Bright green, juicy, and packed with flavor, steamed asparagus is a delicious and healthy side dish you can make in less than 10 minutes with basic ingredients.
The asparagus turn out incredibly tender and buttery, and they keep all their flavor thanks to the gentle steaming.
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Asparagus is one of our favorite vegetables to steam. Their flavor blossoms and they get tender and juicy. You can serve steamed asparagus as they are, with a pinch of salt, a twist of freshly ground black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
Their texture is soft, buttery, and juicy, and we think this is the best way to appreciate pure asparagus flavor.
If you want, you can also serve them with olive oil or butter. We usually go for either extra virgin olive oil or dairy-free vegan butter. The fruity flavor of extra virgin olive oil is a perfect match with asparagus. You’ll just need a few drops.
To make them even tastier, you can drizzle quick and easy maple syrup and mustard vinaigrette. The sweet and tangy flavor makes steamed asparagus a fancy side dish.
Asparagus: fresh asparagus are best for this recipe. You can also use wild asparagus if you can find them at your local farmer’s market. White asparagus is also great for steaming.
Salt and pepper: we only add salt once they are cooked. Sea salt, kosher salt, or Maldon salt flakes are best. Salt brings out the asparagus flavor even more. A twist of freshly ground black pepper makes them fragrant.
Extra virgin olive oil: fruity, aromatic, and packed with antioxidants, a few drops of extra virgin olive oil make steamed asparagus even more delicious.
Lemon juice: lemon and asparagus are a really good match. Try squeezing a few drops of lemon on the steamed asparagus to boost their flavor. Olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper combined are our to-go dressing for this recipe.
Butter: traditionally, asparagus is served with butter. We prefer to use either extra virgin olive oil or vegan butter, which fit this recipe well as they add a velvety mouthfeel which some people love.
Mustard vinaigrette: to make this a fancier recipe, serve them with a simple vinaigrette made with maple syrup, mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. You can also add a clove of grated garlic. Drizzle a few drops on the steam asparagus to add a tangy, mildly sweet, and acidic flavor.
Herbs: basil, chives, dill, and especially parsley go well with steamed asparagus.
Step 1: Clean asparagus
Rinse asparagus under running water, then trim the woodier end of the stalks. You can do that by snapping it with your hands, one by one, or by cutting it with a knife on a cutting board. We prefer this way as it’s much faster.
If asparagus spears are thick, woody, and not so fresh, peel a couple of inches of the stalk. Use a vegetable peeler. This will make the asparagus cook more evenly, and they’ll be less chewy and more tender.
Step 2: Steam asparagus
Add a couple of cups of water to a large pan. Put the steamer basket in the pan. Place asparagus on the steamer basket.
We like to use a large pan so that we don’t have to cut the asparagus spears. If you don’t have a large pan that can fit the asparagus whole, you can cut them in half and use a large saucepan or a large pot instead.
Cover with a lid. When steaming, it’s important to cover the pot with a lid so that the steam is trapped and the asparagus cook faster.
Bring the water to a boil and steam for 6 to 10 minutes on medium-high heat, depending on how thick your asparagus is. The ones in the pictures took 10 minutes as they were quite thick. To check for doneness, pierce the stalks with a pointy knife. If it slides in easily, the asparagus is cooked.
Steamed asparagus should be bright green, with a slight bite to them, tender-crisp, and juicy. Do not overcook them, or they’ll lose color and get mushy. Once they are done, remove them immediately from the steamer basket to prevent them from overcooking.
Lemon and olive oil
Transfer steamed asparagus to a serving platter. Use tongs if you have some. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt and a twist of pepper, and add some lemon wedges on the side for people to help themselves. You can also drizzle with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with finely chopped flat-leaf parsley.
Butter and lemon
As an alternative to olive oil, you could use butter or vegan butter. Add a teaspoon or two of the butter to the hot steamed asparagus. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon, and sprinkle with finely chopped flat-leaf parsley.
This is our vegan version of honey-mustard vinaigrette. Make it with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a few twists of black pepper. Whisk well and serve alongside the steamed asparagus for people to drizzle on top.
This vinaigrette adds a lot of flavor to this simple recipe. It’s tangy, zesty, a little sweet, and sour. We think it’s delicious with steamed asparagus, and we think it’s the easiest way to make kids and difficult adults eat them.
Use them in salads
It takes from 5 to 10 minutes to steam asparagus depending on the thickness of the spears. Thicker asparagus spears need closer to 10 minutes, and thinner ones closer to 5.
You can make steamed asparagus taste good by adding a simple mustard vinaigrette. Make it with 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tbsp of maple syrup, 1 tbsp of mustard, 1/2 tbsp of salt, and a few twists of black pepper. Whisk and drizzle on top of steamed asparagus.
Pierce them with a pointy knife. If the knife slides in easily, the asparagus is done. If not, cook for another minute and try again.
1) With salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. 2) Butter or vegan butter + salt and pepper. 3) Mustard vinaigrette. Check out our “serving suggestions” chapter.
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can eat them cold, at room temperature, or reheat them in the microwave. We do not recommend freezing steamed asparagus.
More Asparagus recipes
If you like asparagus, check out our other asparagus recipes:
For many more side dish ideas, check out our sides category page.
- steamer basket and large pan
- 16 ounces (1 lb) asparagus
- 3 cups water
- 4 wedges lemon
- ½ tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 twists black pepper
- Rinse asparagus and cut off woodier end of the stalk.
- Optional: If asparagus is not so fresh might get woody at the bottom. If that's the case, peel 2 inches of the stalk. It'll be more tender.
- Add water to large pan. Put steamer basket in. Place asparagus on top. Cover with a lid.
- Bring water to a boil and steam for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how thick they are. The ones in the pictures took 10 minutes as they were quite thick. To check for doneness, pierce the stalks with a pointy knife. If it slides in easily, the asparagus is cooked.
- Serve with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Optionally you can sprinkle with freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley.