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Can You Marinate Brussel Sprouts?

When it comes to meat, there is one sure way to guarantee a tasty, delicious meal — a marinade! Marinades can be made of pretty much anything you like, adding flavour to your meal with little effort. 

But what many people don’t know is that marinades are not just exclusive to meat dishes, they can also successfully elevate vegetable-based dishes. 

We all have that one veggie that still haunts us after a bad-tasting experience from our childhood. For many of us, that veggie is the infamously hated brussels sprouts. Can a marinade be enough to make brussels sprouts taste delicious? 

Marinating brussels sprouts is an easy way to ensure that the sprouts can be as delicious as possible, making even the most sprout-opposed eater enjoy your dish. Better yet, sprouts are very fibrous, so they will soak up a lot of flavour from the marinade. 


What Do Brussel Sprouts Taste Like

Before you go ahead and shoot your shot with an experimental brussels sprout marinade, you should first figure out what the base flavour of brussels sprouts is.

As many of us have been opposed to the veg since childhood, let’s recap what brussels sprouts taste like. 

Most compare brussels sprouts to cabbage or broccoli, which is true to a certain extent in that there is a distinct earthy taste to the veg.

However, perhaps due to their smaller size, brussels sprouts have a much more intense bitterness than their veggie relatives. This is what can be off-putting to some.

Consider Your Cooking Method

That is until the brussels sprouts are roasted or sauteed, which accentuates the sprout’s natural sweetness, making them taste less bitter. 

How you cook your brussels sprouts will affect how they taste, with some cooking methods making them taste sweeter and others making the sprouts taste nuttier.

The cooking method you will use and how it will affect your sprouts is something to consider when you are putting together a marinade for your sprouts. 

How Long Should You Marinate Brussel Sprouts?

Every ingredient that you marinade will have a different length of time that they should be marinated before their texture starts to deteriorate. 

Brussel sprouts are a particularly fibrous vegetable meaning that they are very hard when raw, similar to parsnips.

This fibrous nature actually works in your favour when it comes to marinating the veg as it makes the sprouts a lot more resilient to the moisture and acidic elements of a typical marinade, allowing you to leave the sprouts marinating for longer.

As a general rule, the longer your sprouts are left to marinate in your marinade of choice, the tastier they will be, as they will have more time to soak up all that delicious marinade flavour. 

So how long can you actually leave your sprouts to marinade? You will start to notice the marinade affecting the taste of your brussels sprouts after around 2 hours.

However, you can let your sprouts marinate for up to 24 hours, meaning that you can easily prep the sprouts the night before and leave them to marinate in your fridge overnight until you are ready to make dinner.

Be Cautious of Acid!

It should be noted that if you are using an overly acidic marinade that includes a large ration of vinegar or even lemon juice to the other ingredients, you may not want to leave your brussels sprouts marinating for longer than around 12 hours.

This is because the extra acid will have the potential to break down the fibrous quality of the sprouts too much, though this is not as much of an issue compared to less fibrous veggies like potatoes. 

Why Are My Marinated Brussel Sprouts Mushy? 

There are a few reasons why you might find that your brussels sprouts have turned mushy after they have been marinated and cooked, which is the biggest reason for gross-tasting sprouts. 


The blame could lie with the amount of acidic ingredients you have used in your marinade.

Like all veggies, brussels sprouts do have their limits, as high as their tolerance may be. to how much acid they can soak up before their fibrous, tough leaves start to break down into mush.


However, it is unlikely that your marinade is to blame if you have followed a recipe or not used excessive vinegar/lemon juice. 

It is much more likely that the reason your brussels sprouts are mushy has nothing to do with your marinade and more to do with how long you have cooked the sprouts.

Brussel sprouts are notoriously easy to overcook, but unfortunately, overcooked brussels sprouts end up super mushy rather than keeping their crispy, tender texture. 

Essentially, if your brussels sprouts are feeling particularly soft when you take them out of their marinade but before you cook them, then the mushiness of the sprouts can be blamed on the ingredients you have used to marinate them.

But if your sprouts still feel firm before they are cooked, then their resulting mushy texture means that you have overcooked them. 


We have verified the information on this page using the following resources:

BBC Good Food

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