Last week, I checked a major item off of my life bucket list: to wade in a cranberry bog! I donned a borrowed pair of rubber boots, stepped into the chilly water, and found myself waist-deep in a pool of ruby-red cranberries. The first recipe I made with my haul: Slow Cooker Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup, Cranberries, and Feta.
This post is sponsored by the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association
A year ago when I posted this recipe for Cranberry Chicken, I confessed that visiting a cranberry bog was high on my Wisconsin bucket list. As testament to the fact that the items we post on the internet can, in fact, be found by others, the Wisconsin Cranberry State Growers Association read my post, then invited me out to do it! How cool is that?
Here’s me, getting my cranberry on:
Although Massachusetts is commonly associated with cranberry production, Wisconsin is the true leader. The state grows 55% of the world’s cranberry supply, and most of its cranberry farms are family owned. Cutler Cranberry, the farm I visited, is on its sixth generation of family ownership.
Lisa, one of Cutler Cranberry’s current owners, graciously took me around the farm for a day, loaned me her waders (those sexy rubber boots I’m wearing in the photo above), and shared all about the cranberry growing process with me. I definitely had some misconceptions.
What I Learned About Cranberries
First and foremost, I thought that cranberries were grown in water. Nope! Cranberries actually grow on dry ground in large, sandy plots called beds. The water is used during harvesting only. The beds are flooded and the vines shaken (or “harrowed”—that’s what the tractor in the photo is doing). The cranberries come loose from the vines and float right to the top of the water.
Cranberries are grown for two purposes: either to be enjoyed fresh or to be transformed into familiar favorites like Craisins (dried cranberries), cranberry sauce, and cranberry juice. They’re the highest of all fruits in antioxidants and are low in sugar, sodium, and carbs. Plus, they are delicious. We have so many good reasons to gobble them up!
Although cranberries are often first thought of for sweet uses, (have you made these Melt in Your Mouth Orange Cookies with Cranberries yet?) I enjoy them most in savory dishes, like this slow cooker Brussels sprouts recipe.
Space-Saving Slow Cooker Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables, and I wanted to devise a way to make them easy to serve at holiday meals. Although I love oven roasted Brussels sprouts, if your family’s Thanksgiving is anything like mine, roasted Brussels sprouts would be nearly impossible to execute. Between the turkey, the healthy sweet potato casserole, and the bacon mushroom stuffing, we’re out of oven space. Roasted veggies also can’t be made in advance, since they are designed for immediate serving, and there isn’t a good way to transport them to different gatherings either.
Slow cooker Brussels sprouts, however, can achieve all of the above! They can be prepped in advance, cooked on low or high heat depending upon your timing, and are easy to bring to different gatherings too.
Before I tested the crock pot Brussels Sprouts, I wasn’t entirely certain how I’d feel about their texture in the slow cooker, but I was delighted. The Brussels sprouts kept a nice chew to them (my fear was that they would be mushy—not at all!), and they even picked up the caramelized flavor I love about oven roasting.
I cooked the Brussels sprouts with a bit of maple syrup (the touch of sweetness is divine), then used the fresh cranberries to give them a festive look and extra pop of flavor. The feta cheese is salty, creamy, and makes the Brussels sprouts taste extra special.
If you can’t find fresh cranberries, check the freezer section of your grocery store. Cranberries can last in the freezer for a full year, so grocers will sometimes store them there. You can also swap in dried cranberries for the fresh if you can’t find fresh or simply prefer the dried.
More Delicious Holiday Side Dishes
- Cauliflower Casserole
- Brussels Sprouts Slaw
- Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Crock Pot Baked Potatoes
- Crock Pot Honey Carrots
- Winter Salad with Kale and Pomegranate
- Homemade Scalloped Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Garlic
- Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Maple, Walnuts and Feta
Tools Used to Make This Recipe
- Slow Cooker. This one is perfect for making these Brussels sprouts.
- Sharp Knife. Ideal for slicing the Brussels sprouts.
A warm thank you to the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association for helping me check one more item off of my bucket list. See you next harvest!
Slow Cooker Brussels Sprouts with Maple, Cranberries, and Feta
- 2 pounds Brussels sprouts trimmed and halved
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups whole fresh cranberries see notes to substitute dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Place brussels sprouts into a 3 or 4-quart slow cooker (see recipe notes if using a 6-quart slow cooker). Stir in the maple syrup, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Cover and cook 2 1/2 hours on low or 1 to 1 1/2 hours on high, until the Brussels sprouts are crisp tender but still maintain some chew. Uncover, stir in the cranberries, then recover and cook until the Brussels sprouts are completely tender (but not mushy), about 15 additional minutes on high or 30 additional minutes on low. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve warm.
- To swap dried cranberries for the fresh: stir the dried cranberries in at the very end, along with the feta cheese.
- I have not tried doubling this recipe and cooking in a 6-quart slow cooker, but I believe it should work nicely. You may need to extend the cooking time. I would also recommend stirring every 2 hours to ensure the larger quantity of Brussels sprouts cooks evenly. If you try the recipe this way, please let me know how it goes!
- To prep ahead: Chop all of the Brussels sprouts and place in the slow cooker. Store refrigerated. When ready to cook, proceed as directed. (You may need to add a little bit to the cooking time since the slow cooker will be cold.)
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This post is sponsored by the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue creating quality content for you!