Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts offer a tantalizing twist on a classic Szechuan dish, infusing the bold and fiery flavors of kung pao sauce with the earthy, slightly bitter taste of Brussels sprouts. This innovative fusion breathes new life into the traditional side dish, making it a vibrant and spicy alternative that can stand proudly on any dining table.

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts capture the essence of the beloved kung pao chicken but with a vegetarian twist that appeals to a wide array of palates. The dish typically features halved Brussels sprouts that are roasted or fried until they achieve a perfect blend of tenderness and crispiness, then tossed in a rich sauce made from a combination of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili flakes, and the signature Szechuan peppercorns. The result is a mouth-watering concoction that delivers a punch of heat, balanced by the nutty, caramelized flavors of the sprouts.

Topped with crunchy peanuts and perhaps a sprinkle of green onions, kung pao brussel sprouts are not just a side dish but a statement piece that showcases the power of combining traditional Asian flavors with Western vegetables. This dish is a testament to the creativity in modern cuisine, offering a delightful way to enjoy Brussels sprouts in a new and exciting light.

Prep time15 minutes
Cook time20-25 minutes
Course Side dish
Servings4 persons

Kitchen Tools Needed

  • Chef’s Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Baking Sheet or Large Skillet (if roasting or stir-frying)
  • Whisk or Fork (for mixing sauce)
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula (for stirring)
  • Oven or Stovetop (depending on cooking method)

Ingredients for Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

  • 1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved

For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional, for thickening)
  • 2-3 dried red chili peppers (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns (crushed)

For the Stir-Fry

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 1/4 cup peanuts or cashews
  • 2 green onions, sliced for garnish

How to make Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts?

Preparing Brussels Sprouts

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C) if roasting. For stir-frying, skip this step.
  • Wash the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half. Pat dry to remove any excess water.

Cooking Brussels Sprouts

For Roasting

  • Place the Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and toss to coat evenly.
  • Roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until they are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan halfway through to ensure even cooking.

For Stir-Frying

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the Brussels sprouts and stir-fry for about 8-10 minutes, until they are tender and have some charred edges.

Making the Sauce

  • In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar or honey, and cornstarch (if using) until smooth.
  • Crush the Szechuan peppercorns and chop the dried chili peppers, then add them to the sauce mixture.

Combining Ingredients

  • Once the Brussels sprouts are cooked, reduce the heat (if stir-frying) or remove from the oven.
  • In the skillet or a separate pan, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and ginger, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Pour the sauce over the cooked Brussels sprouts. If roasted, transfer the Brussels sprouts back into the skillet. Stir well to ensure the sprouts are evenly coated in the sauce.
  • Add the peanuts or cashews and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly and coat the sprouts and nuts.


  • Transfer the Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts to a serving dish. Garnish with sliced green onions.
  • Serve hot as a main dish or a side, ideally with rice or your choice of grain to complement the bold flavors.
Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

How To Make These In Air Fryer?

  • Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C) if required by your model. Place the Brussels sprouts in the air fryer basket in a single layer, ensuring there’s some space between them for air circulation.
  • Cook for about 10-15 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through the cooking time, until they are crispy and golden brown. The exact time may vary depending on your air fryer model.


  • Don’t Overcrowd: Cook in batches if necessary to ensure the Brussels sprouts get crispy.
  • Adjust Cooking Times: Depending on the size of your Brussels sprouts and the model of your air fryer, cooking times may need to be adjusted slightly.

What To Serve With Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts?

  • Steamed Jasmine Rice: The fragrant, slightly sticky texture of jasmine rice pairs perfectly with the bold flavors of Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts, providing a soothing balance to the dish’s spiciness.
  • Quinoa: For a healthier, protein-packed alternative, quinoa offers a nutty flavor that complements the earthiness of Brussels sprouts while absorbing the sauce’s richness.
  • Grilled Chicken or Tofu: A simple grilled chicken breast or tofu, seasoned with just salt and pepper, can add a lean protein component to your meal, making it more satisfying without overshadowing the main dish.
  • Noodle Stir-Fry: Stir-fried noodles, with a light seasoning, serve as a great base to mix with Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts, turning it into a hearty, all-in-one meal.
  • Cucumber Salad: A refreshing cucumber salad, dressed with vinegar and a touch of sugar, can provide a crisp, cooling contrast to the spicy Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts.
  • Egg Fried Rice: This dish adds an extra layer of flavor and texture, with the eggs offering a soft, rich counterpoint to the crunchy Brussels sprouts.
  • Sauteed Green Beans: Lightly sautéed with garlic and a sprinkle of salt, green beans offer a vibrant, crunchy side that complements the textures and flavors in Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts.
  • Cold Soba Noodles: Dressed in a light sesame or peanut sauce, cold soba noodles provide a refreshing and slightly nutty accompaniment that pairs well with the warmth and spice of the Brussels sprouts.
  • Asian Slaw: A slaw made from cabbage, carrots, and scallions, dressed in a rice vinegar and sesame oil vinaigrette, adds a crunchy, tangy element that balances the deep flavors of the Kung Pao sauce.
  • Steamed Bok Choy: Gentle steamed bok choy, with its subtle sweetness and tender texture, offers a simple, nutritious side that cleanses the palate and complements the complexity of the Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts.

