These addictive roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and balsamic are an incredible side dish with a perfect balance of flavor. This recipe pairs well with so many dinners, and you can swap in other veggies like broccoli for the brussels sprouts.
I often write about flavor balance, and how the best recipes have a perfect balance of the five tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami. It’s so important for anyone who loves cooking to be familiar with this concept, because it can truly take your meals to the next level.
My favorite recipes always achieve this balance, and these oven-roasted brussels sprouts with balsamic and bacon are a great way to highlight the tastes. Here’s the breakdown of how each ingredient corresponds to a taste:
- Brussels Sprouts: Bitter
- Bacon: Salty, Umami
- Balsamic: Sweet, Sour
- Garlic: Sweet, Umami
Ingredients For Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Brussels sprouts
- Bacon, preferably thick-cut
- Olive oil
- Balsamic reduction (or balsamic vinegar)
What is Balsamic Reduction?
Balsamic reduction is simply balsamic vinegar that’s been reduced down to a syrup consistency with a concentrated flavor. When you simmer a liquid, it thickens as water evaporates, which is why it’s known as a reduction.
It’s my favorite salad dressing. You can make just enough for this recipe, or you can reduce a larger amount to keep on hand when you need it, which is what I usually do.
If you don’t want to use balsamic reduction, this recipe is still great with regular balsamic vinegar. But I highly recommend using the reduction for maximum flavor!
Check out my step-by-step photo tutorial on how to make balsamic reduction.
How to Roast Brussels Sprouts
Step 1: Prep the Brussels
Before roasting, you need to prep the brussels. Give them a rinse and thorough dry. If the vegetables you’re roasting aren’t completely dry, the water will create steam in the oven, making it harder to get that crispy caramelization that’s so flavorful.
Slice off the tough root of the sprout, then slice in half from top to bottom. Peel off and discard any leaves that look old and shriveled. If some healthy leaves fall off, make sure to keep them. I call them brussels sprouts chips because they get extra crunchy in the oven!
Step 2: Prep the Bacon
I recommend par-cooking the bacon in the microwave to remove some of the fat. Some types of bacon are fattier than others, but pretty much all bacon releases fat when cooked.
To prevent the brussels sprouts from swimming in fat, place the bacon on a microwave-safe plate lined with paper towels. Place a couple more paper towels on top, then microwave for 60-75 seconds. Gently press on the bacon to soak up any fat that releases.
Trust me, there will still be plenty of bacon fat and flavor in the final dish!
After discarding the paper towels, slice the bacon into strips. Keep in mind that these will shrink down slightly in the oven, so don’t go too thin. Mine were about 1/2-inch cuts.
Step 3: Roast the Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper. Toss the brussels with olive oil, salt and pepper, then spread in a single layer. Spread the bacon around the pan, then roast for around 13-15 minutes.
Step 4: Stir and Add Garlic
At the halfway point, you want to stir and gently flip the ingredients to make sure they roast evenly on both sides. Eat any of those crunchy brussels sprouts chips that look like they’re ready!
This is also the best time to add the garlic. Most roasted vegetable recipes have you add the garlic at the beginning, but I’ve started adding it midway through roasting. Thinly sliced garlic doesn’t need 20+ minutes in the oven, and it often burns. This will give it plenty of time to cook and crisp up a bit without turning black.
The total roasting time will vary slightly based on the size of the brussels sprouts (I’ve seen some HUGE ones recently at the grocery store). On average, it takes somewhere between 20-25 minutes. You know they’re ready when there’s a good amount of caramelization on both sides.
Step 5: Drizzle with Balsamic Reduction
Drizzle with as little or as much balsamic as you like (I like a lot), then serve immediately.
Recipe Notes and Substitutions
- Swapping out the brussels: Don’t like brussels sprouts? That’s ok! Swap in broccoli, my other favorite vegetable for roasting.
- Using balsamic vinegar instead of reduction: If you don’t feel like making balsamic reduction, you can toss the brussels sprouts with some regular balsamic vinegar after removing them from the oven. You can also sometimes find pre-packaged balsamic reductions, but keep an eye on the ingredient list. Sometimes the have a lot of added sugar.
More Side Dishes
If you love this recipe, be sure to check out my Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes, Chinese Eggplant with Spicy Garlic Sauce, and Roasted Green Beans with Parmesan, Almonds, and Lemon. I also love these Crispy Hasselback Potatoes from Simply Recipes.
You can also see my full archive of side dishes recipes here!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic Reduction
- 3 slices thick-cut bacon
- 4 cups brussels sprouts, halved (1 pound)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3-4 tablespoons balsamic reduction (balsamic vinegar can be substituted, see notes)
- Set an oven rack on the center shelf and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment.
- Place the bacon on a microwave-safe plate lined with a couple layers of paper towels. Top with another layer or two of paper towels, then microwave for around 60 seconds. This will release some (but not all) of the fat. Pat the bacon dry with the paper towels and slice crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.
- Toss the brussels sprouts with olive oil and spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper to taste (see notes). Spread the bacon around the sheet pan.
- Roast for 13-15 minutes, then remove from the oven briefly to stir and gently flip the ingredients to make sure they roast evenly on both sides. Sprinkle the garlic around the sheet pan evenly, then return to the oven and roast for an additional 7-10 minutes, until the brussels are deeply caramelized and crisp, and the bacon is fully cooked.
- Drizzle with balsamic reduction (or toss with balsamic vinegar), then serve immediately.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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