Asparagus is one of those veggies I didn’t appreciate until adulthood – and I definitely didn’t know how to cook asparagus. My mom loved it; I didn’t understand. But then in my 20s, someone cooked some ultra-fresh, just-picked asparagus, lightly blanched, with a bit of butter and salt. Lightbulb + TRUE LOVE.
No matter how you cook asparagus – roasted in the oven, grilled on the BBQ, or blanched on the stove – it’s incredible stuff.
Today, I thought I’d share my three favorite easy methods for cooking asparagus. Which is the best way to cook asparagus? That depends on you: try all three, and let me know!
Table of Contents
- How to Cook Asparagus – Overview
- How to Select Asparagus
- How to Wash Asparagus
- How to Cut Asparagus
- How to Roast Asparagus in the Oven
- How to Grill Asparagus
- How to Blanch Asparagus
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Asparagus Deliciousness
- Full, Printable Recipe
- Reviews & Comments
How to Cook Asparagus – Overview
All methods covered here have their merits, but for me, roasted asparagus is probably my fave. It gets golden and almost crispy in places, and with a nice sprinkle of sea salt, I’m basically happy to eat those things like French fries.
And the grill? Oh, how I love grilled asparagus too. It’s so easy, and the result is tender, just-right asparagus with a bit of char. Yum.
I love blanching asparagus when I’m looking for a light, springy addition to salads or when I’m making a simple side of marinated asparagus.
Really, any which way you cook asparagus, they’re all good!
How to Select Asparagus
When buying asparagus, go for firm (not limp) stalks. Try to avoid bunches with split ends or that are too browned on the ends – that means they’ve been on the shelf for awhile. Thin stalks or thick? That’s up to you and what you like best. They’re both good to me!
How to Wash Asparagus
To wash asparagus, place it in a large bowl or clean sink filled with cold water. Drop in the asparagus and swish it around to remove any errant dirt.
How to Cut Asparagus
The great news is, you don’t even need to cut asparagus (though read on for an easy trick for knowing where to cut, if you like). Just bend and snap! You just want to discard the woody ends of the asparagus. Grab the end of the spear with one hand and grasp just above the middle with the other. Then just bend until it snaps – the asparagus will naturally break at the right place. Discard the end.
You can bend and snap all of your spears, or bend and snap just one, then line them up on your cutting board and trim all of your spears on the same spot that the first piece broke off. Easy!
Now you’re ready to roast, grill, or blanch!
How to Cook Asparagus in the Oven (Roasting)
Roasted asparagus is tender, slightly browned and crisp on the ends, and addictingly snack-worthy. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry your asparagus by rolling it around on a kitchen towel. Place the asparagus in large a bowl and drizzle with olive oil – I use about 1 tablespoon of oil per pound of asparagus. Add a couple of pinches of salt (I like kosher salt) and toss gently with your hands until all of the asparagus is coated.
Spread the asparagus on a large rimmed sheet pan – a single layer is best!
How Long to Cook Asparagus in the Oven?
Bake, opening the oven to roll the asparagus around once or twice, until golden brown and tender, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and add additional salt to taste.
There you have it: Perfect roasted asparagus!
How to Cook Asparagus On the Grill
Grilled asparagus is smoky, tender, and delicious with a bit of caramelized char. Yum! To grill, dry the asparagus by rolling it around in a kitchen towel. Place the asparagus in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil – about 1 tablespoon per 1 pound of asparagus. Add a pinch of salt and toss until coated.
Lay spears on a grill heated medium-high (about 450 degrees).
How Long to Cook Asparagus on the Grill?
Close the grill for a couple of minutes. Open and turn asparagus with tongs. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, turning once or twice more, until the asparagus is tender and charred in spots.
Serve, adding another sprinkle of salt if desired. Grilled asparagus is soooo good!
A note about smoke points
If you’re concerned about your olive oil reaching its smoke point, a good alternative is avocado oil. But I never have a problem with olive oil. I just avoid roasting or grilling with extra-virgin olive oil, which does have a lower smoke point.
