Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Apples with Tofu

A Brussels sprout recipe for people who think they might not like them. Shredded Brussels sprout ribbons, apples, garlic, pine nuts, and tofu in a skillet with a hint of maple syrup.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Apples with Tofu

I bought a three-foot stretch of Brussels sprouts the other morning at the farmers' market. For those of you who've never encountered the spectacle of Brussels sprouts still on the stalk, it is something to behold. A thick, stick-straight center stalk is punctuated by tight, green Brussels sprout pom-poms. It looks fantastically prehistoric. And while it doesn't fit very nicely in my market basket, once I get it home the sprouts will keep nicely this way - seemingly longer than off the stalk.
Brussels Sprouts on Stalk
I buy sprouts on the stalk whenever I can, and typically get three or four sprout-centric meals out of each, breaking off the buds as needed. In this case I combined shredded Brussels sprout ribbons, apples, garlic, pine nuts, (and tofu if you like) in a skillet with a hint of maple syrup.
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Apples with Tofu
I know not all are Brussels sprout fans, but based on some of the emails you've passed along to me, this golden-crusted Brussels sprout recipe seems to be a well-received gateway recipe for people who thought they didn't like Brussels sprouts, but really do. You could start there, and then make the jump to this recipe if you're at all apprehensive. Or, I highlight a few other ideas down below....

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Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Apples with Tofu

4.56 from 9 votes

Feel free to leave out the tofu if you like - I add it to make this a one skillet meal. I used the Wildwood Organics baked savory tofu here, it browns up nicely and holds its shape - though any extra-firm tofu will work. If you don't feel like shredding the Brussels sprouts, you could do a version of this recipes cutting them into quarters instead - a bit quicker as far as prepping the ingredients goes.

  • 1 large, crisp apple, cut into bite-sized wedges
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 4 ounces extra-firm tofu cut into tiny-inch cubes (see photo)
  • a couple pinches of fine-grain sea salt
  • a couple splashes of olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • a scant tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped
  • 12 ounces (3/4 pound) Brussels sprouts, washed and cut into 1/8-inch wide ribbons
  1. Soak the apples in a bowl filled with water and the juice of one lemon.
  2. Cook the tofu in large hot skillet with a bit of salt and a splash of oil. Saute until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, wait a few seconds, now stir in the maple syrup, and cook another 30 seconds or so. Drain the apples, and add them to the skillet, cooking for another minute. Scrape the apple and tofu mixture out onto a plate and set aside while you cook the Brussels sprouts.

  3. In the same pan (no need to wash), add a touch more oil, another pinch of salt, and dial the heat up to medium-high. When the pan is nice and hot stir in the shredded Brussels sprouts. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring a couple times (but not too often) until you get some golden bits, and the rest of the sprouts are bright and delicious.

  4. Stir the apple mixture back into the skillet alongside the Brussels sprouts 1/2 of the pine nuts - gently stir to combine. Remove from heat and enjoy immediately sprinkled with the remaining pine nuts. This isn't a dish you want sitting around, the flavors change dramatically after ten minutes or so, and I think that is part of the reason Brussels sprouts get a bad rap. Even I don't like them after they've been sitting around.


Serves 2 - 3 as a main, 4 as a side.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
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Recipe Rating


I was skeptical about how this would taste with so few ingredients. Boy was I pleasantly surprised. This was delicious, healthy and made me feel good eating all these veggies. The Brussels were perfectly cooked and with just a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup they really shone! Thanks for a great recipe!5 stars


    So happy you enjoyed the recipe Rosalie!

    Heidi Swanson

This is definitely my new favorite brussels recipe5 stars


Happy to see this posted! I just made it last night. First (and not last) time this season. I’ve been making it since you first posted it. 2012? 2008? This and your crusted Briussels are well loved.5 stars


Thank you for the Brussels sprouts recipes! I just bought a ton of sprouts and while I have plans for what I purchased, it is fantastic to have more recipes to try.

Kelsey Lane

My husband and I made this tonight and I want to tell you that it doesn’t feed as many people as you say! It was so good that the two of us finished it off no problem…really tasty. And we used your recommended tofu and it makes the dish.


Call me crazy, but I just let these sit for like an hour and they were still delicious. Maybe even better. I thought they were great leftover too, the last time I made them.
But, I do love me some brussels sprouts. For real. ;-)~
Thanks Heidi!
You’re the bomb, baby!


Just made this only substituted persimmons for apples and pecans for pine nuts…soooo good! All 3 of my kids ate it! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Kerri Jacobus

Several years ago we grew brussels sprouts in our backyard garden, and it was so cool to see how they grew (though the cabbage worms got most of ours!) I have some apples from the mountains and I am going to try this!

