Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
Learn how to cook asparagus! We’ll going to go over how to cook asparagus in the oven, steamed on the stove, sautéed in a pan, and blanch.
I’ll even share a few asparagus recipes to go along with each of the cooking methods.
I think asparagus is one of those vegetables that you either really love or really dislike.
Thankfully, I’m a huge asparagus fan! The moment I see those green little stalks pop up in the grocery store each spring, I become giddy with excitement. I barely make it home and I am shaving some asparagus for a raw asparagus spring salad.
There are just so many things you can make with this vegetable!
Before I jump into all the ways you can cook asparagus, I want to share a little bit of nutrition on this green vegetable.
Asparagus is relatively low in calories and packed with nutritional goodness. It contains iron, zinc, Vitamin C and vitamin K. Asparagus is high in folate, an important nutrient for all of us, but especially those planning on becoming pregnant or pregnant as it aids in brain and spine development.
In addition to being delicious, asparagus is also packed with a prebiotic fiber called inulin that may aid in the health of the gut and improve digestion. I’ve personally been focused a lot lately on gut health and challenging myself to increase both my overall intake of fiber and diversity of fiber.
Since many of you share an interest in gut health, I created a 28-day recipe plan for the book Fiber Fueled and I’ve been trying to practice what I preach (which you can follow along on Instagram). I also just have to share that this book recently became a NYT best-seller, which is amazing! It makes my dietitian heart so happy to see so many people jumping on the fiber plan.
Okay, back to learning how to cook asparagus.
Funny enough, whenever I bring up my love for asparagus, I get asked this question. Um, how do you cook it?
When asparagus is cooked well, it’s fantastic and when it’s not, it’s mushy, smelly, and disgusting. Consider this your prime lesson on how to cook asparagus every which way: in the oven, steamed on the stove, in a pan, and blanched.
Before you start cooking the asparagus, it’s important to clean and prep the asparagus.
Here’s how to do that.
First, add the asparagus spears to a bowl and colander. Run the veggies underneath some cold water to rinse. Then, hold the spear at either end and slightly bend it. The ends will naturally snap off. You can also use a knife to cut off the woody ends of the asparagus.
Once you’ve prepped the asparagus, make sure to dry them off before you start to cook them.
If you are using asparagus raw, like in my shaved asparagus spring salad, then you’ll want to use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave the asparagus. Asparagus can be eaten raw, but because it has such an assertive taste, it needs to be thinly shaved.
To cook asparagus in the oven, heat oven to 425 F and follow the prep instructions listed above.
Add the asparagus to a baking sheet then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Using tongs or your hands, coat the spears and then arrange them into a single layer.
Place the sheet into the oven and roast anywhere from 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned, flipping the asparagus halfway through to ensure even cooking.
My Flavor Tip: Sprinkle the baked spears with shredded parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast to keep it vegan).
One dish I highly recommend making is this spring asparagus tart in the oven. This recipe calls for buttery puff pastry and a delicious homemade garlic spread that works perfectly with the roasted asparagus.
This same method can be used to cook asparagus on a grill using a grill basket or aluminum foil. Rub the asparagus spears with olive oil and seasonings, then place in a grill basket or on aluminum foil onto the grill.
To steam asparagus on the stove, fill a shallow pan with about 1 inch of water and 1-2 teaspoons of salt.
Place a steamer insert over the pan and bring the water to a boil. Put the asparagus in a single layer into the steamer and steam for up to 5 minutes for thicker spears and 3 minutes for thinner spears.
My Flavor Tip: Season the steamed asparagus with your favorite herb seasoning and a drizzle of olive oil.
This recipe for lemon tarragon asparagus uses the steaming method but with a flavorful twist! The spears are dressed with fresh lemon juice and tarragon and combined with the tang of minced garlic and dijon mustard. It’s scrumptious when served with grilled salmon.
To cook asparagus in a pan, cut the spears into 2-inch sections after rinsing and trimming the asparagus.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the asparagus and a pinch of salt. Cook until tender, typically 6-8 minutes for thick spears and 4-5 minutes for thin spears.
My Flavor Tip: Add fresh chopped basil towards the end of cooking. Then, sauté and add a squeeze of lemon juice on top before serving. If you don’t have basil, other fresh herbs like parsley or tarragon work.
One of my favorite brunch recipes uses this method of cooking asparagus in the pan to make vegan eggs benedict. The asparagus spears add a nice bite with the tofu “egg”, tomato slices, and homemade hollandaise sauce. It’s so delicious!
If you’ve ever wondered how to keep that beautiful bright green color, the secret is blanching! Blanching stops enzyme activity and keeps asparagus in it’s natural color, instead of turning brown. Blanched asparagus is fantastic in salads, frittatas, or any dish where you want to keep the vibrant green color.
To blanch asparagus, prepare the asparagus by rinsing, trimming, and cutting into pieces or whole sections.
Next, prepare an ice bath by placing a bunch of ice cubes and water in a large bowl and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil and then add the asparagus to the pot.
Cook for 2 minutes, then transfer the asparagus to the ice bath with a slotted spoon. Once cooled, remove the asparagus and pat dry with a towel.
My Flavor Tip: Blanching is a great way to preserve the green color and flavor of the asparagus. Serve chilled with your favorite dips, like this lemon feta dip, curry dipping sauce, or Instant Pot hummus!
While the 4 cooking methods listed above are some of the most common ways to cook asparagus, there are still a few other ways to do so. We love asparagus in pasta salads, stir-fries, or grilled alongside over veggies in a basket. Take a look at these recipes listed below to try to find new ways to eat asparagus:
Extend the life of your asparagus by placing the spears upright in a glass of 1-2 inches of water in the fridge. This helps keep the spears hydrated and will keep them fresh for up to one week in the fridge.
When you’re ready to cook them, you need to remove the woody ends. To do this quickly, follow the instructions listed above on how to clean and prep the asparagus.
I honestly don’t know if there is a specific “best way” to cook asparagus, but I’m partial to either sautéed or roasted. Long time readers will know I’m a sucker for any vegetable that’s roasted. In fact, I will double any roasted asparagus batch that I make fully knowing that I’ll end up eating half of it before I place it on the table.
If you are looking to dive deep into starting a healthier lifestyle, I just released a new 7-day email course on “The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Protein” with 40 new recipes– and it’s FREE! You’ll learn everything there is to know about plant-based protein options and how to incorporate them into your everyday recipes.
I hope this post on how to cook asparagus was helpful and answered some of your questions. I’d love to know any comments, thoughts, or questions you may have about asparagus down below!
How to Cook Asparagus! Learn the best way to cook asparagus– how to cook asparagus in the oven, sautéed, grilled and steamed.
How to Cook Asparagus in the Oven
How to Cook Asparagus in a Pan
How to Blanch Asparagus
How to Cook Asparagus on the Stove