How to Cook Asparagus

Crisp-tender asparagus stalks bring distinct flavor and freshness to a dish. To ensure perfect texture, it's key to know how long asparagus should boil. Alternatively, you can cook asparagus in the oven for rich, roasted flavor. Our Test Kitchen explains these two different methods for bringing the green to your springtime (or anytime) table.

By Elizabeth Harris, Contributing Editor and James Schend, Food Editor

Freshly cooked asparagus spears

If you think butter's always better, cook your asparagus in the oven with a couple of tablespoons. Going for a light and fresh take? Boiling's your bet. Either way, you're just an ingredient or two away from perfectly cooked spears.

Expert Tips from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen

  • How to choose asparagus: April and May are peak asparagus months. Look for firm, straight, uniform-size spears. The tips should be closed with crisp stalks.
  • How to prep it: Rinse stalks well in cold water. Snap off stalk ends as far down as they will easily break when gently bent, or cut off the tough white portion. If stalks are large, use a vegetable peeler to gently peel the tough area of the stalk from the end to just below the tip. If tips are large, scrape off scales with a knife.
  • Snapping stalk ends off of fresh asparagus spears

    • Storing: It's best to use asparagus within a few days of purchase. For a little longer storage, place bundled stalks upright in a bowl filled with 1 inch of water, like flowers in a vase; refrigerate. Or wrap the cut ends in moist paper towels. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate. To clean, soak asparagus in cold water.
    • Freezing: When fresh asparagus is plentiful and inexpensive, stock up. Blanch, cool and store it covered with water in containers in the freezer. When thawed, it tastes just like fresh-picked.

    How to Roast Asparagus

    You'll need:


    • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
    • Salt and pepper to taste


    • Foil
    • Baking sheet

    1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place 1 pound of asparagus and 2 tablespoons butter on a large piece of foil.
    2. Bring long edges of foil together and fold over to seal. Crimp ends tightly.
    3. Place foil packet on a baking sheet.
    4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender.
    5. Carefully open foil to allow steam to escape.
    6. Season with salt and pepper.
    7. Serve.

    Baking fresh asparagus in foil packets with butter

    How to Boil Asparagus

    You'll need:


    • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
    • Water
    • 1 Teaspoon salt


    • Medium saucepan
    • Colander

    1. Fill saucepan with water (about ¾ full).
    2. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water.
    3. Bring water to a boil.
    4. Boil for 8 minutes, or until asparagus is tender.
    5. Drain in a colander. Do not rinse.
    6. Serve.

    That's it! Simple methods like these let your fresh veggies shine. Whether you need to know how to cook asparagus in the oven, or how to boil it, learning how to cook asparagus spears is deliciously easy. Serve with an extra sunny brunch or as a side with steak or salmon. Soak up the praise.