Deborah Dowd

Heidi, I don’t know if you will approve of my substitutions but I had to work with what I had so instead of brussel sprouts I used silverbeet and instead of maple syrup I used honey. I added a bit more tofu as well (hungry husband). Anyway, it was delicious and has inspired me to try a few variations on this idea. Thank you for the healthy and delicious inspiration 🙂


Oh no!! I live in Australia and I can’t find brussel sprouts anywhere. How annoying, although I think it’s probably the first time I’ve ever been upset about not getting brussel sprouts, lol! I had my heart set on making this tonight and bought all the other ingredients. Can any recommend a substitute?


A farmer told me to put the stalk of brussels sprouts in a vase or pail of water, just like flowers, to keep for a long time outside the refrigerator (or inside if you have room).


Will it work well with any kind of apple or strickly cooking apples?

Piper Kelly

Hi I just want to say a big thankyou for all your excellent recipes. I live in Cheshire (UK) and whenever I look up a recipe I always come to your site and have been inspired so many times- in terms of ingredients and methods of cooking (eg tofu, pearl barley, sprouts- etc)-do please continue!


As an organic farmer in Newfoundland, Canada, brussel sprouts are one of my personal favorite crops.
I think people that don’t like them had a bad experience with them, either overcooked or canned. I love brussel sprouts, but when over cooked or canned i can’t stand them either.
As for sweetenign them, I just wait until after the first frost when they, like turnips and parsnips, sweeten from the starches turning into sugars!


I’ve had a hard time finding a good recipe for Brussel Sprouts. This looks good!


It took me a while to love brussel sprouts, too, so I empathize with the antis out there. And agree with you, Heidi, and use the same trick on my husband–often a distaste for one food can be morphed into a taste for it when given the right recipe. I think sweetening the sprouts in this way is a great way to accomplish that.
Also, sprouts on a stalk! I’ve never seen anything like that. How on earth do you store it at 3′ long? Garage?

Erin @ Sprouted in the Kitchen

I’d never seen them on the stalk before… thanks for posting that picture.
LOVE sprouts! I just blogged about them last night!


Wow, those are beautiful on the stalk. It’s amazing I have never seen them this way. I wish we had a farmers market around here. 🙁

Valerie Adams

Never seen them on the stalk! Great picture.


Cooking expert. Delicious!

Ashin Mettacara

Thanks to you heidi fof brightening our supper yesterday my fiance really enjoyed it was wonderful will never miss any of your recipes.”THANKS ONCE AGAIN HEIDI”


I love you Heidi. You know exactly who your audience is. You are the teacher and we your pupils.
Keep the inspiration coming!


I didn’t have tofu on hand, but I _did_ have a quarter of a butternut squash leftover from earlier this week. I cubed it and stuck it in this recipe in place of the tofu. It was delicious! The nutty squash flavor nicely bridged the garlic and the maple syrup, and added a great bright orange color to the dish. Thanks so much for the inspiration, Heidi!


This sounds absolutely yummy! I LOVE brussel sprouts!
I have to try this!


I can’t wait to try it. It sounds delicious!


I will be a dweller of your site, definitely. You’ve got so many different recipes I’ve never seen before, so many vegetarian recipes… Have just read Peach Gnocchi recipe – I can’t imagine potatoes with peachy flavor – but it stopped sounding wrong for me and may be some day I will dare to try making such extravagant thing myself:) Thank you for inspiration and courage!


Perfectly timed! They’ve just come onto the Autumn markets here in the UK and as my wife came home with one today now’s the time to try the recipe.
But don’t forget, they’re great to eat raw too – just snap them off and chomp on them for a crisp, crunchy and slightly peppery taste, nothing at all like the cooked flavour.


Generally I’m not a big fan of brussels sprouts, but this recipe looks too good to pass up!


I am a big brussel sprout on the stick person. I love the way they look and have grown to like their flavor. Thank you for the inspired recipe, am going to make it after the farmers market this sat. Can you give us your thoughts about celeriac, I’m getting tired of my remoulade.
thank you.


Off to the store to get the ingredents, another recipe that looks great!
Thanks Heidi
PS the soup from the other day was wonderful go get some couscous and make it !


I have converted many many people to the enjoyment of Brussel Sprouts! They were pretty sure they hated them…..I grew them in my p-patch garden one year and what a great treat to twist off 10 or so at a time! I love brussel sprouts- olive oil sauted onion, garlic and Marjoram-something about that herb that goes well with the sprouts! Enjoy!


