How to Cook Asparagus – 3 Different (and Easy) Ways
Asparagus is one of those veggies I didn’t appreciate until adulthood. My mom loved it – I didn’t get it.
And then in my 20s, I went on an early spring camping trip with friends. We camped next to a lake, in a warm area where young asparagus shot up wild all along the gravel road. We’d go for walks, pick, cook, and devour until one day, a farmer rolled up and suggested we avoid eating our harvest on account of the roadside weed repellents sprayed around there. Kind of ruined our taste for that “wild” asparagus, but in hindsight, I bet he was just wanting all that delicious young asparagus to himself.
Can’t blame him. Because no matter how you cook asparagus – in the oven, on the stove, or on the grill – it’s incredible stuff.
Today, I thought I’d share more about each easy method for cooking asparagus.
Roasting asparagus in the oven is probably my favorite. It gets golden and almost crispy in places, and with a nice sprinkle of kosher salt, I’m basically happy to eat those things like French fries.
And the grill? Oh, how I love to grill asparagus too. It’s so easy, and the result is tender, just-right asparagus with a bit of char. Yum.
I love to boil asparagus when I’m looking for a light, springy addition to salads or when I’m making a simple side of marinated asparagus.
Any which way you cook asparagus, you’ll be happy you did! Guaranteed.
Ready? Here’s how to do it!
Selecting and Prepping Your 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!
To prep, first wash the asparagus. Place the asparagus in a large bowl or clean sink filled with cold water. Drop in the asparagus and swish it around to remove any errant dirt.
Then, do as Elle Woods would do – bend and snap! You 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 also bend and snap your asparagus THEN rinse, of course. Your preference!
Now you’re ready to roast, grill, or simmer!
How to Roast Asparagus in the Oven
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!
Bake, opening the oven to roll the asparagus around once or twice, until golden brown and tender, 15-20 minutes. Add additional salt to taste.
How to Grill Asparagus
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). 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.
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 Boil Asparagus
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. 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 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! Three ways to cook asparagus. What’s your favorite?
How to Cook Asparagus 3 Ways
Got asparagus? (Lucky!) Well, get cooking! Here are three ways to make it happen: Roast it in the oven, char it on the grill, or cook it on the stovetop. Whichever way you choose, they’re all easy and, of course, tasty as heck.
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (if roasting or grilling)
- Salt & pepper if you like
- Wash and prep 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.
- To roast in the oven: 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.
- To grill: 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.
- To boil: 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 in vinaigrette, saute in butter or olive oil, add a pinch of salt … your choice!
Yield: Serves about 4, Serving Size: 1/4 pound asparagus
- Amount Per Serving:
- Calories: 53 Calories
- Total Fat: 1g
More asparagus love:
- Cream of Asparagus Soup – Soup + asparagus = the perfect transition from winter to spring!
- Balsamic Marinated Asparagus – Garlic lovers, come hither.
- Asparagus, Basil, & Cream Cheese Tart – Vegetarian; top individual squares with bacon for the omnivores.
- Lemony Marinated Asparagus – My favorite marinated asparagus, bar none!
- Skillet Asparagus from Julie’s Eats and Treats – Another super-easy way to cook it up.
- 50 (Yes 50!) Delicious Vegetarian Asparagus Recipes from Amuse Your Bouche – The ultimate asparagus round-up.
- 15 Amazing Asparagus Recipes from Gimme Some Oven – Even more asparagus awesomeness!