Why Are Brussels Sprouts Bitter?

Brussels sprouts are a popular vegetable, but they can be quite bitter. While some people enjoy the taste, others find it off-putting. So why are Brussels sprouts so bitter?

The Science Behind Bitter Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts contain a compound called glucosinolate, which is responsible for their bitter taste. Glucosinolate is a sulfur-containing compound that is found in many cruciferous vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage. When the vegetable is chewed or cut, the glucosinolate is broken down into a variety of compounds, including isothiocyanates. These compounds are responsible for the bitter taste of Brussels sprouts.

The Benefits of Bitter Brussels Sprouts

Despite their bitter taste, Brussels sprouts are actually quite nutritious. They are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. They are also a good source of antioxidants, which can help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

In addition to their nutritional benefits, Brussels sprouts may also have some health benefits. Studies have shown that they may help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and even reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

How to Make Brussels Sprouts Less Bitter

If you find Brussels sprouts too bitter, there are a few things you can do to make them more palatable. One of the easiest ways is to blanch them before cooking. Blanching involves briefly boiling the Brussels sprouts in water, then immediately transferring them to an ice bath. This helps to reduce the bitterness and make them more tender.

You can also try roasting or sautéing the Brussels sprouts. Roasting helps to caramelize the outside of the sprouts, which can help to reduce the bitterness. Sautéing in a bit of oil or butter can also help to reduce the bitterness.

Adding Flavor to Brussels Sprouts

If you still find Brussels sprouts too bitter, you can try adding some flavor to them. Try adding some garlic, onion, or herbs to the sprouts while cooking. You can also try adding some citrus juice or a bit of honey to help balance out the bitterness.


Brussels sprouts can be quite bitter, but they are also quite nutritious. If you find them too bitter, there are a few things you can do to make them more palatable. You can blanch them, roast them, or sauté them in a bit of oil or butter. You can also try adding some flavor to them, such as garlic, onion, herbs, citrus juice, or honey. With a few simple steps, you can make Brussels sprouts more enjoyable.