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Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Pancetta

Plate of brussels sprouts and pieces of pancetta. There are silver Christmas decorations in the corner.

Pile of sautéed brussels sprouts and pancetta on a white and gold plate

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Pancetta is one of our favourite sides dishes with any winter roast dinner. If you haven’t tried to pan fry brussels sprouts yet, you’re missing out!

Brussels sprouts seem to be synonymous with Christmas. Whether you love them or hate them they tend to always make their way to the Christmas dinner table. I find pan-frying brussels sprouts is a great way to add texture and bring out great flavour in these tasty little vegetables.

For years I hated the soggy, over-cooked, pungent mini cabbage-like things adorning the festive table. I avoided brussels sprouts for as long as possible. Until that is, I discovered the best way to cook brussels sprouts.

Now I love to have the little green balls of deliciousness with my Christmas meal. I have found that they are textured and flavoursome, and a perfect veggie side dish with your roast dinner.

Close up of fried halves of Brussels sprouts and crispy pancetta on a plate with gold trim

How to make brussels sprouts crispy?

The key to all this? You need to parboil then fry the halved brussels sprouts. This gives them a soft in the centre yet crisp on the outside texture.

If you don’t want to fry or sauté the brussels sprouts you could also try drizzling them with a touch of oil and roasting in the oven. Roasted brussels sprouts are also delicious.

Close up of crispy brussels sprouts

What flavours work with brussels sprouts?

If you don’t have any pancetta to hand you can always add chopped bacon instead. I’ve seen plenty of brussels sprouts with bacon recipes floating about the internet and it’s much the same concept really.

Other great flavour pairings for brussels sprouts include a drizzle of honey or maple syrup for sweetness. For a sharp contrast try a reduction of balsamic vinegar or glaze. You could toast up some pine nuts, flaked almonds or chopped chestnuts, for a lovely crunchy contrast.

Brussels sprouts cut in half and fried with pancetta

Does this brussels sprouts recipe work for vegetarians?

If you want to make a vegetarian or vegan version simply leave out the pancetta and cook with a dash of vegetable oil at the frying stage.

As I mentioned above there are loads of ways you can elevate fried brussels sprouts, whether it is glazed with sweet or sour notes such as honey or maple syrup, lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Or with texture such as almonds, hazelnuts or chestnuts. You can usually find a flavour pairing to suit your dietary needs and preferences.

Plate of halves of fried Brussels sprouts

How easy is it to make sautéed brussels sprouts?

In this recipe, I like to simply trim the bottoms of the brussels sprouts (the woody bit that was attached to the stem) and boil in salty water for a few minutes until just cooked through. Drain and allow the sprouts to cool for a little while. Then slice the brussels sprouts in half and fry in a large based frying pan until golden on both sides.

Birds eye view of a white plate with gold trim holding halved sautéed brussels sprouts and crispy pancetta pieces



  • 500g Brussels Sprouts, stalk trimmed
  • 200g Pancetta, cubed
  • Small pinch of Sea Salt
  • Large pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper
  • A squeeze of lemon juice, to taste (optional)


  1. Parboil the sprouts for 5 minutes in a large pan of boiling water. Drain and set aside to cool a little.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan fry the pancetta on medium heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving the oil from the pancetta in the frying pan.
  3. Slice the cooled brussels sprouts in half lengthways.
  4. Heat the large frying pan with the pancetta fat and add the brussels sprouts. If possible start frying them with the flat edge facing down. Once golden turn, or stir to cook the rounded sides.
  5. Squeeze a touch of lemon, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Finally, stir through the cooked pancetta and serve.

How do you like your brussels sprouts?

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brussels sprouts and pancetta

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