Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese

I’d like to tell you that this Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese with Bacon is a foolproof side dish that is sure to wow at your Thanksgiving and holiday tables, convince even the staunchest of veggie skeptics to eat their greens, and have everyone begging for the recipe, but (while I firmly believe all of this to be true), I have to confess something else instead.

Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese with Bacon. Creamy, cheesy, and absolutely delicious! One of the best comfort foods for weeknight dinner, Thanksgiving sides, or holiday recipes.

I have absolutely no idea what this would be like as a side because, despite my intentions to serve it as such, we devoured the entire thing for our main meal.

I meant to serve this Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese with chicken, but as soon as he tasted the mac, Ben scooped a huge serving of it onto his plate, gave me a sincere look, and stated matter of factly, “I’m not having any chicken.”

I reacted the way I did whenever my mom made the blue box mac growing up: I piled my plate high with Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese too. I couldn’t let Ben get to it all!

Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese with Bacon. A lightened up main or side dish that's creamy and cheesy!

If ever there were a mac and cheese recipe to eat as a main event, it would be this Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese.

It’s rich, creamy, and tastes over-the-top indulgent. I do truly hope you make it for Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, and every holiday to follow because it will fit right in with the classic spread. Thanks to a few sneaky swaps, however, this mac and cheese recipe is actually far healthier than its creamy, cheesy taste and texture suggests.

Secrets to a Lighter Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese Recipe

In place of heavy cream, I used low-fat Greek yogurt, which gives the sauce the same velvety richness but is far lower in fat and high in protein.

For the cheese, I selected varieties that pack a punch, so a lesser amount goes a long way. My picks are extra-sharp white cheddar, which melts beautifully and has a classic mac-and-cheese taste I adore, along with Parmesan for its savory/salty factor and the way it browns in the oven to give the mac and cheese its tasty golden top.

My final two healthy tricks: I used whole wheat pasta in place of the regular white pasta (undetectable!), and, of course, we have our glorious green, the brussels sprouts!

I am firmly convinced that anyone who doesn’t like brussels sprouts simply has not had tried them cooked properly yet.

If these crispy, caramelized Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts don’t convince you, then this Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese with Bacon assuredly will.

First, we sauté the brussels sprouts with bacon (YUM), then liven them up further with a touch of lemon juice and generous amount of black pepper. Don’t skimp here.

Delish Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese. Creamy, cheese, and topped with bacon!

The lemon might sound like an odd choice, but brussels sprouts crave acid. The lemon also helps cut some of the richness, making it even harder to stop yourself at one serving. The black pepper is lively and gives the Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese true pizzazz.

I decided to create this healthy mac and cheese recipe when a neighbor mentioned that she’d ordered a brussels sprouts mac and cheese at a restaurant and knew I’d love it. I started poking around for recipe inspiration and found it in a cookbook written by one of the food bloggers I admire most, Deb from Smitten Kitchen.

In her latest cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day, Deb has a recipe for a weeknight brussels sprouts pasta bake that she touts as one of her household’s new favorite weeknight dinners. Deb’s recipe goes heavier on the cheese than mine does. I promise this Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese is plenty cheesy; I’m actually glad I didn’t add more. Deb’s version also does not include bacon, which we certainly enjoyed.

Healthy Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese with Bacon. Creamy and cheesy but lightened up with Greek yogurt and whole wheat pasta.

When I first looked at the recipe, I thought that it seemed more of a side dish versus a main, but after witnessing the way Ben and I inhaled it, I can state from experience that it’s a fantastic option for both. Give this Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese a test drive for dinner this week, then make it again to wow your guests at Thanksgiving and beyond!

