How to Blanch & Shock Brussels Sprouts

Written by carolyn enright
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How to Blanch & Shock Brussels Sprouts
Blanch and shock Brussels sprouts to retain their bright-green colour. (rosenkohl gemüse roh image by Lucky Dragon from

"Brussels sprouts--yuck!" or "Brussels sprouts--yum!" The difference between these two reactions at your dinner table is the difference between sprouts that look bright green and crispy and those overcooked mini-cabbages that are as appetizing as a pair of Army-green camouflage trousers. Blanching and shocking is the secret to keeping your Brussels sprouts appetizing and delicious. Even a novice cook can turn the much maligned cabbage into an enticing treat.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Large pot of salted water
  • Large bowl of iced water
  • Brussels sprouts

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  1. 1

    Wash Brussels sprouts, removing tiny or yellow leaves. Trim stems. Be careful not to trim stems too close to the sprout, or the leaves will fall off during cooking. If sprouts are particularly large, cut in half. (Note: Use this process with fresh, not frozen, Brussels sprouts.)

  2. 2

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add Brussels sprouts.

    How to Blanch & Shock Brussels Sprouts
    "Blanching" quickly boils your vegetables to a crisp-tender state. (boiling water 2 image by Christopher Hall from
  3. 3

    Bring back to a boil, and gently boil sprouts until crisp-tender. The amount of time you boil the sprouts will vary based on their size. After about 3 to 4 minutes, test a sprout for tenderness by poking it with a fork. You should be able to pierce the sprout with the fork. It should give a little, but still feel firm. If the sprout won't give when poked with the fork, it is still raw. Continue boiling until tender, but be careful not to overcook.

  4. 4

    Transfer Brussels sprouts from boiling water to an ice bath using a slotted spoon or tongs. This "shocks" the vegetables and stops the cooking process.

  5. 5

    Remove Brussels sprouts from ice bath after a few seconds.

    How to Blanch & Shock Brussels Sprouts
    A quick plunge into an ice bath stops the cooking process. (Ice image by vilarcampos from
  6. 6

    Freeze, sauté or roast your Brussels sprouts. Since blanching already has brought the sprouts to the peak point of tenderness, you need only to quickly sauté or roast them for a few minutes to warm them and brown up the edges for a nice, savoury flavour.

Tips and warnings

  • When shopping for fresh Brussels sprouts, choose firm, compact heads. Avoid sprouts with yellow or wilted leaves.
  • When sautéed, blanched Brussels sprouts cook faster and retain less oil.
  • Blanched vegetables retain more of their colour, nutrients and flavour.
  • Blanching Brussels sprouts before freezing stops the ripening process, so they don't "go bad" while frozen.
  • Do not overcook Brussels sprouts. They will turn mushy, dark green and bitter.

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