How to store leftover?

  • Cool Down: Begin by allowing the leftover Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts to cool to room temperature. Avoid leaving them out for more than 2 hours to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Airtight Container: Transfer the cooled Brussels sprouts into an airtight container. This helps to retain moisture and flavor, and prevents the sprouts from absorbing odors from the refrigerator.
  • Refrigeration: Place the container in the refrigerator. Leftover Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts should be consumed within 3-4 days for optimal freshness and safety.
  • Freezing Option: If you won’t be consuming the leftovers soon, you can freeze them. Spread the Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet to freeze individually, then transfer them into a freezer-safe bag or container. This method prevents clumping, allowing you to thaw only the amount you need later. Use within 2-3 months for best quality.
  • Labeling: It’s a good practice to label the container with the date of storage. This helps you keep track of how long the leftovers have been stored and ensures you use them within a safe timeframe.
  • Reheating: When ready to eat, reheat the Brussels sprouts thoroughly in the microwave, oven, or on the stovetop until hot throughout. If using the oven, spreading them on a baking sheet and covering lightly with foil can help retain moisture.
  • Avoid Repeated Reheating: Try to only reheat the portion of Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts that you plan to consume immediately. Repeatedly warming and cooling can degrade the quality and safety of the food.
Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Health benefits

  • Rich in Nutrients: Brussels sprouts are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, and manganese. Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts harness these nutritional benefits, contributing to overall health and wellness.
  • Antioxidant Properties: The dish is packed with antioxidants due to the Brussels sprouts and ingredients like garlic and ginger in the sauce. Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Fiber Content: High in dietary fiber, Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts support digestive health, promoting regularity and contributing to a feeling of fullness, which can aid in weight management.
  • Heart Health: The combination of fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats from ingredients like sesame oil and nuts in Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts can contribute to heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and improving arterial function.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: Ingredients such as ginger and garlic have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body, potentially lowering the risk of inflammation-related conditions.
  • Boosts Immunity: The high Vitamin C content in Brussels sprouts helps strengthen the immune system, making the body more resilient against infections and diseases.
  • Bone Health: Vitamin K, found abundantly in Brussels sprouts, plays a crucial role in bone health by improving calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium, thus helping in the maintenance of strong bones.
  • Blood Sugar Control: The fiber in Brussels sprouts can help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, beneficial for those managing diabetes or at risk of developing the condition.
  • Cancer-Fighting Potential: Brussels sprouts contain compounds such as sulforaphane, which have been studied for their potential to inhibit cancer cell growth and promote the elimination of carcinogens from the body.
  • Supports Healthy Skin: The Vitamin C not only boosts the immune system but also supports the production of collagen, a protein essential for healthy skin. The antioxidant properties also protect the skin from damage caused by UV exposure and pollution.

Variations for Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

  • Spicy Honey Glaze: Add a sweet and spicy twist by drizzling honey mixed with a pinch of chili flakes over the finished dish for a glossy, flavorful glaze.
  • Crunchy Almond Topping: Substitute peanuts with slivered almonds for a different crunch and a subtle nutty flavor that complements the Brussels sprouts.
  • Lemon Zest Garnish: Sprinkle grated lemon zest over the cooked Brussels sprouts before serving to add a fresh, citrusy brightness that cuts through the richness of the sauce.
  • Roasted Sesame Seeds: Add a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds as a garnish for an extra nutty flavor and appealing texture contrast.
  • Smoky Bacon Bits: Incorporate crispy, chopped bacon into the dish for a smoky depth of flavor that pairs wonderfully with the spicy and savory sauce.

Substitutions for Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

  • Soy Sauce Alternative: For a gluten-free version, use tamari instead of soy sauce. Coconut aminos can also be a soy-free and lower sodium option.
  • Hoisin Sauce Swap: If hoisin sauce is unavailable, you can use a combination of peanut butter with a dash of soy sauce and honey as a makeshift alternative.
  • Szechuan Peppercorns: If you can’t find Szechuan peppercorns, use a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for heat, though the unique numbing sensation will be missing.
  • Sesame Oil Option: In the absence of sesame oil, use another neutral oil with a few drops of toasted sesame oil for flavor, or simply skip the sesame aspect if unavailable.
  • Vegetable Oil: Any high-heat, neutral-flavored oil like canola, sunflower, or grapeseed oil can be used instead of vegetable oil for frying or roasting the Brussels sprouts.
  • Sweetener Substitutes: If honey or sugar is not preferred, maple syrup or agave nectar can be used as a natural sweetener to balance the sauce’s flavors.

