This Cast Iron Brussels sprouts with ham recipe is easy, delicious and makes a great dish for a quick dinner.
Why You Should Try This Recipe
There is no better dish than cast iron Brussels sprouts with ham to show you the importance of cookware. If you have a cast iron pan, this recipe is for you.
To get caramelized sprouts, you need heavy-bottomed cookware. The dish is perfect as a side for dinner, the holidays, or eaten by itself.
While the Brussels sprouts caramelize on the outside, they remain tender on the inside. The saltiness from the ham or bacon will bring lots of good flavor to the dish.
The recipe also only takes less than half an hour, so you can have a healthy and delicious side to your protein in no time. You can also make this dish the star of the show and have it by itself.
For this recipe, you don’t need too many ingredients.
- Brussels sprouts
- Ham- thick-cut bacon or pancetta would be good too in case you don't have ham
- Olive oil
How to make this recipe
Get your cast iron skillet nice and hot over medium heat with some oil. I prefer a 15-inch cast iron skillet because it gives me more room to work with and allows the Brussels sprouts to have enough distance from each other and they caramelize and not boil.
Cut up the ham in square size pieces, and cook it until it begins to crisp. Once you see that the ham is crisping up, throw in your onions and garlic.
If you have thicker cuts of ham, you can cube it and it will bring some more crunchiness and texture to the dish.
Cook the onion and garlic until they become translucent. You know you’ve cooked them enough when the onion looks like you could probably see through it, and the aroma of the garlic hits your nose.
You don’t want to overcook your garlic because then it will taste burnt and no one likes burnt garlic.
Once that garlic smell hits your nose, and the onions look like little flavorful windows, throw in your trimmed, cleaned brussels sprouts.
I like to cut my brussels sprouts in half and when I put them in the skillet, I put them with the cut side down, so they can caramelize.
Once the Brussels sprouts look caramelized on the side that sat in the skillet, and they feel a little soft when you push them down with your wooden spoon, add the vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Sprouts do not need a lot of salt so do not over-salt them. If your ham is already salty, or you used bacon, you definitely do not need to salt the sprouts too much.
Once the sprouts are cooked through and caramelized, add thyme and toss everything to combine. Let all of the ingredients become friends for a few minutes.
Serve them warm. The longer you let sprouts sit, the softer they will get and no one likes mushy sprouts.
What can you serve this with?
You can serve this as a side dish to your favorite protein. Maybe you want to serve them next to roasted boneless center-cut pork chops with red wine, or my old-fashioned meatloaf with oats.
If you want to avoid red meat, you can serve it with lemon rosemary roasted chicken with potatoes and red onion.
If you have a lazy night, or just don’t want to cook anything else except these cast iron Brussels sprouts with ham, you can also eat them by themselves.
I personally do not like adding cheese to my sprouts, but my daughter tells me that she loves adding goat cheese to them after she serves them in a big bowl.
What kind of Onions can I use?
You might ask me what kind of onion I prefer in my cooking. For many of my Mexican recipes, I like using white onions. They are large and not very sweet but still very delicious.
For this recipe for cast iron caramelized brussels sprouts with ham, you can use regular yellow onions. They’re sweeter, and they caramelize nicely as they cook in the cast iron skillet.
Red onions also work because they also bring sweetness, and they’re not as spicy as other onions. And also, what is better than caramelized red onions?
If you have been following my blog, you know I always tell you to use what you have in the house.
There is no reason to go to the store and get special onions for my recipes. Onions are onions in my opinion and cooking shouldn’t be fussy. Use your best judgment and don’t complicate your life.
I do not have ham but I still want to make the recipe
If you do not have ham, you can use bacon! I personally like using thick-cut bacon in my cooking.
If you end up using bacon, skip the oil and then start the dish by frying the bacon first, then continue with the recipe. Adding both will make your dish very, very oily.
The beauty of using bacon is that the bacon grease will add more flavor to the dish.
As the bacon is already salty, make sure you to not add too much salt to the recipe. Also, do not add olive oil if you cook with bacon grease.
Sherry Vinegar Replacement
The recipe requires sherry vinegar, but I do not have that. Now what?
If you do not have sherry vinegar, use regular vinegar. Just use what you have.
Again, don’t go to the store just to get one type of vinegar to make these cast iron caramelized Brussels sprouts with ham. Do you have balsamic vinegar? Use that. Do you have apple cider? Perfect!
It’s your kitchen and I trust you know what you like and don’t like. Use what you can find around the house and play with the flavors!
This is not a fussy recipe, so go with it!
Can I use frozen Brussels sprouts?
I sometimes cook with frozen brussels sprouts but they will not caramelize as well and they will have a different texture.
If that is all you have, then use that, but do not expect the sprouts to look the same as they do in my pictures.
Can I use garlic powder?
For this recipe, I prefer minced garlic but if you only have garlic powder, use that. I would sprinkle the garlic powder when you add the other spices.
Again, use your best judgment of how much garlic powder you like to eat in your food. I would also suggest you invest in some minced garlic that you keep in the fridge.
If you are new to fresh Brussels sprouts, don’t fret. These little cabbage-looking vegetables are easy to trim up and get ready for any dish.
I usually start by washing them and getting rid of any ugly-looking leaves. It’s usually the brown, or blemished leaves that get discarded.
Then I cut off the brown and stumpy end. You’ll know you cut the right part when you see a pretty green end. If any leaves come off with the stump and they look green, then save them too. They’ll get really crispy when you cook the sprouts.
Using a sharp knife, I cut my sprouts in half, perpendicular to the stem. This way you have a little core in each half. The sprouts will hold their shape a little better.
For more easy side dish recipes, check out our roasted potatoes with green garlic and dill, green beans almondine (green beans with almonds), or champiñones al ajillo (Spanish lemon garlic mushrooms tapas).
Cast Iron Brussels Sprouts And Ham
- 2 pounds Brussels Sprouts
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ pound ham chopped or bacon
- 2 small white onions diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or regular vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a 15 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, heat up the oil.
- Cook the ham until it begins to crisp.
- Add the onions and garlic
- Cook stirring a few times, until onions and garlic become translucent.
- Add trimmed, cleaned Brussels Sprouts and cook until the sprouts start to take on good color.
- Add vinegar, salt and pepper and stir.
- Sprinkle thyme over and toss to combine.
- Serve warm.
- If you prefer to use bacon instead of ham, skip the oil, and start the dish by frying the bacon first, then continue with the recipe.