Grilled asparagus makes charred spears with smoky flavor and lightly crisp edges. It’s simply seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Searing the vegetable on hot barbecue grates naturally enhances the sweet earthy flavor. Served with roasted lemon for a bright citrus taste.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate nutritious greens into your diet is to fire up the barbecue and make grilled asparagus. This fibrous vegetable is affordable, easy to prepare, and cooks quickly for a fast side dish. The long spears are ideal for tossing onto sizzling hot grates, which sears it in minutes. The succulent stems turn tender when exposed to high temperatures.
The contrast of the toasted smoky exterior and juicy centers is one of the best ways to enjoy this springtime vegetable. Similar cooking asparagus the other popular ways, seasonings are kept to a minimum with just high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt & pepper to naturally enhance the earthy notes while encouraging quick browning on the surface.
How to grill asparagus
- Trim the tough ends off of the asparagus.
- Coat the spears with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Preheat the grill over medium-high heat.
- Add the asparagus on the grill so it does not fall through the grates.
- Add halved lemons to the grill.
- Cover and cook for 3 minutes.
- Flip over and cook uncovered for 2 to 4 minutes.
- Serve grilled asparagus with roasted lemon.
How to select the right sized asparagus
Make sure to select thicker asparagus spears from the market if available, about ½-inch wide stem. The super skinny spears cook very quickly and are not as sturdy, but can still be used. I recommend just searing one side covered for thinner asparagus, or using a grill pan might work better.
How to prepare asparagus for grilling
Trim off the bottom 1 to 2-inches of the tough part of the stalk that is lighter in color. You can do the quick “snap and break” test to see where the vegetable starts to become more tender to eat. Use this preparation method no matter how you decide to cook asparagus. Evenly coat with extra-virgin olive oil, coarse salt, and freshly ground pepper.
How do you ensure proper grilling of the asparagus?
To nail the charred outside of the asparagus without becoming mushy, the key is to make sure the grill is preheated. A medium-high heat around 350 to 400ºF (177 to 204ºC) will ensure the characteristic brown lines, as long as you don’t move them.
Cover for the first few minutes to efficiently cook the interior, then flip over to get the last bits of sear on the other side. Make sure to reduce the cook times if using smaller sized spears.
Compliment with roasted lemons
The beauty of this dish is that lemons are a delicate built-in sauce to accompany the asparagus. The lemons roast and brown at the same time on the hot grill, mellowing out the tartness.
More grilling recipes
How to ensure beautiful char marks on the asparagus
Even before the asparagus hits the grill, make sure to thoroughly dry them with paper or kitchen towels after washing. Any excess moisture on the surface will cause it to steam instead of immediately searing.
- 2 pounds (908 g) asparagus spears, select larger sized stems
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- Cut off the tougher ends of the asparagus, about 1 to 2 inches.
- Place on a sheet tray and drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Gently mix with hands to evenly distribute the seasonings.
- Preheat grill over medium-high heat, about 350 to 400ºF (177 to 204ºC). Carefully grease the cooking grates using tongs and a paper towel dipped in oil.
- Add the asparagus and lemon halves to the grill, cover and cook until light char marks appear, about 3 minutes.
- Flip and cook uncovered until tender, about 2 to 4 minutes depending on the thickness.
- Transfer grilled asparagus and lemon to a serving plate.