All About Asparagus! Learn about the different asparagus varieties and how to trim, store, and prepare it. Plus I share 11 easy asparagus recipes that are guaranteed to add springtime deliciousness to your table!

a bundle of fresh asparagus

What Is Asparagus?

My favorite spring vegetable – asparagus! Today I’m sharing some favorite asparagus recipes plus everything you need to know: All About Asparagus!

I’ve been a longtime fan of asparagus. Growing up on the farm, Mom would forage for it in ditches and tree groves alongside our farmland. It just didn’t get any fresher than that – pure deliciousness!

Asparagus comes from the Greek word “asparagos,” which means “to spring up.” It’s a slim green vegetable with a spear-like shape that’s easy to prepare and cook.

Part of the lily family, which also includes onions, leeks and garlic, this perennial plant thrives in temperate climates. In the US, it’s most often grown in Michigan (Oceana County, MI is the “Asparagus Capital of the World”), California, and Washington. And you’ll see imported asparagus from countries like Mexico and Peru.

What Does It Taste Like?

The flavor of asparagus depends on the variety (more on that below!) and where it’s grown – but in general, it tastes earthy and somewhat grassy. I like to describe its flavor as if broccoli and green beans had a baby. The best asparagus will have a very subtle fresh sweetness to it.

Trimmed asparagus in a baking sheet

Different Varieties

Asparagus comes in three colors: green, white, and purple.

  • Green asparagus. This is the asparagus that most of us know and love. It’s the most common type and the one you’re likely to find at the supermarket or farmer’s market (or grow yourself) – and it also happens to be the healthiest variety too.
  • White asparagus. White asparagus is green asparagus that is harvested while the plant is still below ground, which makes it more labor intensive (and thus more pricey). It never gets the green color from the chlorophyll, from interacting with the sun. White asparagus tends to have a sweeter taste than green asparagus but the outside is also tougher, so it’s usually recommended that you peel the bottom portion of the spear.
  • Purple asparagus. Purple asparagus originated in Italy and is completely different than white and green asparagus. It has a nuttier, sweeter taste because it naturally contains more sugar. It’s not super common in the US, although you might find it at some specialty stores.
a bundle of fresh asparagus

How to Choose Asparagus at the Store

Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your asparagus at the store or market:

  • Color. Look for asparagus that has vivid green color. Avoid any that looks dull and faded.
  • Firm to the touch. The texture of the asparagus should be firm and straight, not soft, super flexible, or rubbery.
  • Closed tips. The tips of the asparagus should be closed and compact. If you see any tips that are mushy or dried out, take a pass!
Asparagus with the ends snapped off

How to Trim Asparagus

Before preparing any asparagus recipes, you’ll need to do some simple trimming. Each asparagus spear has a “woody” end that’s tough and should be removed. There are two ways to do this:

  • Just snap it. The easiest way is to bend the bottom of the asparagus and snap it at the part where it naturally breaks in two.
  • Trim it. Gently bend the bottom of the asparagus to determine where the tough part ends, then use a sharp knife to trim it off.

I usually just snap the spears and continue with the preparation. But if I’m looking for an especially nice presentation, I like to cut the ends so they have a neater appearance.

Overhead view of grilled asparagus ingredients
collage showing different ways to prepare asparagus

The Best Ways to Prepare It

There are many ways to prepare asparagus and I go into more depth with each of the asparagus recipes below. But here are a few common ways to make it:

  • Grilled – This is how we enjoy asparagus most often. Find the super simple recipe below!
  • Fried or Air Fried
  • Pickled – I LOVE pickled asparagus! In the recipes below, I share two different pickled asparagus recipes.
  • Roasted in the oven
  • Stir-Fried
  • Steamed, Boiled, or Sauteed on the stovetop

Basically, you can cook asparagus the same way you’d cook most any other vegetable and it will taste great. You’ll find a variety of easy asparagus recipes below, my favorite ways to prepare it.

Is Asparagus Good For You?

Yes, asparagus has many health benefits! It is rich in fiber, plus offers many vitamins and minerals. It’s most well-known for being high in vitamin K, folate, and potassium.

Asparagus is also quite low in calories. A cup of asparagus has approximately 13 calories, with 1 gram of protein and less than a gram of fat. (Of course, these numbers will change depending on how you prepare it and if you add other ingredients!)

Can You Eat Asparagus Raw?

Yes, you can eat asparagus raw. I learned this many years ago when I traveled to Michigan for their asparagus harvest. This is an experience I’ll never forget – walking in the asparagus fields, cutting my own spears, and eating them raw. The asparagus tasted FANTASTIC!

While I do still eat asparagus spears raw (it’s great dipped in ranch dressing!), I make sure that it’s only the freshest, best asparagus possible. I also like to thinly slice it and add it to salads and other dishes for some fresh green crunch.

Proper Storage

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that’s best consumed soon after buying it. However, if you need to store it in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, you can.

Keep fresh asparagus clean, cold, and covered:

  • Trim the stem ends 1/4″
  • Wash the spears well in warm water
  • Pat dry
  • Place upright in a glass jar or bowl with 2″ of water in it
  • Cover with a plastic bag
  • Refrigerate for up to 3 days

Cooked asparagus can typically be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days but check the individual asparagus recipe for specific instructions.

Can You Freeze Asparagus?

Yes, you can freeze asparagus, although I’m not a huge fan of this method. While it’s a great way to take advantage of fresh, local asparagus, I find that frozen asparagus loses its wonderful texture and becomes soggy – because it’s 93% water!

Besides losing its texture, like most vegetables when they are frozen raw, the taste, color and nutritional value of asparagus deteriorates.

If you do want to freeze asparagus, I recommend blanching it first. To do this, rinse and trim the asparagus as normal. Then drop the spears into boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes to blanch them. Immediately transfer the asparagus to an ice bath to prevent it from overcooking, dry it with paper towels, and then place it in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.

You can cook frozen asparagus straight from the freezer.

Can Dogs Eat Asparagus?

Yes, dogs can eat asparagus. Our neighbor’s dog loves carrots, so why not also add a little asparagus to his bowl?!

There is nothing in a tender, trimmed spear of asparagus that will harm a dog. Just keep in mind that they can have a tough time chewing raw asparagus, just as humans do, and that some dogs may not digest raw asparagus easily. But if they accidentally munch on some that has fallen on the floor, there’s no need to worry!

11 Easy Asparagus Recipes to Try

Here are some of the ways we like to eat asparagus. If you have a favorite recipe, please share it with me. I’m always up for new asparagus recipes!

11 Easy Asparagus Recipes to Try

These easy asparagus recipes include several methods for preparing asparagus, from grilling and air frying to roasting and pickling!

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