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How to Cook Asparagus

Updated March 18, 2020
Cooking asparagus is a snap if you know what you're doing—in fact, it’s one of the easiest vegetables out there to cook!

If you do a little research on asparagus, you’ll quickly learn this “from the Lily plant” veggie is best in the spring and is full of antioxidants. This veggie is also a favorite of Greeks and Italians, so if your ancestral tree has either, you may have eaten a lot of asparagus growing up.

Learning how to cook asparagus isn’t hard—in fact it’s one of the easiest vegetables to cook. But to ensure those at your table actually eat and reap the vitamin benefits, what can you do besides steaming those slim green sticks?

Start with Good Asparagus

On your quest for the best asparagus at your supermarket, look for the rubber-band packed bunches that are bright green with closed tips. If the tips are slightly open, cold water will revive them back to life. Asparagus stalks can be frozen, but when it’s time to use it, cook it frozen. Don’t let it thaw out first or you’ll lose crispness.

Cooking with Asparagus

“Corn cooker” gadgets work great for cooking asparagus. Basically, they are tall and deep stainless-steel pans with chrome baskets and a lid. They also work great for carrot sticks. You can steam, stir fry, boil, grill and even roast them in the oven. The trick with this spring veggie is not to overcook it.

Asparagus should be washed in cold water and the non-tipped ends snapped off. They’re sort of like little twigs and once you’ve snapped one, you’re an expert.

The Easiest Way to Cook Asparagus

The fastest way to cook asparagus is to add about an inch of water to a pan, throw in some salt and bring to a boil. Next, throw the asparagus sticks in and cook no more than six to eight minutes—drain and top with butter, lemon juice, and Parmesan (or similar) cheese.

If you're grilling or baking asparagus, use foil on the grill or the cookie sheet to ensure any toppings or spices you put on stays on. Great spices to blend with butter as toppers for asparagus include chives, tarragon and chervil. For toppings beyond your favorite cheese, yogurt and cream cheese work nicely. Sesame seeds are also a great topping. Finally, nothing beats hollandaise sauce as a topper and dipper.

Creating a stir-fry dish is easy with asparagus—make sure it’s one of the last veggies you put in, so it doesn’t go limp and lose its appeal and crunch.

Asparagus Appetizers

Appetizers using asparagus are always a favorite. You can wrap them in bacon or top biscuits with them.

When thoroughly washed, even raw asparagus is a great complement to any fruit or veggie tray with dill or tarragon dip.