The unifiers that tie the meal together at the dinner table are the side dishes. And, because your dinner menu usually includes more than one side dish, keep the recipes simple. So, I go to my tried-and-true simple recipes when I have a main dish that requires only a few ingredients and techniques.
This 15-minute, two-ingredient grilled asparagus (plus salt and pepper) is at the top of the list.
When the outside of these bright green spears becomes lightly charred and crisped and the interior soft and tender, the best-grilled asparagus becomes smoky and sweetly caramelized.
What Exactly is Grilled Asparagus?
We can make grilled asparagus by searing it on an outdoor grill, in a cast-iron skillet, or a pan on the stovetop with olive oil. In addition to salt and black pepper, chefs frequently season the asparagus with savory ingredients such as onions, garlic, scallions, or shallots.
Here are the simple steps to make this vegetable side dish easy.
- Remove the woody ends. Asparagus ends are woody and difficult to eat. Woody ends, go away!
- With a snap, trim the asparagus. Snap the ends to trim the asparagus by gently bending each stalk about 2/3 of the way down the stalk. The asparagus will naturally break where the woody part begins, resulting in tender stalks that are ideal for eating.
- Alternatively, line them up and cut them all at once. If patience is not your virtue and snapping asparagus sounds boring, line up a handful of asparagus in a row and cut the asparagus 2/3 of the way down the stalk with a sharp knife. Similarly, if desired, use a knife to tidy up the ends of the snapped asparagus.
- Season lightly. Because the fire and grill add so much flavor to grilled vegetables, the only seasonings you’ll need for dynamite grilled asparagus are olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
How to Grill Asparagus?
Maintain simplicity. Grilling asparagus has never been easier! Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus spears and toss with your hands to coat. Toss again with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
We can do this step before putting the asparagus on the grill or at any time before cooking. Because asparagus is tough, it will not wilt or soften when seasoned with oil or kosher salt.
There’s no need for foil-grilled asparagus. Preheat the grill to medium heat (350°-400°F) and clean the grill grates. Place the asparagus perpendicular to the grill grates to prevent it from falling through—forget the foil! Close the lid and grill until the spears are tender and crisp.
Roll the spears with tongs for even grill marks. Tongs make maneuvering the spears easier than a flipper or fork.
What is the Best Grilled Asparagus?
While I prefer pencil-thin spears for roasting in the oven, I prefer thick asparagus spears for grilling. Thick asparagus spears will not overcook or char to a crisp, and you won’t have to worry about losing them as they cook on the fire.
Look for thick, firm, green spears with no withered ends.
Toppings for Grilled Asparagus
My grilled asparagus is served simply with a squeeze of lemon. If you want to spice up this simple green, try one of these suggestions:
- As in our recipe for Roasted Asparagus, add browned butter and nuts.
- Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the grilled asparagus, then top with goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.
- Serve with smoky cooked bacon and Parmesan cheese on top.
- Top with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and chopped kalamata olives for a Mediterranean twist.
- Try it with ponzu sauce and toasted sesame seeds for an Asian twist.
Tips for the Best Grilled Asparagus
If you’re having trouble determining when your asparagus is done, poke it with a fork to test its doneness. Softened asparagus should be soft but not mushy, and it should also be a vibrant green color.
Reduce the amount of salt you add to the grilled asparagus using regular table salt. Kosher salt has larger flakes, so it’s less potent than table salt.
We can use grilled asparagus in various ways, including sandwiches, frittatas and egg bakes, salads, and more. It tastes great cold or at room temperature!
How to Serve Grilled Asparagus?
- The Best Greek Chicken Marinade
- Juicy Grilled Pork Chops
- How To Make the Best Grilled Salmon
- The Best BBQ Chicken
- Grilled Shrimp With Sweet or Spicy Mustard Dipping Sauce
How to Prepare the Best Asparagus Grilled?
Grilled asparagus, tender and sweet, is the ideal healthy 15-minute side dish for any meal. For easier grilling, use thicker asparagus spears.
- Course: Side Dish
- Cuisine: Grilling
- Keyword: asparagus
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 minutes
- Total Time: 9 minutes
- Servings: 4
- Calories: 54kcal
- 1 pound asparagus (choose thick spears)
- One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- One teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- lemon wedges, if desired
- Preheat the grill to medium heat (350° to 400°F) and clean the grill grates.
- Snap the asparagus ends off to remove the woody ends. Gently bend each stalk about 2/3 of the way down until it naturally breaks where the woody part begins. To tidy up the cuts, use a knife to trim the ends of the stalks. Throw away the ends.
- Arrange the asparagus spears in a shallow bowl, a platter, or on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss the spears in it to coat. Toss again with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Arrange the asparagus perpendicularly across the grill grates. Close the lid and grill for 6 to 10 minutes, or until the spears are tender and crisp. Roll the spears with tongs for even grill marks.
- Transfer to a platter and top with more olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, if desired. It can be served warm or at room temperature.
Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 584mg | Potassium: 229mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 857IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 2mg
3 Grilled Asparagus Characteristics
Here are a few qualities that many fans of grilled asparagus appreciate:
- Char marks indicate that the asparagus made good contact with the grill grates during the cooking process, resulting in enhanced flavor. You can cook asparagus on the grill without directly contacting the grates (for example, by wrapping it in foil first), but the flavor will be different.
- Crispy exterior: Grilled asparagus, when cooked properly, is crispy and tender on the inside. No pre-cooking is required to achieve this texture combination, but you must be careful not to burn the asparagus, especially if the spears are thick. To avoid burning thick asparagus spears, move them to the cooler part of the grill.
- Smoky flavor: Cooking asparagus on a charcoal grill or a gas grill will infuse the spears with a smoky flavor as they cook. This distinct flavor of grilled asparagus holds up well to a vinaigrette or marinade, or you can enjoy it with a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese, and a pinch of kosher salt.
3 Grilled Asparagus Tips
The simple side dish is ideal for BBQs or cookouts. Here are tips to make the cooking process as simple as possible:
- Cut off the stalk bottoms. Fresh asparagus stalks have tough and fibrous ends that we should remove before grilling. If you don’t do this, you risk overcooking the rest of the asparagus spear because the woody ends will never become tender no matter how long you cook them.
- Grease the grates on the grill. To prevent sticking, grease the grill grates. Grilling recipes typically call for using a cooking spray or brushing the grill with a neutral oil. Use olive oil sparingly because it has a low smoke point (the temperature at which a substance begins to burn) and is more prone to flaring than other oils.
- Keep the heat under control. You want a cooking surface that has a cooler and warmer side. Gas grills offer temperature control, allowing you to set one side to medium-high heat and the other to high heat. Controlling the heat on a charcoal grill is more difficult, though you can move the hot coals to one side of the grill. If the asparagus becomes too charred while cooking, move it to a slightly cooler side or cooking surface.
What are Some Other Ways for Grilling Asparagus?
Grilling asparagus can be done in a variety of ways, including:
- Directly on the grill: Lightly coat your asparagus in a high smoke point oil (it takes a very high temperature to begin emitting smoke), such as canola or avocado oil, then season with salt and pepper. Lay the asparagus directly on the heated grill grates, using tongs to keep them in a single layer.
- In a foil packet: Place the asparagus, olive oil (acceptable in this method because the olive oil will not come into contact with the grill), salt, pepper, garlic powder, and lemon juice inside a large piece of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil tightly around the ingredients and grill over medium-high heat until fork-tender.
- On a baking sheet: Choose a baking sheet that can withstand high temperatures, such as stainless steel or aluminum. Place the asparagus and other vegetables or ingredients on a baking sheet, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place the baking sheet directly on the grill grates. Close the grill lid, but check the asparagus frequently, turning it as needed to ensure even cooking.
- Asparagus directly on the grill has the disadvantage of allowing it to fall through the grates. This problem is solved by skewering the asparagus, making it easier to flip all the asparagus at once. If you’re using wood skewers instead of metal ones, soak them in water (overnight if possible) ahead of time to prevent them from burning on the grill.
- On the stove: To replicate the flavor and texture of asparagus grilled on a gas or charcoal grill, use a cast-iron grill pan that we can place directly on a gas or electric stovetop. Season the asparagus and cook them directly in the pan over medium-high heat.
Why Grill Asparagus?
The char marks, the smoky flavor. Tender, but with a slight crunch. Grilled asparagus is delicious! It’s something I could eat like French fries (and have).
What’s the best part about grilling asparagus? It’s so simple. Thick asparagus spears, olive oil, salt, and a hot grill are all you need. It only takes a few minutes to prepare some char.
How to Purchase and Store the Finest Asparagus?
The best and freshest asparagus is available seasonally from a local farmer (or grow in your kitchen garden). Follow these guidelines to ensure you buy fresh asparagus, whether in season or not.
- Examine the suggestions. They should be springy and firm. If they’re too soft, try another bunch.
- Examine the stalks, which should be firm. They aren’t fresh if they are soft and rubbery.
- Examine the ends. It’s not ideal if they’re woody, but it’s acceptable. You will be trimming the ends. Shriveled or split ends indicate that the asparagus has reached its peak.
To store asparagus, remove any rubber bands we may have wrapped around the stems. Take out any packaging. We should then treat the asparagus-like flowers. Trim about a half-inch off the bottom of each stalk and place in a container of water to chill. This will keep the stalks fresh for about two or three days.
Remove the rubber band or wrapping from the asparagus stalks and wrap a damp paper towel around the stems. Place in a plastic bag and store in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.
Nothing beats the flavor of fresh asparagus spears grilled with just a touch of olive oil and salt. Make it tonight for a quick and healthy side dish. You can steam, boil, or roast asparagus, but nothing beats the flavor of grilled asparagus.