How to Cook Asparagus (6 Easy Methods)

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Learn how to cook asparagus 6 different ways! Boiling, steaming, roasting, sauteing, broiling, and pan-roasting are various ways to make the tender green spears pop with flavor. The fibrous vegetable cooks up in minutes, for a healthy side dish.

How to Cook Asparagus

Fresh asparagus spears have an irresistible sweet and snappy texture when enjoyed raw. Cooking the fibrous greens unlocks new flavors. The naturally delicious flavor doesn’t need more than a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. However, the robust texture holds up well to richer sauces like hollandaise, a squeeze of lemon, or more umani and rich sauces in stir-fries.

How to Cook Asparagus

Asparagus can be prepared on the stove, in the oven, or even on the grill if you want to cook outside. The char when broiled adds a hint of smokiness, while steaming keeps them bright green and succulent. The technique selected is all dependent on what taste experience you’re going for, and what is most convenient.

Boiled Asparagus

Boiled Asparagus

  • Add salted water to a large pot.
  • Add asparagus to the boiling water.
  • Cook until bright green and tender, 1 to 3 minutes.
  • Shock in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process if not eating right away.

Steamed Asparagus

Steamed Asparagus

  • Place the asparagus in the steamer basket and cover.
  • Cook on high heat, once steam forms cook until bright green and fork-tender, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Shock in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process if not eating right away.

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted Asparagus

  • Coat the asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Cook on a sheet pan at 400°F (204ºC).
  • Broil for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through.
  • The tips should be browned and spear tender.

Sauteed Asparagus

Sauteed Asparagus

  • Cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces.
  • Saute the spears over high heat in a saute pan with oil or butter.
  • Saute until lightly browned and tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • The same method can be used in a wok to stir-fry the asparagus.

Broiled Asparagus

Broiled Asparagus

  • Set oven to the broil setting.
  • Coat asparagus with oil, salt, and pepper, transfer to a sheet tray.
  • Cook asparagus 6-inches away from the upper heating element in the oven.
  • Broil until the asparagus are lightly browned and tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Pan-Roasted Asparagus

Pan-Roasted Asparagus

  • Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat with olive oil and butter.
  • Add the asparagus and coat in the cooking fat.
  • Cover and cook until the asparagus are bright green and crisp, 3 minutes.
  • Remove cover and turn heat to high.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Sear the asparagus, moving with tongs until browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

How do you select asparagus?

Spring is the best time to purchase asparagus, between February to June, however they are available year-round from international sources. They come in different colors other than green, be on the lookout for purple and white varieties too. Depending on when the asparagus is harvested will determine the size, the wider spears have had more time to grow.

Just make sure to adjust cook time for very thin or thick spears. The long stems should be bright green in color and firm, the tips should be closed, and the skin should have a smooth and rubbery sound when the bunch is squeezed together.

How do you store asparagus?

Store the asparagus in the crisper section of the refrigerator. If not eating within 2 days, trim a ½ inch off the bottoms and wrap in a damp paper towel placed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They can also be placed in a tall jar or cup with about 1-inch of water in the refrigerator and then loosely cover the top with a plastic bag. If the tips begin to get mushy, it’s time to toss them out.

How do you prepare asparagus?

The very bottom of the plant needs to be trimmed because the bottom stem is too tough. The best way to know where to cut the inedible part is holding the center and bottom with your fingertips and snapping in half. That natural breaking point can be used as a guide to trim the rest of the spears.

A vegetable peeler can also be used to shave off the thick outer skin to reduce waste. Make sure to wash the asparagus before cooking, and try them with a towel if you are using dry-heat cooking methods like roasting or sauteing so it doesn’t steam instead of brown.

Asparagus nutrition

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 1 cup (134g) of asparagus contains the following nutrients:

  • 27 calories
  • 2.95 grams of protein
  • 0.12 grams of fat
  • 3.88 grams of protein
  • 2.1 grams of fiber
  • 1.88 grams of sugar

Health benefits of asparagus

It might be surprising to find that this nutrient-dense vegetable, Asparagus officinalis, is a perennial flowering plant. Not only can the bumpy tips be eaten, but the entire green parts of the stem is very tender. It has impressive levels of micronutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, vitamin C, B vitamins, Vit A, vitamin K, and Vit E.

