Here is an incredibly delicious gratin baked brussel sprouts recipe without even a hint of gluten. That’s right… delicious gratin with no bread. We’re going to put together this dish with some really yummy ingredients that will blow away even the most ardent of sprout haters! It’s the perfect warming side dish for when you’re looking for rich and incredible flavor.
This baked brussel sprouts recipe is: Gluten Free, Low Carb and Sensational.
Creamy Baked Brussel Sprouts with Melty Cheese
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I love brussels sprouts! At my house they are a staple of our fall and winter diets. It’s funny because when I first met my wife she HATED brussel sprouts. I’m not sure exactly how she tried them previously, but it’s a safe bet that they were either steamed or boiled. There are some tricks to make boiled or steamed sprouts taste pretty good… but if you’re looking to really make a brussel sprouts statement at the table you’re better off trying a different method.
Here are a couple alternate brussels sprouts recipes for you to take a look at: Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon or this super simple Sauteed Brussel Sprouts recipe. If you’re looking for something really different (like brussels sprouts for breakfast) be sure to check out this yummy Brussels Sprouts Hash with Slow Cooked Eggs.
For a real side dish statement, my suggestion is to make baked brussel sprouts au gratin. Particularly if they are dressed up with a divine cream sauce, some yummy bacon and luscious melty cheese. Yes, we are going to make a flavor bomb that everyone will love. But we’re not done there… oh no… we are going to add on some crunchy cauliflower crumbles with a touch of spice, butter and fresh herbs. When everything comes together in that first, scrumptious bite my bet is that you will be thoroughly satisfied.
Gluten Free Au Gratin Recipe
So the definition of “Au Gratin” is that it is either covered with bread crumbs OR grated cheese which is then browned. With a definition like this it is technically easy to make a gratin… just don’t add the bread crumbs. How boring. I give that definition a huge double-thumbs-down. The bread crumbs add texture, flavor and visual interest to the dish. When you see some crunchy, buttered breadcrumbs your mouth should start to water. They are just delicious.
Substituting gluten free bread isn’t the answer. I’m not a huge fan of gluten free products in general. They are loaded with starches and other ingredients which I don’t want to eat. So what is the answer? Grated cauliflower. Even if you don’t like cauliflower, when you make these browned crumbs you’ll never know the difference. We’re going to add in some butter, red pepper flakes, fresh thyme along with some salt and pepper. To make sure they brown nicely, we’re going to start them in the oven while we are sauteing our brussels sprouts.
Trust me. The cauliflower makes the dish.
Baking Brussel Sprouts
I’ve made this recipe a lot. My first couple attempts were not met with success for a number of reasons. First, I needed to learn how to bake brussel sprouts in a cream sauce. In my first couple attempts, I added in the brussel sprouts raw. I found that the brussels sprouts were either undercooked or didn’t have enough of a “seasoned” flavor. Bland and hard. Extending the cook time just made a dried out mess.
What I learned is this: when baking brussel sprouts for a savory dish you need to either steam or sautee them first. Steaming the sprouts for five or six minutes (still cut in half) worked great, but the dish didn’t have the flavor I wanted. I went back to my favorite method of preparing brussel sprouts… in the saute pan. With this method I was able to add in some much needed seasoning to the sprouts. They also picked up a really nice caramelization, enhancing the overall flavor of the gratin dish.
I suppose that you could also broil or roast them before adding to the gratin as well. If you were to do this, my suggestion is to use a lined baking sheet that is sprayed with some olive oil. Place the brussels sprouts cut side up. Spray with olive oil and season them well. Broil or roast them until golden brown. I didn’t use this method for two reasons. First, I have a tiny oven here in France that only lets me cook one thing at a time. Second, I was cooking the cauliflower crumbles and sauteing the sprouts at the same time to reduce the overall cook time for the recipe.
QUICK COOKING TIP: Please be sure to combine the cream with the butter before baking. Here’s the scoop: if the butter isn’t combined with the cream, the dish will be runny. Making a baked brussel sprouts gratin is different than a potato gratin for couple reasons:
- There are lots of nooks and crannies with the brussels sprouts. With a potato gratin you can add dollops of butter everywhere and they seem to spread more evenly, combining well with the cream. Not so much with the sprouts.
- Potatoes have lots of starch in them. Starch is a natural thickener. Brussels sprouts are non-starchy vegetables. Making the cream sauce before adding it to the dish will allow you to thicken it just a bit in the pan first.
- Brussel sprouts need less time to cook. With a potato gratin, slow and low is the rule. With a brussel sprout gratin, that’s not the case. Too slow and low will result in a mushy mess. We want to cook them at a reasonable temperature in a reasonable amount of time.
Ok. We’ve talked a lot about this baked brussel sprouts dish so far. Let’s get to the recipe!
Baked Brussel Sprouts Au Gratin
For the Cauliflower Crumbles
- 1.5 cups Cauliflower Shredded
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 3 sprigs Thyme Fresh, stems removed
- 1/8 tsp Red Pepper Flakes Optional. To taste.
For the Baked Brussel Sprouts
- 1.25 lbs Brussels Sprouts Cleaned & sliced lenghtwise
- 1 Shallot Finely diced
- 3 cloves Garlic Minced
- 3 slices Bacon Sliced into batons
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 4 tbsp Butter Divided
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/8 tsp Cracked Pepper
- 3/4 cup Gruyere Cheese Shredded
For the Cauliflower Crumbles
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Add the remaining ingredients for the cauliflower crumble. Add a pinch of salt and a couple grids of pepper. Place in the oven.
- Cook for 5 minutes. The butter will be melted now so mix well and make sure that the cauliflower is spread thinly on the baking sheet. Cook another 5 minutes or until it just starts to brown. Remove and set aside.
For the Brussels Sprouts
- While the cauliflower is cooking in the oven, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 2 tbsp of the butter along with the olive oil. Place the brussels sprouts cut-side down in the pan. Cook until caramelized. As the sprouts caramelize, remove from the pan and add to the gratin dish. Continue until all the sprouts are nicely browned.
- In the same pan over high heat, add in the bacon and cook for 2-3 minutes. When it starts to brown, add in the shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, for another 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add in the butter and garlic. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in the cream. Stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes or until just slightly thickened.
- Pour the cream mixture over the sprouts in the gratin dish. Top with the grated cheese and the cauliflower crumbles. Cook in the oven for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce the heat to 350 and cook for 15 more minutes. Reduce the heat again to 300 and cook for 10 more minutes. The topping should be nicely browned and the sauce will be bubbling and thick.
Final thoughts on the Baked Brussel Sprouts Recipe:
You’ll find that this recipe goes really well with chicken, pork, beef or even lamb. It works equally well with grilled dishes as it does with slow cooked proteins. It has enough flavor and body to really stand out on the plate.
We recently served this at a dinner party. When people walked into the house they were commenting on how wonderful it smelled. When asked what was cooking, I said “Brussels Sprouts!” Half of our guests were not fans of sprouts. After the first bite, they were reaching for seconds. I love hearing “I’ve never liked brussel sprouts before… these are delicious!”
How do you like to eat your sprouts? Have any special preparations you’d like to see here on the blog? Let me know… and in the meantime I hope you love this recipe. Happy eating.