Foolproof Roasted Asparagus

Roasted asparagus is a tried-and-true staple side dish on my dinner table. I make many variations of roasted asparagus, but this is my recipe for Foolproof Roasted Asparagus. I’ve shared this recipe with friends and family for many years and even my husband, a non-cook if there ever was one, has managed to master it using this method. I really do think it’s foolproof!

While asparagus is at its peak in the spring and early summer, good fresh asparagus can be found year round. I make it for Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and everything in between. I love how quickly I can throw it together, and how quickly it cooks. It’s the perfect side dish to toss in the oven while recently roasted meat is resting so that you have a nice fresh side dish of vegetables steaming hot and ready as you’re serving the main event.

Trimming fresh asparagus.

If you’re completely unfamiliar with cooking fresh asparagus, you should know that this vegetable gets tougher and more “woody” the further down the stem you travel. If you’ve ever been served asparagus that was tough to chew, it’s because someone didn’t know how to prepare it right. So, how should it be done? Well, you have to discard everything but the tender part of the spear. Luckily, nature designed asparagus spears to tell a cook exactly which part should be tossed. When bent, the spears usually break right at the line between tender and tough.

One of the keys to this being a quick recipe is that I don’t mess around breaking each spear of asparagus separately. I test a couple of spears by breaking them and then cut the rest of the bunch to the shortest length of the spears I broke. I may end up cutting off a cumulative inch or two of edible asparagus, but this method saves so much time, I don’t care! I just take the whole bunch and chop it at once with a chef’s knife and I’m done.

Foolproof Roasted Asparagus

3 from 34 votes
Recipe by Add Recipes Course: Sides
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

14

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Asparagus, fresh, any variety

  • 2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon Sea salt

  • Black pepper, fresh ground; to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425° F (220° C). Line baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment or foil.
  • Rinse asparagus. Discard any spears with mushy or squishy tips. Shake off excess water over sink, but do not dry. Place on cutting board.
  • Test 2 or 3 asparagus for desired trim length. To do this, hold a spear by the tip with one hand and by the stem with the other. exerting even pressure, bend the spear until it snaps. Repeat with 1-2 more stems from the bunch. Cut the rest of the asparagus to the length of the shortest broken spear.
  • Place asparagus on pre-lined baking sheet or roasting pan. Pour extra virgin olive oil over asparagus. Toss asparagus in oil until completely covered; it may be easiest to toss it by hand.
  • Sprinkle sea salt and fresh ground black pepper over asparagus, tossing gently to coat evenly.
  • Ensure asparagus lies in single layer in bottom of pan with no overlap.
  • Place pan in preheated oven. Roast for 10-14 minutes or until asparagus reaches desired doneness. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Notes

  • This recipe works for any variety of asparagus, including white.
  • Asparagus spear widths can vary widely from almost needle-thin to the thickness of your thumb. This recipe will work for any width of spear, but use your best judgement for cooking times. Super thin spears may cook faster than time prescribed. Super thick spears may require more time.
  • Any type of sea salt or Kosher salt may be used for this recipe. If using table salt, reduce salt amount to taste.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is recommended as the asparagus finishes cooking before smoke point is reached. Other types of oil, like light olive oil, or vegetable oil may be substituted; taste will change.
  • Oil distributes more easily when asparagus is still damp from rinsing, however recipe will still work with dry asparagus that has already been rinsed and dried.
  • Frozen asparagus is not recommended for this recipe.
Pouring extra virgin olive oil.

This recipe has another odd quirk that may not fit into conventional cooking wisdom. I think this cooking method works best when the asparagus is a little damp when you coat it with oil. Sure, oil and water don’t mix, but for some reason, water does help coat asparagus better. I also think it produces a better roast on the spears. I’m not sure it’s scientific, but I’m convinced.

4 thoughts on “Foolproof Roasted Asparagus”

  1. Asparagus is very popular in France and switzerland where I had it often. They don’t trim it. The tough end is the handle to hold. and they eat it down to the tough part.

    Reply
  2. i loved your information. i believe the water mixes with olive oil and that is why is spreads more eveningly. i use a similiar method only i add garlic powder and do them in the air fryer. delicious.

    Reply

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