I know, I'm about to blow your mind. If you're wondering about the best way to cook asparagus, you've come to the right spot. I felt a bit silly writing this recipe, but asked my friends and realized a lot of people don't realize how easy it is to cook asparagus in a microwave. This takes all of 2 minutes to prepare and ~3 minutes to cook the asparagus.
The post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. But if you're in a rush, please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Literally takes 5 minutes or so: Not going to lie, there are few recipes that are easier than this one. Minimal prep, minimal stress!
- Asparagus is awesome: It's low in calories, great tasting, and packed full of nutrients!
📋 Ingredients and notes
You'll need asparagus, water, and a microwave safe bowl or container with lid for this recipe. I like to use salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic powder and fresh lemon juice to season.
Quick note on asparagus: it's usually in season in spring, and that's the only time I buy it fresh. A lot of asparagus is flown in to the US from Latin America when it's not in season, so the environmental cost is high, and the taste isn't great. If you love asparagus, and want to eat it out of season, canned asparagus might not be a bad idea!
Oh, and if you're wondering where you can find out about what's in season, don't forget to check out my seasonal produce guides (I update them the first Sunday of each month!)
📖 Step-by-step instructions
Prepare the asparagus
Start by washing the asparagus thoroughly to get rid of any dirt. Then, slowly bend the asparagus close to the white, woody part and it'll naturally break off. If you're in a rush, you can line them all up and cut them where the woody parts end.
Pro tip: When you wash asparagus, loosely shake them to drop excess water but don't dry them. The water typically helps with cooking them in the microwave!
Cook the asparagus in the microwave
Find a microwaveable container or bowl. Your asparagus might not fit in, so if that's the case, I recommend chopping them in halves. Then, add the asparagus to the bowl with a tablespoon of water. Make sure to lay all of the asparagus flat so the stalks cook evenly, and avoid crowding or placing them on top of each other.
Cover with a lid or a larger plate, and microwave for 3 minutes. Make sure to use oven mitts to remove the asparagus since it'll be super hot. And be careful as you slide off the plate or the lid, since there will be tons of steam inside!
Season and serve!
Once the asparagus is cooked, I like tossing it with a teaspoon of olive oil and seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic powder. I finish up with a quick squeeze of fresh lemon juice!
Just toss all of them and you're basically armed with the easiest side dish ever!
👩🏽🍳Top tips and FAQs
Super thin stalks (say like a pencil) take 3 minutes. Most asparagus tends to be half an inch thick, and in this case, I recommend microwaving for about 4 minutes on high heat for asparagus that is al dente, with a bit of snap. For softer asparagus, microwave on high heat for 5 minutes, and then continue to heat in 1 minute intervals thereafter till it reaches your desired softness. For thicker stalks, I suggest microwaving for 5 minutes and then heating in one minute intervals.
Honestly, how you normally eat it! I like eating them as a side the way it's prepared in this recipe. You can also add to pasta, serve as a crudité, or as a side to any dish!
Boiling the asparagus tends to make it mushy sometimes, so I prefer steaming it instead of boiling it!
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
Cooked asparagus tends to stay great in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 3 to 4 days. Better yet, if you have a long glass container with a lid, just steam the asparagus in that so you can avoid washing yet another dish!
If you like this recipe, don't forget to try out my other fresh spring recipes:
- 1 lb asparagus, typically a bunch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice, fresh
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Wash the asparagus to remove any grit or dirt. Don't dry them since the water typically helps with microwave steaming!
- Then, trim the edges. You can either do this by bending the stalk close to the white woody part and it'll break naturally. Or if processing a bunch at once, line them all up and chop off the wood part.
- Line up the asparagus in a neat flat row in a long microwave-safe container, ideally one with a lid or one that you can cover with a plate. Then, add a tablespoon of water.
- Cover with lid or plate and microwave on high heat for 3 minutes for al dente asparagus. If your asparagus is a bit on the thicker side (more than half an inch thick), you might need to microwave for 5 minutes to get to al dente texture. If you desire a softer consistency, cook in 1 minute increments until you reach desired softness
- Remove the asparagus from the microwave with oven safe mitts and be careful opening the lid or removing the plate since it'll be quite steamy! Then, drizzle a teaspoon each of olive oil and lemon juice, and add a teaspoon of salt and garlic powder along with half a teaspoon of black pepper. Use a fork or a spatula to toss the asparagus and you're done!
- To save yourself the hassle of washing multiple things, microwave the asparagus in the same container you plan to store it if possible. I typically use long glass containers with an airtight lid. This way, I can just throw them in the fridge if there are leftovers!
- Seasoning suggestions are for basic steamed asparagus - you can season with any other seasoning you typically use for asparagus!