I try to include at least one green in meals, and Christmas dinner is no exception to that rule. This year’s green side is Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Cranberries. I’m keeping characteristics of last year’s Christmas dinner menu with Brussels sprouts and bacon while trying to make it healthier.
Last year I chose Brussels Sprouts Gratin, which was Brussels sprouts mixed with bacon and roasted in a creamy cheese mixture. It was so delicious (because bacon and cheese), but not exactly healthy at 1,538 calories per serving and 142 grams of fat.
Of course, it’s the kind of recipe I would only make once a year, but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a healthier recipe for Brussels sprouts that was still special enough for a holiday dinner. This Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Cranberries caught my eye because bacon. It’s also a healthier option at 407 calories per serving and 34 grams of fat.
Christmas Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Cranberries will add color and vibrancy to your holiday table! This crispy and crunchy salad might become one of your family’s favorite Christmas side dishes! Dried cranberries provide a sweet contrast to the savory Brussels Sprouts. There is a bit of crunch from toasted pecans and chopped cooked bacon.
This Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Cranberries recipe has only six ingredients, and four are named in the title. The remaining ingredients are olive oil and salt, and I had both. I also had bacon in the freezer and dried cranberries because I make Apple Cranberry Bacon Kale Salad regularly.
That left just Brussels sprouts and pecan halves on my shopping list. I found them all at my usual grocery store. I chose large sprouts for a couple of reasons. First, peeling and trimming a few large Brussels sprouts is faster than tons of tiny ones. Secondly, it’s quicker and easier to flip larger Brussels sprout halves when roasting.
This recipe’s ingredients are cooked separately and then tossed together much like a salad. There are sections for each ingredient, but I did them in a different order than listed.
Toasting the Pecans
Instead of beginning with the Brussels sprouts, I chose to toast the pecans first. It was a simple matter of placing a piece of parchment paper onto a sheet pan, adding the pecans, and toasting them for 20 minutes. My oven was in use roasting the main course, so I toasted the pecans in my air fryer/toaster oven combo on the bake setting.
Tip: The pecans didn’t look much different coming out of the oven than they did going in. I had to try one to make sure it was toasted enough. Toasting changes the texture and it was noticeable when I bit into the pecan.
Cooking the Bacon
After the pecans were done, I lined a sheet pan with foil and baked the bacon (also in the toaster oven and also for 20 minutes). This was my first time baking bacon, and the first round was a disaster. I was busy cooking other things and did not keep an eye on the bacon. It was incinerated!
Fortunately, I had more and put it into the toaster oven for 10 minutes. It was not ready after that, so I added five more minutes. This time it was perfect, so I removed it from the toaster oven and let it cool.
Roasting the Brussels Sprouts
My oven was free by this time, so I chose to roast the Brussels sprouts in it instead of my toaster oven. I tossed them in olive and salt then placed them cut side on a foil-lined sheet pan.
The top side had begun to brown after 15 minutes, and I discovered the bottoms had browned too even though they were facing down. I still flipped all the sprouts and let them cook for another 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on them so they didn’t burn.
Tip: The bacon and Brussels sprouts needed a watchful eye to make sure they didn’t burn.
I prepped the dried cranberries after I flipped the Brussels sprouts. That was simply adding them to a heat-proof bowl, pouring boiling water over them, and allowing them to soften for 10 minutes. I chose to boil the water in the oven, and it took 3 minutes on high to boil two cups of water.
Once I drained the cranberries and crumbled the bacon, I tossed everything together in a mixing bowl. It didn’t need the optional extra olive oil, so all I had to do was move my Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Cranberries to a serving bowl.
This recipe lists 10 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to cook, and 40 minutes total. Here’s how my time was spent on each step:
- 2 minutes to prep the pecans
- 5 minutes to toast the pecans
- 2 minutes to prep the bacon
- 15 minutes to cook the bacon*
- Brussels Sprouts
- 7 minutes to prep the Brussels sprouts
- 20 minutes to roast the Brussels sprouts
- 4 minutes to prep the cranberries
- 10 minutes to soak the cranberries
- 2 minutes to drain cranberries and assemble the dish
- 33 minutes total
I should note that I did some of these steps concurrently, like prepping the next ingredient as the current one was cooking, which saved a lot of time. If the steps were done consecutively, the total time would increase to 1 hour 7 minutes.
*Time for my first attempt at cooking the bacon in the oven is not included here.