Rating: 5 stars
1 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 1
  • 4 star values: 0
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
  • 1 Rating

One of the fastest sides you can make, grilled asparagus pairs beautifully with nearly any dish.

Gallery

Credit: Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Recipe Summary

prep:
5 mins
cook:
8 mins
total:
13 mins
Servings:
4
Advertisement

When I fire up the grill, I am committed to the grilling experience. I grill every veggie I can get my hands on; onions, potatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, corn, mushrooms, eggplant, you name it! To me, it's the epitome of grilling season in the South.

Asparagus is one of my all-time favorite vegetables to grill. It's simple and straightforward to handle and cook and always a crowd pleaser. Once grilled, the asparagus gets caramelized with a slightly smoky, charred flavor, and yet remains tender and crisp all at the same time. I personally love having leftovers to throw into a pasta dish with cream sauce, mix in scrambled eggs with cheese and fresh herbs, or chopped up and tossed in a big salad.

Oh, and when I say simple and straightforward, we're talking EVOO, salt and pepper, 10-15 minutes kind of simple. Versatile enough for a no-fuss weeknight meal side or to impress your family, friends, or party guests for entertaining. Add a dipping sauce like a bright and summery basil aioli or a simple garnish of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and Parmesan cheese to take it to the next level.

Whether you go overkill like me on the gas or charcoal grill, or you are grilling indoors with a grill pan, Grilled Asparagus makes for a seriously easy and delicious addition to any meal any time of year.

How to Grill Asparagus

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that has nothing to hide. What you see is what you get. No seeds to take out or a skin to peel (unless you're a fancy French chef;ome of them do like their asparagus peeled). Not a lot of prep is required, and that is one of the reasons it makes it so easy to prepare.

1. Trim it.

If you've worked with asparagus before you'll know the one main thing you have to do before you cook and eat them is trim the "woody" ends. This consists of the 1- to 3-inch portion on the bottom of the asparagus stalk. This part of the Asparagus is practically inedible and the consistency is very fibrous and tough, hence the term "woody." That's not what we want when biting into a tender yet crisp vegetable like asparagus.

trimmed asparagus on a cutting board with a knife
Credit: Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

How to trim the ends of the asparagus:

Cut the bottoms off with a knife. The ends of the asparagus that will be tough are usually lighter in color, sometimes off-white, and thicker than the rest of the stalk. Separate the tender part of the stalk from the ends with your knife.

2. Oil, Toss, Season!

When grilling any vegetable, the oiling and seasoning is the most important part. Go ahead and pull out a sheet tray, lined with aluminum foil or parchment for easy clean-up.

Then, pour or drizzle oil (this can be extra-virgin olive oil, olive oil, grapeseed, avocado, or any cooking oil that has a high smoke point and a mild flavor profile) over the asparagus. Toss the asparagus, and ensure that each stalk is well coated in oil. This allows the vegetable to cook evenly, get that crispy, caramelized texture, and prevent sticking. Then lightly season with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss again. Once your asparagus is trimmed, oiled, and seasoned, it's time to grill.

asparagus coated in oil, ready to be grilled
Credit: Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Asparagus is a hearty vegetable and will not wilt or get soft after oiling and seasoning. You can prep your asparagus and have it ready to grill up to 24 hours before cooking. 

3. Turn Up the Heat!

Preheat your gas grill to 350-400°F, and clean the grates with a brush (or an onion!) to release any cooked-on debris. Then, using an oiled kitchen towel or paper towel, carefully wipe the grates. This removes any metallic or charred debris remaining and also oils your grates to prevent sticking.

If using a grill pan inside your home, preheat your grill pan on medium-high heat. Be sure the grill pan is clean and free of cooked-on debris. Use an oiled kitchen towel or paper towel to carefully wipe down the pan.

Line your asparagus up across the preheated grates perpendicular so they don't fall through, or try using a grilling basket, which is designed to keep your veggies in tact. Don't bunch or overlap the asparagus so each stalk gets its chance to get charred and caramelized.

After 3 minutes, roll the asparagus with a pair of tongs to achieve even grill marks.

grilled asparagus in a roasting pan

And We're Done!

Remove cooked asparagus from the grill and immediately plate. Asparagus will continue to steam and cook slightly as it sits. Be sure not to cover or it will overcook.

grilled asparagus on plate

How Long to Grill Asparagus

Cook asparagus until well marked and tender, but still bright green in color and crisp. The ideal doneness for grilled asparagus is achieved by high heat and a short cooking time. 

At 400 degrees F, cooking time is determined by how thin or thick your asparagus is. 

Thinner asparagus takes only about 5 minutes, while thicker asparagus take 6 to 10 minutes.

The best result for grilled asparagus is an al dente texture, so always shoot for the lower cook time.

What's the Best Asparagus to Grill?

Everyone has their preferences, but I prefer medium to thick asparagus for grilling. Thin asparagus can become overcooked too quickly, while thicker asparagus gives you the opportunity to achieve the ideal grilled asparagus. Thicker stalks also won't fall through the grates as easily either.

When buying asparagus from the store, look for stalks that are vibrant green, plump, and with well-defined tops. Steer clear of dull green, withered or wilted stalks, and tops that are mushy. 

Toppings for Grilled Asparagus

I love a dipping sauce! Who doesn't? My favorite dip for grilled asparagus is a super easy basil aioli: In a food processor, combine Duke's Mayo, fresh chopped basil, garlic powder, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until well combined.

Other fun and delicious topping ideas include:

- toasted breadcrumbs 
- lemon zest or juice
- freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
- crumbled feta
- toasted nuts, like sliced or slivered almonds, walnuts, or pecan
- browned butter
- fresh chopped herbs like basil, parsley, chives, dill
- balsamic drizzle or glaze
- crumbled bacon pieces
- flaky sea salt

Tips for Delicious Grilled Asparagus

While grilled asparagus is simple and nearly foolproof, there are a few tips that even experienced grillers might be happy to learn:

Save it for last

If you are grilling a lot of other things, save the asparagus for last. When you've cleared everything else off the grill, you can turn the heat up to high, and the asparagus won't get lost or over crowded. Plus, it takes no time to grill asparagus! So while you're getting the rest of the dishes ready, the asparagus is cooking and will be ready to serve immediately.

Got foil?

If you would prefer to grill asparagus using foil instead of directly on the grill grates, cover the part of your grill you would like to use with foil, then follow the preheat instructions. The rest of the process will be the same as well. You may not achieve the same grill marks, but the caramelization and flavor will be delicious.

How to Use Leftover Grilled Asparagus

Having leftover grilled asparagus can be such a treat! Some ideas are:

- Toss into a summery vegetable pasta salad with a vinaigrette dressing.
- Use as omelette filling with bacon and goat cheese.
- Mix into scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and dill.
- Use on a snack tray with cheeses, cured meats, fruit, and crackers.
- Make a grilled cheese with Gruyère and ham.
- Toss in a salad with radishes, corn, tomatoes, and feta.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat the grill to medium heat to 350°-400°F. Clean and oil grill grates.

    Advertisement
  • Trim the woody ends off the asparagus. Place the asparagus spears on a platter or baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, and toss the spears to coat. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and toss again to coat evenly.

  • Place the asparagus perpendicular on the grill. Grill on high heat for 6 to 10 minutes or until the spears are tender and nicely marked. After 3 to 4 minutes, use tongs to roll the spears.

  • Transfer to a platter, and garnish with desired toppings. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Advertisement