Can We Make It Ahead ?

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts can be prepared ahead of time with a few strategic steps to ensure they retain their optimal flavor and texture. Although the dish is best served fresh to enjoy its crispiness and the vibrant sauce, you can partially prepare it in advance to streamline the cooking process during mealtime.

To make this recipe ahead of time, you can wash, trim, and halve the Brussels sprouts, storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The sauce ingredients can also be mixed together and kept in a separate container. If you’re including nuts or seeds for added crunch, toasting them ahead of time and storing them in a dry, sealed container will preserve their texture.

When you’re ready to serve, simply cook the Brussels sprouts as directed, warm up the sauce, and combine everything. This approach minimizes prep time while ensuring the dish remains delicious and fresh. Remember, the final toss in the sauce should be done just before serving to maintain the perfect balance of flavors and textures.

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Tips And Tricks

  • Even Sizing: When preparing your Brussels sprouts, try to cut them into even sizes to ensure uniform cooking. Smaller pieces can become crispy while larger ones remain tender inside.
  • High Heat Roasting: For extra crispy Brussels sprouts, roast them at a high temperature. This method helps to caramelize the edges while keeping the center tender.
  • Dry Before Cooking: Pat the Brussels sprouts dry after washing to remove excess moisture. This step is crucial for achieving that perfect sear and crispiness whether you’re roasting or stir-frying.
  • Toast the Nuts: Lightly toast the peanuts or cashews before adding them to the dish. This enhances their flavor and adds an extra layer of crunch to the final dish.
  • Adjust the Heat: The spice level of Kung Pao sauce can be adjusted according to taste. Start with fewer chili peppers and add more as needed to find your ideal level of heat.
  • Marinate for Flavor: For an extra flavor boost, consider marinating the Brussels sprouts in a bit of the sauce before cooking. Just save enough sauce to toss them in after they’re cooked for that saucy finish.
  • Use Fresh Ingredients: Fresh garlic and ginger make a significant difference in flavor. Opt for fresh over powdered forms whenever possible to elevate the taste of your sauce.
  • Sauce Consistency: If you prefer a thicker sauce, dissolve a teaspoon of cornstarch in a tablespoon of water and add it to the sauce before mixing with the Brussels sprouts. This will help thicken the sauce and make it cling to the sprouts better.
  • Garnish Wisely: A final sprinkle of green onions or cilantro can add a fresh contrast to the dish’s deep flavors. Consider adding a squeeze of lime for a tangy finish.
  • Serving Suggestions: Serve the Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts immediately after tossing them in the sauce to maintain the perfect balance of texture and flavor.
  • Leftover Transformation: If you have leftovers, repurpose them by adding to salads, wraps, or as a topping for a savory breakfast bowl with a fried egg on top.
  • Balance Your Plate: Pair the Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts with a simple, mild-flavored grain like white rice or quinoa to balance the strong flavors and make a complete meal.

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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ’s

Absolutely! Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts can easily be made vegan by ensuring that all sauce ingredients, such as soy sauce and hoisin sauce, are vegan-friendly. Some hoisin sauces may contain fish sauce, so look for a vegan label to be sure.

To avoid soggy Brussels sprouts, ensure they are thoroughly dried after washing. Roasting them at a high temperature or stir-frying over high heat can also prevent sogginess by quickly cooking the exterior and minimizing moisture retention.

Yes, for a nut-free version of Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts, simply omit the peanuts or cashews. You can substitute them with seeds like sunflower or pumpkin seeds for a similar crunch without the allergens.

While you can roast or stir-fry the Brussels sprouts ahead of time, they are best enjoyed fresh to maintain their texture. However, you can prepare the sauce in advance and quickly toss everything together before serving to save time.

The spice level of Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts can be adjusted to taste. The traditional Kung Pao sauce is known for its heat, derived from chili peppers and Szechuan peppercorns. Reduce or omit these ingredients to lower the spice level, or add more for extra heat.


Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts represent a delightful culinary twist, marrying the hearty, earthy goodness of Brussels sprouts with the iconic, fiery zest of Kung Pao sauce. This dish stands out for its ability to offer a versatile eating experience, appealing to both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. By incorporating a range of textures from the crisp sprouts to the crunchy nuts, and a spectrum of flavors from spicy to slightly sweet, it creates a complex and satisfying palate.

Ideal for those seeking to introduce more vegetables into their diet without sacrificing depth of flavor, Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts are a testament to the innovative possibilities within modern cooking. Whether served as a vibrant side or a main dish, they promise a memorable meal that invigorates the senses and brings a touch of excitement to the dining table.

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