How to Make Asparagus in a Frying Pan

Updated: Feb. 15, 2024

We've found your new go-to asparagus recipe: pan steamed and super fast. This method of using a frying pan gives you fresh, flavorful asparagus in less than five minutes.

When you make asparagus side dishes, most recipes suggest you roast the asparagus. This method is super tasty and versatile, but let’s be honest, we don’t always want to heat up the oven and go through all the work. That’s where your favorite skillet or frying pan comes in! You can get that same fresh asparagus flavor (it’s one of our favorite early summer veggies) in a fraction of the time.

How to Make Asparagus in a Pan

To make asparagus in a pan, you can follow the basic protocol in this five-star asparagus salad recipe using about a pound of fresh asparagus.

  1. Start by washing and trimming your asparagus. Be sure to break off the woody ends either by hand using this technique or just slicing them off with a knife. If you want bite-sized pieces, now is the time to chop. If you want whole stalks, your prep work is done.
  2. Then add the asparagus to a skillet with a half cup of water and salt and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the asparagus for one to three minutes—this depends on the size of your asparagus and how tender you like it. And no need to turn or flip the asparagus with this recipe—just let it steam and it’s done.

How do you know when asparagus is done? Asparagus is done when it’s still slightly crisp but tender inside. It should still retain its bright green hue. If you’re unsure, pull a spear out of the pan after a minute and give it a test with a fork (or just take a bite!).

When it’s cooked to your liking, you can remove from the pan with tongs and serve.

How to Add Extra Flavor to Your Asparagus

Plain asparagus can be good to add into your favorite salad or stir into other side dishes, but if you’re serving it solo, it’s easy to bump up the flavor.

  • Lemon: After cooking, you can zest a bit of lemon over the top of your asparagus. It gives it a really bright, fresh flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese: Adding cheese to anything seems to make it better. Sprinkle some shaved parm over the top and add some cracked black pepper for a simple side.
  • Fresh herbs: If you have fresh herbs readily available, use them! Some fresh tarragon, dill or basil would all go great with asparagus.
  • Vinaigrette: Vinaigrettes also make a great topping for asparagus. You can serve up asparagus with a homemade vinaigrette hot or cold. If you go cold, just call it a salad!
  • Flavored olive oil: If you have a favorite infused olive oil, like garlic or citrus, drizzle a bit over the top. It’ll add lots of flavor.
  • Any combination of the above: There’s no reason you can’t add fresh herbs and parmesan or lemon zest and a good olive oil. Experiment and you’ll find your favorite signature side.

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