How to Boil Asparagus

Want to boil asparagus? Here’s how long it takes until it’s perfectly cooked! All you need is a skillet with just 1 inch water.

Boiled asparagus

Want to boil asparagus? You’re in luck: this method for cooking it is fast and easy…and healthy, too. Sometimes boiled vegetables lack flavor or come out soggy: but not here! You’ll boil the asparagus in just 1 inch of water until it’s crisp tender. This method makes the most of this bright green spring vegetable. Season with a little butter, lemon and salt, and it’s a deliciously quick side dish.

Before we start, a few similar methods…

Before you start, let’s make sure you’re in the right method.

  • Did you want blanched asparagus? It’s boiled in a big pot, then thrown into ice water: perfect for freezing or for using in salads. Go to Blanched Asparagus.
  • Don’t mind using your oven? Roasted Asparagus or Broiled Asparagus are even more delicious…and don’t take too much longer to put together. We like them even better.

Still want to boil it? Let’s go! Keep reading.

How to boil asparagus

How to boil asparagus

When you boil asparagus, there’s no need to fill a huge pot of water. Nope, you’ll just boil it in 1 inch of water in a skillet. It makes for an extremely quick method. Here’s the most important part: don’t be tempted to overcook it! Over-boiled asparagus turns stringy and yellow green. Make sure to taste test often while you’re in the process. Here’s what to do:

  • Trim off the woody ends of the asparagus. See below for more!
  • Boil 1-inch water in a large skillet.
  • How long to boil asparagus? Cook it 3 to 5 minutes, until just tender, depending on the thickness of the spears. Very thin spears take about 3 minutes, and very thick spears take about 5 minutes. Taste test with a fork so you can pull it the moment it’s ready!
  • Drain and season. Simple butter and lemon is perfect. More ideas are below!

Trim the ends before boiling

Here’s a tip for every time you cook asparagus: no matter what recipe you’re using. Chop off the woody, tough ends! The method we use is much easier than snapping off the ends, which can be time consuming. Here’s what to do:

  • Line up the asparagus spears so they’re all facing the same way.
  • Chop off the ends right where the green portion of the stem starts to turn to white (or light purple).
How to cut asparagus

How to season boiled asparagus

Another thing to know when you boil asparagus: you’ll need a decent amount of seasoning to make it taste great. Here’s what we use as our basic method to make a healthy side dish, then some ideas for making it even fancier:

  • Butter, lemon and salt: All you need to add pizzazz is a little butter and lemon, and just enough salt to make it pop. See the recipe below! You can also add…
  • Shredded or grated Parmesan: Parmesan is a fantastic flavor pair with asparagus.
  • Feta cheese crumbles: Feta also makes a lovely garnish.
  • Chopped chives or fresh thyme: Both pair well with the earthy flavor of asparagus.

This side dish pairs perfectly with so many different dishes: salmon, shrimp, pasta, risotto, and more. How do you season your asparagus? Let us know in the comments below.

Storage info

Once you boil asparagus, how long does it last? It’s good for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, stored in a sealed container. Or, you can freeze it right away and store it 3 months or more! Typically we like blanching it before freezing, but this method for boiling is very similar.

How long to boil asparagus

More ways to cook asparagus

There are lots of ways to cook this tasty veggie! Our absolute favorite method is not this one: it’s Broiled! Yep, toss it in your broiler and it cooks in just 5 minutes, with charred and tender edges. Here are a few other ways we love to cook these bright green stalks:

This boiled asparagus recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Boiled asparagus

How to Boil Asparagus


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Want to boil asparagus? Here’s how long it takes until it’s perfectly cooked! All you need is a skillet with just 1 inch water. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut off the tough bottom ends of the asparagus
  2. Add 1 inch of water to a skillet and bring it to a boil.
  3. Add the asparagus and cook until just tender and bright green, about 3 to 5 minutes depending on thickness: 3 minutes for very thin and 5 minutes for very thick. 
  4. Remove from the heat and drain. Toss with the butter or olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. 
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: Vegetables

Keywords: Boil asparagus, how long to boil asparagus, how to boil asparagus

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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