How to Cook Asparagus

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Learn how to cook asparagus six different ways: Boiling, steaming, oven-roasting, sauteing, broiling, and pan-roasting. Each method makes the tender green spears pop with flavor. The fibrous vegetable cooks up in minutes for a healthy side dish.

How to cook asparagus tutorial.

Fresh asparagus spears have an irresistible sweet and snappy texture when enjoyed raw, but cooking the fibrous greens unlocks new flavors. This is the ultimate guide for how to cook asparagus like a pro! It can be prepared on the stove, in the oven, or even on the grill if you want to cook outside. The selected technique depends on what taste experience you’re going for and what is most convenient.

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 rich sauces like hollandaise, a squeeze of lemon, or more umami-rich sauces in stir-fries.

“So impressed by the number of ways you showed to cook asparagus. Your recipes are so easy to understand!”—Carolyn S.

Boiled Asparagus

Boiled asparagus being lifted out of a pot of water with metal tongs.

Method #1: Tenderize the spears quickly. It takes a few minutes to boil salted water, then once boiling, it only takes 1 to 3 minutes to tenderize. It’s ready when the spears are vibrant green in color.

It’s a popular technique to pair with a poached egg on top for brunch or a gourmet side dish served with hollandaise sauce. If meal prepping, use the blanch and shock method that I use to cook green beans.

Steamed Asparagus

Steamed asparagus cooked in a large pot with a red rubber steamer basket.

Method #2: Place the asparagus on a steamer basket and cover it, then crank the heat up to high. Once the steam is generated in the pot, it only takes 2 to 4 minutes to become bright green and tender.

I prefer this method because it uses less water, and the cooking time is faster than boiling. If not served immediately, the spears can be transferred to an ice water bath. Steamed spears are a great side dish, but they also pair well with mayonnaise, ranch dressing, or green goddess dressing for dipping.

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted asparagus spears on a sheet pan.

Method #3: Coat the asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them into a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 400°F (204ºC) for 10 minutes until tender. You can line the pan with foil or parchment paper for easy clean-up.

Cooking asparagus in the oven yields a flavorful browned surface and the ability to add seasonings or parmesan cheese. I use this method when making bacon-wrapped asparagus and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. Roasted asparagus pairs well with a juicy steak, lobster, or baked chicken breast.

Broiled Asparagus

Broiled asparagus on a sheet pan.

Method #4: I like to broil the asparagus for a charred, smoky taste similar to grilled asparagus. Set the oven to the high broil setting, emitting temperatures of 500 to 550 degrees. That’s very hot! Season the spears with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add to a rimmed baking sheet, then season with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

The spears cook about 6 inches from the oven’s heating element. Monitor for doneness; it only takes about 8 to 10 minutes until browned and tender. I often serve this with my broiled salmon for a quick and easy meal.

Sauteed Asparagus

Sauteed Asparagus

Method #5: One of the fastest cooking methods is on the stovetop. Cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces. Sauté the asparagus in a skillet in olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes until the surface is lightly browned and the spears are tender.

I wait to add salt until the end to prevent a mushy texture as sodium dries moisture. If you want to add butter, turn off the heat and melt some in the pan at the end. The same saute method can be used to stir-fry the asparagus in a wok.

Pan-Roasted Asparagus

Pan-roasted asparagus

Method #6: If you don’t feel like heating your oven but want a similar roasted flavor, try pan-roasted asparagus on the stovetop. It starts by covering and cooking the spears in a saute pan over medium-high heat with olive oil and butter.

It’s a two-part process: The spears steam for about 3 minutes until bright green and crisp-tender. Then, the heat is turned to high, and the spears are seared for 3 to 5 minutes until the surface browns. This is great to serve with pan-seared salmon or seared scallops.

Picking asparagus

Spring is the best time to purchase asparagus, between February and 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. The size will depend on when it was harvested; the wider spears have had more time to grow.

Adjust the cooking 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.

Storing asparagus

Store fresh 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. They should be good for up to 5 days.

You can also place them in a tall jar or cup with about 1 inch of water and store them in the refrigerator, loosely covered with a plastic bag. If the tips begin to get mushy, it’s time to toss them out.

How do you prepare asparagus?

To prep asparagus for cooking, trim the fibrous and chewy bottom stem. Hold the center with one hand and the bottom with the other and bend until you find the breaking point, which will naturally snap. It’s a great guide for trimming the rest of the spears.

A vegetable peeler can also shave the thick outer skin to reduce waste. Make sure to wash the asparagus before cooking. Dry them with a towel if you are using dry-heat cooking methods like roasting or sauteing to prevent steaming so that the spears can brown quickly.

Health benefits of asparagus

It might be surprising 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 are 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 with strong antioxidant properties. The presence of soluble and insoluble fibers helps with healthy digestion properties, especially with feeding your gut good bacteria. If you’ve ever wondered why a distinctive smell appears after eating, it’s the asparagusic acid, which breaks down into highly volatile sulfur-containing compounds.

Ways to add asparagus to dishes

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to cook asparagus?

Cook time depends on the thickness of the stem. Boiling and steaming take 1 to 4 minutes. Roasting and boiling, about 8 to 10 minutes. Sauteing smaller pieces requires about 5 minutes. Pan-roasting about 6 to 8 minutes. Grilling, 5 to 7 minutes.

