Ingredient Study: Asparagus Cooking Methods, Prep & More

Asparagus is a nutritious, interesting vegetable that some people love and some people hate. As a kid, I have funny memories of eating the tops of the asparagus, and my mom telling me “eat the whole thing!” I would not be convinced, haha. Asparagus has a unique flavor and texture. If you want to learn more about this (plus lots of other interesting facts) keep reading!

cast iron cooked asparagus

What is asparagus?

Asparagus is a green vegetable largely known for it’s thin stalks with pointy spear-like tops. It is usually green, with purple undertones, and it’s scientific name is Asparagus officinalis.

While asparagus used to be classified in the lily family, it has currently been moved to it’s very own family of vegetables, simply called the Asparagaceae (a genus).

Interestingly, there are over 300 species of asparagus, but we only eat one of them—the Asparagus officinalis. Other species of asparagues are usually grown as decorative plants, not for consumption.

cast iron asparagus with lemon

What does asparagus taste like?

It is very difficult to describe the taste of asparagus. Growing up, it was not a favorite flavor of mine, LOL—though I’ve learned to like it much more with some extra seasonings on it (see the recipe at the end of this post for my favorite way to eat it!

The best way I can think of to describe the taste of asparagus is a distinct flavor that is a bit grassy. It definitely has a bitter undertone. This is why I like it best with other flavors like lemon and parmesean. These help to prevent the bitterness from becoming overpowering.

Some people say asparagus tastes like broccoli or green beans. It is difficult to say definitively that it tastes like one of these, because the flavor can change a lot depending on how it is cooked (or if it is eaten raw!)

Personally, I think asparagus has a flavor all its own. It is not too similar to other vegetables to me.

Of course, the best way to figure out how asparagus tastes is to try it for yourself! You can experiment with different methods of cooking to see how the flavor changes, and which way you like it best.

How do you get the bitter taste out of asparagus?

My favorite way to mask the bitterness is by adding other ingredients. Cooking in olive oil and adding seasonings like lemon and parmesean seem to do the tricky nicely!

How to Prep Asparagus

Before you cook off your asparagus, you’ll want to prep it. Start off by washing it.

Then, snap off the woody ends. If you bend the asparagus near the base, it will actually snap in the right place!

From here, you can cook the asparagus as is, or you can cut it up more. With thicker asparagus, it can be nice to slice it on the bias before cooking. This makes it easier to eat, and pretty!

How to Cook Asparagus

There are a variety of ways you can cook asparagus. Let’s talk about each one and when you would use it.

1. Saute

It is very common to saute asparagus. Just get that pan up to a high heat, add some fat, and cook it off!

However, sauteing alone works best for thin asparagus. If your asparagus is thicker, I recommend using a different method.

2. Blanch & Saute

The next method is a combination cooking method. You start by blanching asparagus (drop it in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then transfer to a bowl of ice).

While you could serve it like this, what I like to do next is saute it up in some butter or oil.

This is the perfect way to prep asparagus. You can do the blanching step earlier in the day, let it sit in the fridge, and then “wake it up” by sauteing it when you’re ready for dinner.

Note that this is a great method to use for thicker asparagus.

3. Roast

Another common way to cook asparagus is by roasting in the oven!

Simply spread the asparagus in a single layer on a sheet tray. Drizzle with oil and add salt + desired flavorings.

Asparagus is usually roasted at a higher oven temp – around 400 to 425 degrees. Simply leave the asparagus in until it start to brown slightly and is tender. The amount of time will depend on the thickness of the asparagus.

Asparagus FAQ

Can you freeze asparagus?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze asparagus! The best method of doing this is to blanch the asparagus first, then flash freeze on a sheet tray, then transfer to ziploc freezer bags. While you don’t technically have to blanch first, this step will help preserve the asparagus longer.

Can you eat asparagus raw?

Yep! Asparagus is not dangerous when eaten raw – though most people seem to prefer it cooked.

Do you have to peel asparagus?

No. In general, peeling asparagus before cooking is not necessary. It will add a whole lot of extra time to the cooking process. However, some people claim that peeling asparagus is the key to making it easier to chew. You may want to try it both ways and see what you like better.

Do you cook white asparagus the same as green asparagus?

Yes, white and green asparagus can be prepared using the same cooking methods! The main difference in these veggies (besides color) is that white asparagus can be thicker. You will need to trim off more from the bottom of white asparagus than green.

How do you know when your asparagus is cooked?

Perfectly cooked asparagus should be tender enough to stick a fork through, but not limp and mushy. Mushy asparagus is overdone. But asparagus that cannot be pierced easily with a fork is underdone. You are looking for something right in the middle!

Should asparagus be crunchy or soft?

A little of both! The key is making sure it is not TOO crunchy that you can’t stick a fork through or TOO soft that it becomes mushy. Trust me, no one likes mushy asparagus.

What does asparagus go well with?

Asparagus goes well with a variety of flavors and dishes. Common pairings include asparagus + bacon, asparagus + parmesean, and asparagus + lemon.

Bad Asparagus

Before cooking your asparagus, you might wonder if it’s been in the fridge a little too long. I tend to buy asparagus and forget it’s in there. So how do you tell if asparagus is bad? That’s the questions we’re answering here.

How to tell if asparagus is bad

Two ways: the appearance, and the smell. Does your asparagus look wilted or limp? Is there mold or any fuzziness on the spears? Is it slimy? Does it smell bad? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, your asparagus is probably not fit to be eaten.

How long is asparagus good in fridge?

Generally, asparagus doesn’t last a super long time. To ensure the best freshness, be sure to use it in 3-5 days from when you first put it in the fridge.

asparagus in cast iron pan

Delicious Cast Iron Asparagus Recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Sides
Cuisine American
Servings 3 servings
Calories 300 kcal


  • 12 oz asparagus
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Parmesean sprinkled on top


  • Put oil in the cast iron pan and let it begin to heat up.
  • While pan is heating, rinse asparagus and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut off a few inches of the ends.
  • Add asparagus over high heat and cook for about 2 minutes undisturbed, then stir and cook for another minute.
  • Add minced garlic, salt, and pepper and cook for another 2 minutes, or until browned.
  • Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl and add to the pan. Stir and continue cooking until liquid dissolves, about a minute.
  • Turn down the heat and allow asparagus to continue cooking until just done. Do not overcook.
  • Turn heat off and sprinkle parmesean cheese over the top. Let it rest for a minute until cheese in melted, then serve immediately.


  • If you want to make this on the AIP diet, omit pepper and and parmesean cheese.


Calories: 300kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


Asparagus is a unique vegetable with an interesting flavor like none other. It can be cooked in a variety of ways and paired with a number of ingredients for a delicious veggie dish! So now it’s your turn. Get yourself some asparagus and start experimenting to see how you like it best!

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