Recommended Tools to Make Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese

Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese with Bacon. Creamy, cheesy, and absolutely delicious! One of the best comfort foods for weeknight dinner, Thanksgiving sides, or holiday recipes.
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Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese

Yield: 4 servings (as a main or 6 as a side)
Prep Time:
5 mins
Cook Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
55 mins
Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese with Bacon. Creamy, cheesy, and absolutely delicious! Perfect for a comfort food side or weeknight dinner.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole wheat “twisty” pasta — such as gemelli, cavatappi, or rotini (shells, bowtie, and penne all work too!)
  • 4 slices bacon — cut into lardons
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic — minced
  • 1/2 small lemon — zested (about 3/4 teaspoon zest), plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
  • 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 7 ounces 2% Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar — divided
  • 2/3 cup coarsely grated part-skim mozzarella — divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated (ground) Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until 2 minutes short of al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a 2-quart or 9-inch round baking dish with nonstick spray. In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over low heat until it is crisp and the fat is rendered, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir periodically and don’t rush the process. With a slotted spoon, remove the cooked bacon from the skillet and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from the skillet (you may not need to drain the pan at all). Increase the heat to medium high.

  3. While the bacon cooks, trim off the ends of the brussels sprouts and cut them into very thin slices or shave them on a mandoline. Add them to the pot with the reserved bacon fat and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until brighter green in color but barely wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour over the top and stir until blended, about 1 minute more.

  4. Splash in the broth about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly to blend between additions and prevent lumps from forming. Let simmer until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, then the cooked pasta; stir to coat evenly. Stir in the Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

  5. Scrape the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup cheddar and 1/3 cup mozzarella, then the cooked bacon, then the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until bubbly around the edges and browned in spots on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese, Healthy Mac and Cheese Recipe

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1of 4) — Calories: 390, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 23mg, Carbohydrates: 59g, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 7g, Protein: 26g

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Brussels Sprouts Mac and Cheese with Bacon. Creamy, cheesy, and absolutely delicious! One of the best comfort foods for weeknight dinner, Thanksgiving sides, or holiday recipes. #wellplated #macandcheese #healthy

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

20 comments

  1. Ta-Da! I’m not terribly computer savvy but whatever I just did worked – yay! Hope everything stays like this – what I couldn’t understand was that the 2 things are linked and the tablet gets used very seldom. Anyway I can’t thank you enough for all of your help and support.

  2. You had me at “…sauté the brussels sprouts with bacon”.

    As a Thanksgiving side though, you might consider skipping the pasta and the cheese altogether. I know, it sounds crazy but Thanksgiving comes with enough Carbs (stuffing, potatoes, rolls, and pies – gotta have pies). Sneaking a brussels sprout dish in with just bacon, greek yogurt and garlic would be outstanding.

    Give those poor brussel sprouts a chance to shine all by themselves.
    ( Proud member of IBSAS – International Brussel Sprout Appreciation Society. LOL )

  3. This sounds  delish, but we’re not meat eaters. How do you suggest I modify cooking instructions to compensate?  I always LOVE yo ur recipes and even my husband lights up when I tell him our meal is one I found on your blog.   

  4. I can’t  wait to try this!   😊 

  5. I should not be reading this while hungry. I didn’t even get past the title before I decided that I need this. I feel like i NEED these brussels in my life. They sound perfect to bring as a Thanksgiving side dish. If it’s got bacon, I’m all about it!

  6. This looks so good – what do you think about adding cooked chicken to it?

  7. I have never left a comment on a recipe before but this was absolutely phenomenal so I had to! I made it with chickpea pasta and it was amazing. Thanks for the great recipe! 

  8. I wasn’t sure about this one, but WOW!!! is all I can say! I used even a wee bit less of cheese because it just didn’t seem to need it. Love the yogurt and the pop of the lemon. FANTASTIC!

  9. Christine Holmlund Reply

    Wow! This is so delicious and I never would have thought of it. My husband likes it a lot and so do I so we will definitely be having it regularly. I wanted to tell you that after my daughter told me about your website, I was amazed by all the healthy but still delicious recipes you have created. I have made quite a few of them, and I loved them all. My husband does not really love vegetarian fare but has admitted that things taste “pretty good” anyway. So, keep up the good work. I really love your recipes!

    • Christine, thank you so much for this wonderful comment—it made my day! I’m so glad to hear you enjoy my recipes, and I’m happy this particular one hit the spot too!

  10. Good. Better the next day. I prefer my sprouts more simply prepared so the Brussels sprouts stand out more. 

  11. How would you recommend heating this if made prior to serving it? Should I make everything ahead and then just bake it right before??  Going to my sister in law for thanksgiving and trying to figure out best way.  Thanks! 

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