Cooking asparagus doesn’t get much more simple than this easy Baked Asparagus Recipe. It is a favorite of my daughter and I.
My eight year old daughter can gobble through a platter of asparagus with gusto. It is one of her favorite vegetables. When I hear people recoil at the thought of eating asparagus, the first thing I ask them is how they have had it cooked. Inevitably they have been victims of asparagus spears, boiled to the point of near mush. No wonder they think they don’t like the vegetable. What they don’t realize is even those of us who love eating asparagus would push those spears to the edge of our plates as well.
Easy Baked Asparagus (Why Bake)
The easiest way I cook asparagus is by baking it. While I also enjoy roasted or grilled asparagus, the higher temperatures or flames can cause the more delicate bud section of the spears to singe or dry out. In contrast, baked asparagus is pretty easy to monitor, and the stalk can reach the preferred level of semi-tenderness while the bud is still nice to serve.
Now steaming is also an easy way to cook asparagus too, but unless I am planning to sauce my spears or add the asparagus to a dish and want it cooked first it is not my go-to method. When I bake asparagus, I do so with a simple seasoned marinade or bottled dressing. The asparagus is ready to eat, right out of the oven. The spears often end out more of an appetizer in my house than side dish, since my daughter stalks the kitchen awaiting them, as soon as she knows they are in the oven.
Here is a picture of the baked asparagus before it went in the oven.
How Long to Cook Asparagus
I cook asparagus various ways, but foremost in my mind is always not to overcook it. It can quickly become mushy with wet cooking techniques, or dried-out if baked, broiled or grilled too long. Cooking times will vary based on the thickness of the asparagus and of course the cooking temperature.
When making baked asparagus (at 375 degrees) :
- Skinny spears (pencil thick)- total cook time 16-20 min
- Fat spears- total cook time 20-24 min
Roasting (see: Balsamic Roasted Asparagus & Tomato with Blue Cheese) at higher temperatures or grilling are faster. I do not recommend boiling asparagus. As far as steaming, go with Alton Brown’s suggestion and zap your salted spears in the microwave wrapped in wet paper towels. 3-4 minutes later you have nicely cooked spears. I personally rarely steam asparagus, but it is quick and easy.
- 1 fresh asparagus bunch (1 -1½ pounds)
- 1 tablespoon Italian dressing (or similar oil based dressing)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Snap or cut off the woody ends of the asparagus spears. Then place spears in a baking dish.
- Add the dressing and toss to coat.
- Bake for 9-10 minutes (narrow spears) 10-12 minutes (fat spears). Then toss in pan and return to oven to bake for another 8-10 minutes.
- Plate and serve.