Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Pancetta

These Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Pancetta take only 15 minutes to cook, making it the perfect side dish! Recipe with step-by-step photos.

brussels sprouts with chestnuts and pancetta in skillet with bowls of pepper and chopped herbs

Brussels Sprouts

For me, Brussels sprouts is an essential side dish at Christmas. It happens to be an ingredient which is abundantly in season from about autumn and well into the late winter, and I try to cook with it often during this time of the year, although it really does become the star of the show at Christmas.

As a side dish, Brussels sprouts happens to work beautifully alongside most main dishes.

Why This Recipe Works

  • This recipe contains just 5 ingredients (plus spices) for a flavour-packed side dish.
  • This Brussels sprouts recipe takes just 15 minutes to cook, perfect for when you are entertaining.
fresh brussels sprouts at farmers market
{Buying Brussels sprouts at the farmers’ market in Zurich}

How to Buy Brussels Sprouts

I prefer to cook with small to very small Brussels sprouts which are about the size of large grapes or small cherry tomatoes.

Small Brussels sprouts are generally sweeter and nuttier in taste, whilst larger Brussels sprouts have a more pronounced bitterness.

I happen to like the slight bitterness of Brussels sprouts, but if I am serving this dish to guests, I try to buy smaller Brussels sprouts which are generally more appealing and easier to eat.

It also helps with the presentation if the Brussels sprouts are roughly the same size as the chestnuts.

And if you are cooking for a large crowd, it might also make sense to buy Brussels sprouts which have already been prepared and washed.

brussels sprouts with chestnuts and pancetta in black skillet

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts

In Europe, chestnuts are abundant in winter and I look for every opportunity to serve them, whether as part of a main dish (see my Celeriac and Chestnut Soup), side dish or dessert (like my Mont Blanc Chocolate Pavlova).

Brussels sprouts happen to pair beautifully with chestnuts, and the recipe below is one which I have been making for nearly every year for a decade.

Brussels Sprouts Recipe

The following Brussels sprouts recipe is adapted from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson.

I love the combination of Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, and the addition of pancetta or bacon gives the dish a lovely saltiness which will convert anyone skeptical about being presented with Brussels sprouts on their plate.

It seems that my family will only eat these Brussels sprouts with the addition of chestnuts and pancetta; my husband is always asking me to add more chestnuts, whilst the children are always fighting for every cube of crispy pancetta. But if it means that they will eat their Brussels sprouts, I’m happy!

So depending on your family’s wishes, you can increase or decrease the quantities of the ingredients to your liking.

brussels sprouts with chestnuts and pancetta in skillet with wooden spoon

How to Cook Brussels Sprouts

Trim the ends of the Brussels sprouts and remove any discoloured leaves.

If your Brussels sprouts are quite large, cut an “X” in the stem which will help them to cook more quickly.

Cook the Brussels sprouts in a pot of salted boiling water for about 5 minutes, and then drain.

cooked brussels sprouts in colander

Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the pancetta until golden and crispy.

If you can’t find pancetta (which is Italian-style bacon), you could also use French lardon or thick-cut bacon.

cubes of pancetta fried in skillet with wooden spoon

Once the pancetta is browned, add the onions and garlic and stir them through for about 1 minute until the onion starts to turn translucent.

Add the Brussels sprouts and stir them through the pancetta until they are all coated in the oil.

brussels sprouts with pancetta in skillet with wooden spoon

Carefully separate the chestnuts and add them to the saucepan. As the chestnuts are already cooked, you only need to cook them for a few minutes to warm through.

Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh parsley before serving.

brussels sprouts with chestnuts and pancetta in skillet with wooden spoon

More Chestnut Recipes

If you are looking for more chestnut recipes, you might also enjoy:

Celeriac and Chestnut Soup

Chestnut Bundt Cake with Chocolate Chips

Chestnut Soup with Parsley and Bacon

Chocolate Pavlova with Chestnut Purée

Mont Blanc Chocolate Pavlova

Print

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Pancetta

These Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Pancetta take only 15 minutes to cook, making it the perfect side dish! Recipe with step-by-step photos.

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: British

Ingredients

  • 500 g (1 lb) Brussels sprouts
  • sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • 250 g (1/2 lb) pancetta, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 250 g (1/2 lb) chestnuts (pre-cooked and vacuum-sealed)
  • parsley, finely chopped
  • freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
  2. Meanwhile, trim the ends of the Brussels sprouts and remove any discoloured leaves. For large sprouts, cut an “X” at the bottom to help them cook more quickly.
  3. Cook the Brussels sprouts in the boiling water for about 5 minutes.
  4. Drain the Brussels sprouts.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
  6. Cook the pancetta until they have browned nicely on all sides.
  7. Add the garlic and onion, and stir for about 1 minute until they become translucent.
  8. Add the cooked Brussels sprouts and give everything a good mix.
  9. Carefully separate the chestnuts and try to keep them whole.
  10. Add the chestnuts to the saucepan and stir for a few minutes to warm them through.
  11. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  12. Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Kitchen Notes

CHOOSING BRUSSELS SPROUTS
I prefer to cook with small (or very small) Brussels sprouts which are about the size of large grapes or small cherry tomatoes. Ideally, they should be bite-sized and about the same size as the chestnuts. Small Brussels sprouts tend to be less bitter and are usually sweeter and nuttier in taste.

WHAT IS PANCETTA?
Pancetta is Italian-style bacon and it is often sold in small slabs or ready-cubed in packets. You could also use French lardon or thick-cut bacon in this recipe.

BUYING CHESTNUTS
For this recipe, it is easiest to use pre-cooked chestnuts. I like to use pre-cooked chestnuts which are sold in vacuum-sealed packs, but you can also find them sold in glass jars or frozen. If you have the time and opportunity, you could also roast and peel your own chestnuts.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS
To cut down on the cooking and preparation time, I recommend the following:
* buy Brussels sprouts which have already been trimmed, prepared and washed
* buy pancetta or bacon which have already been cubed
* if you are using vacuum-sealed chestnuts, separate the chestnuts ahead of time and store them in a zip-lock freezer bag in the fridge until needed

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 240
  • Sugar: 2.1g
  • Sodium: 229mg
  • Fat: 14.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.3g
  • Fiber: 2.6g
  • Protein: 7.1g
  • Cholesterol: 20.6mg

Did you make this recipe?

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