If you are wondering the best way to make roasted asparagus without it turning mushy, limp and watery you are in the right place! I am going to show you how to roast asparagus, and a simple way of jazzing it up with just a couple simple ingredients.

roasted asparagus on a sheet pan with tongs, herbs and lemon wedges

If you have been following me here at Healthy Seasonal Recipes then you know that I am pretty much obsessed with roasting veggies. I roast them all! From root veggies like fingerling potatoes to Roasted turnips and Roasted Beets to other veggies like roasted cauliflower, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted broccoli and roasted green beans. That’s just a sampling, so you know that I have covered a wide range here!

I have yet to cover the basics of roasting asparagus here on the blog. That has to change today my friends. Since April is the peak of Asparagus season, I knew I would have to share my favorite method for getting perfectly tender and browned asparagus in the oven.

I should say that years ago I shared this recipe for Sesame Roasted Asparagus Salad (which is essentially roasted asparagus with the addition of this easy Asian Sesame Dressing.) But I realize that may be intimidating sounding, or not quite the easy basic side dish you were looking for so I figured that it would be useful to show you my basic formula for roasting the whole spears.

Ingredients Notes For This Recipe

ingredients for roasted asparagus

Asparagus:

You will need two bunches for this recipe. Look for spears with firm tips and ones that are not dried or wrinkled along their stems.

If purchasing the asparagus ahead, keep them in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer. Asparagus is best if eaten within a day or two of purchase.

Olive oil:

Use cooking quality oil for this recipe. Because grilling is high heat, you will not notice any nuance of flavor from a high quality oilive oil, so reserve that for another use, such as finishing off a bowl of Minestrone soup with a drizzle. I like Kirkland olive oil for my everyday cooking olive oil.

Salt and Pepper:

While there are plenty of opportunities to add flavor here, I went with the basics, just salt and pepper. If you have a spice blend or herb blend that you like to use you can add that as well. Note that I call for “salt” which means just regular iodized table salt. Kosher salt is lower in sodium than regular salt and cannot be used 1:1.

Optional Toppings

If you want to jazz up your roasted asparagus with something extra flavorful, I have some great ideas for you. Once it is done, simply arrange it on a platter and add on the toppings.

  • Lemon and Herbs: 1 tablespoon chopped Chives, 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon, ½ lemon zested and juiced
  • Pesto: Thin two tablespoons pesto with 1 tablespoon olive oil (or water for a lower calorie option.)
  • Vinaigrette: Lemon Dressing or Tarragon vinaigrette are two favorites paired with asparagus.
  • Hollandaise: I like to make Greek Yogurt Hollandaise to keep the calories in check.

How To Make Roasted Asparagus

You will need a large rimmed baking sheet for this recipe. I like to use a “half sheet” pan for roasting vegetables.

Oven Temperature

One of the keys to great texture is to get the oven hot before you begin. Preheat it to 450 degrees F (232 C.) This will brown the asparagus quickly as opposed to letting it heat more gradually in a cooler oven. If you heat the asparagus too slowly, the asparagus will be cooked through before it browns.

Asparagus is relatively low in sugars so it doesn’t brown as easily as carrots or parsnips. I mention this because in my recipe for roasted parsnips, I use a cooler oven, as is the case in my Roasted Carrots and Onions recipe which are also high in sugars and would brown too fast before softening all the way through.

Prepare the Asparagus

breaking off woody ends
Step 1. While oven preheats, prepare the asparagus by snapping the woody ends off each stalk.

While the oven is preheating, prepare the asparagus. Rinse and dry the asparagus. Discard any yellowed or wrinkled spears.

The bottom third or so of the asparagus stalk are often quite fibrous and pithy so this needs to be removed.

To find the area of the stalk where it transitions from hard and unpleasant to tender, bend it in half and allow them to break naturally.

Discard the bottoms, and use only the tender upper portion of the asparagus stalks.

Add Seasoning and Arrange In The Pan

spread in a single layer
Step 2. Toss with oil, salt and pepper. Then spread the spears out in a single layer.

Ratio Of Ingredients: For basic roasted asparagus I use the following formula: 2 bunches of asparagus to 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt and pepper to taste. This is the perfect amount to fill one pan without overcrowding.

Why Use Oil: It is important for the oil to coat the asparagus because this is what causes them to brown in the hot oven. It also keeps them moist and prevents them from drying out.

