Pee-yew! How to Avoid Smelly Brussels Sprouts

Breathe easier with this Brussels Sprouts cooking tip.

How to cook Brussels sprouts so that they don't smell bad

My experience with Brussels sprouts when I was younger was a smelly one. The little green balls would soak in a boiled water bath, stinking up the entire house. And people wonder why Brussels sprouts have such a bad rep.

What makes Brussels sprouts stink? Great question! And I have the answer.

Like broccoli and cabbage, Brussels sprouts are rich in hydrogen sulfide gas. When heat is added, the gases escape, and out comes the stink.

There are ways to combat the smelliness of the sprout. According to Shirley Corriher, author of CookWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking, “The secret to cooking [Brussels sprouts] is to cook them less than five minutes.” Which means high-fast heat like a sauté or a quick broil in the oven.

Here are three recipes that use different preparations that all result in smell-free sprouts:

Brussels Sprouts with Peaches and Bacon: The Brussels sprouts are sautéed for a short time in bacon fat before being tossed with chopped peaches and maple syrup. Only sweet smells going on here!

Brussels Sprouts with Peaches and Bacon

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Pesto and Pecorino: The Brussels sprouts are added to the simmering pasta for the last 5 minutes of the pasta’s cooking time. It’s just quick enough to make the sprouts tender without overcooking them.

Brussels Sprouts with Pasta, Pesto and Pecorino

Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Citrus and Pecans: You can definitely eat Brussels sprouts raw and then they don’t smell at all. They have a delicate flavor and scent, actually. You just need to shave them or slice them very thinly. Here they have a light lemon and orange vinaigrette and they’re tossed with pieces of orange and pecans for a wintry take on coleslaw.

Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Pecans and Orange

Lyndsay Burginger

It’s always entertaining when Lyndsay’s in the kitchen. She’s even been known to belt out Broadway show tunes while making dinner (a handy whisk as her microphone, of course). She currently writes for her international food and travel site, Lyndsay's Travel Kitchen . Lyndsay is also on the editorial team at The Cookful.