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'The best thing I cook': Jenna Bush Hager shares how she makes her Brussels sprouts

Smoky and sweet, Jenna's signature sprouts couldn't be simpler to make.
"My sprouts are the best thing I cook," Jenna told Hoda.
"My sprouts are the best thing I cook," Jenna told Hoda.NBC / Getty Images

Thanksgiving will look different this year, but Jenna Bush Hager said she is still planning to make some of her favorite dishes.

Staples like pumpkin pie and turkey will still be on the menu — Jenna said her husband Henry will be in charge of preparing the bird — and she'll also be making her famous Brussels sprouts.

"My sprouts are the best thing I cook," she told Hoda Kotb during Wednesday's "Unscripted" segment on TODAY's fourth hour. "... That's my contribution to Thanksgiving."

Jenna explained that, to make the side dish, she puts Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan with thinly-sliced apples, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and turkey bacon. If you're looking to add some "extra fanciness," she recommended topping with scallions.

Once prepped, Jenna said she then bakes them until they're crisped and cooked all the way through. (We recommend roasting them at 400 F for 35 to 40 minutes.)

"There's nothing worse than a hard Brussel," she said, before sharing a funny anecdote about her first time trying Brussels sprouts.

"When I was little, I went to Luby's Cafeteria, my favorite place to go for dinner, with my mom and my sister," Jenna explained, referencing a Houston-based restaurant chain. "I was like, 'A Brussels sprout! I've never had one!' Because they weren't popular in the '80s. They have their heyday now. And they were broiled, the whole Brussel sprout. My mom was like 'So get some!' So with my Luann's Special (value meal), I got some Brussels sprouts, some full ones, and I couldn't swallow them. We said I had a 'Brussels sprout popper-upper,' because every time one went down, it came back up."

Hoda said that, for her own family's Thanksgiving, they'll be keeping it low-key, but it'll be her fiancé Joel Schiffman's first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

"Joel hasn't ever made Thanksgiving dinner because we've always had my family come in and everyone else has always cooked, or else we did FreshDirect for other things. We didn't cook," Hoda explained. "So Joel said, 'Can I cook this year?' And I said, 'Oh my gosh.' He already made his list. I don't even know what's going on there."

Hoda said that her favorite Thanksgiving dish is simple: cranberry sauce straight from the can.

"The one thing I love on Thanksgiving is the cranberries in the can," she said. "I don't like when it looks like a bowl of cranberries. I like it sliced thick, and each bite should have some turkey, some gravy, some stuffing, some mashed potatoes."

If you're looking to venture outside the can this year, unlike Hoda, here are some from-scratch cranberry sauce recipes — perfect for pairing with Jenna's signature sprouts.