Is it better to blanch or steam asparagus?

The moist heat cooking methods of blanching and steaming give similar taste and texture results. It enhances the natural sweetness of the vegetable, achieving a tender texture. Blanching is faster, about 1 to 3 minutes. Steaming takes 2 to 4 minutes once the steam is generated. However, blanching uses more water.

What are easy ways to enhance the flavor of asparagus?

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese for a nutty flavor and savory taste. Grate lemon zest on top and serve with fresh lemon juice. Season the spears with garlic powder or onion powder for an allium flavor. Saute with minced garlic for an earthy taste. Garnish with chives, tarragon, or basil.

Can you rehydrate limp asparagus?

Yes! Refrigeration can dry out asparagus. They can be rehydrated if they look limp but not old and mushy. Trim off a bit of the tough ends, place in 1 inch of water, and cover the tips with plastic wrap, then refrigerate overnight. The spears should firm up and regain their texture.

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.
4.75 from 324 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Boiled Asparagus

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

Steamed Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus spears
  • Water, for steaming

Roasted Asparagus

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

Broiled Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus spears
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • black pepper, for seasoning

Sauteed Asparagus

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

Pan-Roasted Asparagus

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

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Asparagus – For all the methods below, start by trimming off the fibrous bottoms of the asparagus, about 1 to 2 inches. If sauteing, cut them further into 2-inch long pieces.

Boiled Asparagus

  • Boil the Asparagus – In a large pot, add water and salt. Bring to a boil, and then add the asparagus. Cook until bright green and fork tender, about 1 to 3 minutes.

Steamed Asparagus

  • Steam – Add enough water to the bottom of a pot so that it does not rise above the steamer basket. Place the basket into the pot, then add the asparagus. Cover and heat on high until steam forms. Once the steam builds, cook until bright green and fork-tender, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Roasted Asparagus

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack in the center position and the temperature to 400°F (204ºC).
  • Season – Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Place asparagus on top, coat with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Roast – Cook for 5 minutes, and then shake the pan a few times. Continue roasting another 3 to 5 minutes until the asparagus is browned on the edges and tender.

Broiled Asparagus

  • Heat the Broiler – Set the oven rack to the upper position, about 6 inches away from the upper heating element. Set oven to broil, use the high setting if that’s an option.
  • Season – Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place th asparagus on the tray, coat with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Broil – Cook the asparagus until lightly browned on the edges and the spears are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Sauteed Asparagus

  • Saute – Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil. Add the asparagus pieces and saute until tender and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pan-Roasted Asparagus

  • Cover and Cook – Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted, add the asparagus and use tongs to coat. Cover with a lid and cook until the asparagus is bright green and crisp, 3 minutes.
  • Pan-Sear – Remove the lid and turn the 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.

Notes

  • Meal Prep: Transfer boiled and steamed asparagus to an ice water bath. This will stop the cooking process immediately. Season after reheating. 
  • Storing: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Freeze for up to 2 months.
  • Reheating: Microwave in 15 to 30-second increments until hot.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 53kcal (3%)Carbohydrates 4g (1%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 3g (5%)Sodium 147mg (6%)Potassium 229mg (7%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 2g (2%)Vitamin A 855IU (17%)Vitamin C 6.4mg (8%)Calcium 27mg (3%)Iron 2.4mg (13%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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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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41 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. 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?

  2. Rennie Devison says

    Hi Jessica,

    I am learning how to cook healthy, and many times I can’t even pronounce the ingredients I need to cook, lol. I had no idea how to cook asparagus, as I usually get the canned stuff. You’re article was simple and easy to understand. I am now looking through the kitchen to see if we have something to steam with. I’ll boil it this time.

  3. Brenda Steele says

    Thank you….I have been afraid to buy aspearus because I did not know how to cook it.
    I will let you know how I do

  4. Lara M says

    I’ve been roasting & grilling asparagus for a couple of years. I’m never quite satisfied with the texture though. I’ve tried your sautéed version twice now & I’m in love! No way will I ever go back to another method of cooking.

  5. Valerie C. says

    I made the pan roasted asparagus as a side dish to go with dinner tonight. Instead of salt and pepper I used Morton’s Nature’s Seasons and it’s amazing! I’ve never been a big fan of asparagus, there’s only been a few times someone has prepared it in a way I liked and this was my first time preparing it myself. Thank you for the wonderful directions and recipes Jessica!

  6. Carolyn Smith says

    So impressed by the number of ways you showed to cook asparagus. Your recipes are so easy to understand

  7. Michel says

    Hi Jessica
    Of course these asparagus recipes are for green asparagus. I prefer the thick ones.
    For the white asparagus (I have a French origin, and in the south of Alsace, one of the good lands for cultivating them, each year I was inviting friends in Spring at the asparagus season to a white asparagus party with Parma ham and Hollandaise sauce or lightly curry spiced mayonnaise mousseline sauce, I had them fresh picked by the farmer at the farm), the cooking time is much more (between 10 to 20 minutes depending of the thickness) and the peeling has to be really well done. So bad that in the USA they don’t cultivate them, and the white ones from Mexico or Peru are just awful.
    Thank you for your very nice recipes.

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