Asparagus also contains flavonoids and polyphenols for strong antioxidant properties. The presence of soluble and insoluble fibers helps with healthy digestion properties, especially with feeding your guts good bacteria. If you’ve ever wondered why a certain distinctive smell appears after eating, it’s just the asparagusic acid. It breaks down to sulfur-containing compounds when digested which are highly volatile.

What are ways to add asparagus to dishes?

View all Asparagus recipes

Can you rehydrate limp asparagus?

Yes! Refrigeration can dry out the vegetable, and since it’s packed with moisture, it likes to be stored that way to stay fresh. If the spears are looking a bit limp, but not old and mushy, it can be rehydrated. Simply trim off a bit of the tough ends, place in 1 inch of water, cover the tips with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The spears should firm up and regain its texture.

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How to Cook Asparagus

Learn how to cook asparagus 6 ways! You can prepare this fibrous vegetable by either boiling, steaming, roasting, sauteing, broiling, or pan-roasting.
Pin Print Review
3.82 from 217 votes
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time15 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients

Boiled Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Steamed Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed
  • Water, enough to cover the bottom of the pot

Roasted Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt, as needed for seasoning
  • Black pepper, as needed for seasoning

Sauteed Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus spears
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon black pepper

Broiled Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt, as needed for seasoning
  • Black pepper, as needed for seasoning

Pan-Roasted Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus spears
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

Boiled Asparagus

  • Trim off the tough bottoms of the asparagus, about 1 to 2 inches.
  • In a large pot add water and salt. Bring water to a boil, and then add the asparagus.
  • Cook asparagus until bright green and fork tender, about 1 to 3 minutes.
  • If not eating right away, transfer asparagus to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Reheat when ready to use and season before serving.

Steamed Asparagus

  • Trim off the tough bottoms of the asparagus, about 1 to 2 inches.
  • Add enough water to the bottom of a pot so that it does not rise above the steamer basket. Place steaming basket into the pot and then the asparagus. Cover and heat on high, water should be steaming.
  • Once the steam builds, cook the asparagus until bright green and fork-tender, about 2 to 4 minutes.
  • If not eating right away, transfer steamed asparagus to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Reheat when ready to use and season before serving.

Roasted Asparagus

  • Set the oven rack in the center position. Preheat to 400°F (204ºC).
  • Trim off the tough bottoms of the asparagus, about 1 to 2 inches.
  • Place asparagus on a sheet tray, coat with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Line tray with foil for easier clean up.
  • Roast for 5 minutes, and then shake the pan a few times.
  • Roast another 3 to 5 minutes, until the asparagus are browned on the edges and tender.

Sauteed Asparagus

  • Trim off the tough bottoms of the asparagus, and then cut into 2-inch spears.
  • Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat, alternatively, use a wok if stir-frying.
  • Once hot, add the olive oil or butter.
  • Add in the asparagus spears and saute until tender and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.

Broiled Asparagus

  • Set the oven rack to the upper position, about 6-inches away from the upper heating element.
  • Trim off the tough bottoms of the asparagus, about 1 to 2 inches.
  • Set oven to broil, use the high setting if that’s an option.
  • Place asparagus on a sheet tray, coat with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Line tray with foil for easier clean up.
  • Broil until the asparagus are lightly browned on the edges and tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Pan-Roasted Asparagus

  • Trim off the tough bottoms of the asparagus, about 1 to 2 inches.
  • Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the olive oil and butter, once the butter is melted add in the asparagus.
  • Use tongs to coat the asparagus in the oil and butter.
  • Cover and cook until the asparagus are bright green and crisp, 3 minutes.
  • Remove cover and turn heat to high. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Sear the asparagus, moving with tongs as needed until browned on the outside, 3 to 5 minutes.

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Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Asparagus
Amount Per Serving
Calories 53 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Sodium 147mg6%
Potassium 229mg7%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 855IU17%
Vitamin C 6.4mg8%
Calcium 27mg3%
Iron 2.4mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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25 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. DAVID W CURLESS says

    Thanks for the cooking instructions. I have tried to boil, grill, and sautee, but never came out that great. I am trying to duplicate my grandmothers from the 1960s, where she used fresh asparagus from her garden, and I believe: hard boiled egg chopped up, and vinegar based dressing, but not sure what else. It was served as a cold salad type dish. (did not know about the ice water to stop cooking, but saw it on a recent show)

  2. ray bd says

    I steam asparagus in a specialisd steamer (method 2). When removing from the steamer, the ends tend to snag in the basket. Leaving the rubber bands in place contols this, but is there a health problem?

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