How to Cook Asparagus on the Stove

By Holly Bieler
Updated on 01. Mar. 2021

Cooking asparagus on the stove is super easy and cuts down the cooking time dramatically compared to cooking in the oven. Check out below for how to pan-roast, steam and saute asparagus perfectly every time.

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Asparagus is one of the most versatile and delicious vegetables around. It’s slightly nutty, deeply savory flavor pairs beautifully with any number of ingredients, from roasted meats to eggs, cheeses and pretty much any other vegetable around. It’s also a rich source of powerful nutrients, including vitamin A, which has been shown to help lower your risk of certain types of cancers, vitamin K, which supports blood and bone health, and vitamin C for a healthy immune system.

What’s more, asparagus is incredibly versatile, with numerous cooking methods that each bring out distinct and varied flavors and textures from the vegetable. Below, we’ll highlight how to steam and pan-roast asparagus, two of the most popular methods for preparing asparagus, and neither of which require turning on your oven. Each is super simple and most take less than 20 minutes.

Table of contents

  1. Preparation
  2. How to Steam Asparagus
    1. How to Cook
    2. How to Serve Steamed Asparagus
  3. How to Pan-Roast Asparagus 
    1. How to Cook
    2. How to Serve Pan-Roasted Asparagus
  4. How to Saute Asparagus
    1. How to Cook
    2. How to Serve Sauteed Asparagus


Start by rinsing your asparagus under warm water and toweling dry. Next, you’ll want to remove the woody lower stalk, which has a dense texture and bad flavor. To do this, simply hold the asparagus at both ends and gently apply pressure. The stalk will naturally break off where the rough lower portion ends. Those pieces can be discarded. Now you’re all set to cook your asparagus!

How to Steam Asparagus

Steaming is the healthiest way to cook asparagus. This method doesn’t require the addition of fats like butter or olive oil, and the steaming process acts to retain more of the vitamins and minerals in the asparagus than any other cooking process. The resulting asparagus will have a bit of a crunch, crisper texture and more mild flavor, making it a perfect addition to frittatas. Remember, you’ll need a collapsible steamer basket for this recipe.

How to Cook

Place your steamer basket in a large saucepan, add about an inch of water, and bring to a boil. Add your asparagus (about 1 pound is ideal for steaming in a large pan) to the steamer, cover, and cook for about 4-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks. Cook until the asparagus is still crisp but fork-tender. 

How to Serve Steamed Asparagus

Steamed asparagus’ mild flavor make them a delicious side next to more flavorful fish or meat dishes. Simply drizzle with some olive oil and lemon and season with some salt and pepper for a super simple side. Steamed asparagus’ slightly heartier, crunchy texture means they also hold up extremely well with additional cooking. Throw some chopped steamed asparagus in your frittata or with your scrambled eggs, and they’ll cook long enough to soften a little while still imbuing your dish with tons of flavor and crunch.

Steamed asparagus are also a great make-ahead meal prep ingredient, as they hold their texture will in the refrigerator and the flavor can be greatly varied depending on what seasonings you add to them.

How to Pan-Roast Asparagus 


Lemon Asparagus Chicken

Pan-roasting is one of our favorite ways of all time to cook asparagus. This method really brings out the woody, rich asparagus flavor more than many other cooking methods, and yields a texture that just can’t be beat, with a creamy center and delicious, brown crispy edges. This makes it perfect in recipes that require a little more flavor, or as the centerpiece ingredient in an appetizer. 

Even better, roasting asparagus in the pan versus the oven helps to retain more of the vegetable’s natural nutrients.

How to Cook

When it comes to roasting asparagus in the pan, you’ll basically be fulfilling two cooking functions: first, the asparagus will cook slightly in the water. Once the water’s evaporated, it will roast up in the dry pan to produce its characteristic crispy edges and rich flavor. The secret is making sure to leave enough time for each stage, but not overcooking it at either step.

To begin, place your asparagus in a large saute pan with about .5” of water and a drizzle of olive oil. Aim for about 1 pound of asparagus, in order to ensure even cooking. Cook uncovered at medium-high heat until the water has nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Using tongs, turn the asparagus onto their other side and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes, making sure to rotate the asparagus every 1-2 minutes, until their crispy yet tender, and slightly-browned.

How to Serve Pan-Roasted Asparagus

Pan-roasted asparagus have a creamy/crunchy texture and deep savory flavor that makes them perfect in more rich dishes. Serve them simply with a Hollandaise sauce for an elegant, French-inspired appetizer that goes perfectly before steak or lamb dishes. Or simply add a pat of butter, some grated parmesan cheese and some salt and pepper for a perfect side dish. Pan-roasted also add delicious flavor to vegetable-rich pastas and soups.

How to Saute Asparagus

Bacon-Wrapped Sauteed Asparagus

Sauteing asparagus gives you the best of both worlds, producing a stalk that has the crunchy bite of steaming with the more rich, savory flavor characteristic of roasting. You can also really cook to your taste preference, cutting down on time for a more crunchy asparagus or adding a few minutes for a more well-done, creamy stalk.

How to Cook

Melt butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add your asparagus. If you want, you can add additional seasonings here such as minced garlic, sesame seeds, rosemary, etc. 

Cover the asparagus and cook for about 10 minutes stirring halfway through, until spears are tender but still vibrant-green. If you’d like your asparagus more creamy than crunchy, you can always reduce heat to medium and cook covered for 5-10 more minutes, until your ideal texture is achieved.

How to Serve Sauteed Asparagus

Sauteed asparagus’ slight crunch yet developed flavor makes them an excellent ingredient in salads. Their texture also pairs beautifully next to softer foods like mashed potatoes or meat or nut loaves.

Who needs an oven to cook asparagus? With our how-to, all you need is a stove and pan, a bushel of delicious asparagus and no more than 15 minutes to whip the perfect appetizer or side dish no matter the time of day. 

Want to know how to cook asparagus another way, or have a suggestion for the next installment of our How To Cooking Basics series? We'd love to hear from you! Shoot us an e-mail at

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