Off to the store to get the ingredents, another recipe that looks great!
Thanks Heidi
PS the soup from the other day was wonderful go get some couscous and make it !


Off to the store to get the ingredents, another recipe that looks great!
Thanks Heidi
PS the soup from the other day was wonderful go get some couscous and make it !


It’s great to see the good old sprout up there! There’s so much you can do to with them to convert the non converted. I usually hang the stalk in the garage, it’s good for a week, but mind your head!


Wonderful recipe and dish, as always.


i think the problem with brussels sprouts is that a certain generation was served the vegetable pickled in vinegar and forced to eat them before they were excused from the table. i would guess sometime in the 1960s and 70s


I recently hosted a bacon party at my house, and the far and away winning recipe was a recipe that prepared brussels sprouts with apples and bacon, served with pan seared scallops. Divine! This one has the same mouthwatering look, but in a vegetarian variation.

Erin @ The Skinny Gourmet

This sounds fabulous. Since I usually cook for one, I’ll try cooking the full batch of everything except the brussels sprouts, then just sauteing the sprouts fresh each evening and adding them into the rest of the heated up mixture.

Conflict Geek

I love waking up to recipes like this! My sister and I plan to make a brussels sprout salad for Thanksgiving, but haven’t come up with a recipe yet. Something tells me this will be it! I love the shredded texture of the sprouts, and when they are paired with something sweet (like apples or caramelized shallots) – oh, it is sooo tasty. I could eat it for days.

Ellie from Kitchen Caravan

Is there something that would readily substitute for the maple syrup? I love the sound of this recipe, but we can’t get maple syrup in my part of the world…
HS: Hi Kim, you could do a light sprinkling of a tablespoon of fine-grain brown sugar.


Perfect–love brussels sprouts (have some with me for lunch– marinated in red wine viniagrette with pistachios)– I will be using this recipe for Thanksgiving– by the way, as much as I would like to buy them on the vine, I love the Trader Joe’s bag– cleaned and ready to be nuked! (sorry!))
By the way, love this site and your obvious love of wholesome and great-tasting food!


TYPO…I meant sound so good. They of course must be tasting good. I shall try. Thanks again.


I have to give credit to you to make the Brussel sprouts so good. You have a way with words. I read your intro to the recipe more than the recipe. Being a born vegetarian, I love your site and efforts. And have tried two of your recipes in Oct, being only one month that I stumbled upon your site. Thanks.


Hello Heidi, only you can take Brussels sprouts to new heights. Can’t wait to try this. I live down the road from one of the major sprouts growers, so it’s easy to get them on the stalk & yes, they do keep longer that way.
Why are people afraid of the “s” in Brussels sprouts? It’s for the city in Belgium, I believe.

judie La Flamme

This looks good. I too was never a brussels sprouts fan until I saw Lidia Bastianich make them – she separated the leaves (though I suppose shredding would work too), sauteed them with olive oil and garlic, maybe a TB of water if it’s too dry, and finished with a TB of balsamic vinegar. Delicious. Couldn’t keep my preteen daughter away from them.


I’ve been a fan of brussels sprouts (yes even the boiled version) since childhood. I’ll definitely be trying this recipe soon.


I hate chopping. How do people think brussel sprouts would hold up in the food processor? I have read that shredded sprouts cook faster, and therefore lose some of the sulfur edge that a lot of people don’t like. I’d like to try this but am unlikely to go through all the chopping.


I love brussels sprouts and I suspect much of the credit goes to my mother who served them to us kids by spinning them as “Barbie Cabbages.” My sisters and I ate them up! This recipe looks delicious.

Carol Peterman

“sprout centric” I love it.
Almost as cool as “far out, brussel sprout!”


After making the Pepita Salad for lunch, I made this offering for dinner! Delicious combination of flavors. Don’t burn the sprouts even a little, or the whole house will be “cruciferied.” Didn’t have the savory Wildwood, so lightly dusted firm tofu cubes with corn starch and fried them instead. Also added a bit of homemade teriyaki sauce for the savory element. Thanks for dinner, Heidi!


I never had brussels sprouts as a kid (they are not a common veggie here) which I think is the reason I love them so much now! 🙂 They are my favorite vegetable even if I only get them imported (and horribly expensive! oh to be able to get them on the stalk!) over here. I have a whole collection of brussels sprout recipes and this is going into it!!! 🙂 Thank you!


Sounds really terrific and so easy to prepare. I am so glad I found your site for easy and nutritious vegetarian recipes.

Aly Levy

Huh! I have never seen brussel sprouts like that before!
I haven’t tried them as a child – I may have to give these another try!
Thanks Heidi!


