Smokey Sweet (Brussels) Sprouts

I had a hard time taking a picture of these because I could not stop eating them. I have been searching for a while for a balsamic-based glaze for veggies and the combination in this recipe seems to be a winner. So far I have only tried it as shown — on Brussels sprouts — but I can see lot of possible uses for this sauce. And I don’t think I’ll ever make Brussels sprouts any other way!



1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon white (or yellow) miso paste
1 teaspoon date sugar (or other sweetener)
1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
4 tablespoons water


  1. Cut Brussels sprouts in half and saute over high heat. Don’t stir them too much when cooking so that they will brown. Use a little bit of water or cooking spray if needed to keep them from sticking.
  2. While they are cooking, stir together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl to make your sauce.
  3. When the sprouts have begun to brown, add the sauce, stirring to coat. Then turn the heat down to medium, cover, and let steam in their own juices for a few minutes until tender.

The sauce by itself tastes like some kind of gourmet BBQ sauce. The miso gives it depth and the balsamic gives it a tangy sweetness. I think it would make a great topping or even a dipping sauce for grilled veggies — but if you want to use it for that only add 2 tablespoons of water.

Liquid Smoke is a very interesting ingredient. I added it because I was trying to replicate that flavor you get when you cook Brussels sprouts with bacon, and it definitely helps hit that smokey note. But is Liquid Smoke safe?

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Greger’s excellent book “How Not To Die“:

I was concerned there might be carcinogenic combustion products in smoked seasonings (similar to the benzo[a]pyrene found in cigarette smoke and diesel exhaust), but these compounds tend to be fat soluble. So when you smoke a spice or make a water-based solution like liquid smoke, the smoke flavor compounds are captured without capturing most of the smoke cancer compounds. The same can’t be said for smoked fatty foods. While you’d have to chug three bottles of hickory smoke flavoring to exceed the safety limit, a smoked ham or smoked turkey sandwich could take you halfway there, and a single barbecued chicken leg would take you over the top. Smoked fish, such as herring or salmon, appears to be the worst. One bagel with lox could take you ten times over the safety limit.

The study he cites is “Gomaa EA, Gray JI, Rabie S, Lopez-Bote C, Booren AM. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in smoked food products.

Based on this I think I am pretty safe with my half-teaspoon!

Also, Liquid Smoke is really made from … smoke! Wood chips or sawdust are burned at high temperatures, and particles of the smoke are collected in condensers. The liquid that results is then concentrated for a stronger flavor.

If you try this recipe let me know what you think.


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