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For all the Brussels Sprouts Haters - what don't you like about them?

I know that many love Brussels Sprouts but they are also a vegetable that has a long reputation of being detested by some I guess similar to cilantro and the classic vegetable that no one wants to try. I know that they have discovered a gene which makes them taste intensely bitter to some (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blo...) but is this the reason you hate Brussels sprouts? For all the Brussels sprouts haters, what is it that you hate?

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  1. So I have that gene, too? Huh. Yes, they are really bitter to me. And I like cabbage and broccoli, so am not averse to the whole family. But brussels are not for me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Violatp

      Well I just roasted my first brussels sprouts and I think I'm with you in this category. I love cabbage like really love it and broccoli as well but something about the sprouts I don't like.

    2. This is true. Unfortunately, sometime people cannot handle the truth. :)

      One time someone said that she could not taste bitterness from a certain vegetable, and I said it is due to a gene difference and that she cannot taste. She took it as a personal attack (which makes no sense to me) and responded very aggressively.

      I hope you don't get that.

      For me, I love brussels sprouts. Another thing to notice is that many people taste for bitterness goes down as they age. What tastes very bitter at young age may only taste mildly bitter. This explains why many people starts to like to eat broccoli, brussel sprouts...etc as they get older.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I didn't like brussel sprouts as a kid but love them now. Of course, my mom's way of cooking them was pretty bland so that was part of it.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I didn't eat any of these things for 15-20 years. Brussels sprouts just beat out the cauliflower on the longest hold out.

        2. I don't know about the "bitter gene" but for most people who are averse to Brussels sprouts, IMO the reason is the same as why so many folks don't like broccoli and liver -- those items turn from good to really bad if they are overcooked, and it is easy to overcook them, taking only a minute or two too long on heat. On top of that, many/most of us grew up with mothers who weren't skilled cooks and if they even prepared those items they overcooked them -- same problem in other settings such as school cafeterias. Consequently many if not most people have formed their negative taste/opinion about sprouts, liver, etc. based on poorly prepared examples. Is it any wonder?

          5 Replies
          1. re: johnb

            I'll kinda/sorta go along with you. But. A couple of years ago we dined at a VERY highly touted restaurant and a CH friend raved about the BS. Said even her BS-hating husband loved them. They weren't awful. But we still didn't like them. As far as liver, I've tried every chicken or calves liver that anyone said "oh, you'll like MINE." Yuck. Now, foie gras - get out of my way. 'Course that tastes nothing like 'normal' liver. Boo hoo, we finished the last of our two lobes for the 25th anniversary on April Fools Day.

            1. re: c oliver

              Pate and liverwurst are not remotely like liver. Well, maybe remotely, but while I don't like liver, I LOVE liverwurst and pate. LOVE.

            2. re: johnb

              I'm sure that's true for some people and for some foods, but I can tell you I've tried Brussels sprouts in a huge variety of ways (heck, I grew up in a town that had its own Brussels sprout festival), and I just don't like them.

              I even tried them again after a long period of ignoring them when our CSA gave them to us a few years ago. Tried them raw, tried them lightly blanched. Guess what? They still sucked. They are bitter little hell-pellets and I hate them. And this is perfectly okay.

              1. re: Isolda

                Bitter Little Hell-Pellets would be a good band name.

                1. re: Isolda

                  I've always called them 'nasty little cabbages', but I like bitter little hell-pellets better.

              2. I never thought sprouts were bitter. Rather, I thought they were boring. I would chew them and chew them and try swallowing them without gagging. That was back here on the east coast.

                These days, I love quality sprouts. Most San Francisco restaurants roast/grill/fry sprouts to a high order. I go out of my way to order them when I'm in town.

                1. I adore roasted brussel sprouts but even a fan like me doesn't care for their lingering odor. They taste great but I don't want my home to smell. So, we roast, enjoy and wash the pan almost immediately and any scrapes go directly to the compost pile buried deep!

                  1. They are too much like cabbage. Cabbage used to mess with my stomach, but Mom would force me to eat them anyway. My change of life also changed my stomach and now I love them, especially broiled. But I totally understand and wouldn't question someone who'd refuse them. They are NOT easy to digest.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: coll

                      Cabbage also wrecks havoc with my stomach - instant 9 month pregnancy belly in 30 minutes. I love it though so I just put up with it and keep a nice pile of Gas X around...all for the good eats right? Oh perhaps, that's bordering on pathologic. I never thought that as they are in the same family they probably have a similar effect and your point is definitely a good one.

                      1. re: coll

                        They look like little cabbages as well, although I know someone who loves cabbages and hate brussel sprouts. When I said brussel sprouts are like little cabbages, she called me crazy.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          No, they are definitely baby cabbages. I will testify for you.

                        2. re: coll

                          They actually ARE cabbage. Same species (Brassica oleracea), just a different cultivar. Also true of broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, collards, kale, and numerous others.

                          1. re: johnb

                            Believe me, my stomach knows.

                        3. They're bitter, and I don't like that "green" cabbage taste. I despised them as a kid and only just tried them again a few weeks ago. I ate them, but their flavor needed to be masked with a sauce.

                          1. Arugula has the same bitterness to my palate but they're not the same family, so that's odd. But either one is like eating a plate of weeds to me.

                            Huh. I googled and it seems I was wrong. Arugula IS in the same family!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Violatp

                              This is such an interesting discussion. Arugula tastes fresh and lemony and definitely peppery to me-- but not bitter!

