Skip to main content

How to Cook Asparagus 6 Easy Ways

Fresh asparagus is quick and easy to cook, and makes any meal feel just a little more special. No wonder we love it when asparagus season hits and the price drops so we can eat all the asparagus we can hold. We'll show you how to cook fresh asparagus six simple ways, complete with top tips and recipes to try.

 

6 Ways to Cook Asparagus

1. How to Steam Asparagus

Asparagus is held in a basket to cook gently over steaming water. You can use an upright steam basket (shown below) or a collapsible steam basket. Steaming is good for cutting calories, as it requires little or no fat.

 

101406161-asparagus-steamer-photo-by-meredith-650x465

Asparagus Steamer | Photo by Meredith

This video for Simply Steamed Asparagus shows you how to steam whole asparagus using a collapsible steam basket:

Recipes to Try:

John's Raspberry Asparagus
Farfalle with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon
Lemon Asparagus Risotto


More: Learn what to look for in a food steamer, and shop for the right steamer for you.


2. How to Cook Asparagus on the Stove

Boiled or Blanched Asparagus. Asparagus is cooked very quickly in boiling water until it's fully or partially cooked. If you're not serving the asparagus immediately, plunge it into a pan of ice water to halt the cooking. This will also preserve the bright green color. Some recipes call for partially cooking — or blanching – the asparagus, icing it, then finishing the cooking later.

How to Boil Asparagus

Place trimmed asparagus in a skillet large enough to hold the asparagus and enough salted water to cover by about 1/2 inch. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook until just tender, testing frequently.

 

100899508-boiling-asparagus-photo-by-meredith-650x465

Boiling Asparagus | Photo by Meredith

Icing Asparagus to Stop the Cooking

Drain the cooked asparagus and place it in a large bowl or pan of ice water.

 

102039901-blanched-asparagus-in-ice-water-bath-photo-by-meredith-650x465

Blanched Asparagus in Ice Water Bath | Photo by Meredith

Recipes to Try:

Chef John's Asparagus Tart
Asparagus with Tomatoes
Cold Asparagus with Curry Dip


3. How to Cook Asparagus in the Microwave

Place asparagus in a microwave-safe dish with 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on high for about 3 minutes. Stir, and microwave for another 2 to 3 minutes until the spears are firm but tender. Drain and cool.

Recipes to Try:

Microwave Asparagus Salad
Asparagus Avocado Medley Evonne Style
Asparagus Soup


4. How to Cook Asparagus in the Oven

The blast of heat caramelizes the natural sugars in the asparagus and deepens the flavor.

How to Roast or Bake Asparagus

Note that roasting could brown the spears, and they won't appear to be as plump as when they're steamed or blanched. Yet, the enhanced flavor is worth it.For this method, place the asparagus in a single layer on a shallow pan and cooked in the oven at high heat. This video for Oven-Roasted Asparagus shows you how it's done.

 

217469-roasted-asparagus-and-mushrooms-photo-by-cookinbug-650x465

Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms | Photo by CookinBug

Recipes to Try:

Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms
Roasted Asparagus Prosciutto and Egg
Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan


5. How to Cook Asparagus in a Pan or Skillet

Asparagus is cooked in oil or butter in a skillet, as in this video for Sautéed Garlic Asparagus.

 

214328-pan-fried-asparagus-photo-by-cookinbug-650x465

Pan-Fried Asparagus | Photo by CookinBug

Recipes to Try:

Pan-Fried Asparagus
Asparagus with Sliced Almonds and Parmesan Cheese
Stir-Fried Sesame Asparagus


6. How to Cook Asparagus on the grill

Cooking asparagus on the grill is quick and easy, and adds a delicious smoky flavor to the finished dish.

How to Grill Asparagus

You can lay trimmed and seasoned asparagus spears directly across the grill grates, corral the spears in a grill basket, or grill them in a pan. Don't walk away, because they're ready in a flash.

 

102180751-grilling-basket-photo-by-meredith-650x465

Grilling Basket | Photo by Meredith

 

The video for Grilled Asian Asparagus is all cued up for you:

 

Recipes to Try:

Grilled Parmesan Asparagus
Grilled Soy-Sesame Asparagus
Bacon-Wrapped Sriracha Asparagus


How to Prepare Asparagus for Cooking

Before you try any of the methods for cooking asparagus, you'll want to trim up the asparagus stalks. Trimming asparagus is a "snap." To remove and discard the tough woody ends of the stalks before cooking, you can just cut them off with a knife. But what’s more fun is to use your hands to snap the stalks in two. They naturally snap at about the point where the woody part begins. Once you've snapped your asparagus, you can line them up and give the ends one last neat trim, if you'd like.

 

102050862-trimmed-asparagus-photo-by-meredith-650x465

Trimmed Asparagus | Photo by Meredith

To Peel or Not to Peel

How to Peel Asparagus

Asparagus spears range in size from thicker than your thumb to thinner than a pencil. If your asparagus is on the thicker side, you might want to peel the woody stalks with a vegetable peeler. Some cooks also like to trim off the tiny leaves on the stems. But unless they're very spiky, you can leave them on.

 

101500310-peeling-asparagus-photo-by-meredith-650x465

Peeling Asparagus | Photo by Meredith


Top Tips for Cooking Asparagus

Tender asparagus is so easy to cook, and even easier to get wrong. It can go from bright green and tender-crisp to limp and mushy in a flash. Here's how to avoid overcooking your asparagus.

  • Allow plenty of extra spears for testing as you cook.
  • No matter which cooking method you choose, the residual heat will continue cooking the asparagus. Remove it from the stove/grill/oven when it's almost done to your taste.
  • If you're blanching and reheating asparagus, remove it from the boiling water when it's still a bit more crisp than you like. The reheating will finish cooking the spears.
102180744-grilled-asparagus-photo-by-meredith-650x465

Grilled Asparagus | Photo by Meredith

Try this recipe: Grilled Lemon Parmesan Asparagus

Get our entire collection of Asparagus Recipes.


Related

About Vanessa Greaves

Good food, friends, and fun are always on the menu. Find me as foodelicious on Allrecipes and vanny.gee on Instagram (but only if you don't mind cat pics and cocktails).