Caramelize Brussels Sprouts With A Splash Of Bourbon For A Flavorful Side

Of all the vegetables in season during the winter, Brussels sprouts are one of the best. With an earthy, savory flavor and a satisfying chew, these cruciferous veggies make a great addition to a salad or pasta dish or as a side to a larger meal. What's better, though, is when you take the time to caramelize them, creating crispy edges and bringing an element of sweetness to the experience. If you choose to caramelize your Brussels sprouts this season, we recommend adding bourbon for extra warm and cozy results.

Brussels sprouts contain some natural sugars with which they will be able to caramelize, but only about 3 grams. What really takes the caramelization process up a notch when roasting these vegetables is candying them with additional sugar to enable extra crisping and sweetness. However, sugar on its own may result in the sprouts ending up too sweet. Adding another ingredient — like balsamic vinegar in our roasted Brussels sprouts recipe or a little bit of bourbon — not only assists with the caramelization reaction but also balances out the sweetness. In the case of bourbon, it does so with notes of wood, smoke, and bitterness.

How to incorporate bourbon into your Brussels sprouts

You can add bourbon to your Brussels sprouts in a variety of ways. The easiest, of course, is to simply splash a tablespoon or two across the sprouts as soon as they finish cooking. If you would like to try a more concentrated flavor, however, there are many bourbon-infused or bourbon-flavored ingredients you can try. For example, we recommend trying bourbon maple syrup, bourbon sugar, or even bourbon balsamic syrup.

Once you have crispy caramelized vegetables, you will want to add extra flavors and textures to highlight them. Pick options that will complement or contrast the flavors that the bourbon brings to the dish. To amplify the smokiness, toss in some bacon or toasted nuts. To double down on sweetness, stir in some dried cranberries or roasted grapes. Finally, to showcase the savory flavors, try including a salty cheese like parmesan or some roasted garlic.