How To Season: Spread the asparagus on the sheet pan, drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Then use your hands to toss them together to allow the oil and seasoning to coat the spears.

Overcrowding causes the vegetables to steam instead of brown, and the asparagus will get too soft before it browns. Spread the spears out side by side so they don’t touch or overlap. I usually run some laterally along the top so everything fits better.

How Long To Roast

If you have thin asparagus spears they will cook faster than fatter and thicker spears so there is quite a range of cooking time.

Thin Spears

Spread them out into a single layer. If they take up too much space, feel free to use two sheet pans.

Roast them for four minutes. Use tongs to flip them over and then continue roasting for four more minutes on their second side. If you have some of the really really thin spears that are occasionally available, they may need even less time!

Test to see if they are tender and add on a couple minutes if they are still pretty crisp.

Thick Spears

For fatter asparagus stalks, you will need a little bit more time. I found 7 minutes per side was perfect for average sized asparagus, and chubbier ones can take even more.

Flipping and Stirring Vs Not

I should mention that it is not 100% necessary to flip asparagus when you roast it. It is so fast that it won’t really matter too much to the final product.

If you find this too cumbersome, you can skip it all together because it can actually prevent them from browning well if it takes you too long. That’s because the heat escapes out of the oven and they will start to steam. Moisture from steaming will inhibit the browning, so it’s best to avoid that!

I usually just do a quick little roll, and some of them roll some don’t. It will all work out.

To Finish and Serve

Once the asparagus comes out of the oven, it is ready to be eaten. You can eat it just the way it is, or you can use one of the above flavor combos I mentioned. Today I used lemon and herbs, because they are delicious, springy and add flavor without additional calories.

plattering the asparagus with garnishes

Make sure to remove the asparagus from the pan and transfer it to serving plates or a platter before you add anything acidic. Because aluminum is reactive, it should not come in contact with ingredients like vinaigrette, hollandaise or lemon.

Recipe FAQs

Why did it get mushy or stringy?

This is most likely a case of the asparagus cooking too long. To prevent this, make sure your asparagus is dry before you start. Coat it well with oil. Additionally, it is not overcrowded on the pan and the oven is good and hot. With really fresh asparagus, straight from the garden, less cooking time is better!

Can I use parchment?

I find that the asparagus browns best if it is directly in contact with the hot metal of the pan so I don’t recommend using parchment for roasting asparagus.

Should I peel the stalks?

It is not necessary to peel the bottom third of the stalks with a vegetable peeler. While it looks pretty, it will not affect the texture of the final dish. What is more important is to snap off the tough bottom part of the stalk before cooking them.

Why Does The Lemon Make the Color Fade?

Lemon and asparagus taste great together, but it or other acidic ingredients should be added at the last minute, just before serving, because the asparagus will quickly turn from bright green to faded brownish army green. When the asparagus is cooked the lemon reacts with the chlorophyll in the cells of the asparagus.

a platter of roasted asparagus with lemon zest, herbs and lemon wedges

More Asparagus Recipes

Thank you for reading! If you make this recipe please come back and let me know by leaving a star rating and review!

Happy Cooking!

~Katie

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roasted asparagus on a sheet pan

Roasted Asparagus

  • Author: Katie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 18 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

If you are wondering the best way to make roasted asparagus without it turning mushy, limp and watery you are in the right place! I am going to show you how to roast asparagus, and a simple way of jazzing it up with just a couple simple ingredients.


Scale

Ingredients

2 bunches asparagus, pithy ends snapped off

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lay asparagus on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and then spread out into a single layer.
  2. Roast the asparagus, rolling them over once if desired, until crisp tender, 8 to 12 minutes for very thin to thin spears and 13 to 15 minutes for thicker spears. Serve immediately.

Notes

For additional flavor, top the roasted asparagus with any of the following combinations:

  • Lemon and Herbs: 1 tablespoon chopped Chives, 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon, ½ lemon zested and juiced
  • Pesto: Thin two tablespoons pesto with 1 tablespoon olive oil (or water for a lower calorie option.)
  • Vinaigrette: Drizzle on 3 to 4 tablespoons favorite vinaigrette.
  • Hollandaise: Drizzle with 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup fresh warm hollandaise sauce.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6th batch
  • Calories: 50
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 3 g