I am a freak for Brussels sprouts and am always experimenting with new ways to cook them. Love your idea.


I thought about making a brussel sprouts “potée” this lunch, your idea is much better and original, thanks !
You’re the only the newsletter I receive and I neverregret it.
Thanks a lot !!!


Love the sound of this combination! And shredded Brussels sprouts should be delicious. I’ll opt to leave the tofu out.


I just saw some Brussels Sprouts stalks at the farmer’s stand in Southampton this weekend.
Your recipe is innovative.. I’ll have to try it out!

Hilary @ Smorgasbite

Just wondering, why do you soak the apple in water and lemon juice?
HS: Hi Heather, it’s just to keep the apples from browning. You could certainly cut them just before using, and skip the water/lemon.


One year for New Years Eve we had a progressive dinner party. As a die-hard fan of anything grilled, I saw a stalk of b-sprouts at the local health food store and decided to throw them on my barbeque. It was very dramatic and pretty darn tasty. I made a lightly sweet dressing of olive oil and cider vinegar with some shallots. I carved the whole thing at the table like it was some kind of crazy roast beast. Spectacular and delicious!


I’ll readily admit that I’ve never had a truly fresh brussels sprouts – only frozen (which, yes, are fresh-frozen, but still!)
Unless I go to Whole Paycheck I don’t see them on the stalk. But I’m going to check the Farmer’s Market now that there’s a chill in the air. I love roasted brussels sprouts and haven’t made them in quite awhile!


I have never actually cooked brussel sprouts — ack! This doesn’t seem too hard to try though…

Fit Bottomed Girls

Have never bought the stalks (though I love seeing them at the farmer’s market!) Do the sprouts keep longer that way? Does the giant stalk fit in your fridge?


I have to say that I’m not usually a fan of brussel sprouts but you make it look really good. Might have to just give them a try!

Tabitha (From Single to Married)

I agree – like most veggies we had – and hated – as kids, most of us didn’t grow up eating fresh brussels sprouts! I love ’em like this and can’t wait to try this recipe. But if it’s OK with you, Heidi – I’m going to try it with hickory smoked tofu. Mmmm, mmmm! I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for the inspiration!


It took cinnamon, butter, nuts, and a little sugar for me to like brussel sprouts. So now I’m trying to branch out, and this seems like a perfect opportunity to do that.


It took cinnamon, butter, nuts, and a little sugar for me to like brussel sprouts. So now I’m trying to branch out, and this seems like a perfect opportunity to do that.


I love brussel sprouts. I never realized how they grew. Thanks for that. Shredded sounds so good. Of course, I might like to see them with grilled sausage. Can’t wait to try it.


I’ve bought them on the stalk (the first time I saw them this way, I simply couldn’t resist) – but there is the problem of fitting the stalk in the fridge. Do you leave them out in a container of water, like a cut flower? Or do they do OK just out? Do they just leave them out overnight in the store? Or do they stay fresher because they did have longer on the stalk, while they were transported? (I think when I bought them before, I cut them off when I got home because that was the only way they fit in the fridge).
HS: Hi Mouse, I break the stalk in half, place each piece in a bag, and then place them in the refrigerator.


I am a brussel sprout convert because of the golden crusted recipe in SNC! Can’t wait to try this one. The only thing is that I have yet to see organic brussel sprouts available anywhere near me…odd…

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?



hooray! this is going on my list of potential thanksgiving dinner recipes.


these photos are gorgeous and the recipe makes my mouth water! (and- i admit- i’ve never even had a brussel sprout!) i’ll be trying this recipe out this weekend- can’t wait!


Simply beautful, Heidi.
Even my toddler son will eat this up! (But he already digs brussel sprouts, so we’re lucky.)
Props to continued EZ healthy ideas.

Tom Marsh

Wow I never knew that they sprouted on stalks, I some how imagined that they just grew like miniature versions of cabbages. A question about the stalk though, is that edible raw or should it (can it) be cooked? When I buy vegetables I try to use all parts of it (ie radish greens, cauliflower leaves, etc.). It sorta resembles broccoli stalks.

Jannet Fahn

Definitely will have to try this one. I have made the Carmelized Tofu recipe with Brussel Sprouts about 10 times now…this is similar and sounds delicious! Cannot wait to try it!


cannot wait to try this! i’ve already made your golden-crusted sprouts recipe a couple times this season, but i love the idea of adding apples. yes, those stalks are a bit cumbersome for the farmer’s market basket!


Will definitely have to try this one, I absolutely love brussels sprouts and I might even go as far to say they are my favourite vegetable. Looks an interesting and really delicious recipe.

Sarah Bell

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