Sautéed Brussels Sprouts Tops
Don’t toss the leaves from brussels sprouts stalks! Reduce food waste by learning how to pan fry brussels sprouts greens as a side dish.
Have you cooked with brussels sprouts leaves? Reduce food waste by using the leaves from the stalks of sprouts in place of other leafy greens in sauces, soups, and even as a side dish.
Brussels sprouts leaves are a perfectly edible leafy green that is a great replacement for chard or collard greens. In fact, the greens are great as a side dish on their own flavored with a bit of garlic and red pepper.
👉 Want to learn how to sauté the leaves of brussels sprouts? Let’s do it!
🌿 How to pan fry the leaves of brussels sprouts stalks (step-by-step)
1️⃣ Step One: Prep the brussels sprouts tops
The first step to sautéing brussels sprouts greens is to cut them from the stalk and wash. Because brussels sprouts leaves are large and heavy, they often lay on the dirt when growing which means they are usually dirty and could use a good wash before eating.
First cut leaves from the brussels sprouts stalk, then cut the stiff stems right under where the greens start to grow. The stems are perfectly edible, but can sometimes be very tough so we want to use the softer stem areas, which are right under where the leaves begin to grow.
🥕 To wash brussels sprouts leaves: Fill a large mixing bowl with cold water and submerge the leaves on their stems for a few minutes, stirring or moving the leaves around with your hands to make sure as much dirt is removed as possible.
2️⃣ Step Two: Cut leaves and chop garlic
When greens are dry, remove any remaining stiff stems and then cut the leaves into thin strips. We’ve found that the best way to do this is to stack the leaves, roll them, and then chiffonade cut them into thin slices.
Then finely chop the garlic cloves in preparation for cooking.
3️⃣ Step Three: Pan fry the greens with garlic and red pepper
Now it’s time to sauté the tops. Start by adding olive oil to a medium frying pan and heat over medium-low heat. Next, add minced garlic and cook until it begins to brown and become fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
Then add the sliced brussels sprouts tops to the pan and stir continuously until they are covered in oil and completely wilted and cooked down, about 3-5 minutes. The leaves will end up getting brown on some sides and having a crispy, crunchy texture.
When the greens are done, remove them from the pan and plate. Serve immediately for best flavor, and enjoy!
❓ Questions + quick tips about cooking carrot leaves
The leaves on the stalks of brussels sprouts are not only edible, but they’re delicious. Brussels sprouts leaves are not poisonous, and in fact they are a nutritious green that tastes similar to collard greens.
Brussels sprouts and brussels leaves and stems are all edible. However, the part of the stem that is closest to the root is typically very stiff and doesn’t soften when cooking. These unused stems and greens are perfect for flavoring stock.
Brussels sprouts tops re a healthy leafy green that are high in vitamin K, vitamin A, and have about 90 calories per serving (about 1 cup of chopped greens) (USDA Food Nutrient Database).
Brussels sprouts leaves can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Simply remove the greens from the thickest part of the stem, and then wash and dry them before storing in an airtight freezer bag wrapped in a kitchen cloth or paper towel.
♻️ Sustainable kitchen tips, tricks, and tools
Take advantage of brussels sprouts season! The best time to make recipes using brussels sprouts greens is when they’re in-season. In California that’s usually September to May, but check out Seasonal Food Guide’s produce seasonality calendar to find when they are in season near you.
Store cut stems in water to keep them fresh. If you’ve cut the greens from the brussels sprouts stalks before using, keep them fresh by placing the stems in a glass of water and storing in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The water will keep the stems and leaves from wilting.
Use the discarded stems in vegetable broth. Don’t toss the thick stems! Use them in a food scrap vegetable broth for flavorful soup stocks.
🥕 More recipes using brussels sprouts greens
Looking for more brussels sprouts tops recipes? We’ve got you covered:
Looking for more outside-the-box sautéed greens recipes? Try sautéing radish greens, pan cooking carrot greens, or even pan frying the leaves of beets!
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts Tops
- 4 cups brussels sprouts leaves from about 4 large leaves
- 2 whole garlic cloves sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- Prepare brussels sprouts greens: First cut leaves from the brussels sprouts stalk, then cut the stiff stems right under where the greens start to grow. Fill a large mixing bowl with cold water and submerge the leaves for a few minutes, stirring or moving them around with your hands to make sure as much dirt is removed as possible. Next, remove the leaves from the water and use a salad spinner to remove water and put into a bowl or lay flat to dry (about 15 minutes).
- Cut leaves and chop garlic: When greens are dry, remove stiff stems and slice into thin strips. Finely chop the garlic cloves.
- Sauté the greens: To a medium pan heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic and cook until it begins to brown and become fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Next add the red pepper and cook about 20-30 seconds more, or until the pepper begins to release its color into the oil (do not overcook or the pepper will burn). Then add the greens and stir constantly until they are covered in oil and completely wilted and cooked down, about 3-5 minutes. Remove to a plate and serve immediately.
- Flavor notes: Brussels sprouts greens have a hearty, earthy taste and chewy texture, unlike softer greens like spinach. The texture is very similar to chard or collard greens.
- Tools needed: glass mixing bowl, medium pan, knife set, cutting board, salad spinner
- Prep ahead: Sautéed leafy greens re best eaten immediately, so we do not recommend cooking ahead of serving. However, you could wash and prep the greens up to a day ahead of time so they’re ready to be cooked. Any more than this and the greens will wilt and not look their best.
- Leftovers and storage: Store any leftover greens in the refrigerator for up to two days and reheat over the stovetop or quickly in the microwave. We do not recommend freezing greens after cooking.
- Nutrition notes: Nutrition information is estimated using all included ingredients. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and is a good source of vitamin K and potassium.
This is not actually the tops of the brussel plant. This is the leaves, that come out the side. Which are also great, it’s just not really accurate to call them tops. Tops form little rosettes. Coming from a farmer who grows these plants 🙂
Thanks, Rox! Yes, technically these are the leaves but if you were to just say “brussels sprouts leaves” then the recipes that come up when people search are all for the leaves on the actual sprouts. I’m assuming you didn’t make the recipe either, but still gave it a 2 star, which is unfortunate. But thanks for your comment.