How To Cook Asparagus 5 Easy Ways

Fresh asparagus is quick and easy to cook, and makes any dish 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. Here are five ways to cook asparagus with confidence.

How to Cook Asparagus | Fresh Raw Asparagus

Fresh raw asparagus stalks arrayed from thick to medium to thin. | Photo by Meredith

5 Ways to Cook Asparagus

1) Steamed 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.

How to Cook Asparagus | Asparagus Steamer

Asparagus held tip-end-up in an upright steamer basket | 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) 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 Cook Asparagus | Blanced Asparagus in Ice Water Bath

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) Roasted or Baked Asparagus

A blast of higher heat caramelizes the natural sugars in the asparagus and deepens the flavor. 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. This video for Oven-Roasted Asparagus shows you how it’s done.

How to Cook Asparagus | Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms

Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms | Photo by CookinBug

Recipes to Try:

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

4) Pan-Fried or Sautéed Asparagus

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

How to Cook Asparagus | Pan-Fried Asparagus

Pan-Fried Asparagus | Photo by CookinBug

Recipes to Try:

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

5) Grilled Asparagus

High heat quickly cooks the asparagus and imparts a smoky flavor. You can lay spears directly across the grill grates, corral spears in a grill basket, or grill them in a pan. The video for Grilled Asparagus is all cued up for you.

How to Cook Asparagus | Grilled Parmesan Asparagus

Grilled Parmesan Asparagus | Photo by mommyluvs2cook

Recipes to Try:

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

Top Cooking Tips

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.

  • Asparagus spears range in size from thicker than your thumb to thinner than a pencil. Whatever cooking method you choose, allow plenty of spare spears for testing as you go.
  • 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.


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