Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cotija Cheese

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Let’s give Brussels sprouts a new twist that’ll wow everyone at the table! Our Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cotija Cheese recipe turns these little greens into something special. Think crispy sprouts paired with bacon’s savory goodness and a sprinkle of Cotija cheese for that extra zing. Whether you’re whipping up a quick weeknight dinner or looking for the perfect side for your steak night, these pan-fried wonders are your ticket to a super tasty, low-carb treat. Trust me, even those who usually pass on Brussels sprouts will be asking for seconds!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Quick and Easy: On the table in 30 minutes.
  • Flavor-Packed: Smoky bacon pairs with rich Cotija cheese.
  • Versatile: Great with meats or as a stand-alone dish.
  • Low-Carb Friendly: Fits right into a keto lifestyle.
  • Crowd-Pleaser: Even Brussels sprout skeptics will love it!

Ingredients & Substitutions

Heads up: For exact measurements, see the recipe card below.

Making this Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cotija Cheese recipe is a breeze, and it only takes a few simple ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bacon: Smoked or unsmoked, for that irresistible crunch.
  • Ghee: For frying and adding flavor. Avocado oil or bacon grease are good alternatives.
  • Brussels Sprouts: Trimmed and halved, they’re the star of the show.
  • Jalapeño Pepper: Adds a nice, spicy kick. Use pickled for a milder taste.
  • Cotija Cheese: This crumbly cheese brings a unique, salty twist.
  • Sea Salt: Just a pinch to enhance all the flavors.
Can I make this recipe without bacon?

Absolutely! You can try pancetta or some crumbled sausage meat. For a vegetarian twist, skip the bacon or use mushrooms. Just sauté your chosen alternative in the oil before adding the Brussels sprouts.

What can I use instead of Cotija cheese?

Feta cheese is a great substitute, offering a similar crumbly texture and tangy flavor. Grated Parmesan can also work well, adding a different but equally delicious taste to the dish.

How To Make Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts

Fry the Bacon. Begin by heating half of the avocado oil or ghee in a large skillet. Add the bacon slices and fry over medium-high heat until they are cooked through and crisp. Once done, remove the bacon from the skillet, let it cool slightly, and then crumble it into small pieces.

Cut the Brussels Sprouts. Remove any wilted leaves from the Brussels sprouts. Using a sharp knife, halve the Brussels sprouts (or quarter if they’re large).

Crisped up bacon slices.
Halved Brussels sprouts.

Cook the Brussels Sprouts. In the same skillet, using the remaining oil along with the rendered bacon grease, add the Brussels sprouts. If they’re large, cut them in halves or quarters. Sauté them for about 4-5 minutes on each side over medium heat. You’re aiming for a slightly charred and crisp texture on the outside while keeping them tender on the inside.

Combine and Season. Once the sprouts are cooked, toss them back into the skillet along with the crumbled bacon, thinly sliced jalapeño pepper, and crumbled Cotija cheese. Give everything a good mix to ensure the sprouts are evenly coated with all the flavors. Finally, season with sea salt to taste.

Crispy Brussels sprouts in a skillet.
Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cotija Cheese recipe.

Tips for Best Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts

  • Even Cooking: Cut the Brussels sprouts into even sizes for uniform cooking. Halves or quarters work well, depending on their size.
  • Crispy Bacon: Make sure the bacon is crispy before adding the sprouts. This not only gives the bacon the right texture but also renders enough fat for cooking the sprouts.
  • Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: If your pan is too small, cook the sprouts in batches. Overcrowding the skillet can steam them instead of frying, which means you’ll miss out on that delicious crispiness.
  • Watch the Heat: Keep the heat at a medium level. Too high, and the sprouts may char too quickly on the outside while remaining undercooked inside.
  • Season at the End: Add salt after the sprouts have been combined with the bacon and cheese. Both bacon and Cotija cheese are salty, so it’s best to taste and season accordingly at the end.

Storage Instructions

How long will these Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts last in the fridge?

You can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. The flavors often meld and become even more delicious after a day.

Can I freeze pan-fried Brussels sprouts?

Freezing is not recommended for this recipe. The texture of the Brussels sprouts and bacon can become soggy and less appealing when thawed.

What’s the best way to reheat the Brussels sprouts?

To retain the crispiness, reheat them in a skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. You can also use an oven or air fryer at a low temperature to warm them up without making them soggy.

Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cotija Cheese recipe.

How to Serve Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts

This versatile side dish is a crowd-pleaser any time of the year, but it shines especially bright during the holidays. Here are some festive ways to include it in your holiday feasts:

  • With Roasted Meats: Serve alongside classic holiday mains like roasted turkey, honey-glazed ham, or prime rib for a delightful contrast in flavors.
  • As Part of a Holiday Buffet: Add it to a buffet spread with other holiday favorites. Its unique flavor will stand out among traditional dishes like mashed potatoes (here made with cauliflower) and keto stuffing.
  • In a Holiday Brunch: Pair it with quiches, frittatas, or savory breakfast casseroles for a festive brunch spread.
  • As a Topping for Crostinis: For a holiday appetizer, top keto crostinis with a small spoonful of the Brussels sprouts, adding a sprinkle of extra Cotija cheese.
  • New Year’s Eve Party: A great addition to your New Year’s Eve party menu. Its bold flavors pair well with sparkling wines and festive cocktails.

Tools for Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts

  • Large Skillet: Essential for pan-frying the Brussels sprouts to achieve that perfect char and crispness.
Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cotija Cheese recipe.

Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Cotija Cheese

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Upgrade your meals with this mouth-watering side of pan-fried Brussels sprouts, perfectly paired with crunchy bacon and rich Cotija cheese. Quick to make and packed with flavor, it's an ideal choice for a healthy, satisfying addition to any dinner.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Print Pin Rate


  • 4 slices smoked or unsmoked bacon
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil or ghee
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts (trimmed and halved or quartered)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (thinly sliced, or 2 tbsp pickled sliced jalapeños)
  • ¼ cup crumbled cotija cheese or feta
  • sea salt (to taste)


  • In a large skillet, heat half of the avocado oil or ghee over medium-high heat. Add the bacon slices and cook until crispy. Remove from the skillet, let cool, and then crumble into pieces.
  • Using a sharp knife, halve the Brussels sprouts (or quarter if they’re large).
  • In the same skillet, add the remaining oil along with the bacon grease. Place the Brussels sprouts in the skillet, cut side down. Cook over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes on each side until they're slightly charred and crisp.
  • Return the crumbled bacon to the skillet. Add the thinly sliced jalapeño pepper and crumbled Cotija cheese to the Brussels sprouts. Toss everything together to mix well.
  • Season the mixture with sea salt to taste. Serve warm as a side dish to your favorite meals.


Calories: 223kcalNet Carbs: 6.2gCarbohydrates: 10.6gProtein: 9.4gFat: 17.1gSaturated Fat: 4.7gSodium: 418mgMagnesium: 34mgPotassium: 519mgFiber: 4.4gSugar: 2.6g


  • Serving Size: About 5 oz (140 g).
  • Crispiness is Key: For the best texture, ensure the Brussels sprouts are dry before cooking, and don’t overcrowd the skillet to get them perfectly crispy.
  • Jalapeño to Taste: Adjust the amount of jalapeño based on your heat preference. Use less for a milder flavor or more for an extra kick. Pickled jalapeños will be milder than fresh jalapeños.
  • Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in a skillet or oven for best results. Freezing is not recommended as it can affect the texture.

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