                              1. re: Violatp

                                I absolutely love arugula, kale, broccoli, cauliflower -- this is a list of my favorite vegetables -- and absolutely hated brussel sprouts until recently, when I roasted them to the point they were almost burnt, and they were delicious. I felt that hate for cabbage as well, then learned to saute it with apples and lots of butter, and like that very much. My mother always boiled brussel sprouts and cabbage until soft and flabby, and the bitterness was overwhelming. But don't get me started about rutabagas and turnips, off topic. Cannot, will not, ever grace my mouth, though I have tried these again in my adulthood. Interesting, though, that arugula is a cruciferous. I never would have thought.

                                1. re: Violatp

                                  I can't stand arugula, either. Too too too bitter and awful.

                                2. I didn't like them when I was little because I was probably served them overcooked, and I hated the smell... but they never tasted bitter to me. I also hated most of the brassica family for the same reason, although broccoli was doubly evil because of the texture. Interestingly enough, a few years ago, I started craving them and now Brussels, and cabbage and broccoli and cauliflower are among my favorite vegetables. I'm in my 20s now so maybe there is something about our taste buds that change with age?
                                  It may also be of note that the shift also occurred when I started living on my own and began shopping and cooking for myself. I remember coming home from the farmers market with so many vegetables that I thought I didn't like, but had been tempted to buy because they looked so pretty!

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      Yup!!!!!!!!!!! I guess the Discovery of Roasting Vegetables might have been another turning point in my journey.

                                      They are also good steamed and then finished in a pan with bacon. :-)

                                    1. When I was a kid, I did eat cabbage (reluctantly), but REALLY disliked Brussels Sprouts. My mother, who tried to get me to eat everything, couldn't understand how I could eat one and not the other. I told her it was as if someone had miniaturized a cabbage, but all the taste of that cabbage was concentrated in this smaller version. She accepted that explanation and never tried to get me to eat them again. For the last 30 years or so, I've grown to like them a lot; especially roasted with a few drops of balsamic vineger.

                                      1. Well...my son just had a science project. He had some kind of paper that we were supposed to put on our tongue and see if we could taste anything. Yep...disgusting...bitter! Our whole family could taste it, but my sister couldn't taste it at all.

                                        I have no idea what my ability to taste bitterness has to do with liking Brussels sprouts, but I LOVE THEM! I'm also a huge lover of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage - all good in my world. I don't care if they're roasted / boiled / grilled / raw...whatever...bring 'em on!

                                        1. I think they're bitter almost to the point of sour and always have. But after trying them majorly roasted and with a lot of strong flavors with them (capers, anchovies, lots of salt, bacon, whatever), I started to like them more. I still can't eat them just boiled and plain, but I can eat them roasted. I think it's something that's an acquired taste for some people and you have to work pretty hard to get your palate to like them. I worked on it and now I really do like them, but I can still taste the bitter and sour taste in them, it's just that my taste buds became acclimated to the taste and now I enjoy it.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                            Too bad that so many of us first experience them boiled with little seasoning. That was my introduction to them back when I was a kid. I thought they were quite possibly one of the most disgusting things I'd ever tasted. Now, my taste buds have changed and I do enjoy them, as you say, with strong flavors.

                                            1. re: tcamp

                                              I doubt they even had brussels sprouts in the town I grew up in. Too "exotic." I think I only had them from a bag and then boiled, which is pretty bad.

                                            2. re: rockandroller1

                                              I still can't eat them just boiled and plain, but I can eat them roasted.


                                              The bitter compounds in brussels sprouts are broken down by exposure to high heat. The temperature required is higher than can be obtained by boiling or steaming. Additionally the caramelization during roasting brings some sweetness to help balance the remaining bitter notes.

                                              1. re: kmcarr

                                                I finally had a friend make them in such a way that I look forward to fresh brussel sprouts.

                                                Grate or hash 1/2 lb BS

                                                Add 1/2 lb seasoned bread crumbs

                                                Moisten with 1/4 lb melted butter

                                                Mix in 1 lb grated parmesan and bake.

                                                Couldn't taste the damn things at all.

                                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                  a POUND of grated parm?


                                                  At that point, why bother with the sprouts at all? And, agreed, this sounds like the perfect recipe for them. :-)

                                                  1. re: Violatp

                                                    Normally, this would be one of my tongue in cheek responses, but it is the actual recipe.

                                                2. re: kmcarr

                                                  Indeed. I still can't eat them boiled, though I rarely see them that way.

                                              2. I've always loved them but my husband is a life-long BS Hater. Then I found the 5-star recipe for Roasted BS and he loved them roasted! (I've been able to convert him to many good veggies over the course of our marriage). We scarfed a healthy serving, thrilled that we would now add Roasted BS to our repertoire.

                                                Until about an hour later... We both burped the nastiest BS burps for HOURS afterwards. Awful awful. The burps were worse tasting than the vegetable itself. We're so disappointed. We MAY try them again after some beano but I'm not hopeful.

                                                1. I hated them growing up...could not take the gross bitter rotten taste....As I grew up I always wanted to try them again and bought several batches only to let them sit in the refrigerator without any attempt to try them. Last week I got my gumption up and cut them in halves and steam fried them, added olive oil and garlic...they still tasted gross! My grown up daughter suggested some balsamic dressing on them to counteract the bitter. i did that in the pan and still hated it left them in the pan when guests came over for dinner..one helpful friend put my mistake in a serving dish on the table much to my horror!
                                                  Well let me tell you they were a hit! The bowl was empty
                                                  with people asking me for my secret! I tasted my daughter's serving and it was GOOD!!!

                                                  1. Bitter gourd is bitter and I love it deep fried. Brussel sprouts aren't bitter to me. They just don't taste very good.