How to Cook Asparagus: Blanching
Blanched (quickly boiled) asparagus is crisp-tender and perfect for adding to salads or marinating for a delicious appetizer.
To blanch it, fill a large pot with water, and also fill a large bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes. Place the pot over high heat. Bring to a boil and add the asparagus.
How Long to Boil Asparagus?
Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the asparagus is just tender. Using tongs, immediately transfer the asparagus to the bowl of water. The cold water will help to stop the asparagus from cooking.
Remove from water and serve your blanched asparagus however you like! You can marinate it or give it a light saute in butter or olive oil – a sprinkle of kosher salt and you’re good to go.
There you have it! Roasted asparagus, grilled asparagus, and blanched asparagus. What’s YOUR fave?
Frequently Asked Questions
When is asparagus in season?
Asparagus is a spring vegetable.
How long does asparagus last in the fridge?
It depends on how fresh it was when you got it, but a general rule of thumb is about one week in the fridge.
How to store asparagus?
To keep it fresher longer, some people trim the ends and place the asparagus ends-down in a cup of water then cover with a loose Ziploc or produce bag and fasten with a rubber band.
What does asparagus taste like?
Green asparagus reminds me in taste and texture of green beans, but with a sharper flavor. It’s grassy and with a bit of earthiness and even sweetness.
Can I freeze asparagus?
Yes. You would want to blanch it first, then place into freezer bags. Press out as much air as possible, seal, and transfer to freezer. But keep in mind that the texture will be more mushy than if you prepared your asparagus from fresh.
How long to cook asparagus?
If you’re roasting in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, about 15-20 minutes. For grilling asparagus, cook for about 5 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re blanching, boil for 2-3 minutes.
How much asparagus should I serve per person?
Well, that depends on how hungry everyone is! A good rule of thumb, for medium spears, is about six per person (1/4 pound) as a side.
Is asparagus good for you?
Asparagus is considered a nutrient-dense food, with folate; vitamins A, C, E, and K; fiber and iron (just under 2 mg of iron per 6-spear serving).
Are there any other ways to cook asparagus?
Yes! You can sauté asparagus – simply heat a bit of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, then add the asparagus. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender – 5 to 10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the stalks). You can also cook it in the microwave by placing clean and trimmed spears in a microwave-safe dish and covering with plastic wrap (poke with fork to vent). Cook on high for about 3 minutes until vibrantly green and tender (but not mushy!)
More asparagus goodness
How to Cook Asparagus (Roasted, Grilled, or Blanched!)
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (if roasting or grilling)
- Salt & pepper if you like
Prep Your Asparagus
- Place in a large bowl or clean sink filled with cold water. Drop in the asparagus and swish it around to remove any errant dirt. Discard the woody ends of the asparagus by grasping the end of the spear with one hand and just above the middle with the other hand, then bend until it snaps in half. Discard the woody end.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry asparagus by rolling around on a kitchen towel. Place asparagus in large a bowl and drizzle with olive oil – about 1 tablespoon per pound of asparagus. Add a couple of pinches of salt and toss until coated. Spread the asparagus on a large rimmed sheet pan – a single layer is best! Bake, rolling the asparagus once or twice, until golden brown and tender, 15-20 minutes (check after 10 minutes if your asparagus is very thin). Add additional salt to taste. Serve.
- Preheat grill on medium-high, about 450 degrees. Place asparagus in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil – about 1 tablespoon per 1 pound of asparagus. Add a pinch of salt and toss until coated. Lay spears on the grill. Close grill for a couple of minutes then open and turn asparagus with tongs. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, turning once or twice more, until the asparagus is tender and charred in spots. Remove from grill and serve, adding more salt if desired.
- Fill a large pot about halfway with water. Fill a large bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes, then set aside. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until just tender. Using tongs, transfer asparagus to the bowl of ice water. Dunk a few times then remove from water and finish however you like – marinate; saute in butter or olive oil; add a pinch of salt … your choice!