen sprouts will also take longer to cook (about 20 minutes) and the end-result won't be as crispy.
Air fryer Brussel sprouts recipe (3 ways)
For the sprouts:
- 1 lb. (450 grams) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 2 tablespoons (22 grams) olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon dried garlic powder
For the Balsamic glaze:
- 2 tablespoons (22 grams) olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (16 grams) maple syrup or honey or brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 pinch of salt
For the Parmesan cheese sauce:
- ½ cup (40 grams) grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup (30 grams) roasted pistachios or pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons (35 grams) mild olive oil or neutral tasting vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon dried garlic powder or ½ garlic clove, (minced)
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest, (optional)
For the yogurt-miso sauce:
- ⅔ cups (160 grams) Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) white miso paste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Preheat your air fryer to 380°F (190°C).
- In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil, the salt and the pepper.
- Place the Brussels sprouts in the air fryer basket, making sure not to overcrowd.
- Cook for 13-15 minutes, or until crispy and tender, shaking the basket and tossing the Brussel sprouts 2-3 times during cooking. Don't be afraid if they get dark brown, that's where the flavor is.
- When the Brussels sprouts are done, add the garlic powder (and optionally a bit more salt) and toss to mix well.
For the Balsamic glaze:
- Transfer all of the ingredients to a jar or shaker, close well with the lid and shake vigorously until homogenized. If you want a thicker consistency, add one more tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and cook this glaze over medium heat until it becomes sticky.
For the Parmesan sauce:
- Grind all the ingredients in a mortar or process in a mini chopper until the mixture looks like a pesto sauce. Alternatively, finely chop the nuts and mix well with a fork.
For the yogurt miso sauce:
- Transfer all of the ingredients to a small bowl and mix well with a spoon.
- Instead of making your own, you can also buy a bottle of balsamic glaze (or balsamic cream) from the store.
- Instead of the yogurt-miso sauce, you can also use tzatziki sauce.
- I usually serve my sauce of preference next to the cooked Brussels sprouts or drizzled over them. However, the balsamic glaze and the Parmesan sauce can be cooked with the sprouts. Add it to the sprouts 3-4 minutes before the end of cooking time. I don't suggest doing the same with the yogurt-miso sauce, because it will kill the probiotics.
- Instead of serving the sprouts with the Parmesan sauce you can just sprinkle them with ½ cup grated Parmesan and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
- Use a mild olive oil for the Parmesan sauce, otherwise it can be a bit bitter.