Boiling is hands-down one of the easiest ways to cook asparagus. Learn how to boil asparagus with this simple guide.
And, if you hate mushy vegetables as much as I do, don’t worry. Just follow these simple directions, you’ll get vibrant, flavorful, and tender-crisp spears every time.
Here’s the skinny on how to make boiled asparagus:
First, never forget that fresh, high-quality produce is going to taste better. Inspect asparagus before buying. You want springy stalks, and the tips should be tightly closed.
If you have larger in diameter or “older” asparagus go ahead and use a vegetable peeler (I like this one a lot!) and just take off that outside layer. This is the part that can get tough and woody as it grows.
Second, always add salt to your water when boiling! Salt will enrich the flavors of any vegetable.
Third, don’t overfill the pot. Water takes a long time to boil because it has a high heat capacity. Save yourself some time and money by using just enough.
Note: It’s recommended that you add root vegetables to cold water, but wait for a boil with others. Remember, if it grows below ground, put it in before the boil; if it grows above ground, add it after the boil.
How to Boil Asparagus
Here are the step-by-step directions on how to boil asparagus:
Prep the asparagus: clean the asparagus. You can boil the spears whole or cut them to a uniform size.
Prep the pot: Add a few inches of water to your pot (use more or less, depending on the amount of asparagus you plan to boil). Throw in a few pinches of salt, then cover and set it over high heat.
Reduce heat: Once the water comes to a boil, carefully add the asparagus. Then, turn the burner down. You will get the best results if you simply simmer your vegetables.
If the water gets low enough that the spears are not fully submerged, I use my electric kettle to add boiling water (you can use hot water from the faucet, too). This keeps the temperature from dropping too much.
Strain the water: Once the asparagus finishes, drain the water from the pot using a strainer or colander. If you leave it sitting in hot water, the spears will continue to cook.
How Long to Boil Asparagus
Wondering how long to boil asparagus? It should take 3-4 minutes to boil asparagus to perfection with these instructions. Thinner spears will take less time to finish.
Taste one of the spears at the 3 minute mark, and every 30 to 60 seconds after. They should be tender crisp (soft with just a slight crunch in the middle) when finished.
I can’t overstate the importance of testing with a fork and also tasting the vegetables when trying new cooking methods.
We prefer our vegetables more firm than soft, with a solid bite to them. If you prefer your vegetables to be a bit more cooked, just add a minute or two to the provided cooking times. It’s always better to err on the side of undercooked versus overdone.
Keep in mind that cooking times are estimates and adjust them to be exactly what you like best.
Boiled asparagus is delicious with nothing more than salt and pepper. Many people also like to add a squeeze of lemon juice or a pat of butter to it.
However you season this side, it is mouth-watering when boiled right!
How to Boil Asparagus
- 1 pound asparagus cut into 2-inch spears
- ½ teaspon kosher salt adjust to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper adjust to taste
- Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add asparagus and return to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and drain off the water. Season with salt and pepper to taste.