Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

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With this Brussels sprouts recipe, I am now convinced we all need more Kung Pao in our lives.

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Slightly spicy Kung Pao sauce is a beautiful way to make some everyday Brussels sprouts ultra-flavorful and interesting. The crunchy texture of the peanuts on top is also a nice contrast to the caramelized, tender vegetable. I love these Brussels sprouts as a side when I make Shrimp Fried Rice, Honey Garlic Pork Chops, or Sweet and Sour Chicken.

Do you know what it means when something is Kung Pao? I did not. So, I did a little research. To Kung Pao something is to stir-fry or deep-fry it, and then serve it with a spicy sauce…and sometimes peanuts.

I love Kung Pao! I had no idea how much so. The most classic thing to Kung Pao (acknowledging that Kung Pao may not be an accepted verb, but also that maybe it should be) is chicken. Anyway, in reading up a bit on it, I realized that we definitely need more Kung Pao in our lives, and then I also started thinking about other things to Kung Pao. And happened to have some freaking huge Brussels sprouts ready to be turned into something delicious.

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts with peanuts in a serving bowl.

The classic flavors of Sichuan Kung Pao are matched with Brussels sprouts in an amazing vegetable side dish.

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Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts Ingredients

If you have a well-stocked Asian pantry, you likely have the ingredients needed for the Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts recipe.

  • Brussels sprouts – I cut mine in half since they were enormous. If you get more normal-sized Brussels sprouts, you can decide halved or whole, and if you get those cute tiny ones, just leave them intact.
  • Vegetable or canola oil – Helps the Brussels sprouts brown and get crispy on the outside when they’re roasting.
  • Garlic – Adds a flavorful punch to this dish.
  • Scallions – Use both the white and the green parts — the whites are more oniony, while the greens are more herbaceous.
  • Ginger – Use fresh peeled and minced ginger here, not the powdered dried version.
  • Gochujang or sriracha – I didn’t have the traditional chili peppers or Sichuan peppercorns (which I find a bit overpowering), so I reached for my trusty bottle of Gochujang sauce (a Korean hot sauce; it is also commonly available as a paste). Any hot sauce will do, Sriracha is great, and red pepper flakes will also work just fine.
  • Soy sauce – Use less sodium soy sauce so that you can control the saltiness of the final dish.
  • Honey – Adds a little sweetness, which helps to balance the punchiness and spiciness of this sauce.
  • Rice vinegar – Adds acidity, which also helps with balance.
  • Peanuts – These get sprinkled on top of the finished dish for some delicious crunch.
Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts on a plate with a decorative rim.

How to Make Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

  1. Prepare to roast: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the oil, season with salt and pepper, then spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  2. Roast: Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sprouts are tender and browned.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts on baking sheet.
  1. Make the sauce: Meanwhile, sauté the garlic, ginger, and scallions in a bit of oil until they smell delicious and fragrant. Next, add in the hot sauce, soy sauce, honey, and vinegar. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Combine: Toss the roasted Brussels sprouts with the warm sauce. Serve warm, topped with the crushed peanuts.
Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts in small bowl on a gray cloth napkin.

FAQs

What is Kung Pao?

Kung Pao is a Sichuan-originated dish and classically gets its heat from either Sichuan peppercorns or actual chili peppers or, in some cases, a tongue-burning combo of the two. And then, of course, the dish has been Westernized, with less heat and other sources of heat besides the traditional Sichuan peppers and the addition of orange juice and cornstarch and such.

What can I do to make Brussels sprouts taste better?

Roasting or sautéeing Brussels sprouts are really good ways to add great flavor to your Brussels sprouts. Boiling or steaming them is less delicious. Adding a sauce like this Kung Pao sauce will turn boring Brussels sprouts into a side dish to remember, with the slightly sticky, slightly sweet, and slightly spicy glaze.

What to Serve With Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts next to sliced pork chop.

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5 from 1 vote

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

With this Brussels sprouts recipe, I am now convinced we all need more Kung Pao in our lives.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 People
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Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts (halved if large)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil (divided)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 scallions (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Gochujang or Sriracha sauce
  • ¼ cup less sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup crushed peanuts (to serve, approximately)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the Brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss, then spread out on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 to 25 minutes until tender and the edges are browned.
  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan or skillet over medium heat and add the garlic, scallions, and ginger. Stir for 60 seconds until you can smell the garlic and ginger, then add the hot sauce, soy sauce, honey, and vinegar and bring to a simmer.
  • When the Brussels sprouts are cooked, pour the sauce over and stir to coat them. Transfer to a bowl and top with the crushed peanuts.

Notes

I didn’t have the traditional chili peppers or Sichuan peppercorns (which I find a bit overpowering), so I reached for my trusty bottle of Gochujang sauce (a Korean hot sauce; it is also commonly available as a paste). Any hot sauce will do; Sriracha is great, and red pepper flakes will also work just fine.

Nutrition

Calories: 292.57kcal, Carbohydrates: 34.4g, Protein: 11.43g, Fat: 15.78g, Saturated Fat: 9.41g, Sodium: 594.1mg, Potassium: 1028.49mg, Fiber: 10.08g, Sugar: 14.47g, Vitamin A: 1889.5IU, Vitamin C: 196.79mg, Calcium: 124.22mg, Iron: 4.12mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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